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L4L5 Micro Discectomy Recovery

Hi ...I am 2 and a half weeks post op and live in constant fear of re-herniation  or surgical failure. I woke up with a totally ‘frozen’ left leg which was new...previously I had knee pain and pins and needles in my leg and foot and a drop foot. I was unable to sit at all. Now I can sit for about 15 minutes at a time. The numbness is slowly disappearing...mainly the top of my foot and my big toe but other strange nerve sensations come and go. My knee is sore again. My sacrum aches like a tooth when lying down. My drop foot was terrible the first week after surgery and slowly improving. My nerve was compressed eight months and I did every conservative treatment. I walked three hours a day. Now I can walk about 1.1 km. Is any of this normal? I am pretty weirded out!

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Comments

  • Welcome NellieButton we’re glad you’re here!

    You are very early in recovery, 2 1/2 weeks is just getting started, the nerve was compressed for 8 months, it will take time to relearn it's normal

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    Have you read the article Practical Advice for Recovering from Back Surgery on Spine-health? It offers a lot of practical tips around what to expect before, during, and after surgery. You may also want to check out the video How to Prep Your Home for Spine Surgery Recovery, which also has some great tips.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.

    Chip 

    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

  • I guess I was hoping to be more normal...at the moment I an worse than before surgery, with the exception that at least I can sit for up to 15 minutes whereas before I could only stand. The numbness and pain varies in intensity day to day but is always present. Three weeks and still no relief is scary...is this going to get better? I don't see my surgeon until week 5. I have read extensively on this site and many members experiences; I wish I knew if my journey was typical.

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  • Unfortunately, I don't think there is any such thing as typical back surgery, I have had 4 discetomies, all 4 have been different, but in the end, all 4 helped, I have woke up from surgery pain free and woke up in much worse pain than before, there are just so many variables, the best thing I can say is , time and patience.

    Take care and keep us posted

    Chip

  • Thank-you for your words of experience...fear is a terrible thing and can take a person right down a dark rabbit hole! You have helped me.

  • I am glad it helped, I wish you the best recovery possible, just please don't give up, the mind can play a lot of tricks on you.

    Take care and keep us posted

    Chip

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  • 2.5 weeks puts you square at the beginning of the doubt phase. All people are different and all recoveries are different, but at 2.5 weeks you need to chill and be positive, as you'll likely to continue experiencing nerve healing pains or sensations.

    Do your exercises as prescribed by your surgeon (hopefully he or she gave you a handful of things to do strengthen your core legs). Before long you will begin PT, and you might experience setbacks (or what feels like a setback) then too.


  • I am having trouble with the pain I guess. I thought there would be less than before surgery and there is more. I keep doing my exercises and walking twice a day, but the weak leg and foot drop is discouraging. I was compressed almost eight months, so I guess this is just healing but I really thought at three weeks I would be getting in a car or shopping or visiting...all things I couldn’t do for those long eight months! I am encouraged by your words, and will try to remain calm!

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,464

    NellieButton

    With nerves being compressed for 8 months, it is going to take time, patience and care. It's only been 3 weeks. Getting in a car and shopping can wait a little longer so you can recover completely.

    Take care and keep us posted.

  • Yes, Give it time NellieButton, 3 weeks is nothing. After years of noninvasive treatments, my nerve impingements from DDD stenosis and severe spinal instability were the cause of much lumbar and radiculopathy pain.  I couldn’t take it anymore and opted for 3 level 360 fusion. 

    My first thought post op was “I thought the pain would have been lessened somewhat” because it was WAY worse post op than pre op.  I too walked extensively preop and couldn’t do any post op for months.  I never had numbness, neuropathy, muscle atrophy or drop foot preop, post op those pains ripped at my patience for months.  

    As others have advised, do what your doctor says and be positive and patient.  Your recovery will get better in a couple months. Typically big positive strides are at 3 months (after some painful physical therapy).  You’re surgeon will see you at 5-6 weeks and you can talk to him about the pain then, and you may need additional pain relief - you don’t heal very well in pain - or this will seem like a tough time you’ll look back and laugh at!

  • Oh yeah, and this taken from the spine health description of your surgery:


    • For leg pain, patients will normally feel pain relief almost immediately after a microdiscectomy. They will usually go home from the surgery with significant pain relief.
    • For numbness, weakness, or other neurological symptoms in the leg and foot, it may take weeks or months for the nerve root to fully heal and any numbness or weakness to subside.
  • Nellie Button,

    I just had a Microdiscectomy surgery and I am at 2.5 weeks post op. I found this forum because my situation sounds very similar to yours. I don’t have any advise for you other than to say you aren’t alone!  I also assumed that I would have more relief instead of feeling worse. So, I guess we are in the try to stay positive and not doubt phase together! Wishing you the best!

  • I am. Post  opposed week  14.triple Lammy  my Dr says numbness  might take 15 months  to resolve  i had 6 hour surgery  after about  12 weeks of severe. Sciaticia  right leg no leg pain now. But right leg shin  and left. Leg. Toe -- Numbness and brain fog i pray all goes  soon. .allow yourself  time

  • I am seeing my surgeon in a few days for my five week post-op check. I still have back pain that increases at night and numbness in the left leg from the knee down to various degrees, as well as heavy pins and needles in the left foot . My left leg is very weak when I walk, often dropping depending on the day. I have jelly legs. It is very discouraging. I went for two great walks on Monday wearing snow icers and have been paying for it all the rest of the week. This is not a straight line when it comes to healing...more like a roller coaster.  All this from discectomy! I thought after eight months of a horribly reduced life that post-op I would finally be able to get in a car and go mall walking, but I don't dare! I just stay home and do little walks, outside when the ice and snow melts on the road, do my exercises, and putter about,between icing and laying down. I try to lie down just a few times  ( 3 times for 45 min each) in the day but yesterday I fell asleep for two hours and had more pain not less. This is so hard to figure out and I am frightened the surgeon will just shrug and mutter about time. I am scared that this is my life now.

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,464

    NellieButton

    I'm so sorry you are still in so much pain. But it has only been 5 weeks. And that is very early for recovering. You mentioned in you first post above that your nerve had been compressed for 8 months. I was told by my doctor that the longer it is compressed the longer it will take for it to heal and wake up. 

    Have you read the articles below? 

    Spinal Fusion Surgery Recovery: 1 to 4 Weeks After

    Postoperative Care for Spinal Fusion Surgery,

    I always suggest keeping a pain journal and taking it with you to your next appointment. Keep track of your pain, what level it is at what times. How it is when you do something or don't. It helps your doctor see what, if anything, is triggering this.

    Take care and keep us posted.
    Sandra

  • Thanks Sandra for your encouraging words...I am hopeful this is a situation that improves with time. I was under the impression (clearly wrong in my case!) that a micro discectomy recovery would be a breeze. I am bewildered that I still have to rest so much. I am praying my herniation was repaired and is healing. The weak legs are scary. The pain is hard to figure...your idea of a diary is a good one. I am not sure if I am doing too much or too little. Maybe my surgeon will advise me. 

  • Nelliebutton and others, thank you for your post and responses. I had L4/5/S1 Discectomy Hemilaminectomy on Jan 30. I came out of surgery with no pain and complete relief. I’ve walked as much as I can and I do the exercises the Doc gave me. Then day 6 happened. I woke up with right side nerve pain in the back/glute. I called my Dr. and they prescribed Gabapentin. I was immediately scared and frustrated. I found this group which has helped. On Day 9 I woke up from a nap and I experienced lower right leg numbness/pain and foot drop. That has me real scared. I met with my Dr. Yesterday for my first post op and he is ordering and MRI. I won’t lie, tough day yesterday mentally. Praying it’s nerve irritation and not re-herniated. Since I’m starting to experience the same thing as Nelliebutton, I eager to see what your Doc said. I hope all is well and it’s nothing serious. 


  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,464

    Jmax

    I am so sorry you are having to go through this again. I was hoping it was just nerves finally waking up.
    Please keep us posted on how you are doing.

    Sandra

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