7 weeks post microdiscectomy l4 /5 herniation 6mm, ongoing , burning sensation still shins

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js100
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Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/14/2017 2:36 AM (GMT -7)   
HI guys, great forum, looking for some grounded hopefully positive support..

Started getting some mild back pain, nothing too insane 3/4 out 10 about three months ago after working through a heavy weightlifting strength program circuit. Turns out during a max lift attempt i got burning sensations down through the front of both legs and into feet to the point where when walking it would build up and i could not walk properly, still with only mild 3/4 out of ten back pain. I Was , still am dam scared, ive been active and fit most of my life, now this.!

I phoned some friends, went to GP, physio and osteo who said, mate go straight to er as i was getting groin pain and get yourself assessed. ER did CT an MRI, revealed no cauda equina, just severe swelling in low back ( muscle ligament damage/sprain) and large prolapsed l4/5 disk with disc centre and fragment jamming l/4/5 nerve root.

the neurosurgeon came and discussed scenario, said you need to release that nerve asap for best healing outcome, 6mm disc prolapse unlikely to heal quickly on its own to relieve nerve pressure. I was admitted and surgeon gave me two days on endone to manage pain to consider my options. I again spoke to people i know and trust who and decide to go ahead with micro d.

Surgery went to plan, back pain minimal, but left surgery after two days with back ache and pins and needles in my legs a stinging feeling in my feet big toes with a bit in my shin areas. Surgeon, who is very well know and experienced said all normal after this process, go rest for three months and just walk, dont sit to much.

ive been doing exactly that by the book, walking 1k per day gently, gentle hydro pool, no lifting bending or twisting, taken 6 weeks off work, gentle physio and plan to continue this soft approach for 6 months ( back now fulltime at work i have sit stand desk)... BUT im getting the radicular symptoms quite a bit in same area about 2/4 out of 10 each day throughout the day and they seems to not improve much over the last 3 weeks. I have read lots and am learning more that people get results or improvement re nerves after 12-18 months.....i this a real thing or i am i setting myself up for misery when 12 months comes an dim not better...love some feedback guys...im stressing big time im stuck with this, its taken its toll mentally already..anxious to the max...

skeye
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Date Joined Mar 2008
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   Posted 12/14/2017 4:18 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi js, and welcome to the forum!

Yes, the 12-18 month recovery time for full healing of the nerves is correct, although some people heal faster (a lot depends on how much damage the nerves sustained prior to surgery). But either way, you should gradually improve over time, and will hopefully be feeling a lot better long before 12 mo rolls around.

While it is possible to reherniate doing even very simple/seemingly harmless things (I know, I've done it -- reherniated after coughing 9 days post-op), it is pretty uncommon, especially the farther you get out, and if you have been following your post-op instructions -- and yes, it sounds like you have been doing everything right. My guess would be that most of your leg pain is from inflammation, especially now that you are back to work/doing more. It should get better with time. The important thing is that the pain is not worsening, it is not severe, and you don't have any neurologic compromise.

I totally understand your stressing out -- I was the same way for a long time (particularly since I DID reherniate and have other post-op complications), and have only just recently begun to relax now that I am over the 3 mo mark. I know it may seem like it, but 7 wks out is really not that far along in the whole sceme of things. Your back and your nerves are still aggravated from surgery, and your body still has a lot of healing to do. Heck, I'm 14 wks out from my last back surgery (which is still not that far out) -- twice as far out as you -- and I still know exactly when my inflammation is kicking up, because my residual nerve pain gets a lot worse. As I still keep reminding myself, it takes time for everything to calm down. Recovery is a process, and you are bound to have periodic setbacks. It is never as straightforward as the doctors would have you believe.

If things get worse, talk to your doctor. But other than that, I'd say keep doing what you are doing and listen to your body -- don't push yourself too much, and rest as needed. Yes, you need to gently move, stretch, and strengthen, but you also need to heal. Hang in there. Things should get better with time!

Skeye

Post Edited (skeye) : 12/14/2017 4:36:50 AM (GMT-7)


straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15525
   Posted 12/14/2017 11:07 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello Js & welcome to the forum. From what I am reading in your post you have done some good research about your situation. Being 7 weeks out from surgery is not long at all. It may seem like a long time but it really isn't. Even with you having micro surgery, keep in mind it is no different than any surgery. A lot of work was done on the inside. Drs tend to make it sound like it is less invasive & recovery time is shorter, not true for everyone.

Keep doing all of your rehab, that is so important. This rehab is as important as the surgery itself. Just don't get a wild notion one day & think "maybe I need to push myself harder to get better". That thought will most likely backfire on you & cause many issues you do not need. Pace yourself & listen to your body.

Take care & call your dr is things start to get worse. Don't be surprised if you have some ups & downs, that's normal.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/14/2017 1:02 PM (GMT -7)   
thanks so much straydog and skeye, i will keep updating my progress, i want to also say my well wishes to you both also in a timely recovery and may the Christmas spirit bring your recovery upon you quicker.

I think you are spot on regarding inflammation, im not needing to take meds anymore, but i had some yukky 3/10 burning in my feet after a busy day ( with no bending or lifting!) at home with my gorgeous yet energetic 5 & 7 year olds and at the same time felt 'funny' around my L5 disc incision area like bruising...i woke up this morning with same feelings in my legs and remembered your thoughts re inflammation and strapped an ice pack to my low back, it really reduced the nerve sensations almost straight away by quite a lot. I also battle with driving and sitting quite a bit, bout half an hour is my limit, seems to really dislike my nerves, but standing up is ok..

I am learning a lot thru this process, like how much our society teaches us to ignore our body and push thru pain, im not sure thats a wise move now!....

Also, seems like us micro d's the inflammation is the "silent hinderance", managing that closely and let that guide our activity level is what im seing is important.

The more research i do, i see consistent themes where ppl rush back to high intensity activity at 6 weeks and down the track 12 months end up in what appears to be an inflammation cycle they cant break for sometime years...

I have made a choice , thanks to forums like this to give away weight lifting/training and go with pilates style isometric training after my rehab in a few months depending on how i feel of course. I will stick to walking with family and dog! so i can be a good husband and dad in good health going forward....injuries like this make you re-evaluate who and what is important, good things come from significant life challenges especially our battles back to good health.

Look forward to my next update

Post Edited (js100) : 12/14/2017 4:23:50 PM (GMT-7)


Steve57
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Date Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts : 17
   Posted 12/14/2017 8:50 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello js100. I had L3/L4 fusion almost 18 months ago due to L3 nerve impingement causing excruciating pain in my right leg. Only in the last month or so am I almost back to where I have very little leg or back pain any more. Your recovery is measured in weeks and months so just take it easy and realize that there's not much you can do to make it heal faster but there is plenty you can do to make it worse! Sometimes you just have to rest for a few days.

When I overdid it during my recovery I could feel the swelling in my back. It took over a year for that to go away. In the beginning I would get pain and swelling from doing too much and it would take a week to settle down. But as time went by the recovery got shorter and shorter to the point where now I just get a good nights sleep and I'm good in the morning.

I hear what you're saying about it being a real mental challenge. Everytime I started to get the pains and swelling I would get so depressed and worry that something was wrong and I was going to end up with chronic pain or more surgery. After a while I realized that it was just my body telling me to slow down and that it always got better after a period of rest.

Good luck on your recovery and take it easy.

Post Edited (Steve57) : 12/14/2017 8:57:05 PM (GMT-7)


js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/15/2017 6:56 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks so much Steve57, i hope you continue to recover stronger than before! You are right , its very challenging to be so patient, especially with little kids....sometimes im like, this healing stuff is just not happening then i realise i did quite a bit more last week than this week, even just looking after the kids, washing, cooking...its quite a lot of work on your back i didnt realise just how much you back does until someone cuts it open and works on it.. ... my biggest issue currently is driving, flares up my nerve pain if I drive or sit for too long, bout an hour is my limit...i guess thats ok for 7 weeks post surgery from what i am now learning...how long before you can comfortably sit and drive Steve57?

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15525
   Posted 12/16/2017 1:02 PM (GMT -7)   
Js, sitting puts a huge amount of pressure on the spine. This is why you are able to stand & not have issues. Think about the mechanics of the spine when sitting. Tailoring some of your activities will help keep the inflammation at bay somewhat. You are doing amazingly well to be 7 weeks out. However, as I said earlier you are doing things the right way. You don't want anything to mess this up. Having young children is tough, so slow down when you have to.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/16/2017 3:51 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks so much Susie, its so hard to govern yourself when your little precious man wants to kick the ball and you cant, i just keep telling myself be patient, next Christmas im hoping to be better than this one and i may be able to go camping with kids and the beach..its heartbreaking to have to say no, they miss out sad

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15525
   Posted 12/16/2017 5:03 PM (GMT -7)   
Your kids are young enough they will not remember this. What they will remember is you sitting down & reading a book with them, coloring in a book, working a puzzle or just sitting & giving them your undivided attention. That is what they will remember most of all, having your time.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/16/2017 6:11 PM (GMT -7)   
Hey guys, was reading something that i found helpful but at the same time concerning about the way surgeons discuss back surgery. I was reading an online sports paper and saw "Olympic athletes" with sciatica back surgery. After reading through the list of world class people who had an micro d for sever herniation, i was blown away that the 'minimum' recovery time , for a world class athlete was 7-9 months regarding nerve pain subsiding and functionality . I am in dismay that surgeons still say, yeah 6 weeks , may take as long as 3 months.. In all, and i mean all the endless research i have done, online and talking locally with friends etc who have had this done, NONE have gotten nerve pain normality in under 9 months. NO wonder poor people like us are scared as hell when we are still in some residual nerve pain at 7 weeks or three months even...Gee, wizz..i know its no guarantee of a perfect outcome but 3 months, be a miracle almost it seems

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15525
   Posted 12/17/2017 7:36 AM (GMT -7)   
If surgeons were completely honest about the time to recover, the amount of pain after surgery & when a person can actually return to work, they would not be in the operating room much. The 6 week pitch is what is written in text books, does not apply to real people. It sounds good to a patient that has been in excruciating pain for a long time. Drs pitch the micro surgery as least invasive & shorter recovery time. Sounds good but it is not reality. I worked in the legal field & many of our clients had surgery. I also remember when they started doing micro surgery & they thought it was going to be the miracle surgery.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Post Edited (straydog) : 12/17/2017 7:42:11 AM (GMT-7)


Steve57
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts : 17
   Posted 12/17/2017 10:04 PM (GMT -7)   
js100 said...
Thanks so much Steve57, i hope you continue to recover stronger than before! You are right , its very challenging to be so patient, especially with little kids....sometimes im like, this healing stuff is just not happening then i realise i did quite a bit more last week than this week, even just looking after the kids, washing, cooking...its quite a lot of work on your back i didnt realise just how much you back does until someone cuts it open and works on it.. ... my biggest issue currently is driving, flares up my nerve pain if I drive or sit for too long, bout an hour is my limit...i guess thats ok for 7 weeks post surgery from what i am now learning...how long before you can comfortably sit and drive Steve57?


js100 I think it was about two months when I was able to wean myself off of the opiods for pain and just used tylenol as necessary. As far as driving it was probably about 12 weeks before I tried a long trip over about 30 minutes. Just stopped every couple of hours to stretch and walk around for a minute and it was ok. I did some snow shoveling yesterday, just a few inches of light fluffy stuff and I am feeling it today. Not bad but it still reminds me that I am not 100% yet!

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/19/2017 3:06 PM (GMT -7)   
thanks so much for replying Steve. Snow shovelling sounds very Christmassy! Well i haven't had the best time unfortunately, felt OK over weekend, did a fair bit of activity, went way downhill Tuesday in a lot of nerve pain , legs generalised but mostly right leg which was opposite to pre-surgery.

Went to my hospital er and they suspected infection, they were great, did full spinal MRI and gadolinium study for swelling scar tissue etc and to check surgery site for infection. All came back clear. Which would normally be great news , but diagnosis was nerve damage and possible mechanical instability in my low back, nothing they can do and scan show no swelling at all. Not quite sure how to process all this reality about my future, tuff day. Thanks very much for reply Steve.

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15525
   Posted 12/19/2017 5:06 PM (GMT -7)   
Js, just a thought, is there any way of getting a hold of your surgeon? You may want to consider asking for a short burst of oral steroids to try to get some of this inflammation knocked down. It would sure be worth a try. Perhaps cut back on your activities a little until things settle down.

Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/19/2017 7:03 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Susie, I will give that a try. My surgeon is overseas for a month unfortunately, but I will chat with my GP re burst of anti inflams

skeye
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Date Joined Mar 2008
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   Posted 12/20/2017 3:39 AM (GMT -7)   
I agree with Susie, and would talk to one of your doctors (GP or surgeon's PA if he/she has one) about trying a course of oral steroids if your pain continues. Just because they did not see any overt inflammation on the scan, does not mean that the nerve roots are not still subtly inflammed or aggravated from the surgery. If the inflammation is subtle, it may not be visible on imaging, but that does not mean that it cannot still cause you significant pain. You are not that far out and still have a lot of healing to do, and ongoing inflammation and temporary setbacks are expected at this point, particularly as you do more.

I wouldn't worry too much about potential nerve damage at this point, unless you are having significant and persistent problems (severe pain and especially weakness). While an EMG could be done to check for nerve damage, if there were significant nerve damage from the surgery or caused by the herniation itself, one would think that it would have been apparent long ago. Why nerve damage is suddenly appearing now, when you have not reherniated or done any other kind of new structural damage to your back, and the nerves are not being entrapped by scar tissue, does not make a whole lot of sense. So even if there is evidence of some nerve damage, I'd say your chances are that it is minor and that it will heal on its own in time. Of course, that's not to say that you do not have nerve pain, and a medication for nerve pain might not help or be worth trying in the mean time, especially if the steroids fail. But don't get yourself overly stressed about this being permanent nerve damage at this point. Nerves take a LONG time to heal (months to years, depending on the severity of the damage), but unless the damage is extensive (which it does not sound like it is), they DO heal.

Some degree of mechanical instability is to be expected after any disc surgery. If it is severe and causing significant problems, they can always do a fusion down the line. But again, don't worry about that right now. My guess would be that it is minor at this point (even if your herniation was large), and as you heal and get stronger and build up your core and back muscles, your body will compensate for the instability. That coupled with lifting properly and limiting bending and twisting when possible (even after "healed") will help protect your back in the long run.

I know it is really easy to worry and jump to conclusions (been there), but try to remember that in the long run, you are still in the early stages of healing and have a long way to go. Things will likely get better, just give it time, listen to your body, and try not to overdo things.

Skeye

Post Edited (skeye) : 12/20/2017 5:11:00 AM (GMT-7)


js100
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Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/20/2017 3:37 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you so much Skeye. I have been having panick attacks, awful, im getting some help for it. Its all very confusing. Trying to explain at the hospital what I was feeling and they said it was likely not sciatica but neuropathy or moderate sensory nerve damage as i have no motor deficits and scan showed no nerve impingement and they also did blood test, for infection, all clear. All they found was a small 4mm cyst at surgery site which they advised with time and exercise would resolve and wasn't causing any issues.

I am trying to let myself know that its only 8 weeks since surgery released the nerve pressure and my nerve was irritated for probably 6 months prior to the final herniation and surgery. Thanks you so much, you guys are such great support. The specialist at the hospital , had experience with neuropathic pain, and said if it did not to keep settling over next 6 months to try amitriptoline as apposed to lyrica. I hope i dont get to that point.

Thanks again Skeye, hope you are healing well too smile

Steve57
New Member


Date Joined Oct 2012
Total Posts : 17
   Posted 12/20/2017 8:38 PM (GMT -7)   
js100

Time is your friend. I know it's easy to get all worked up over what seems like never ending pains. Sometimes you just have to stop and rest completely to let things settle down. Its hard to do when you have a family and a job but it might be the only thing that will help.

And don't be afraid to let your surgeon or PCP know what you are experiencing and ask about other meds that can help you get through this.

As I said before I'm almost 1 1/2 years post op and was seemingly doing great a few weeks ago but in the past few days I've been doing some work around the house and shoveling snow and I'm hurting now so I'll take a few days off and basically do nothing to let things settle down. Luckily I'm retired as is my wife so she can pamper me and take care of things around here while I sit on the couch! smile

Take care.

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/20/2017 9:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Steve57, im doing my best i just cant rest, both of us have to work, doing it pretty tuff. I have just taken 5 weeks leave, but with a 5 and 7 year old on Christmas holidays, rest , i wish!...I am trying a three day course of anti inflams just in case, to see if it is inflammation causing the issues as a test. Keep you posted and I am being careful still respecting my body , no lifting or bending, still weekly physio, having good 7 hours sleep every night.

Out of interest steve57 was your leg pain typical sciatica, like down the back of your legs, or burning sensations?

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/21/2017 7:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Well guys, have invested as a trial, 2 neurofen anti inflams twice a day for yesterday and today, and , massive difference, my back almost felt normal again, and nerve pain down to 0-2 out 10. ??? So im confused, i grilled the radiologist who said, nope def no swelling. This must be muscle, ligament swelling still. Is that still possible 2 months post op?

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15525
   Posted 12/22/2017 6:04 AM (GMT -7)   
Yes, it is very possible & not uncommon for this to happen this soon after surgery. Not everything shows up on scans. When surgery is done things get very irritated inside & can stay that way for quite some time. Every one is different. What is fantastic is you have found a medication that is helping you, so enjoy it. I suggest you stay with this medication as long as you need it. You still have a long road ahead of you for healing & may have periods of feeling good & then not so good. That is part of the recovery process. Two months out from surgery means you are not out of the woods yet. You are looking at least 12 months for a full recovery.

Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/22/2017 7:24 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Susie. I thought , for anyone on this micro-d journey I would advise of things are helping me at the moment:

No binding lifting and twisting;
using a lunge to pick things up, not a squat (for some reason squat technique using a hip hinge irritates the hell of my nerves);
Regular ice pack;
Intermittent ibuprofen anti inflame sparingly;
using core stabilising exercises that do not using the back muscles;
slow walking and moving throughout the day;
resting and listening to my body when and rest when we need.
getting good support

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/26/2017 5:00 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi guys,..for interesting reading check the work being done on gluten free diet, having big impacts on Neuro-excitability. Worth a try if it adds to recovery. ? https://www.glutenfreesociety.org/sensory-nerve-pain-resolved-with-a-gluten-free-diet/

js100
Regular Member


Date Joined Dec 2017
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 12/30/2017 4:25 AM (GMT -7)   
9 weeks post op today. Had a great few days, beach, walking in sand, walking in surf, had a light game cricket 'gently throwing the ball with my son" had a great almost normalish three days..then leg cramps and tingling in my feet last night when laying on my side..its a new sensation, seems now lying on my left side sleeping now gives me pins n needles in my feet? Im fine moving around, just lying on my side..the frustration continues i have no idea why this is happening..three big steps forward, then back we go....

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 15525
   Posted 12/30/2017 5:30 AM (GMT -7)   
Sorry to read you are having a setback. This is normal & very frustrating while in the healing process. Just try not to let it get you down when this happens & it will. I realize you are tired of hearing you are not that far out from surgery, but you really are.

Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums
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