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    Old 07-21-2003, 01:03 AM   #1
    alfie
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    Unhappy Newbie - just had surgery and need advice!

    Hi, I just found this board (can't sleep!) and would love to browse it more fully to see if my questions could be answered but I am in too much discomfort to sit up much longer. Sorry that this post is so long, but I am confused and do not feel I am getting the best answers to my problems.

    To give you some history, about 12 weeks ago my left lower back started hurting after a weekend warrier 15-hour gardening marathon. Two weeks later, I picked up two fire extinguishers at work by bending, twisting, and extending from ground level to loading dock level and knew instantly I should not have done that. The pain started to radiate down the front left leg to the ankle within a few days. The leg pain would come and go and I would have good days and bad days.

    I started with chiropractic care 2 to 3 times a week. After six weeks with little progress, I saw my regular doctor too. I went through the X-ray and two weeks of Celebrex, and was also referred to a neurologist because of a few beats of clonus. He thought my problem was muscle related because I did not have symptoms of weekness/numbess and he prescribed a week of Prednisone. That seemed to help the first two days and then stopped helping. I went back to my regular doctor after the Predisone/Celebrex did not seem to help and she had me take an MRI. At this point, my pain had progressed to the point that I could not sleep at night and was constantly waking up.

    My MRI was on Thursday, July 3rd and over the Fourth of July weekend the pain worsened in my leg to a constant 24/7 pain. My doctor prescribed Vicodin and that helped a little. But all of a sudden my left leg started buckling on me over the course of a day and I actually fell down twice. By the time I saw the doctor the next day, I could not control certain muscle groups. When lying down I could not lift my left leg at all and when she did the knee thump reflex test, my leg did not react at all! I also had numbness all through the front of the leg (a few inches above the knee down to the ankle). She had me start using a quad cane to walk and somehow got me into see a neurosurgeon the very next day (due to a cancellation) and he told that surgery was really the only option. Oh, I forgot to mention that when the MRI results came back they showed extruded disc fragments at the L3 and L4 levels. The neurosurgeon seemed really nice and competent and he had me scheduled for surgery that Monday (only two days later). The surgery was a lumbar laminectomy/discectomy.

    To be truthful, I was a little scared how quickly things were moving and I hoped it did not mean that I had a serious problem that could not wait. They told me that 2/3rds of patients experience almost complete immediate relief of the leg symptoms after surgery, but because mine was severe as leg weakness/numbness that it might take me a little longer. After spending the night at the hospital, I would say my leg pain was definitely better, but my leg weakness was maybe 30% better (could now walk without cane at least), and my numbess was just as bad as ever. My neurosurgeon said that my nerve was really compressed by the fragment and that it would take about a week for the swelling to go down and for it to heal. He then told me to come in the following week for him to examine.

    This brings me to this point. It has been six days after surgery with very little improvement in my leg function. I am scared that there my be permanent nerve damage. I called the office on Friday and asked to be prescribed anti-inflammatory if they thought it would help. They have me on Celebrex and after three days of that I think I have a little easier time walking but not much. I am scheduled to see the neurosurgeon again this Wednesday.

    These are the issues I am concerned with:
    1. From other web articles I have read, the recovery from a "neurological deficit" like I had could take weeks, months, and possibly years. One site said that a loss of reflex in your leg might NEVER recover (I am guessing that would be my non-existant knee jerk reaction). Why is my neurosurgeon acting like it would clear up in a week? What your experiences or knowledge on this?

    2. I am supposed to be walking as much as possible, but it is so difficult/painful to walk. My leg is turned ******d slightly and my back hunches over towards the left too. Is it worse to walk in a bad position or not to walk at all (which could cause muscle atrophy?) I already feel that the muscles I cannot control seem all soft and it has only been a total of 10 days from the onset of losing their function.

    3. Is this really what they mean by leg weakness? It really seems like partial paralysis to me, because I try to move it and it will not respond or certain muscles barely respond.

    4. I have been having my current caregiver at the time (husband, twin sister, mom, etc) massage my bad leg because that seems to help especially when it tightens/cramps up. I have also used a heating pad on it occasionally, but I cannot tell if that is really helping. Is there anything else I can try to help with the numbness/weakness?

    5. What do you think the next steps are going to be? I really think I will need the aid of a physical therapist to get control of my leg back and I am wondering if I need prednisone again or maybe even a steriod injection to help the nerve heal.

    Thanks SO much for reading this and any advice you can give me. It is so good to stumble on a place where others know what you are going through!!

    Thanks!
    Eve

     
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    Old 07-21-2003, 02:25 AM   #2
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    Hi Eve,

    Welcome

    I'm sorry that you are still having problems since your surgery

    I had a two level fusion, and my doctor told me that it can take a year or longer for the nerves to calm down.

    I'm sorry that I don't have any answers for you, please let us know how you make out on Wednesday.

    Hopefully somebody will be along with some advice, and I wish you well [img]http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/heart.gif[/img]

    Be Well,
    Baxter [img]http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/heart.gif[/img]

    ------------------
    Two level laminectomy fusion L5-S1 & L2-3 done on 12/6/02.
    I regret the day that I agreed to have this surgery.
    Fifteen inch scar from the very top of butt crack (sorry), to the bra line.
    BAK cages, rods & screws.(Titanium)
    My pelvic bone was used for grafting.
    Praying that the other two discs in between, won't have to be fused later, as I was told it was a possibility, due to the other two discs in between, not being in that great of shape.
    Doc didn't want to fuse four levels, unless it is really necessary.
    I would hate to repeat the surgery, as the recovery period, is so very painful.
    I also have a free fragment in my T11-12 area, that I'm still refusing surgery for, at this point in time.
    That surgery is way too dangerous for me to consider, until if affects my being able to walk.

     
    Old 07-21-2003, 06:38 AM   #3
    jdog
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    Alfie -

    I definitely think you need to speak with your NS about putting you on a PT regimen. And as for the jangled nerves, you can speak with the NS about meds such as Topomax or Neurontin, which may help control some of the wild impulses.

    And, I'm a big supporter of massage. I've had both lumbar and cervical work done, with more to be done in the futre. I see a professional massage therapist once a week and the knots and tightness are massaged out of my legs and it makes it easier to deal with the pain. I have no doubt that a lot of it is mental, as well as physical, but if it helps in any area of recovery and preventative measures, I say go for it.

    jdog
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    L3/4 Lam. 2/2001
    ACDF C5/6/7 8/2002
    L4/L5 Herniated 1/2003

     
    Old 07-21-2003, 10:55 AM   #4
    KellyPeters
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    Hello sorry to hear of your problems ! I had a simular situation as you after a week of being diagnosed as having a prolasped disc i was in surgery and when i woke up i could not move my legs at all and they felt very numb after being put on steroids i could slowly start to move my legs again and the numbness slowly started to go away but this process has taken nearly two years and i have been left with a week right leg and a foot drop which i never had before surgery i also have slight numbness on my right leg that has never gone away. All i can say to you from my expieriences is it can been a very long process to recover fully and dont give up at the moment you may feel that nothing is getting better but after a while you will notice a little bit of feeling and stength will come back every day. I would strongly advise a course of steriods that really help for me. Hope things get better soon
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    Old 07-21-2003, 07:27 PM   #5
    Tung-Sol
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    Hi Eve,

    I'm very sorry to read your post, I know a little of what you're going through, but not as severe. I'm finishing day 8 postop and fortunately have much less back pain than I did days 1-4. My leg pain basically disappeared immediately, but my foot-drop and numbness are still with me. I believe what you posted in item 1 is correct, time and lots of it.

    I've read here that walking is very, very important postop. I can only say that by forcing myself to walk, even as spastic as it was, at this point (in the morning) my back feels "almost" normal while walking. Then it gets tired and is less cooperative by the end of the day. Maybe call your doctor and ask, but I'm thinking walk as much as you are able.

    I agree re. weakness vs. paralysis, but it is all relative. I have a dropped foot, but nowhere near as bad as most I've read about, mine does not drag the toes. So, while I can't pull my foot up off the floor onw bit while standing and it turns out a bit more than the other, I dont' consider it paralysed. You also had a long time since first injury until surgery, so the nerve damage may be more severe than if decompressed sooner.

    I'm sort of in the same boat, how can I speed-up the process? From what I can tell, stimulation of the effected area may help, like talking to someone in a coma, keep the signals going from at least one end. I don't know much about steroids, but I do hear they can be over-used, which is not good. I'm waiting to hear re. PT myself on Friday when I see my NS for first postop. I think you can also search here and find more useful info on all your questions and of course your doctor, although I agree there was a lot of optimism there that seems out of line with what I've read elsewhere.

    And yes, this board is a lifesaver. I've gotten lots of good advice and support!

    Best wishes,

    Thom

    ------------------
    herniated L4-L5, free frag with footdrop approx. 6-30-03 with a month of lower back pain prior to that
    laminectomy/discectomy 07-14
    I have 5mm herniation of L5-S1 on right side that is asymptomatic, no surgery recommended

    [This message has been edited by Tung-Sol (edited 07-21-2003).]
    __________________
    herniated L4-L5, free frag with footdrop approx. 6-30-03 with a month of lower back pain prior to that
    laminectomy/discectomy 07-14
    I have 5mm herniation of L5-S1 on right side that is asymptomatic, no surgery recommended

     
    Old 07-23-2003, 07:22 PM   #6
    alfie
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    Just in case anyone was curious, I had my follow-up appointment with the NS today and he had VERY BAD news. I did not have extruded disc fragments after all but instead a rare form of cancer called osteosarcoma. When he removed the "disc fragments", he had found some unusual strand-like material and he sent everything off to be biopsied. Sarcoma is less than 1% of all cancer patients and I have the bone version so I am not sure how much more rare that is.

    I am right now in shock and am trying to figure out what this means. I will be seeing an oncologist (cancer specialist) who will take me through the next steps. So whereas before I was wondering if I would ever re-gain the strength in my left leg to walk properly again, now I am wondering if I will even live. I am sorry to burden you all with this. I pray that this does not happen to anyone else. I had the bad luck of physical things like gardening and fire extinguisher lifting send me in the wrong direction for all these weeks. I also have a bulge in my lower left back about three inches from my spine that my chiropractor and other doctors had just said was a tightened muscle to protect the spine injury. But now I wonder if it is not just another huge tumor too!

    Well, I should go. I guess I will be switching to the cancer message board on this site now.

    -Eve


     
    Old 07-23-2003, 07:52 PM   #7
    jdog
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    Eve -

    I'm so sorry that you have to give us this news. I am glad that it has been found and hopefully there will be some treatment for it. I hope that these boards and good internet searches will give you good data to help you decide the correct course of action to take to give yourself a normal life.

    Best wished for a cancer free future.

    Joe
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    L3/4 Lam. 2/2001
    ACDF C5/6/7 8/2002
    L4/L5 Herniated 1/2003

     
    Old 07-23-2003, 11:30 PM   #8
    Michaela
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    Hi Eve, very sorry to hear of the out come of your appt. today...I hope the boards here will help you get thru this ok, and don't forget us over here, or else will have to come over there and say hi, but remember were all here for you... takecare
    michaela
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    August 29th 2002 Injured back at work
    from August 2002 till late Nov, roller coaster ride with pain etc.
    Dec Friday 13th 2002 laid off job.
    Dec. 26th pain starts back up again, lasts for 6 weeks before pain got better then turned to sciatic pain for about 10 weeks.
    April 1st had MRI.
    April 4th MRI read by my doctor, reading L5-S1 herniated disk W/8mm bulge, pressing on nerve in spine.
    Doc says I need surgery.
    Then I was investigated (pictures & video taped)
    Had second opinion Doctor appt. and Workmans comp didn't notify me till the day after the appt. by usa mail. I was ******!
    I did go to the appt. on another day, thank god I did, cause it was the icing on the cake at my hearing. I won!
    Then had surgery for Laminectomy/Disectomy June 18th 2003.
    I also had ALOT of scare tissue, surgery was longer then expected.
    now I am over 4 weeks post op.
    still get a zing down left leg, but I can walk.
    7/30/2003 still having low back pain, like an ache feeling at the end of the day (6wk po)

     
    Old 07-24-2003, 12:11 AM   #9
    Alaskan Mom
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    Hello Eve ... just wanted to let you know that my prayers are with you as you go through this tough time!

    Alaskan Mom
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    10/99 - Auto accident caused pain in back, neck and right shoulder, middle of back out to the right side and up - doctors said it was muscular and could take 1+ years to heal.
    PT and Biofeedback - took doctor's advice and waited for pain to go away.
    10/02 - Saw new doctor diagnosed with facet injury, rib joint problems and possible thoracic disc problem(s), Intensive PT and Traction until 5/03 helped "a little."
    12/02 - Injection in neck - helped with neck pain, lasted 5 months.
    3/03 - 2 injections in middle back - no help whatsoever.
    7/03 - Discogram revealed 2 torn discs T3/4 and T4/5, IDET recommended, as well as RF for neck area.

     
    Old 07-24-2003, 12:18 AM   #10
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    Eve..

    I just wanted to let you know that my thoughts are with you, and to please post with updates here. I'm so sorry that you are going through this <hug>

    Check in with us please!

    Stacey

     
    Old 07-24-2003, 08:30 AM   #11
    Shri
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    Hi Eve,

    I knwo as difficult it is now...I can say that you will be in our prayers and please try and be brave. I can tell you that I have seen a great number of cancer patients getting better here,..so please do not worry toomuch. I hope you get some relief from pain.

    Guys, I also wanted some help, this is the 21st day after my MED surgery, I went from Dallas to LA for surgery, and after one week of surgery (herniated disc in l4-l5), my pain in my left leg is almost double to 3 times my pain before..I spoke wiht the NS and he mentioned that this takes time, but why would the pain increase..earlier I had very little pain, no numbness, no tingling effect, no weakness...now I have everything..it has like gone from good to worse..he has put me on Celebrex. Skelaxin, and Hydrocodine..but I cannot even sleep in the nights..I try and walk, but get stiffness in my calf muscles and my back thigh muscles..and it pains like crazy..

    Is it true that it might take lots of time for the pain to go away..after surgery..my problem is that other surgeons in Dallas are refusing to see me, as they are saying that they wont clear anybpdy else's mess.... I am really scared..you think this could be re-herniation so soon..or some screw up in the surgery...

    Please advise..thanks

    S
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    Old 07-24-2003, 08:36 AM   #12
    Shri
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    Hi Eve,

    I knwo as difficult it is now...I can say that you will be in our prayers and please try and be brave. I can tell you that I have seen a great number of cancer patients getting better here,..so please do not worry toomuch. I hope you get some relief from pain.

    Guys, I also wanted some help, this is the 21st day after my MED surgery, I went from Dallas to LA for surgery, and after one week of surgery (herniated disc in l4-l5), my pain in my left leg is almost double to 3 times my pain before..I spoke wiht the NS and he mentioned that this takes time, but why would the pain increase..earlier I had very little pain, no numbness, no tingling effect, no weakness...now I have everything..it has like gone from good to worse..he has put me on Celebrex. Skelaxin, and Hydrocodine..but I cannot even sleep in the nights..I try and walk, but get stiffness in my calf muscles and my back thigh muscles..and it pains like crazy..

    Is it true that it might take lots of time for the pain to go away..after surgery..my problem is that other surgeons in Dallas are refusing to see me, as they are saying that they wont clear anybpdy else's mess.... I am really scared..you think this could be re-herniation so soon..or some screw up in the surgery...

    Please advise..thanks

    S
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    Old 07-24-2003, 01:47 PM   #13
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    Hi Eve,

    I'm so sorry to hear about what you are going through I will be saying some extra strong prayers for you to be able to get on the road to a complete recovery soon

    Take Care,
    Baxter [img]http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/love2.gif[/img]

    ------------------
    Two level laminectomy fusion L5-S1 & L2-3 done on 12/6/02.
    I regret the day that I agreed to have this surgery.
    Fifteen inch scar from the very top of butt crack (sorry), to the bra line.
    BAK cages, rods & screws.(Titanium)
    My pelvic bone was used for grafting.
    Praying that the other two discs in between, won't have to be fused later, as I was told it was a possibility, due to the other two discs in between, not being in that great of shape.
    Doc didn't want to fuse four levels, unless it is really necessary.
    I would hate to repeat the surgery, as the recovery period, is so very painful.
    I also have a free fragment in my T11-12 area, that I'm still refusing surgery for, at this point in time.
    That surgery is way too dangerous for me to consider, until if affects my being able to walk.

     
    Old 07-24-2003, 02:29 PM   #14
    aroberts
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    EVE
    Hang in there and keep your chin up. It looks like things were caught in plenty of time and you Will beat this. We all are praying for you and wishing you the best
    Alex

     
    Old 07-24-2003, 03:17 PM   #15
    daubie
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    ~Eve, I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I just wanted to join everyone else and say I'll pray for you and hope you get some answers soon. ~Daubie

    ~Shri, I would be concerned if your symptoms are so much worse than pre-surgery. You've obviously tried to get a second opinion and can't, so I would insist on seeing your doctor and making sure he understands that you are MUCH worse than before surgery. I doubt you reherniated, but from what I've read (and I am not a doctor!), the MED's downfall over the micro-d is that although the incision is smaller, they can't see too much, so they remove what they know is there, but they can't "look around" for anything that didn't show up on the MRI/CT etc. I had micro-d 7 weeks ago and I did not have worse symptoms than before, I just didn't have any improvement. Anyway, hope this helps and keeep us posted on how you're doing...~Daubie
    __________________
    Car Accident 2/2/02
    Herniated disc L5/S1
    Epidurals x3, PT 4 mos, some relief, but constant foot pain and numbness continued
    Microdiscectomy 6/6/03
    9/5/03 still have foot pain and numbness but recovered fine from surgery
    1/19/04 I am 7 mos post op. I still have the same foot pain as before surgery. Doc agrees it is probably permanent nerve damage. Started neurontin this week. Still glad I had the surgery though!

     
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