Back pain returned after microdiscectony

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Hi all

I had an L5 S1 microdiscectomy on the 17th June 2016 (10 weeks ago). I had a large hernia and leakage from the disc and had sciatica and weakness in my left calf muscle. After the op, at first my recovery was really good. Pretty much no back pain at all, and strength coming back steadily to my calf. I had started work doing 4-5 hours a day standing at my desk with no ill effects, and as much walking on the flat as I liked. I was doing Physio with lots of gusto and felt great.

Then after my 6 week check up, I blew it. I did a 100 minute mountain hike and a 30 minute bike ride. Idiotic. I know. I was feeling great before and during and thought I could handle this if I went steadily. 100% wrong.

The next day I woke up with 7/10 pain in my back and leg. I stayed in bed for the best part of a week. It started to get better but still bad. Then at the end of the week I had a crisis at work and had to stand about for about 3 hours. That was the last straw.

Since then I have had ongoing pain around the site of the op. I can't stand for more than a couple of minutes without getting a sharp progressing pain in my lower left back. The leg pain is mild for now thankfully. I tried continuing to walk while I recovered for the first 2 weeks. About 1km every couple of hours. That was a bit up and down and I was getting depressed at the lack of any progress. My surgeon gave me an MRI that showed no reherniation, just more scar tissue as expected. She said it ought to get better, gave me a load more painkillers and said to keep moving around and walking. The relief alone actually helped with the back pain a bit bizarrely. But not for long...

I tried continuing walking daily, about 3 x 20 mins, but the pain just stayed the same for another 10 days. I went to my GP to get some meds to deal with my terrible mood and lack of sleep. The frustration, lack of confidence in my recovery and anger at my own stupid action has been causing me to get really depressed.

He told my to do much less walking as this would aggravate the damage to the tissue in my back and that I should lie down most of the time. He said to do very light Physio only. He gave me Valium to help sleep and put me back on 20mg of steroids to help with the inflammation.

I am 5 days into this and going a bit crazy. First I don't know if I should believe my surgeon and go with the active recovery, or the GP and 'let everything calm down'. Second I don't notice any difference to the symptoms with either approach. Honestly, if I had confidence in either course I could relax but they basically disagree completely! And no one is saying what specifically is wrong and how/when it will get better.

In writing this and comparing to other people's posts I do appreciate that many have it much worse than me. Plus I also have the luxury of being able to take a bit more time off work and having a saintly wife to look after me. But my state of mind is kind of in free fall as I don't know when all this will bottom out and get better, and whether I will ever get back to the very active lifestyle I had before... So any words of wisdom would be hugely appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Hello

    Your description of your situation sounds similar to myself accept I haven't had surgery ........ Yet. I'm still waiting for my appt for a needle to assist with the pain . I have struggled with the same question. Do I stay active as possible or rest.

    When my husband and myself discuss my pain management and recovery he says that he understands that the doctor , physiotherapist , chiropractor all says keep moving but he doesn't think they understand how much I push myself. So I'm never sure if they mean keep moving like just walking around , stretching or like your normal exercise as much as possible. Like I can run if I endure pain for about the first 10-15 minutes and then the pain is bareable for a bit. However if I go to stretch , or do a plank , or my Physio exercises , the pain is to intense . I can't handle it . I'm just not sure how much pain I should be fighting through to get better, or am I making it worse.

    For whatever reason the last three days have been better. I've had this exruciating pain for over 3 months . I don't know what gave, but something . I'm not doubling up on my pain meds and I don't feeling like crying out in pain throughout the day. I didn't rest, I was exercising but the last three days I felt less depressed . I can move! But I fear the same will happen to me that happened to you . I went to play tennis with my son last night and just the thought of trying to return the bAll caused pain. So I decided to try not to do anything with quick sharp movements for now. I do keep reading that if it hurts don't do it but , that doesn't make sense to me because for the most part breathing , laughing , sitting, turning my head , existing causes pain. So I feel like they need to be more specific . I guess we just have to figure out what we think is best for us with the information we have. It's hard because often when I am experiencing intense pain my father and husband wants to rush me to the hospital. My teenagers roll there eyes " like mom that screaming is embarrassing " " would you just get over it" and my son says " he feels scared when I'm hurting " . It's so intense but it's like we just have to wait for our bodies to say " ok, I'm ready to feel better now , and I'm not going to tell you why"

    Good luck , I understand the depression . It's so hard bare the pain.

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    • Posted

      Hi Emily

      Thanks for your response. If I have learned anything recently it is listen to your body. I was very active before all this, and competitive with myself. Lots of serious cycling especially, hiking, skiing etc. My Big mistake was applying the same logic to recovery as I used to when training ie "pain means gain". "Go on, just another Km will be good - you can do it". I have learned to my cost that that is wrong for me in this situation. I am NOT training - I am healing. While strengthening the supporting back muscles is key, that does not mean exercising through the recurring pain. I just can't believe my body wants that.

      I have been thinking about this more and think I will try some pool therapy so I can be mobile without weight on my back. Hopefully that will also be positive mentally as well.

      Btw do you have issues in you leg as well? if you have something going on with your disc like I did, then more exercise and aggressive stretching might make it worse. If your nerve is pinned by the disc then you will inflame the nerve as you stretch it making the pain worse. My hernia was diagnosed very late so there was no discussion about not doing surgery but I think if you have something going on then behave like you might have a slipped disc until you know you haven't. Don't bend lift or twist as they all put tons of pressure on a potentially injured disc. Afaik running is pretty high impact on joints so can you switch to something else? As it happens a fall from my bike (first in 25 years!) turned my hernia into a rupture! I did not know at the time so I then rode 2 hours home uphill! I digress.

      See if you can get an X-ray or better an MRI. My X-ray suggested my hernia because of the lack space between the vertebrae, then the MRI confirmed it.

      Really good luck. Maybe see how you go after some time on a lighter schedule of activity for a couple of weeks. If it gets better then you could be on the right track. Also see if you can avoid physio exercises that hurt. Plank is great when you feel good (it makes me feel "yes I can!"wink but it was the first thing I stopped doing after my relapse. It is very demanding and so I have found some kinder stuff for now, mostly on my back. HTH.

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    • Posted

      I had an MRI two weeks ago that confirmed herniated disk. I work for the school board so I have the summer off thank goodness. There is no way I could work anyway. I was doing a contract and September I go back as a supply. I'm not sure how I will do that if the pain is bad because I don't know what job I'm walking into day to day. I'm an ea so some jobs require lifting children , restraining (not common but sometimes happens) , protecting a child that can't sit still so needing constant one on one physically redirecting them, sometimes needing to protect yourself ( autistic , special needs ) . I would have to start everyday giving a list of things I can do which would like result in a response like " why did you take the shift?" Even with the pain needle I'm unsure that if I feel no pain does that mean I'm healed? I just don't know what to do.

      I do have pain all down my leg, numbness and pins and needles right down to my foot. A couple days my thumbs were numb. If the pain med alleviate the pain , I can do the elliptical and light jogging but as for anything related to stretching or lifting weights , it usually hurts , my doctor and Physio therapist said I could do machine weights because it keeps your posture , but it does hurt so I keep thinking that they said to do it , so I do until I just can't bare it any longer. But this is all prior to the last three days. Where for whatever reason it feels something has let up.

      I've always had a lower back issue since my first baby. I would pull my lower back out and would recover after a few days of rest. Then the past couple years I seemed to have chronic stiffness when standing , but it was bare able just annoying. So I decided to go to a chiropractor . The first time I could feel my back go back into place but afterwards my hip started to stiffen up or and cause pain but not really bad. The chiropractor did acupuncture and after 4 treatments I had felt perfect for two years. Then I pulled out my back just vacuuming . This time the 3 days wasn't enough and I couldn't really move for longer. I went to the chiropractor , same result , lower back better and the pain in what I thought was my hip came back. This time excrutiating pain, the chiro sent me to the Physio therapist, I went for three weeks with no improvement and he said he didn't want to try anything else until my imaging came back. But I've used all my benefits and can't afford to go without knowing it will help. I'm not sure how this happened but I feel like maybe I was adjusted and possibility shouldn't have been and it caused the herniation. I'm not sure . The Physiotherapist said that if your pain moves from your back and down your leg that it is a sign that the problem is getting worse not better and that two years ago must have just been a fluke.that the opposite should have happened. I have to say that once the excrutiating pain is triggered by sitting or moving somehow it is equivalent to child birth pain but instead of it being over after 24 hrs or so it's lasted 3 months. I'm 41 years old , always been active . I just don't understand .

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    • Posted

      Hi Emily

      Have you checked out the explanatory material at spine-health .com? I found it useful to be able visualise what my problem was and why the surgery was helping. They have videos and stuff. If you have a herniation then all the symptoms you describe do make sense I guess. Any lifting, twisting or bending will all cause the vertebrae to pinch down on the disc. That causes the disc to flatten and push out towards the nerves that pop out of the spine there and so you get radiating pain in the leg etc. Sorry, I am sure you know all this!

      Have you tried getting referred to an orthopaedic surgeon to discuss the option of surgery? I am in no position at all to say that you should or shouldn't have an op of course. All I would say is that until my self inflicted injury 6 weeks after the event, I found my symptoms got steadily better pretty much from day one. I was out of action for about 4 weeks but not in pain and tbh those days seem quite halcyon now as I could feel I was getting better then! It was a huge relief to start getting strength back in my leg for a start. You don't have any weakness do you, that was my trigger to go back to hospital and pointed to the diagnosis, and forced the issue re surgery.

      Anyway, my take would be to focus on exercise that you know is doing your back good and dropping stuff that does not. Walking is good, running can be damaging due to the impact. Cycling is fine if you are fairly upright and don't go sprinting up mountains. People seem to like swimming although some say the hyper extension in breast stroke and twisting in crawl *potentially* are problematic. Tennis maybe a problem due to twisting. Otherwise I guess do all those physio exercises for core strength. Would it work to stick to "safe" activities and then see if you can do plank after a couple of weeks without pain? That might be a good sign of progress.

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    • Posted

      When you say weakness in the leg , do you mean it feels you can't use it? I feel when the pain is really bad I can tell because it hurts so much that that's all I feel . I know when the meds kick in I feel tingling and numbness but less pain , sometimes lately none.

      I went biking riding with my son last night and definitely has cause increase in pain today . The day before I actually tried taking no pain meds , I didn't go to the gym , I just wanted to see if I could go without. I was getting off the couch and could actually feel something in my back or leg move back and forth. It didn't hurt , but was a very strange feeling. Like something moving in my body that I didn't have control over. Maybe it's the disk? I feel like something has let up so maybe inflammation and swelling has decreased but the disk is just freely moving back and forth . I have no idea but it was weird.

      Sinare you saying I should wait for 2 weeks of less pain and then try different things? I've been trying new things as soon as I try it and it doesn't hurt as much. My workouts used to end with the inability to endure the pain. The passed week it seems I choose to end my work out for normal reasons like time, or just energy level. Biking riding is definitely out for a bit. I'm feeling it today. I just feel bad not being able to do things with my kids.

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    • Posted

      Hi Emily

      Good to hear your workouts are not so painful any more. That sounds a lot more healthy than going the point of agony somehow! Shame the cycling is not a goer - I found that was ok until I fully ruptured my disc by falling off the bike (!) but everyone is different and I guess your bulge or hernia is not allowing that.

      I really can't volunteer guidance on how to manage pre op because once my hernia was actually spotted on an MRI I already had paresis and they said "it's surgery time. See you Friday!"

      I guess just remember to be conservative and avoid stuff that you know in your heart is risky or hurts. It is sooo easy to get carried away. God I know!

      Also to say that, should it come to it, I for one can vouch for surgery if it comes to it. Mine was very effective. My leg pain went away pretty much overnight and the paresis (I basically lost about 75% strength in my left calf - which I had 2 weeks prior to surgery) is recovering well too.

      And here's something amazing in fact.

      http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/racing/olympics/ed-clancy-back-surgery-put-my-whole-career-in-doubt-213921

      Defies belief but inspiring smile He just won gold in Rio as well. He is my hero!

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    • Posted

      So I went to my pain management appt this morning. I told him I wasn't sure I needed it anymore that I was feeling better then the last 4 months . I said asked that I must be healing because of the decrease in pain. The doctor said " mmmmmmm it's not going to heal itself, that it a mechanical problem and one wrong move and I could be back where I started . That I have to motify what I do.

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    • Posted

      They all say keep moving but depending on the problem it can cause more stress and pressure on the disc as what happened with me . Landing me in emergency surgery .
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  • Posted

    Hi

    You say you hurt you back doing 100 minute climb and bike ride.. Do you know if you have rehimnatted or just stained the tissue.. I had my op 4 weeks ago. In my recovery I felt fantastic and was walking 10 miles a day.. Just been away on holiday

    And slightly hurt my back. It's took the wind out my sail. I don't have any shooting pain

    .. It just feels very tight. I am starting my walking again Tommo so hopefully that will lossen it

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    • Posted

      Hi there Jo

      I did not reherniate the disc I am glad to say although I must have really damaged and inflamed the tissue very badly though. It is still recovering and very sensitive a month later.

      Please do be careful when you feel fantastic. Given what you have done to date, really been your watch, and be honest. If it feels at all wrong, don't try to push through the pain. It will make it worse I suspect. Aches and pains are not a sign of unfitness to work through. I have found they are genuine injuries (even if just small ones) that your body needs to heal. My surgeon says 'listen to your back' which I take to mean, if it feels off, then stop straight away. I am not a doctor and yours can give you the best advice but I would suggest giving your body a period of comparative rest at this point, rather than trying to push on. I would try doing your physio that does have impact on the bones etc but don't be in a hurry and don't risk the pain and despair that I went through. There is nothing worse than feeling really positive for weeks then suddenly going into free fall. I soooo wish I could turn the clock back and avoid what I did. Taking a week or so with a gentle conservative routine is well worth the wait to avoid ongoing damage. Just pace yourself. You are not in a race. Walking is good for building up the back muscles but not good if the problem is actually inflammation caused by overactivity.

      It sounds like you should be all good as you don't have really nasty symptoms but don't be tempted to tough it out. HTH.

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    • Posted

      Incidentally, re-read my post above. V sorry if I came off all bossy. I would just love to know that maybe someone else might get benefit from my mistake. I am ridiculously type A as might be evident from my history. Control freak, competitive with myself and impatient. All negatives when trying to heal.

      Anyhow, saw my GP again today. He has bumped up my steroids to 60mg for a few days then to taper off. This should hopefully accelerate the reduction in inflammation. Weirdly when I was super-stressed the 2-3 weeks after hurting myself, I would have had natural cortisone in my system, helping reduce the inflammation. Maybe if I had stayed in bed then I would have got better faster! Hindsight, again. It is honestly laughable how many times I could have made this easier for myself but made the wrong call. Learning all the time I guess, but the hard way :p

      Also planning to taper off my Valium and tramadol over the next week or two. Hopefully that is possible. Right now focussed on getting off these 2 meds by the end of next week if I can, while being at low pain levels. Then will just be on minor ones, ibuprofen and Novalgin. Fingers crossed.

      Best of luck with your recovery though. It sounds like you ought to be feeling good again soon smile Keep posting. I would be interested to know how quickly you get comfy again.

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  • Posted

    Your post has helped me thanks.. As I was gonna start bike riding.. But have now decided not to..

    I will keep walking and see how that works

    I will be doing 2-3 walks perday.

    I don't like taking meds as it only hide the pain

    As for you I feel positive thinking will help

    keep active with light short walks🙏🙏🙏

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    • Posted

      Right, well, I have made a realisation. Lying in bed all day and waiting for this pain to go away completely before I get back to activity is a non-starter. While I might have inflammation and other soft tissue damage that needs to recover, if I lie in bed all day, I will get massive atrophy in the back muscles causing secondary back ache, probably develop pyschosematic pain from fear of movement and get totally miserable. I have been in bed 8 days and all of these are already evident.

      So I called the doctor that told me to back right off last week, to re-calibrate what I can do and can't do. We discussed getting the balance right being the key. I have decided to do 4-5 x 5 minute walks a day to start with plus the really low impact physio exercises - basically anything that does not hurt, plus a tiny bit of stretching. I know that there will be some discomfort along the way but it turns out that if I don't get one kind of discomfort I will get a whole other set of discomforts instead!

      As usual I was after "route 1" to recovery (rest 100%) but that won't work. Doing as much exercise as I feel like won't work either so now I am going to try the middle path. Just in for the long haul I guess. There is no quick fix.

      I was so stressed with the secondary aches that I asked my surgeon if my last MRI showed signs of facet joint issues (clutching at straws). It does not of course. She just said the same thing again. There is nothing structurally wrong. Use common sense and try not to stress out about the back. So I think I have at least reconciled what my doctors are telling me!

      Fingers crossed.

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    • Posted

      Your comments are very helpful! It often feels like you have to decode what the doctors say. Or you feel like you just didn't explain how much pain you are actually in. Usually when I go to the doctors office I was at the peak of my pain meds relief and appeared to have minimal pain. So then I wasn't sure if I should keep pushing through or rest. Or wasn't sure if he meant just light exercise like walking , housework or my regular exercise routine which is likely a bit more then average . I would go for an hour or an hour an half run. Or do regular weights just like the doctor said except avoid any weights on my shoulders compressing the top of my spine . He said everything else was far game and necessary for healing. But if he saw me in the morning or evening I would almost be brought to tears from pain. It's so confusing but you clearly described exactly what makes sense. Finding a balance. I remember the phsyiotherapist saying if you do a repetitive exercise and it begins to feel worse not better then stop. And the chiropractor said when you body is in pain to avoid sugar because it causes inflammation.

      Thanks for your comments!!!!

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    • Posted

      Well, today I had a bit of a set back. After a few days of slow progress I did a bit more walking yesterday (3x10 mins) and 10 mins on an exercise bike. It all felt quite ok at the time. Then in the evening I did some exercises standing on my tip toes, both feet, to try to build some strength back in my calves. The left one has lost lots of strength and a fair bit of mass. I felt a little weak (probably imagined) so I thought I would check that I could still support myself on my left foot on tip toes. I could but I immediately got some feedback in my back. I thought it would pass, and at the time it did but when I woke up and got out of bed, the pain was just as bad as a week ago. So I am having s pretty miserable day. I feel like I just threw away a weeks worth of recovery at least. I also feel really scared that if the tiny increments of improvement can be lost so easily, can I really hope that this damage will ever recover? I am getting into all kinds of hopelessness where it stops being a matter of how to deal with the long wait for recovery into wondering how on earth to cope with permanent back pain and incapacity. It is like staring into an abyss for me and is really scary. I live my life to be active. I chose to live where I do for the outdoor active lifestyle. I am terrified of a life where that is taken away from me.

      And I still can't decide if the right response is to lie in bed all day waiting for it to get better or to do some exercise to help the muscles and tissue get oxygen etc. If you google 'back pain bed rest' pretty much all articles warn against lots of bed rest when you have back pain as old fashioned and counterproductive. Does that apply when you are trying to get over chronic inflammation or soft tissue damage, that seems so susceptible to a flare up? Plus it's Saturday of course, so I won't be able to get any advice from my doctor or surgeon for a while sad

      So disappointed as yesterday I really thought I could see the path to recovery starting to appear in front of me. Now I feel like it might just have been an illusion.

      I tried prayer (I am RC) to get some inspiration but just got lost in self pity so that was not entirely helpful unfortunately.

      If I am trying to be optimistic I should say "do it all again but this time without the stupid calf exercises and maybe in a week you will get back to where you were, and can go from there" but that is a horribly bitter pill to swallow right now...

      Sorry to rant. I know others have it much worse than me. It is just tough to have hope yanked away like this. Really tough.

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    • Posted

      I feel like maybe leaving your calf strengthening until your back is fully healed. When doing anything that requires balance its tapping into help from almost all of your muscles and your body is still trying to reunite to preform without adjusting to allievating pain in your back. I would focus on major muscle groups first. I just know I haven't been able to do calf raises for a few years . I get sharps pains in my feet and up my leg only when I do them. So I just don't.

      But that's all I can think of that would cause you to trigger a relapse.

      I have to say that when I was at my worst for 3 months , I was brought to tears almost every morning and evening . I still just doubled up on pain meds and went to the gym , likely doing way more then most people would do in my condition . I just really need to exercise . I ran, elliptical , did some weights . But I couldn't do things I thought would be easiest. Like any floor exercises , abs. My workouts seems to be mostly cardio. Using all my muscles at once. My smaller muscles was to painful. That's why I'm thinking focusing on strengthening smaller muscle groups should be last .

      However , pushing myself so hard through the pain didn't make me worse or better. But for no apparent reason , one day something just gave. I was still sore but no excrutiating . I could laugh , cough , breath without pain. It made no sense. I went from being so exhausted and depressed from pain every moment , to a major decrease. This was after 3 months of constant pain. And I never stayed in bed and rested. So , you may feel really bad today but there is still a chance in the coming days that all of a sudden you improve . You whole body has been accommodating the injured part of your back. It's going to resist change, but I feel like you just keep pushing ( I think) and your body will stop fighting you. But I never had surgery. So it could be different. I did have an emergency c section for my last child and my feet were numb for a long time, months. So clearly nerves were compressed and compromised. So weird responses to your efforts could happen for awhile but I think you will improve. It's doesn't feel like it now( I began to feel this way) and then one day you will be surprised. Don't be so hard on yourself . You felt good , so you pushed it. Your body didn't like and fought back, and you may need to rest for a bit , but next time I bet you can push a bit further and your body will become angry again until one day it just lets you win.

      Good luck . Treat yourself today. Find other things that make you feel good to get you through these days . And know that you will get better. Don't let yourself think anything else.

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    • Posted

      Thanks Emily

      I love the 'beat the body into submission' spirit! It really appeals to me, but I fear that that is the approach is what got me here in the first place!

      Nonetheless I think that I have no choice but to 'man up' (no sexism implied), keep at it and hope for the best. Re the calf raises, I just have another thing to add to my list of things not to do! I googled "bed rest back pain" and the first page of results were all articles saying "more than a couple of days bed rest is bad for your back". They go on to say that if you have pain, take pain killers, don't go back to bed. My pain levels are pretty manageable thank God so that is totally do-able. Plus lying in bed all day is terrible for your mood. I feel good walking and I am lucky to live in a pretty spot so I will crack on and even if I don't get better tomorrow, I will at least be less miserable.

      Just re working on big muscles before small ones, sorry to sound contrary but I seem to recall that being the less healthy way to do it. The big muscles can overpower the core muscles and actually injure you by pulling things out of alignment or even detaching ligaments and tendons from bones - no joking. I used to row and this was a common thing that physios used to bang on about. Rowers want to be super strong and fit and core exercises were so tedious and seemingly pointless but apparently squads who did core exercises got fewer injuries so it was mandatory!

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    • Posted

      Ok. Good point about small muscles . My way of thinking was just if your back , quads and hamstrings we stronger first then work on calf muscles or balance type exercises. I do remember my doctor saying do squats but just no weight on your shoulders because the pressure on the top of your spine just pushes your disk out further . Definitely stay out of bed! I don't know where you are from but it is a beautiful day here so that should help your mood for sure!

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    • Posted

      Quick update (for posterity!)

      I think I have a working plan now. So far so good anyway. My pain did get better again after the flare up on Saturday. I am now on a super strict programme to let the soft tissue recover fully.

      My understanding based on my experience is that the tissue damage I have done needs rest to heal. At the same time though, lots of rest actually brings on lots of other aches and pains. It is obvious to me now why doctors say to get on and exercise to recover from back pain. When I get up and move around I do get relief of some of the aches. But I essentially have 2 types of pain right now.

      1 is the soft tissue damage. That needs rest to recover and every time I do to much I put back my recovery. That pain is right along the spine pretty much at my L5 S1 disc.

      The second type of pain I have is muscle spasms and unhappy ligaments from the copious bed rest. That is slightly away from the spine, and actually more focussed at the top of my sacrum. This pain goes away with activity!

      So my strategy/priority is to let the soft tissue damage first. That means as much rest as possible and a very strict regime of exercise. 6x10 minute walks each day and otherwise getting out of bed every 30-45 minutes for just a minute or so. Otherwise nothing. All physio exercises are too much for the soft tissue. Basically the minimum exercise I can do to stop my body deteriorating any more. I have already lost 3kg in the last 4 weeks and 6kg total since the op in June!

      My theory is that once the soft tissue is finally fixed, I can then start to slowly rebuild my body with a progressive course of longer walks and gently back into physio.

      But I reckon I have maybe 5-7 days more of the rest phase to do to be sure. I feel fine in my disc today but I know it is sooo easy to flare up so I will leave plenty of time to spare. This is boring but as more days go by without "pain 1" the happier I will be and the more confident I will be that I have put it behind me. I will just put up with pain 2 knowing that I can shift it with some exercise in due course. That's my theory anyway. Fingers crossed eh.

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    • Posted

      Your bed rest time is becoming very valuable for yourself and those of us that read your posts! Sounds like you done a lot of research and you are feeling better!

      I had a pretty good day yesterday . When I was stretching after my workout I tried the " downward dog" stretch ( yoga) and I was able to touch the ground with my legs straight! I haven't been able to do that for months! However, what's not so exciting is the neck pain that seems to be increasing on my right side . Last night the pain woke me up and the right side of my neck and my whole arm was in pain. The week before I herniated my left side , the right side of my neck was sore. Once I herniated, I don't recall the neck pain however , I'm not sure if the exrutiating pain in my back just masked the pain in my neck or something is out of place somewhere and I'm having an either /or type of situation. Info prefer the neck pain over herniated back pain. But Im worried I'm missing something and I will trigger a relapse , like the neck pain is a warning sign. It did return immediately after the wonderful day that for no reason I could breath without pain.

      I wasn't sure if it was related but it does seem to be getting worse, the better my back feels.

      If you are very very bored and need something to do while trying to rest can you try and figure out if somehow the right side neck pain ( sometimes arm) is somehow related to left side herniated disk? You seem to be pretty knowledgable which enables you to tap into some good reliable information.

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    • Posted

      Hi Emily

      I'm sorry to hear you are having issues with your neck. That's got to be really frustrating after the progress you were making.

      I dont know of a mechanism that would refer lower back problems into your neck to be honest. Pain in the back and neck would suggest a separate issue. The nerves in your arm come out of the spine much higher so if there is pressure on those it would be something to do with the T1 area of your spine top of the thoracic section) rather than anything in your lumber area. Those

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    • Posted

      Sorry- hit send too soon.

      If the arm pain is in your lower arm/wrist/hand then that might be linked with pain breathing maybe? I looked at a diagram of the nerves and a symptom of trapped nerves there (T1) might be arm pain and trouble breathing or coughing.

      C6 area seems to be associated with upper arm pain and stiff neck.

      Please note I am not a doctor, I just know how to use google so please do not take this from me. The only person to actually listen to is a doctor.

      I think logically though, common sense would suggest that lumber and leg issues are probably separate to arm/neck problems.

      Has you doctor given you any advice about the neck problem? Maybe you can get than scanned to check for any issues?

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    • Posted

      The neck pain only seemed to exist prior to and after the extreme pain from the herniated disk . I do remember when I started taking prescription pain meds , and the pain decreased , I sometimes felt numbness in my fingers as well as my leg and foot.

      I didn't really have the neck pain by the time I went to the doctor , just the back pain. The last I've heard from my doctor was he was trying to get me in asap for the pain needle in my back ( 2 weeks ago.....) and he is referring me to a back specialist ( could be a long wait for that as well ). I've used up all my benefits for chiropractor and physio so I'll just have to wait.

      I have a few weeks left of sick time and because I've finished my contract , I will be on the supply list . (Educational Assistant) So, I'm not really sure how to get back to work when I never know what I'm walking into . A lot of jobs require lifting , dealing with aggressive behaviors , needing to be ready to restrain if behaviors become out of control.b

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    • Posted

      ....... Behavior, ensuring younger children or special needs children safe. This has really made things difficult! But .... At least I can touch my toes!!!
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    • Posted

      I am still finding this very frustrating and demoralising I'm afraid to say. I had a set back on Monday doing a weird movement in bed. That made Tuesday rubbish. I had a better day Wednesday. 3rd day Thursday I stepped things up to a total of 75 mins walking and 12 mins on the bike. I also threw in some core stomach pulls (3 X10 reps at 5 seconds), morning and afternoon (the latter set felt like I had pushed to far). The rest of the time I was mostly in bed. At the end of the day I could feel my body was pretty stressed. Today I woke up with muscle ache in my legs and tendons around my left knee which I am fine with but also more sensitivity in the back again, which I am not happy with. looking back at my journal from a month ago, I can't really point to much progress and my core muscles are shot to bits from all the rest. All the strength I had built up has gone.

      So what the hell?! Resting has taken away my core strength and my back is no better as far as I can tell. I get a day now and then when I can walk around without back ache but then as soon as I try to progress, it feel likes back to the beginning again. Every article I read says bed rest sucks and exercise is best but I am still feeling confused. Should I do the core exercises even if I know that they leave me in more pain afterwards?

      I have lots of painkillers and a lot of resolve so I will do the pain if that is what is required, but I keep reading stuff that says "don't continue with exercise when it hurts" so ????

      Does anyone have experience of handling BACK pain (rather than leg pain) during PT and finding that the pain went away with time?

      My "low impact" approach is really testing my patience right now and seems to be having almost no perceptible benefit, just the effect of reducing my core to mush, but pushing through the pain is not advised either, and I have this horrible sensation that working through the pain is making my back problem worse. It was overactivity that broke me in the first place...

      Inspiration and insight gratefully received!

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    • Posted

      Hey. Me again. I know I don't have very much helpful information . Just my own experience . But just remember my herniated disk pain started in May. The pain just became bearable a couple weeks ago. I didn't have surgery ( but my family was ready to drag me to the hospital because they couldn't watch me in distress constantly) Everyone was sure I needed surgery. And then that one day, for no reason , the constant , stabbing , debilitating pain let up. I still feel pain but I now feel I am moving forward slowly. I am still limited at what I can do at the gym. I need to take pain meds to work out, if I shouldn't be doing something I can still feel that pain. And Assume that whatever part of my body isn't ready . But I can feel progress. But almost 4 months of debilitating pain. You had surgery! So you need to heal from that and start from scratch with your back. It sucks , believe me , I know. You work so hard to feel a certain way , to do what you enjoy doing and all of a sudden it's taken from you. You can't be the same as before . Your body told you you need to make changes. So now you have to strive for something different . Different expectations . You have to. Your body isn't giving you a choice . Except to wait, be patient , bad days , good days . Your getting frustrated with the pain stopping you from doing what you want . Its depressing .

      Have you been to your doctor yet?

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    • Posted

      Thanks Emily. I appreciate your comments.

      Yes, I am really frustrated as I just don't know how to handle the situation to heal ASAP. And I am constantly aware that I didn't have to be here. It was my overdoing it that did this. I was having a dream recovery before by comparison, so this all feels like time lost...

      Anyway, I will keep experimenting...

      I see the surgeon on Monday. I have a stack of questions. If she can't give me specific answers and blows me off again then I will try to get a second opinion. So many things don't make sense. I can't even tense my stomach/core while lying down without significant pain, at the time and the next day. That is physio exercise 101 for core strength. If that does not work then I just dint see that more exercise alone will fix this somehow... I am praying for answers on Monday but I'm not that hopeful right now. Keeping everything crossed.

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    • Posted

      Don't cross everything !!!! Not for too long anyway........ That may set you back more! The surgeon blew you off ?! I think when dealing with surgeons or doctors it's like lawyers . They listen to your issues and put you in a category and treat you according to what is laid out in that category. It's hard to get them to budge and look at your situation differently.

      I have an appt as well on Monday. The pain doctor called ( now that I'm not in excruciating pain) and I go on Monday. I wasn't sure if I was going to take it but I thought I can get a better understanding of everything . I don't want to risk this ever happening again! We should exchange information ! Hope you are able to have better moments of decreased pain this weekend !

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    • Posted

      So, a long update. I saw the surgeon. She had no answers other than "your scan looks fine. these things take time. You should be ok in a few months". So not the enlightenment I was after but was able to sit through the 30 minutes consultation without significant pain so took that as a positive. She then referred my to a pain/rehab specialist to take it from there.

      I saw him last Friday, getting amazingly lucky with a last minute cancellation, else it oils have been a 6 week wait in no mans land.

      He took a look at the back and was not very interested, preferring to take about how stiff my leg still was and wanting to get that moving by mobilising the scar tissue. He gave me no specific advice and told me he would tel my physio what to do. He muttered something about the pain in the back maybe being neuroplathic (for which read probably chronic and incurable). He also mentioned putting me on Lyrica for it, but as its only about 2/10 that seemed like overkill so I said no, mainly as I had just come off Tramadol which was a HORRIBLE experience. I put the a lot of my panicking and depression before down to withdrawal from that - something that the doctor did not bother to mention when prescribing it. Anyway I digress.

      I had the physio session on Monday and it was completely underwhelming. Basically back to basic basic stuff and the only direction from the pain doctor was not to do stuff involving my legs for some reason.

      Anyway, it would be fair to say that the back pain is subsiding very very slowly, although tbh I really don't know. It is pretty tenacious though. Tbh I am 50/50 as to whether it will ever completely go. I can sit for about 20-30 minutes ok if I am feeling good. Standing is still not good for more than about 5-10 minutes. Walking is fine most of the time. The pain is very mood dependent which is making me feel like a total fruitcake. I went to church on Saturday Pm for the first time since my week from hell. With the memories of my last "pre-incident" visit which had gone great I my head, I felt horrible and I could barel lady 10 minutes standing or sitting and had to leave. Walking home in my own, everything cleared up almost immediately. I caught my subconscious in the act! In fact I have read somewhere that being distressed always make you feel pain more but this was crazy. I went back the next day and got through a 45 minute service, mostly ok.

      Anyway, maybe the back pain is here for good (I.e. turned acute to chronic) as any damage I did ought to have cleared up by now, but then again maybe not. In any case the emotional component to the pain is just bizarre and very unhelpful.

      In other news, I found today that in the last 3-4 days, I have (again) lost the ability to stand or walk on tip toes due to weakness in my left calf. This is very reminiscent of the symptoms that I had before the op in the first place! I weigh 90kg and could support at least that on my tip toes a week ago. Now I can only support about 65kg. Not great. I did more stretching and time on my stationary bike (10 mins each day) this weekend but really nothing crazy and felt no pain at the time

      So, with some concern about this, I took myself off to the hospital again today. I managed to see a surgeon for 5 mins. He was highly unimpressed. He said "it's only partial paralysis. Take 10mgs of steroids and see how it is in a few days". To be honest I was surprised by this. He gave no explanation and it's the first episode of new weakness I have had since the op. I have been able to stand on tip toes since about week 5, even after the debacle at week 6. Has anyone seen this?

      Also, my left quadriceps are also pretty puny these days. I have probably lost about 20+% of the muscle mass. What's with that? My hernia was nowhere near the femoral nerves and the thigh feels fine (apart from getting very tired and achy on a cross trainer that my PT had me on for 5 mins last week).

      I am not in freak-out mode now as I am getting used to things not going to plan, but I am not good at sitting back and waiting for stuff to just happen, so still looking for answers when they don't. In a relentlessly compulsive way which my wife is starting to take against I fear.

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