L5/S1 discectomy recovery April 28 2016 what to expect

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I have bulged herinated degenerative disc in l5/s1 and degeneration in l5/l4 and facet joint arthritis in same areas.

My pain history started around 2009. I tried everything. Pain used to be cycles triggered by some wrong move or extra effort. What seemed to work best was chiropractic till 2015. Nothing seemed to work. I did cortisone shot for my disc it took 70% of pain, then I found that remaining pain is from Arthritis so i went for RFA which helped with back pain and my pain management dr said now it is your time to make your core strong so when pain nerve grow back your core will ease that pain. I started phy therapy and there i found i am in dead end. Once i stretch my disc pinch on the nerve and if i dont stretch my arthritis will get worse. So I ended up going for disctomey surgery wven that my leg wasnt so bad yet. I just wanted to uncouple both problems so i can try to ease my pain for long term solution and maybe dont end up with fusion

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  • Posted

    Hi, I have been thinking of doing the Microdisectomy, after 2 1/2 years of bulging Disk, same area, and degenerative disks.., and all the conflicting info about what to do and dont do surgery and some people have had it and there fine..., yoga, 2 epidurals,  last little over a month, Decompression machine..I thought it was getting better with some new stretches, but then I had a deep tissue massage, its bad again, so sick of it, used to love to walk..Im 58..So I am wondering how long is it till you can feel like you can walk and sit, I cant be out of work to long.. are you at the beginning, how do you feel? Best of Luck...Thanks, Joan
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    • Posted

      Hi Joan,

      I managed to walk up and down the hospital stairs again within 24 hours of my surgery. Within a few days a could walk for 5-10 minutes without getting too tired, at this point i was having to think about how i walk and work on correcting the funny walking habits i had picked up previously due to the pain. Within around a month i could walk totally normallly again. I am now 7 weeks post operation and feel totally normal again in walking around sitting and laying. Desperately trying to catch up with all the classes i missed, trying to prepare for my final exams at university. I am 21 years old, so i am not 100% sure of how much that will effect my recovery comparatively to somebody of 58. In terms of the out of work; the neurosurgeon will give you a 6 week sick note which is standard procedure so i would assume people of all ages that eat and sleep enough (to recover efficiently) will be back to working health within 6 weeks. All the best Joan, i hope this helps smile


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    • Posted

      Hi Chris I am happy to hear about your successful recovery.

      I wanted to return early to work i got the dr note of 6 weeks but it is just too long for me and on the other hand i know it is needed. So i will try to balance it out.

      Most probably i will go to work after 3 weeks and work standing and avoid sitting meetings. And reduce driving period stuff likee that

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    • Posted

      Hi, I am so happy you felt better pretty quick. that makes me feel better that its all worth it. I will have another MRI and then see a Neurosurgeon sometime in the next month. do not want to deal, but sick of this pain for 2 years!  if it goes away, I will be so happy!
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    • Posted

      Thanks so much for your response.

      I totally agree if you see there is no use of waiting like something will improve then try to get that pain from your life to get your life back.

      U still has to be cautious after surgery so the disc dont return but at least you get 75% back and the 25% is more on playing it safe

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  • Posted

    My recovery process

    1- I had my surgery on thur april 28, i returmed home by midnight.

    2- getting in and out of bed was a challenge. I used a cane to move around and drugs was getting me me still feel pain but sleepy so that time pass.

    3-by third day i was able to walk without cane

    4- sitting on chair even for minutes was so painful

    5- pain is less or tolerable when i stand but i feel i will pass out

    6- i went to kitchen and made coffee

    7- it is my 5th day oh my God i got my worth legs cramps ever on my both legs from hip to toe

    8- i took my vitamins including B12 and muscle relaxer. It lasted 1.5 days

    9- then muscle cramp was more on my left side where i had the bulged disc

    10- 6th day i was able to sit on a chair but it had to be tilted and still short period, i was able to use the home stairs to sleep in my room

    11- my pain medication finished and i thought i can just use ice. Oh that wasnt good

    12- today is my 7th day - my head is so lousy it is so heavy that i need to sleep in bed.

    Pain is high when i sleep on my back or my side. Stinging pain and same when i try to sit.

    Walking is better but i feel that i will pass out even when not on medication

    I don't know what to expect in recovery. How long it will take to overcome the symptoms? ??

    I work full time and i have 3 kids and my husband will be in town for the first 2 weeks.

    Can anyone share their experience? When u were able to drive?

    Did u get that head dizziness? When did it go away? Anything helped?

    Thanks a lot for reading it and trying to help

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    • Posted

      Its only been 6 days, so I know a women I worked with in her 40's seem to come back to work after 2 weeks and was happy she did it. she was still healing, but sitting fine. She did not have the back pain and Sciatica like before. so give it time. keep us posted on when you think its getting better.  I pray it will be alot better soon, then I may do it.. your muscles are just freaked out. I am having a nuerosurgeon do it if I do. 
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    • Posted

      Hi Joan

      k heard a lot of conflicting information and i tried to take my decision based on all the opinions i collected from different Drs visits and line reading.

      1- they said that many times the boldge disc doesnt increase its boldge and even sometimes it will shrink by itself and become a dead piece

      2- when u take epidural shot it will decrease inflammation and this way it will protect the nerve from getting damaged

      3- inversion table if u use inversion table you give more space and maybe your disc return back to its area

      I did multiple MRIs around a year apart and the results showed that the boldge keep increasing so the idea of it will shrink or return back wasnt working for my body.

      Also another dr said if u can continue to hold yourself with all different treatment till u reach 50s then the fluid will all go away and become a dead bone and it will shrink so i willnt need surgery then i will do the fusion in my 50th instead of disctomey then fusion later.

      I am in my 40s and i might need fusion later on but if i wait to reach 50th my arthritis will be more painful thats why i went with disctomey now. Hopefully i might reduce or delay the fusion surgery

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  • Posted

    thank you, that kind of makes me feel better, sometimes I feel like its better, but I will never get such a deep tissue massage again in that area. I will have another MRI and see if its better.. I am sure you did the right thing, soon you will feel better so you can get stronger in every way, then start Yoga to keep flexible.. hope next weekend is better for you, keep us posted.. some wine will help relax you maybe!
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    • Posted

      Thank you Joan. Wish you all the best.

      What really help instead of deep tissue massage is the foam roller.

      Check it out online. The best part of it is you control how deep you want it and how much you can tolerate.

      Also i found sleeping on tommy make the nerve which is pushed by the disc get irritated

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  • Posted

    Yes, thanks I just bought a roller, will keep trying, thanks for the info!  hope its a good night.. 
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  • Posted

    7th day update:

    I had a very dizzy feeling when i stand and feeling that i am going to faint

    Second the pain killing med didnt seem to take the pain away just knock me down to sleep but pain still there

    I called my dr office and had a discussion with the nurse so she is saying that the dizziness could be body reaction to anastasia or i might be anemic.

    For the pain med she changed it to another med and said maybe my body is not responding well to original med.

    So i feel good that at least there is something I can take that might take away the consistent pain.

    For anemia i stopped my vitamins for 10 days before surgery and few days after and i dont eat well after surgery so i have to put more effort to eat protein and back to vitamins

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    • Posted

      That is horrible there is so much pain after.. wonder if a heating pad low will take some ache away. hope the new pain meds help! maybe some good shakes or Protien Shakes to keep you going if someone could get you some.. 
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  • Posted

    9th day update:

    Few things i learned

    1- I should take the narco med consistently if I want to feel with med imrprovement. What i used to do is take it then i feel it didnt do any difference then stop it then when pain is horrible try it again so i was bouncing back and forth thats why i didnt get the benefit of the med.

    So this time i took it every 6 hrs at least 3 times a day by second day i started to feel the relief.

    2- ice is a miracle by otself when pain is unbearable put ice till the med kick in

    3- dizziness - i got iron tablets and took it for few days at least twice a day and the dizziness got much better.

    4- today i was able to walk in the backyard multiple rounds and it felt good and i wasnt dizzy

    5- yesterday in the morning the pain was so much under control and i got a friend to visit so i stayed on a recliner chair with pillows and everything with back supported and pillow under leg and i sat for about 2 hrs which was the longest period i sat since the surgery. I didnt feel uncomfortable but when i stood after i got a horrible pain in the back and i had to lay in bed for a long period with ice and pain med but was not a good night.

    So learning dont sit for a long period even if it is a recliner and u don't feel pain. U have to move every 20 min or so.

    One more learning is i cant work sitting soooon which was a fact learned the hardway.

    Summary: take pain med consistently to take effect. It might take some time so don't give up. If u feel dizzy try iron tablet and make sure u take it far by 2 hr from calcium content. Try to do some walks.Use a pillow between knees to decrease pain pressure. Use a firm mattress for sleeping to reduce back arching. Pain is more under control so things aregetting better. Try to eat healthy. Dont laugh or cough a lot as it affect on the back pain

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