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lorry96 11-15-2004 07:20 AM

5 months post op Discectomy
Hi There

I had a herniated disc L5-S1 and had a partial discectomy 5 months ago. I am only 28. I recovered well after operation although it was a very slow process which i did not realise. when told the recovery period was six weeks i expected to be back to normal after then. Not the case. Still getting back ache on and off and have to lie down in evening to rest leg as still playing me up. After around 2 months of op felt really good but then started getting anoying pins and needles on and off and now i am getting pain in leg again. Not same pain as before though but still enough to worry me. Have trouble with stretching leg still and feels though the back of my calf is so tight and could do with a good massage. Only had 3 sessions of Hydrotherapy which at the time seemed to really help but feel as though need something else done as leg still feels weak and not right. I have been doing my exercises the hospital gave me but do not seem to improve my leg much, just feels as though the muscle is tight or something. When i stretch my leg when laying down it goes into a cramp and tightens so much i can not move and really hurts.
Has anyone else had problems after this time period?
I have private health care and have just called the specialist to see him on Friday, just to put my mind at rest as am worried may be a problem there.
Does anyone know what exercises or activites can be done to help strecth the mucles in leg and strenthen it?
I will let you know the outcome of the visit to the specialist.


AlSmith 11-15-2004 09:00 AM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
Lorry, don't let all this get you down. It is normal to have some pain in the leg post micro-d. I am a little behind you in that I am about 3 months post surgery and I have some pain and the strength is not back yet. It takes a long time for our nerves to get their act together. The absolute best exercise you can get is walking. It seems to help me the most. Hang in there!


jayboy557 11-15-2004 02:25 PM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
i'm having a discectomy this month. can you give me some information regarding the procedure. my doctor didn't explain it very well. can you explain what they do and post op. how long were you in bed after surgery. did they give you pain meds afterwards and if so what did they give you. kin of nervous. help please, jason

AlSmith 11-15-2004 04:58 PM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
Jason, I looked up some other posts by you and saw your problem is at L4,L5. I will try to explain what they will probably do.

When you arrive at the hospital, you will go to a room to get undressed and put on the gown. A nurse will give you an IV. You may see the surgeon and an anesthesiologist before the surgery. If the anesthesiologist offers you something to calm you, take it. This will make you very drowsy and you may not even remember entering the surgery suite. I barely remember it.

During the surgery you will most likely be placed on your stomach. The operating table will have a section that will drop down so you will be in a kneeling position. You will be totally out for this and will have no memory of it. The surgeon will use some different tests to ensure he cuts into the correct place.

Once this is identified, the surgeon makes an incision no more that 3 to 4 inches. The skin is held aside and the surgeon will next pull the muscles aside to expose the layer of ligaments beneath. This is called the ligamentum flavium. He will have to cut through this to see your vertibrae. Once he can see the vertibrae, he will cut an opening to see where your disc is herniating and pressing against the nerve. Now is where he actually removes any disc material pressing on the nerve. He may have to pull the nerve aside to do this. Once he is satisfied he has removed all of the disc material needed, he sutures ( stitches ) the ligamentum flavium back together, moves the muscles back into place and then closes the incision with staples or tape called steri strips. The bone is not filled in. After this, you will go to a recovery room where you will wake from the anesthesia.

During the surgery, you will have a tube down your throat to help you breathe and help with the anesthesia. This is removed and you begin to regain consiousness. Once you are coming awake, you will be taken to your room in the hospital. You will still have your IV that will be giving you antibiotics and fluids. You will also have morphine most likely in you. I was given hydrocodone ( vicodine ) as needed. I took 2 every 4 hours or so. I only spent one day in the hospital. I had to show I could get out of bed and go to the bathroom.

The really great thing to me was waking from the surgery and having my sciatic pain GONE. The incision was sore and that lasted about 5 weeks. After surgery, you will be restricted to no bending, lifting or twisting. They call it the BLTs. My surgery was more complicated than this due to the nature of my injury and I missed 8 weeks of work. We are all different though and heal at our own rates. Don't measure yourself with others. Just concentrate on getting better. The first thread that states post surgery ideas is great. The two things I could not do without were the raised toilet seat and a grabber. You should also try to raise everything above your waist, like food and clothing. Get some shoes that you can just slip your feet into. I still wear mine alot. You may also want to think of ways to keep yourself entertained. I have a laptop computer with wireless internet and it was my link to the outside world for a while.

I truely feel I am one of the success stories. I am 3 months post op, back to work and looking forward to snowboarding season. Please feel free to post any questions or concerns you have. There are alot of awesome people in this board that can give you great info and listen to you vent. Good luck and THINK POSITIVE!!!


mel1977 11-15-2004 10:00 PM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
I too am one of the lucky ones. But first, I want to say that this is not a fix all surgery. You are at the same risk for re-injury as you were before, if even more so. SO, don't do what I did and hurt yourself all over again. This time around, you have got to take care of yourself.
I had my micro-d at L5-S1 Feb 2002. I was 24 and mine was do to a work related injury as a nursing asst (though not workers comp-time expired, but good thing actually for me).
Most of all my pain did go away-I did have sciatica and some spasms here and there, even up to eight months after my surgery. I took a full three months off from work-made sure I was ready. I went to PT which helps, but only for certain things. REALLY, PT is best to remind us that we need to be in shape and keep our core muscles strong. Keeping those strong and your weight in check can help so much in the future and how you feel following your surgery. I took this very seriously.
My problem, I tend to not pay attention to how I move: getting out of the car, picking something up etc... it sucks. I even tried to vacuum a month or so after sx and got yelled at by hubby and mom :( I deserved it.
You may have some residual pain that never goes away too. It all depends on how much your nerves were involved. Even some tests can't show minor nerve damage-damage that is sig. enough to cause irritation and pain-but not enough to show up on any test. I even asked my dr after my EMG and NCT was normal for low back. I said, "I refuse to believe my nerves aren't involved, based on my pain. Isn't it POSSIBLE to have some nerve damage and it NOT show up on a test?" He said" SURE, that is very possible". KEEP THAT IN MIND.
also, keep in mind that any unexpected movement can make you think you re-injured. This happens b/c your nerve endings can no longer stretch like they did before surgery b/c of scar tissue-and they become irritated and inflammed after this movement and cause pain. I was in a fender bender and 24 hours later my pain was the same as if I had never had the surgery (as far as burning etc.. goes). That was 3 months post op, and my dr told me about the nerve stuff. Two months later, I was still concerned so had a repeat MRI w/and w/o contrast. It was normal.
I am back now looking at a two level fusion b/c I didn't take care of myself. I thought I was invincible. I am not. Oh, for anyone looking at surgery: keep in mind this: If you WANT to heal, you do everything you CAN to heal, and you think POSITIVE (like alan said)and do your therapy-you will heal faster and much better than someone who does not do all above. I see this everyday when I was working with rehab patients. The ones who kept a positive mind and did everything they were told healed. The ones who didn't, well, took longer or ended up at a long term care facility, or worse, very sick.
Anway, I don't know how much of this made sense-I just kinda jumped here and there with my thoughts. I hopw some of this helped. Good luck-this is an easy surgery to come back from-but only if you listen to your doc.

mel1977 11-15-2004 10:03 PM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
If you have some pain, ask your doc about non-narcotic meds. I found that Ultram, Ibuprophen, Aleve, Flexoril and Neurontin helped. Just remember, you may have some of this pain that will always be there. As long as you can live your life as close as you can to normal with it-you will just have to learn how to deal with it. (it can't be bad pain though-more annoying than anything else.)

ShakyD 11-16-2004 02:13 AM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
Hi.. I'm about 9 months post op microdiscectomy. I also had the extreme cramping of the calf muscle whenever I stretched my leg out straight (but only in the morning kind of stretch, not a PT kind of stretch). It was really annoying but it eventually went away. My calf muscle is still a little sensitive though. A deep massage on that muscle is painful!

I think don't think you need to worry about the cramping - it should go away.

However, I've recently started to get spams in my calf. It's starting to annoy me. Does anyone know if this will disappear, or has something gone terribly wrong? I think I've been sitting at my computer too often and not doing enough exercises. Is it too late for me? Or can I get rid of these spasms?

lorry96 11-16-2004 02:48 AM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
Hi Jason,

I think Alan covered it almost. I was really scared when i had my operation as had never even been put out before. I was taken down to the operating theatre and whilst a nurse was chatting away to me the iv was put in then that is the last i remember. Upon waking felt fine just very drugged up still. I was given morphine injections when i needed which i must say were great. No pain while on these just very sore when moved. I had to lay on back for 8 hours afer op without being turned, which was fine. I was in hospital for 3 days and was not allowed to go home until could walk and climb stairs. An absolute must is to arrange for a raised toilet seat and a helping hand ( which is a stick with a grabber on the end to pick things up from the floor). I could not have managed without mine and after a week i was doing nearly everything with it.I was up and out of bed the next morning and walking( Taking pigeon steps though)

Do not worry, It will take a long time for you to recover, but if your pain is anything like mine was before the operation( i would have cut my leg off if i could) then you wont look back. It was the best thing to do. After operation the pain was gone in my leg completely. It was such a releif . I would have another operation tomorrow given the choice between pain or releif.
Everyone is different with regards to surgery it all depends where your bulge is and how big it is. Mine was very large.
After the operation and discharge from hospital, you can only sit for around 15min max, then you must either walk again only for around 10min and then im afraid the rest is lying down. YOu must not bend at all!! for 6 weeks, not even to put your socks on. I lived and died in tracksuit bottoms as the scar is quite tender afterwards and mine was exactly level with the belt area so jeans were too painful to wear.
I was very luky as my mum came to stay with me for 2 weeks after the operation, to look after me and do all the every day things that i could not do, even putting the kettle on was too much you really feel it on your back, only allowed to put minimal ammount of water in otherwise too heavy to lift.
I am sure you will be fine, i found the recovery at home afterwards much worse than the operation itself. It is very boring and you feel useless, so try to arrange for company or get lots of stuff to read or keep you busy as tv just gets tiresome.

After 6 weeks you can start to drive and it is great to actually get out into the real world.

Wish you well


lorry96 11-16-2004 02:58 AM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
Hi shakyD

Thanks glad im not the only one. Mine is the same cramp when doing that morning stretch kind of thing. Only the other night i had two really bad ones when i was just laying still on side with knees bent on pillow. my calf is still really tender, had my op in June so coming up to 6 months now. I get the spasms and feel like my leg is constantly tight feels as though not sure if it is hamstring or what. Also tender behind my knee and if have a bath and sitting up when put leg straight it does not go down, hard to explain the knee does not sit flat like the other leg. I am not worried about the on and off back ache its just the leg that is worring me.
Again i am like yourself, work from home on the computer all day, i do get up everynow and then and go downstairs and walk around a bit, I think the leg problems could be to do with not enough exercise.

As you would have read i am going to see my specialist again this Friday as the leg has me a bit worried and family keep nagging me to go back. I also have pain in the back of thigh where it was before the op but is not the same sort of pain more of a nerve thing.

I did read on the internet about something called adhesions from the space in the disc to the nerve where it was cut away in operation where scar tissue can form and can cause pain again in the leg as the scar tissue is attached to the nerve it aggrivates it. Does anyone else know about this? The trouble with the internet these days is it can make you worry more with all the info you can find.

Imamum 11-16-2004 05:21 AM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
Not sure if this helps or not, I am three and a half years post op, I agree that the relief from my discectomy was fantastic, I walked the same day as the surgery, my back did feel unstable then but quickly settled. I needed no pain relief post op but had two days in ICU due to my BP bottoming out big time, The next day I was allowed off the ward to walk and over did it :) I walked around a city block, got half way around and realised my mistake but that gives you an indication of how good I felt.

I still have a residual weakness of my leg which is progressively getting worse and while I am careful in how I move I have an autistic son and another with suspected addisons disease so I can't always rest when I should and do far more lifting than I am supposed to. I used to be a nurse but have never returned to work as I felt that the risk of re-injury was too great with my childrens needs. Post op, I wasn't allowed to stand still for more than five minutes (you should never do this anyway) sit for more than ten but was allowed to walk as much as I like as long as I was aware of my comfort zone. I was allowed to lift one kg (approx 2 lb) in the first six weeks, with no bending allowed. I moved the kids and I in with my mum to prevent my being tempted for those six weeks. Whatever you do the first six weeks is crucial to your recovery, it is when the scar tissue is made and it is the scar tissue that will support your spine, if it doesn't form and harden you are at a far greater risk for re-injury. While I will never play sport again, I garden, renovate both my house and furniture and have a good quality life. My children were only 3 and 4 when I had the surgery so they were still very labor intensive. Plan ahead and try to make sure that the initial recovery period is as stress free and temptation free as possible and you should be fine./

I would have surgery again if my pain got as severe far sooner than I did last time. I only had the physio visit once in hospital as I was self exercising and doing more than he would have given me anyway and was sent home with an exercise booklet to follow and use as a guide.

chrispinco 11-16-2004 09:22 AM

Re: 5 months post op Discectomy
its been 7 weeks for me and my leg pain stopped complety for a while now its back around my hamstring area. :nono: I wish I was complety heeled already but I have to agree with everyone its a slow and long process a good outlook is the most important. It sometimes gets hard to stay posative lol gotta keep trying =) good luck everyone!!!!!! :angel:

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