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Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?


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Old 04-12-2018, 10:44 AM   #1
JillA
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Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?

Good morning!
I am about 21 hours post-microdiscectomy for a compressed S1 nerve root due to L5 S1 herniation.
I am also a marathoner who (finally) qualified for Boston (coming up on Monday) last Spring. Needless to say, I won't be going, but am hopeful to re-qualify next Spring for Boston 2020. They say positivity is half the battle in all this, so I'm going with it!

Re: how I'm feeling so far...

My anesthesiologist was awesome, I had very little of the usual shakes after being put under, and no nausea at all. I was discharged within about two hours after surgery.
The (unrelenting and excruciating for 3 months) nerve pain is 100% gone so far. 100%! Truly a miracle in my book.
I wasn't able to walk very well from the bed to the wheelchair, and then struggled some at home over the first 8 post-up hours due to numbness on my left side (glutes, upper leg, and foot), which is where the pain was.
The numbness is new (didn't have it pre-surgery, just crazy pain), as well as virtually no strength in my foot (can't stand on the ball of my left foot only, need to do both feet) and probably my entire leg.
I've read a ton already on the forums and it sounds like this has been an issue for many, and a temporary one ranging from a few days to many months of nerve healing.
I texted my surgeon (he gave me his cell number, he's a brave guy) this morning, and he concurred that this numbness is "very very normal" post-surgery, that it's from post-surgery swelling,as well as a reaction of the nerve to slow sensory impulses back to my brain. He also said that my nerve has sensory damage due to being smushed (my neurologist's term), and timeframe is really up to the nerve.
I'm prepared to be patient with this recovery!

Last edited by Administrator; 04-12-2018 at 12:52 PM.

 
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Old 04-13-2018, 07:59 AM   #2
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Re: Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?

Welcome to the board. I want you to rewrite the last sentence of your post, in large letters, print it and post it where you will see it often!! In two weeks, when you want to start pushing the boundaries, read it again and take it to heart! The key to whether you will be running in Boston next year (congrats for qualifying!) is being VERY patient and careful now and for the next number of weeks or months.

I have had four lumbar spine surgeries and am fused from L3 to S1. I saw my surgeon yesterday to get results from an EMG/nerve conduction study that I had done six months after my last surgery to decompress L2-3. I've known him for more than twenty years and we have had many frank conversations during that time. He told me again just yesterday that even with all the advances in medicine and technology, there is still more we don't know about nerves than we do know...in other words, their working remains a mystery in many ways...including the speed at which they heal.

In a decompression surgery, the surgeon usually has to tug on the nerve pretty hard to free it up. Surgeons like to give the impression that spine surgery is delicate and nerves are never disturbed, but if you ever speak to someone who has observed spine surgery, that person is struck by the similarity there is to a carpenter working with a drill, hammer and saw, and the amount of effort it can take to drive in a cage between two vertebrae, or how hard they pull on a nerve to free it. Spine surgery is actually quite a brutal procedure.

You had a smaller procedure, but nerves were still irritated at the very least. And there is general soft tissue swelling which can put pressure on a nerve. You may find that anywhere between a week to ten days, you may develop some new or more intense pain. This is very typical and nothing to worry about. I found the best way to deal with recovery is to take it one day at a time. Do not look forward or back. Just focus on getting through today the best way you can, doing nothing that will irritate the sciatic nerve.

Second, take small, frequent walks...like a few minutes of walking every hour or two. This is done to try to keep scar tissue from attaching to a nerve as it forms and fills in during the first twelve weeks post surgery. Walking is the best way to gently stretch the nerves...and this is the most important thing you can do for yourself during recovery.

Patience is so important because there is nothing you can do to try to hurry along this healing process. People who try often end up causing a nerve flare, and thus, put back their recovery even further!

 
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Old 04-13-2018, 08:55 AM   #3
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Re: Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?

Hi Teteri66 - Thank you very much for taking the time to respond so thoroughly and thoughtfully. My surgeon also stated that these nerves of our "have a mind of their own". I also had an NCS and an EMG done pre-surgery with my neurologist, and he (my neuro) said that they both looked great and indicated (key word - can't be sure, right?) no permanent damage to the nerves and no significant muscled weakness. On the flip side, my surgeon, pre-surgery and post, reiterated that my nerve WILL have sensory damage due to being compressed for a time (3 months). With that in mind, I'm just hopeful that the nerve will heal in time. And I know that could take a while. As I write this, about 44 hours post-op, I'm still pretty numb in my upper leg and in my foot, but it's just a little better than it was at this time yesterday.
Your description of surgery - which I trust after four surgeries of your own and a longstanding relationship with your surgeon - is terrifying and hilarious all at the same time. And isn't it a wonder how amazing our bodies are in their ability to heal, even after getting tugged and hammered on? A miracle in itself!
Thanks again - I hope you're feeling good these days, and I'll keep up to date on this thread as to my progress. I see my surgeon for follow up on Tuesday, and I see my neurologist in a few weeks.

 
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Old 04-14-2018, 11:38 PM   #4
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Re: Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?

Sounds like you're actually doing really well all things considered! I had a microdiscectomy and microlaminectomy on 3 levels when I was 18. I was in a lot of pain after the surgery but it was nothing compared to the pain i was in before it. My surgeon actually had me stay the night with a morphine pump. Recovery was rough at first and had an in home physical therapist teach me how to do daily tasks. I then had regular physical therapy sessions that focused on proper body mechanics when lifting/bending over etc. as well as learning how to strengthen my core. Maintaining a strong core is pretty much a must after back surgery, and I don't mean doing exercises to get a 6 pack.

As far as the nerve pain/numbness, I would say that's pretty normal as you're still so early in your recovery process. I had extreme numbness and compression before the surgery and it takes a while for the nerves to heal. I believe I had numbness and tingling for a while after my surgery as well.

In regards to your future as a marathon runner, I would stay positive and hope for the best! Make sure you take care of yourself during the recovery process and don't rush things or overdue it. I have been able to stay very active following my surgery (I'm now almost 25). There have been times where I've overdone it and my back definitely lets me know. I just ice it, take some ibuprofen and I'm usually good to go again.

I should mention though that about 6 months ago I was doing sprints at the gym and I really tweaked my back pretty good. I was doing 110% effort sprints and I landed on my right leg wrong which somehow threw out my back. I was in so much pain and couldn't get up for 20 minutes. I went home and the next morning it took me 30 minutes to get out of bed. It's gotten a lot better but I have occasional back spasms now and just have to lay down briefly in order for them to get better. I have an appointment with my back surgeon in a month just to see whats going on with it. I also have a leg that's an inch shorter than the other one and I believe this is most likely the culprit for my flareups.

 
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:21 PM   #5
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Re: Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?

Hi Caliguy24 - thank you for such a thoughtful reply. 18! Thatís awfully young to have had to endure so much physical pain, and Iím really happy to hear that you were able to recover and are still capable (at the still very young age of 25) of doing sprints at 110%. Thatís awesome. For the record, sprints on the track have always landed me in an injury, and I think thatís why it took me as long as it did to get that BQ. I had to work extra hard on tempos and such, but eventually, it happened. I was almost 43 then, and will be 44 next month, so at this point Iím chalking a lot of my present situation up to the natural degeneration of things due to age. Iím still hopeful though for 2020... we shall see.
In the meantime, Iím so encouraged by your story, and I hope youíre taking good care of yourself. Iíd love an update once youíve seen your Dr again about your current back issue. Youíre far too young to not stillhave a whole lot left to give - heck, I think we both are!

 
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:18 AM   #6
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Re: Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?

Are you watching Boston on TV? What a miserable day! I think your injury may be a blessing, although I doubt you look at it this way!

 
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:23 PM   #7
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Re: Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?

Hi Teteri66 - lol, my husband tried the same tactic on me this morning, and I told him that Iíd love every minute of that rain! I did get to see the female winner on tv and that was amazing. Thanks for thinking of me .

 
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Old 04-16-2018, 06:48 PM   #8
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Re: Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?

How are you doing by now?

 
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Old 04-19-2018, 05:01 PM   #9
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Re: Post Microdiscectomy Musings - Anyone Else Having the Same or Similar?

testing testing

 
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