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Old 02-24-2012, 10:41 AM   #1
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Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

Hello

I have never posted on one of these forums ,But I am having a Laminectomy/discectomy on March 5 and I am extremely worried about the recovery . I have had ongoing sciatic pain in both nerves. More so on the left than the right. But every day brings me a different variety of symptoms. It goes from pain to numbness to tingling sensations. I have gone to 2 different surgeons, both have recommended this procedure. I started off in 2010 after a fall down my stairs, with Medrol paks, flexeril, vicodin,naproxen, and an array of meds. Then we tried Epidural shots which did absolutely nothing. I am 44 and have a house to run and its been almost impossible with the pains in my legs and lower back occasionally . The back pain is not really a problem its just a feeling of tightness and soreness. The real issue is my legs. Well my fear is that the recovery is real bad and that it wont work

How bad is the pain. How much will doing normal things hurt ??

 
Old 02-24-2012, 10:55 AM   #2
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

Not sure about your surgery, since I only had cervical surgery ACDF C5-6 C6-7 with plate and screws. You are allowed to be scared. See if your surgeon can put you in touch with someone in their office you had the same surgery 6 months prior. Speaking to someone who had the same surgery may put your mind as ease in the sense you will know what to expect. Good luck and try and relax as best as you can.

 
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:28 PM   #3
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

Welcome to the board. While the thought of any spine surgery is scary, I think you will find that the relief you get from the surgery will be well worth whatever pain and inconvenience you will face during recovery.

Just be sure of your surgeon's education and experience as well as reputation. The selection of the surgeon, and to a lesser extent, the hospital, is the most important decision you will make.

Near the top of the first page of the Back board where the topics are listed, you will find a "stickie" thread entitled "Post-surgery Must-Haves" or something like that. People have compiled lists of things they found useful for surgery and recovery. The list is extremely comprehensive, and you will not need 99% of it, but it does get you thinking about what you will be able to do after surgery, and how you can make life easier for yourself if you do some basic organizing of your house now while you can still bend at the waist!

My surgeon told me he had the greatest problem with his post discectomy patients following his instructions. Since most of them have had nerve pain and their activities have been restricted, once they have surgery and the nerve is freed up, they feel so great that the tendency is to overdo it.

Now, be aware that not all patients have immediate relief from nerve pain. If the nerve has been compressed for awhile, it can take weeks or months for it to recover. Also, sometimes the surgeon has to cut away tissue from around the nerve, or has to tug on the nerve, so the nerve is somewhat traumatized by the surgery, and it just takes awhile to recover.

So, if you happen to not be among the lucky ones who do get almost instant relief, do not panic or worry.

The surgery itself isn't bad. They will keep your pain under control. Some people have someone stay with them for the first couple days, but it isn't absolutely necessary.

The main thing to familiarize yourself with is that you will have restrictions after surgery. Even if the surgeon says you can go about your normal routine at 6 weeks, remember that it takes six months for the disc to toughen up and be a bit more reliably "healed." During this time it is important to avoid bending, twisting at the waist, pushing, pulling, reaching up overhead or to the side, and you will have a weight restriction for lifting and carrying (like groceries!). Also, many surgeons restrict time spent sitting to about 15-20 minutes at a time.

Sitting puts 30% more stress on the spine than standing/walking or lying down...so there is a good reason for this restriction. Also you will want to consider your main job in early recovery walking and resting. Walking is the best exercise after back surgeries because it stretches out the spinal nerves. This is very important because it helps to keep scar tissue from attaching to the nerve as it is filling in after surgery. For this reason, it is important to take a number of small walks during the day, rather than one or two long walks. Even walking around the first floor of your house helps. You will just want to avoid stairs, inclines, hills and uneven surfaces until you are further along in your recovery.

Unfortunately there are no guarantees connected to any surgery...but the great majority of patients get relief from a procedure such as you are having. Feeling anxious about the whole topic is very normal. Feel free to post with any questions or concerns. Many on this board have had a similar procedure and will try to help.

 
Old 02-24-2012, 01:12 PM   #4
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

Wow you are a angel, thank you so much for all the words of encouragement. I can handle pain, But I was scared of how long I would need to rely on family to help. I guess I will plan on 4 weeks and hope I could release them sooner haha. I also live in a 2 story house. I really want to get to my room when I come home. Any one with experience on stairs. I understand I will be stuck up there once I go up. But I want my bed.
I feel comfortable with my surgeon and today I was surprised that the hospital called to set me up for a class . In this class I will meet with nurses and PT to prepare me for what to expect. I found that very reassuring. I will stay on this board thru out my journey . I do not know anyone that has done this .

 
Old 02-24-2012, 07:32 PM   #5
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

Hi there,

I am about 9 weeks out from a laminectomy/ disectomy. Surgery was more extensive than they expected, isn't it always, LOL. I had 4 hours of surgery and I had a herniated disc repair, 3 bone spurs, stenosis, and a cyst that had irritated the nerve so bad it had built up scar tissue like a wall around it, and the wall was moving in. I had little back pain, but severe bilateral leg pain prior to the surgery.

In the hospital they had a PT lady come in and she walked around with me and up and down stairs to see how I could do.

From the beginning I had no problem walking, or going up and down stairs. I had almost no pain at the incision site, however the leg pain was actually worse the first couple of weeks. It is now getting better and better all the time.

I would not hesitate for a second to have this operation.

 
Old 02-24-2012, 07:40 PM   #6
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

A great doctor is the most important choice you can make. Keep a grabber with you at all times after surgery it will make life easier on you, no bending over. It took me 6 weeks before I could go back to work but I felt the pain relief the day after surgery, when I got up to walk the first time after surgery. I noticed it right away, the pain down the leg was gone I almost cried I was so happy.

 
Old 02-25-2012, 10:03 AM   #7
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

I had this surgery. In the recovery area they kept giving me Demerol shots, three I think, along with a Percoset until I was ready to go home. Then when home, I was taking Percoset (Oxycodone) for the first time in my life and that was very effective other than a lot of pain when lying down and getting up. Hopefully a high enough dose of something will work. Tell them your concerns beforehand and call them if something really isn't working. Tell them what worked and didn't, side effects etc.

It was the incision pain that was bad for me. Otherwise I could walk around slowly and do things when I wasn't sleeping. As far as running a family, I hope you have help with that. ! (I re-read and see you do) Delegate. I like to think of it as a vacation where you get to take drugs. I'm male with no kids and I have a supportive wife so I have no specific advice there.

I just had a pain pump put in yesterday. They gave me Dilaudid for some reason and it's not working. I'm going to have my wife call to give me some credibility. I'm afraid of looking like a drug seeker. Make sure to tell them your symptoms, not ask for certain medications. Then just answer their questions (hopefully-What has worked best for you in the past? or whatever) and then do what they say. Hopefully that won't be an issue.

I hope, and will pray if you'd like, that things will go well and that you will cope well. There will be pain, but hopefully in short bursts and not when lying down. I feel that a herniated disc really needs to be fixed if there's pain. I couldn't stand up straight. To be honest, my pain came back, but I could at least stand up straight and I would do it again. I just think it needs to be done, in my amateur, non-medical opinion. I think you're doing the right thing, especially with a second opinion. Sorry if I wrote too much.

Last edited by lemonflavor; 02-25-2012 at 10:11 AM.

 
Old 02-25-2012, 10:16 AM   #8
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

I had my first lam. At age 40 and did very well. I went back to.work after 6 weeks but they reminded me of bot...bo bending lifting or twisting. I ad instant relief from pain...I just had my second lam. At age 54 and ithas been a diff. Story....has just taken longer to heal. I bought a Kendal fire which has gi en me oppor. To read, play games and talk to others....good luck!

 
Old 02-25-2012, 01:31 PM   #9
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

Having help for a month should be way more than sufficient. Your surgeon may limit the number of trips you can make up and down the stairs. They will not release you from the hospital until you are able to go up and down stairs -- the equivalent of whatever you have at your house. I was only allowed one "round trip" in early recovery, but I had a fusion which is a bit more complex.

I'm glad your hospital has a "back program" for its surgical patients. It will cover all the basics and give you some reassurance about what will be happening with you.

 
Old 02-26-2012, 02:32 PM   #10
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

[QUOTE=Live4them;4933715]Hello

I have never posted on one of these forums ,But I am having a Laminectomy/discectomy on March 5 and I am extremely worried about the recovery . I have had ongoing sciatic pain in both nerves. More so on the left than the right. But every day brings me a different variety of symptoms. It goes from pain to numbness to tingling sensations. I have gone to 2 different surgeons, both have recommended this procedure. I started off in 2010 after a fall down my stairs, with Medrol paks, flexeril, vicodin,naproxen, and an array of meds. Then we tried Epidural shots which did absolutely nothing. I am 44 and have a house to run and its been almost impossible with the pains in my legs and lower back occasionally . The back pain is not really a problem its just a feeling of tightness and soreness. The real issue is my legs. Well my fear is that the recovery is real bad and that it wont work

How bad is the pain. How much will doing normal things hurt ??[/QUOTE]

 
Old 02-26-2012, 02:41 PM   #11
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

I had a discectomy and fusion at L5-S1 at 39 yrs old. My Dr did a new surgery which goes in from the sides of the spine instead of through the muscle. I had a lot of pain afterwards for about four days. On the fifth day I took a huge turn for the better. I was in therapy the day after the surgery and rehabbed for ninety days, after which I returned to work. The loss of mobility affects your back worse the older you are. Younger backs adjust to the loss better my Dr told me. He also told me before the surgery that at my age he was sure I would have more surgery in the future. How long before depends on how you treat your back.
I did really well for about three yrs but then began having problems again. Another few yrs and I now have debilitating chronic pain. The simplest of activities causes me pain in my lower and upper back. I recommend you really watch what you do in the yrs following surgery. If an activity bothers you then be wary. The chronic pain is torturous and pain meds don't even completely eliminate it. Good luck.

 
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Old 02-26-2012, 03:51 PM   #12
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

Thank you all, I guess I will survive as all of you have done. From the suggestions I will make sure to follow doctors orders. I did speak to someone I know that I just found out has had this surgery before. She warned me not to get adventurous just because I feel better at the beginning. She ended up having to have a second surgery for not being to careful. My doctor did tell me the same about having the surgery now compared to the future. He says I am in good medical condition and the recovery is not the same if I wait another 10 years when I am into my 50"s . My husband wanted me to try a chiropractor , but honestly I am not to trusting of that idea. Anyone hear ever tried one and got the good results that maybe avoided surgery ??

Its great to discuss this with people that understand . My husband has no clue how bad the pain gets sometimes. I guess because after a while I just stop complaining. Like the saying says "Just because I am in pain doesn't mean I have to be a Pain" ... so a lot of times I grin and bear it

 
Old 02-26-2012, 04:11 PM   #13
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

I had a mast Tlif, discectomy and fusion, at L5-S1. My doctor helped create a new way of doing this surgery. He made two incisions on the side of the spine and went in that way instead of cutting muscle. I was in PT the next day and rehabbed for ninety days, then returned to work. The first week the pain was pretty bad but greatly improved on the fifth day. I have heard of people being off work six months to year and this was much quicker. I felt great for three years after but am now having chronic pain so be careful after surery and don't overdo things when you are feeling better.

 
Old 02-26-2012, 11:30 PM   #14
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

Hi Live4them,
I can completely sympathize with what you are going thru. I was in your shoes just about 18 months ago. I ruptured my disc at L4-5 so severly I had no choice but surgery. The pain I had while waiting for surgery was excruciating!! I just paced back and forth like a caged animal because the pain was so unbearable. My surgeon told me I was at the top of his triage list if there was a cancellation. I had to wait about 10 days for my surgery. I was SCARED to DEATH for those 10 days while I was waiting as I hadn't had surgery other than a tonsillectomy since I was a child. And no one seemed to understand why I was so scared. It was so frustrating that no one understood and I felt so alone. I was in so much pain but yet so terrified that I really didn't know if I would show up at the hospital the morning of my surgery. I truly was that terrified. I think I slept about 1 hour and 45 min the night before my surgery and I had surgery at 8am. It is a lonely feeling to not have anyone understand how scared you are feeling about such a scary thing, not knowing how this is going to play out. But let me say...with my FIRST microdiscectomy, hemilaminectomy, I woke up in the recovery room and could not believe how good my leg felt!!! It felt about 98% normal. I had a tad bit of residual pain but I think that was because my herniation was so massive and had completely compressed that nerve prior. But it felt GREAT comparatively. Now my lumbar back hurt like HECK!!! I did not understand the amount of post operative pain that I was going to feel. I don't think my surgeon did a very good job of explaining how much that was going to hurt. He said it would be uncomfortable for a few days. Ummm....it hurt like heck for awhile!! Now I did have other complications Because I fell down the flight of stairs here at home three days post op and reruptured my disc. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BE CAREFUL on the stairs. I can't stress that enough! I had to have mine redone 4 months later because of rerupturing. I hope I have helped to let you know you are not alone in feeling scared. I felt the same way too. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I will do my best to try and help. I wish I knew about this board BEFORE my surgery.

 
Old 02-27-2012, 07:54 AM   #15
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Re: Upcoming surgery has me scared :(

I think they have to play down the post op pain. Mine was bad as well and the first pain med wasn't doing the trick. I had always took percocet for bad pain but for the back pain they switched me to portable which was a weaker pain med than Percocet but it worked way better on that lower back after surgery. Also as bad as it was the pain took a major turn for the better on the fifth day which they told me it would. Don't be afraid to have it done as the benefits far outweigh your quality of life before surgery.

 
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