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  • Discectomy two weeks ago... Well?

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    Old 07-05-2010, 05:07 PM   #1
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    Discectomy two weeks ago... Well?

    Edit: I have added a new post at the end of this thread: it is now 4 weeks post discectomy.

    So, it's been exactly two weeks ago today that I had my "open discectomy" aka laminectomy/discectomy.
    To recap: 40 yr old male. Non smoker, healthy active 6'4" 180lbs.

    I have had a sore lower back for nearly 20 years, lumbar strain with occasional soft tissue soreness. Managed by stretching, active and typical excersize.
    Ffwd: 4 or 5 months ago I start to develop the tell-tale sciatic signs around my right glute. Weekly, the pain is getting more and more pronounced. By April, the pain is by my thigh, May getting worse, June and I can barely stand up. The sciatic pain is breathtakingly vicious!
    I opt for an epidural injection in early June and the sciatic seems worse!!! Uh oh.....
    So, I can no longer live in the pain circle of vicodin, mega dosage of Advil and steroids... It's time we look at the MRI and discuss surgery.

    The neurosurgeon is widely referred to as one of the best premiere surgeons in the region (I'm sure they say that about every surgeon).
    We schedule the procedure to do open discectomy to remove the rather large herniation near L4

    I have the surgery and am released the next day. No outspoken abnormalities with the procedure and it seems to go well. I'm dazed, drugged, constipated and groggy but I am released.
    During the ride home I could still feel that sciatic pain?!?
    I was told by so many people who had this "ahhhhhh" instant relief feeling after their procedure. I wasn't so fortunate.

    Four days after the surgery my sciatic pain is a 7 out of 10 (pain scale). I post a thread on this board. Folks say keep positive, relax, lay low. So, I try to stay relaxed and positive.
    The next three days it gets worse, terribly worse. The pain was worse than before surgery. I call the neurosurgeon and ask him if he got the wrong disc?!? I am near tears in pain and disbelief. I return to neurosurgeron to check to see if I have an infection etc. He removed the staples, assured my there is no internal infection and to try another run of prednisone. I insist his surgery is botched, he insists it's normal because the nerve had been compressed for many months and it will relax in time and "cool down."
    So we double my pain meds and do steroids again. Two days go by and I feel my pain ease from 8-10 down to 7-8.
    4 days later I can eat with the family again. The last three days, I can walk 4 blocks without too much pain.
    Now I am trying to ween myself off of the oxycodone by switching to advil, gradually easing into more and more activities. As a matter of fact, last night I was upright with friends and neighbors for our 4th of July party for four hours, relatively pain free.

    Slow growth, small steps. Everyone keeps saying "positive mental attitude" is the best medicine for back recovery. It's easier said than done but, I know I was trying my hardest to stay in faith and use spirituality / meditation. Again. Easier to say than do, especially when the sciatic is viciously
    killing you. But, you have to press on.

    It's only been two weeks (to the hour actually!) since my surgery and it has been a huge event in my life. Peeks and valleys. I know I have to stay in the moment and pray that it'll all work out. It has to, if there's life, then there's hope.

    Last edited by rescuegreen3; 07-18-2010 at 09:23 AM.

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    Old 07-07-2010, 04:34 PM   #2
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    Re: Discectomy two weeks ago... Well?

    hey i feel your pain....recovery from back pain is very difficult and i have learned that you have to stay strong mentally. I am 20 years old and six weeks ago i had a discetomy/laminectomy on my l5-s1..... I still have sciatic pain but have seen minor improvement each week. I just hate it when doctors dont understand hhow much we all struggle. I was struggling those six weeks and was relieved that it was finally time for my six week post op visit. When i get there he talks to me for about a minute and says i'm ready for physical therapy. He barely asked anything about how i feel or tested any type of movement.. I just don't understand but I'm just gonna keep focusing on getting better. Good luck and hang in there.

    Old 07-07-2010, 04:47 PM   #3
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    Re: Discectomy two weeks ago... Well?

    Although I am cervical I know I am eventually facing a lumbar surgery too but I know that pain. I've had 2 cervical(C3to C6 laminoplasty with C7 decompression and then a C3 to T1 fusion when the laminoplasty didn't work) and now I'm facing #3 for more cord compression and nerve compression. But I've learned a couple of valuable things.....

    1- the spine is slow to forgive. The longer the nerves were compressed, the longer it takes for them to stop hurting.

    2- spine surgery takes a long time to really recovery from. Give it 1-2 years....honestly.

    3- the normal course is very up and down and to be expected. Those who have smooth recoveries aren't the norm.

    Give it time. It took how many years to get this fixed? So why shouldn't it take years to get it healed too?

    You'll get there. Heck, I had no use of my arm until 9 months post-op and now at 3 1/2 years post-op I can pick up my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter.

    Takes time and work.

    good luck..............Jenny

    Old 07-08-2010, 01:12 PM   #4
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    Re: Discectomy two weeks ago... Well?


    You need to have patience.

    Get off the pain meds as soon as possible. Go with the Over the counter stuff.

    You need to think in terms of MONTHS, not days, or weeks.

    Years ago, after a surgery like yours, you would have been kept in a cast for SIX MONTHS, before they even considered getting you active again. Can you imagine the muscle atrophy which would have taken place.

    These days, it is basically an outpatient procedure. But you have to be careful and patient.

    I am 17 months post op from a triple discectomy and I am STILL healing.

    Patience, my friend, patience. The more patient you are, the more complete and successful your final recovery will be.

    Be strong and God bless you.

    AZ REB

    Old 07-11-2010, 04:35 PM   #5
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    Re: Discectomy two weeks ago... Well?

    It's been 3 weeks since my discectomy/lami "Aka open discectomy"

    Today was the first day in a long time that I rolled out of bed without sciatic pain!

    Don't get my wrong, if I twist my hips a few degrees fwd or backwards I know the sciatic is waiting for me. But... Rolling out of bed to the bathroom I was like " wow, it actually doesn't kill to walk."

    I have been laying down for 40 minutes, up and walking for 15-20 minutes, then on an ice pack for 15-20 minutes. That's pretty much my existence.

    Nobody mentioned that I would have continuing sciatic pain after my surgery. Everybody who I know who did this would say "oh great & instant relief. Off pain Meds the next day, walking two miles... Blah blah blah...."

    It wasn't like that at all. It wasn't until I found this web site that I have heard of slow to heal, continual sciatic, raw nerves, let nerve cool down" etc etc...

    Trying to hope that I'm getting better. But I can't stop to wonder if there is still pieces of bone/disc which is still causing the pain???? So hard to know if I'm actually getting better or just taking it easy and not agitating the bad sciatic nerve...

    Stayng positive. I'm focused

    Old 07-18-2010, 09:17 AM   #6
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    Update: Re: Discectomy: four weeks ago... Well?

    Hello everyone,
    I have been trying my best to use this thread as a guide post to those who are doing the same procedure or have had it before to use their experience, strength & hope.
    I will try not to use it as a deliberate commesseratio n of pain/ sadness. Trying to keep it from becoming my emotional soapbox, if you will.

    It has now been 4 weeks since my open discectomy.

    Weeks one and two were terrible post-op pain. Then, magically week three hit and for the first time in many months, I log rolled out of bed without the vicious sciatic pain down my right leg.

    It is now four weeks:
    I have been very careful to never over do it. For the last week, i have cut out the oxycodone, flexiril & switched to 3 vicodin sipplemented with 6-12 otc Advil. This seemed to keep the pain at bay.
    I walk about 2-3 blocks every morning after a small very noninvasive stretching session of 10 minutes very simple and never too far, just slight neck- shoulder, very very Slight back arches, calf stretches etc... Then my 2-3 block walk.

    My wife & neighbors who see me have all said "wow. Looking like you're moving around a lot better." nice to hear but inside I know I'm just a few degrees of rotating my pelvic into the sciatic nerve. But, that's okay. Small steps and I'm seemingly getting tiny tiny among better every week.

    However, about4 days ago, I realized that perhaps I hopped off of the bigger meds too early, I know I want off of the oxycodone but had to call for the flexiril. It was too early to get off of it.
    The last two mornings when I wake up the sciatic pain is righ back to where it was before surgery again!!!! *** ? I cant believe it. I am teetering on "getting better or having a botched surgery" in my brain. I know of two close friends who both had failed discectomies who had to have a second one done.
    I can't pu this on my wife, my company, my two small children, my personal bank account. I am trying my hardest to stay positive and in the solution (and not the problem).
    So, Have any of you open discectomy patients had the sciatic pain return in full force one month after surgery?

    I just refuse to believe this.... I remember when I was recovering in the hospital the morning after my surgery and moving my hips a little while in the hospital and feeling the "wham" sciatic pain right where it was just before surgery. Seriously, has this last month just been a waste of me laying down, ice, taking it easy, not working been for naught?

    At 1 month post op, have any of you been in this pain? Or am I just being impatient? At one month?
    I have my follow up visit with the neurologist who did my surgery next week. Is it time to redo an MRI to see if there are still fragments or not enough repair done??

    Anyone been in this level of pain 1 month out?

    Old 07-19-2010, 09:32 PM   #7
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    Re: Discectomy two weeks ago... Well?

    Hi Rescue,

    It's going to be a roller coaster. Strap in and prepare for the ride.

    I'll give you an example. Three months post op, I was making great progress, extending my walking and exercising, it was going great. Then bam, I was down for three weeks. Couldn't do anything. I called the surgeon's office. I asked the physician's assistant, "what's going on?" She said, "has it been three months since surgery?" I said , "yes". She said, "Oh don't worry, the nerves are just reawakening in your discs, it will pass and you will be on your way again"

    She was right.

    The point is, your recovery due to your age, size, activity level is going to be all over the charts. Just be aware that you will keep moving forward, even though it may not seem like it to you. I told you in an earlier post, this experience is going to require patience at a level you probably never had to have in your life. I was not kidding. (as you are finding out)

    You have to remain positive, make slow steady progress and think in terms of: "I will be better, not next month, but hopefully in 2012.

    P A T I E N C E

    AZ REB

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    Old 07-19-2010, 09:58 PM   #8
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    Re: Discectomy two weeks ago... Well?

    thanks az, I actually think about your prior post quite a bit.
    You know, when i wentr in to surgery last month, I held out for as long as bloddy possible.
    But, when I finally bellied-up and limped into the OR under the neurosurgeons knife, I was done. Beat. My days of fighting the notion through excersize, stretching, rolfing, chiro, accupuncture were done. It was time to have the dreaded "back surgery"
    But oddly enough all the Dr's, my friends who
    ve had this nearly all say "oh wow. instant relief, you'll be happy you did it etc..."
    So when I went in to surgery & the first morning when I wake up in the recovery post op room, I could still feel the sciatic, lurking & waiting for me to just rotate my hips in the wrong direction.

    Little did I know this is going to take a long time perhaps. Getting encouraging memos such as the ones you post do a huge service to us recently through it.
    This is my purpose of the thread, to be somewhat of a running online journal so if there is another person google searching "discectomy" they can have a lightpost to mark their way.
    thanks again.

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