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Car rides painful. You?

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Old 08-26-2004, 11:49 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 284
ladybird988 HB Userladybird988 HB User
Car rides painful. You?

how long til after your microdiskectomy until you could ride in the car without pain? How long before you could drive comfortably?

I had a microdiskectomy on L4/L5 on July 1st and still cannot ride in the car comfortably, even reclined. The vibration and bumps cause my back to hurt and set everything back there in an uproar so that I have to take it especially easy the next 4 days, like a setback in healing when you push it too far. I get all limpy and stiff and painful. anyone else experience this?? I do not drive yet, as the doctor said to drive half the amount of time that i could sit comfortably and sitting is not comfortable yet for longer than 5 minutes.

I limit car rides as passenger to 20 minutes tops with only two stops as the getting in and out of the car seems to be the worst move a person can make for the back, at least that has been my experience.

As a result, I'm stuck at home unless my husband drives me to the grocery store down the street or to Walmart nearby. Sitting hurts still, so whereever I go there has to be a place where I can lay down if I stay too long, as standing too long brings on butt pain. So outings are short. This has been the worst limitation of the back surgery. I feel disabled. The good news is I am walking again which I couldn't do before surgery.

I did have neurological problems with my back, like the drop foot due to compressed nerve, and have a large top to bottom annular tear in the disk and am wondering if these are causing my healing to take longer. i walk 3 times a day, up to half an hour at a time, though slowly. But the car is out.

Feeling trapped and going crazy. ??

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Old 08-26-2004, 12:58 PM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 27
lisa43 HB User
Re: Car rides painful. You?

I haven't had surgery yet, or much other than the L4/L5 bulge which has finally decreased, however it left tares along the disk that might be leaking.. so I can relate to some of your discomforts with the car, walking and sitting, as I find it difficult to walk for long periods myself, and yet its the only way for me to get my daughter to and from school. Thank my lucky stars she is in afternoon kindergarden classes. What should be a 10 15 minute walk takes roughly 35 - 40 minutes one way. So I spend roughly one hour 10 mnutes to one hour 20 minutes twice daily just getting her to and from school on my feet. Thankfully I get a break from that tomorrow, as my husband has tomorrow thru Monday off, he will return to work monday night after he's had roughly 4 hours of sleep.

But a tip I find helpfuly, is I use a cane when I must walk for more than 10 minutes at once, it helps to slow down how fast I get the worst portion of the pain.The cane is set up so I can keep my right or left arm bent at the elbow.. kinda like a leaning post, and yes I end up walking slower that way, but in the end I am able to walk up 15 minutes before the pain starts back, on a scale from 1 - 10 my pain would be 9 before walking and when down on that same scale its an 11.

so the can does help a little, its no longer set to a 12, now keep in mind I am no doctor or any professional other than a wife and mother.and I am learning to cope with the pain, as I am scared to death of needles, so it makes things like surgery even harder for me to go through.

Another tip that I can offer up is, when riding in the car for any length oif time, try using cool gel packs, or those heating pads that get hot when exposed to air. It might help to keep your muscles relax a bit, and allow everything remain calm in your back, but again consult your doctor first and find out if those might help you.

I do hope you recover soon, and I pray that you no longer live in pain or discomfort any longer.

Your Friend,

Old 08-26-2004, 01:07 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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ladybird988 HB Userladybird988 HB User
Re: Car rides painful. You?

Hi Lisa,

You have got quite a hurdle there, walking your daughter to school. I do use a huge ice pack whenever I get in the car. It's glued to me and yes, it does help. I got a big one at WALMART with a blue removable cloth cover that can be put in the freezer or microwave and it stays cold for one hour! Longer than any other ice pack I have. So great for car rides. Those small ones only last 20 minutes or so.

Let's hope we both get better. Blessings.

Old 08-26-2004, 01:11 PM   #4
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 58
sambo99 HB User
Re: Car rides painful. You?

Hi Ladybird-
I feel for you- I had a microdisectomy/laminectomy on May 3rd 2004 and still have the same problem w/ sitting, car rides and driving. It is very frustrating to lose independence and have to rely on folks for the simplest things. It also puts such a burden on our social lives, doesn't it! If you can't sit or stand much, how do you visit w/ friends? I have been having people come to us so I know I can be comfy on my lounge chair. What has helped me is they realized I am having some sacro iliac pain. They did some cortisone injections and they have enabled me to tolerate sitting better but are quickly wearing off. Are you in PT? There are specific things a PT can do to help you with your SI joints, if this is part of the prob. There are also stretches and exercises for SI joint strengthening... That's great that you are walking. My PT helped me a lot with my gait and now I am more flexible. For a year I was hardly usung one leg so it definitely affected my gait.
Best of luck to you- let me know if you have any ?s
bulged disk L5 S1 microdisectomy May 2004

Last edited by sambo99; 08-27-2004 at 01:20 PM.

Old 08-26-2004, 01:59 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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PaulaZ HB User
Re: Car rides painful. You?

I didn't drive for 6 weeks and only rode in the car for dr.'s appts. during that time. Actually my husband has a truck (my car is very low), so he would put a milk crate on the ground so I could step in and out easier.

I did go on a 3 hour driving trip at about 8 weeks and did ok. Everybody seems to be different in their recovery time.

I had been doing well for the last month, but flared myself up on Sunday and am still not able to walk/sit/stand for very long. I feel for you as I also feel like an invalid when I'm in such pain. I refuse to leave the house because I'm afraid of falling, etc. I had to see the ortho on Tuesday and I thought I would pass out in the waiting room....kept switching from sitting to standing to walking and after 20 minutes there was no position that was pain free. I don't want to be in a store and have that happen. I also need a place to lie down and I have also felt disabled. It's a horrible feeling.

I'm hoping that your body just needs more time to heal and that over the next few weeks you will gain strength and endurance. Sometimes it's a slow and frustrating process, I know. You're complications may be making the healing slower also. Nerves take a long time to recover.

I thought I was all better. LOL That's a funny one!

Are you doing any PT? I really hope you feel better soon.

Old 08-26-2004, 02:53 PM   #6
injured betty
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,137
injured betty HB User
Re: Car rides painful. You?

Car rides can be the worst! At first, right after my injury, I didn't want to even get into a car. I felt every bump. I had a stick shift so I wasn't trying to drive. What I did figure out is, the driver, no matter how hard you try to explain it, doesn't understand the amount of pain that you feel. If you can, you have to do the driving so that you can anticipate the braking speed, bumps, potholes, and when to get out and walk around. If you have to do that once every mile, or every five miles, or whatever is best for you, then do it. My husband didn't get it until he sprained his back. Now, he is very congnizant of every bump in the road. My back doesn't really act up much any more, only when I overdo it, like when I mowed three lawns yesterday, but when it does, you feel every bump.

My pet peeve, when my back was at its worst was when my husband sat on the edge of the bed and took off his shoes. There is a chair in the room. The weight of him just shifting around was sheer agony. (No, he is not overweight). I started waiting until after he was undressed and in bed before I went to bed. Problem solved.

The better the car, the better the ride. An SUV, as much as I hate them, is a better ride, with better shocks/struts. I used to take the ice pack with me. I had a cooler in my car that I kept one in. Also, you can buy a back rest from the ortho center. I keep one in both seats. I also hold on when driving and have learned that when I am a passenger, not to try to brake. It was an instant reflex that was causing me great discomfort.

If you have a big back seat, you can set it up for real comfort with a cut to size egg crate, lay a sleeping bag over it, and use a special neck pillow. Bring along an ice bag. You can do your exercises, such as pulling your knee to your chest while back there.

Old 08-27-2004, 06:29 AM   #7
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Michigan
Posts: 106
back2basics HB User
Re: Car rides painful. You?

Sitting in a vehicle was one of my greatest hurdles after surgery. Still if I am in a car for long lengths of time I tend to move to the back seat and lie down for parts of the trip. I always carry lots of pillows for support and cushion with me.

I agree that it is easier to drive than to ride. You do tend to anticipate the bumps and brakes and pot holes a little better and can kind of brace for them. The higher the seat sets in the vehicle the better for me. Before surgery I drove a sporty mid-size car, now I drive a van. Much better on my back.

Just after surgery I was able to ride/drive in my car by using a lumbar support cushion behind my back and a cushion for the seat that has a hole cut out for where the tail bone would sit. I still keep one of these in my vehicle for bad days. You can buy them at some drug stores or on-line. I have used both a seat solution brand and a tush cush brand. They are about the same, but the seat solution you can usually find at one of the major drug store chains for about $15. Not sure if I can publish the name, but it starts with Wallg. That should give you enough to go on. This allowed me to sit in a car for about 3 hours at a time. I also would use an over the counter back brace for long rides when I felt I needed extra support.

Hope this helps at least a little. Dee
12/2/2008-Diagnosed Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Left Bundle Branch Block
5/7/2003-Laminectomy/Discectomy L4/L5 & L5/S1

Old 08-27-2004, 12:03 PM   #8
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ladybird988 HB Userladybird988 HB User
Re: Car rides painful. You?

Wow! thanks for all the replies and info! I will have my husband read your replies so he understands my pain better, and then decide what support devices to buy.
My doctor never said anything about such support devices.
I wonder why?

No, I have not started PT yet. I wanted to go to 8 weeks post op to let this nerve settle down more before I started. I had done PT before and it made my back worse, so I'm scared. I had quite a bit of nerve damage with my leg this time. The doctor said that was okay to wait and when I was ready he'd find a PT near me.

also, because I am not driving, I can't get to a PT appointment. Each week, I seem to get a bit better, so it may just be that it's taking more time. Doctor did say PT might help the pain. I'm just scared to death after not being able to move or walk before surgery. I'm frozen stiff terrified of making a wrong move. So I walk is all.

I should start a thread for those terrified of moving after back surgery and doing PT. I do not want to reherniate more out of that large tear. I walk and move around and all, but stretching, exercises, even bending a little scare me to death.

Old 08-30-2004, 09:46 PM   #9
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: born in wash ington moved to california in 2000,
Posts: 81
siberiandog HB User
Re: Car rides painful. You?

im 8 weeks ost op 360 and still have hard time when i ride too ,vibration,momentum,seems to stir up the dirt a bit,we just have to be patient i know its hard to be inside,my walks help tho,itll get better)))))))) yours will too))

Old 08-30-2004, 10:13 PM   #10
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 408
standingman HB User
Re: Car rides painful. You?

As my nickname implies, sitting is not my forte. There's an old thread on this board--"Haven't been able to sit for two years"--that brought in a lot of good suggestions for sitting, in cars and otherwise. You can use the search engine to find it.


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