I had a right-sided microdiscectomy almost 3 weeks ago. The surgery almost immediately relieved the nerve pain (HOORAY!!!!), but has created some new issues that the surgeon's office is completely blowing off so I'm hoping for some advice. I've had very little pain since the surgery, even waking up in recovery I've been able to control it with only 1 Vicodin every 4-5 hours. For the past week and a half I've been able to manage only taking Advil during the day and prescription pills to sleep. I also ice at least 6-8 times a day. I'm not sleeping much because I can't lay comfortably so I can ice more often. I know I'm extremely lucky that the surgery relieved the nerve pain, and I am very grateful. It has also seemed to relieve a lot of my actual back pain, which I'm excited about. My back was much worse than the surgeon expected and the surgery took more than 3 times as long as they predicted. This means my recovery time has more than doubled. I'm okay with that. I'm doing the right thing so that my back heals. But I still would feel better with more information.
My nerve pain has always been mostly down the back of my right leg, causing tingling and numbness in my foot and lower leg, but never anywhere else. Since the surgery, the top front of my right thigh is numb. It feels like someone gave me a novacaine shot - there's a little sensation but no real feeling. I've never had any issues there before but the nurses are basically telling me it's no big deal. Has anyone dealt with something like this?
I'm also having hip pains. I can understand those being more related to the surgery as I had some hip pains before.
Now, I'm having issues with the rest of my body. I have always been an avid stretcher, yoga, pilates type stuff. I have a large roller that I have used for a long time to stretch out and strengthen muscles. Now I can not bend, twist or lift more than 2 pounds. It's driving me crazy. All my muscles feel so tight and are beginning to hurt. I can sort of stretch my arms and shoulders, but my back, and legs are getting pretty bad. The surgeon's office has told me just to deal with it, and everyone else has referred me back to the surgeon's office. Does anyone have experience with this? What did you do to relieve that tightness?
I'm not allowed to swim until the incision has completely healed, which will be at least 2 more weeks. In addition, as I mentioned, I'm not allowed to bend or twist which means I can't swim laps.
Stretching is a way to strengthen muscles if you do it slowly and correctly. I've followed instructions of my clinicians and stretched for many years. It's resulted in stronger more resilient muscles and other soft tissues. I've attempted to work with trainers who have zero ability to help me because I do have multiple issues that need to be taken into account. The issues aren't a matter of sucking it up. Also, most trainers don't have formal anatomy and physiology training. I will always trust the words of physical therapists and other clinicians over a trainer who is only famous because of reality tv showing skewed results.
At the moment, the only thing I'm allowed to do is walk. There is absolutely no bending or twisting. That's my biggest problem...that all of my muscles are tightening up because I can't stretch the way I usually do. I also can't use my foam roller.
You may just have to tough it out until you are far enough along in recovery that you can move a little bit. Some people need muscle relaxers after surgery because they get a lot of muscle spasms initially. Maybe that would help you, too.
It is common to have new nerve pain after lumbar surgeries. If your situation was worse than the surgeon was expecting and it took three times longer than normal, that probably means that at least part of that time was spent freeing up a nerve and being sure it was fully decompressed.
Nerves are very fussy and do not appreciate being touched or handled in any way. The surgeon probably had to tug on it and also had to carefully pull away tissue that was entrapping it.
Also with the thigh being numb on the topside, this problem could be a result of the way you were positioned on the operating room table. Sometimes the femoral nerve can be affected when a patient is in one position for a long time and maybe isn't quite sufficiently padded...it is similar to a leg falling asleep when you have it propped up on a coffee table and fall asleep -- it is left in that position too long and it feels like it has fallen asleep.
Either way, regardless of the cause, it should go away after awhile. I had horrific thigh pain after my first surgery and the only thing that kept me from being able to tolerate it even a little bit was to put ice packs directly on top of the thigh...and I did that for a couple days straight until it finally calmed down to the point that I could tolerate it...and this was when I still had the IV line in my arm dripping in morphine, or whatever it was.
Regarding the pool, when your incision is healed, walking in a pool of warm water is very therapeutic. You can also do some very simple leg and arm exercises that get the muscles moving without any core involvement. After my three level lumbar fusion I wasn't allowed in the water for ages, but when I finally could go in, I was not allowed to swim on my stomach for about 3 months due to the hyperextension of the back. I was allowed to swim on my back using a very gentle flutter kick, but mostly I just did the backstroke using my arms and letting my legs float behind me.