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Is there anybody out there? ... that can relate

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,008
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I am a 33 yr old female, mom of 3, who had an emergency L5 S1 discectomy (?)- no fusing - last year. ( Nov2007) I am a year post-op and am still having loads of trouble.
I have no chronic back pain anymore - that's great!
But... there's always one of those :0)... my nerves were compressed for a long time and the recovery is on-going.
I have numbness mostly on my right side - bum, leg and foot. The numbness also includes areas that make sexual function not ideal. This numbness also affects my bowels - slowing everything down... too much info but I need to talk about this! :0( My balance and coordination is off sometimes as well.

I have gained an enormous amount of weight - 50 lbs in 7 mths. This makes me feel really bad about myself. Argh! I have had joint pain, swelling, chronic fatigue, circulation problems, headaches, spasms (charliehorse) in my legs and feet, electric shock sensations, painful twinges when I move the wrong way in my lower back! Is this all related to what happened to me?

I had my thyroid and glucose checked to rule out some other stuff... everything is fine.

I am on anti-depressants that they put me on a month or two after the surgery and it coincides with the start of the weight gain, do anti-depressants cause weight gain?... has anyone else had similar problems post-op from this surgery? Has it messed up my systems completely? I wonder if I have permanent nerve damage.... How long do these things take to settle down and let you know what you are left with?

Does Physio work? Massage therapy? What else can I do? Naturopath? Anything?

I am also new to my area and have switched provinces and don't have a family doc or my operating surgeon to talk to... I feel alone and confused and wondering if I'm blaming unrelated things on the surgery... arghh.

Any kind of feed back would be so very much appreciated....



  • You have a lot of things going on. All you can do it take it one day and one problem at a time.

    Definitely start dieting if you can't exercise. There are great books out there that may suggest to get rid of all forms of sugar for starters, more veggies and less carbs. If you have the finances, get a nutritionist who can help you. I gained weight also (about 10 lbs - alot for someone 5'2") but now lost 5 lbs just by walking. Starting PT tomorrow and hope to loose the next 5 lbs.

    Massages are great for mental health if not just physical. Before my Microdiscectomy I was getting massages not just because it relieved pain, but it should help you get circulation going - again - only if it does not add to your pain.

    I don't know why you waited so long to get surgery unless it was caused by an accident? The longer you live with it, the longer the damage to the nerve compiles.

    You say you have the surgery last year 2007, but last year was 2008... has it been a year or a few months? If it was a year ago you should hopefully see some nerve damage repair - if only a few months ago the healing is slow (check out other blogs).

    Check out as many other blogs - you will find you're not alone in your pain, weight gain and depression. That helps. And don't give up. It's baby steps and find a new doctor who can help. If you're not happy with the first one, see another.

    And if I can stress again "Patience" is the keyword. You gained weight overtime and got nerve damage overtime - both of these won't go away quickly.

    With your other symptom, chronic fatique...etc - use those keywords in the search in the forum and I'm sure you'll get some hits.

    Wishing you the best and hope that one day this will all be behind you in time.
  • leslie...

    check out this link connected to this forum:

    you will find more info regarding depression, health, diet...etc.

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  • Have you tried aqua therapy excersize?
    (in pool)
    Does all movement hurt or just certain motions?
    Have you had a recent MRI or CT scan?
    Nerve conductivity tests?

    There is a type of imaging MRI that shows only nerves.
    I can't quite remember the details only that it is in Pasadena, CA and costs $3,000 for the study.
    This scanner will show the nerves millimeter by millimeter showing any mechanical impingements.
    Could be helpful.
    Let me do some research.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • You're not alone, Leslie. When I was 17 years old, I got in a rollover car accident that resulted in a very similar injury to yours. I have a herniated disk between my L5 and S1, and there is a tear in said disk facing the spinal cord. I also have nerves pinched in that area, thought it's not as bad as it used to be. I also have a compression fracture in my L1 vertebrae. For about 4 months, I had this tingling, sometimes burning sensation that ran down from my back down my butt and down my right leg. I had bowel troubles as well as difficulty in controlling my bladder at night. The bladder thing only lasted a week, but the bowel thing lasted, like I said, 4 months. I couldn't produce a bowel movement, so my mom had to stick this gun thing full of enema into me to make me go. Most humiliating thing I ever had to endure. I also have the painful twinges and spasms, but they're short-lived.

    Physical therapy is the absolute best thing I did for my back. I was involved with physical therapy for three years (though I was covered with my insurance 100% for six years, I just stopped going after three). The best form for me was aqua therapy, but lots of stretching and bending has helped me get better. I miss the hot/cold packs, though. ;) I also used a Tens unit, did acupuncture, had epidural injections, and was on every narcotic drug in the book, including antidepressants, which made me gain like 20 pounds. >_< I had a year prescription for one of those aqua massage beds, and that felt good. Cannot see a chiropractor, I was told, because they could accidentally pop my disk and damage my spinal cord to the point that I would be paralyzed from the waist down. I was also recommended by my neurosurgeon not to undergo surgery for this because of that same risk and I'd rather be in pain than take that risk. I'm in chronic pain, but with help from chronic pain specialists and physical therapy, not only did I learn how to deal with the pain WITHOUT MEDICATIONS (unless it gets REALLY bad, which even then I'm reluctant to take anything because I'm stubborn, lol), but I also got myself back into shape. Massages and stuff are nice for short term, but what you really need is a long-term improvement. Losing the weight will help.
    I'm 24 now and I have a 3 1/2 year old. My injury complicated my son's birth so I had to have a cesarean section, but otherwise I'm doing all right. :) I hope I was helpful, and I wish you the best of luck. Add me if you'd like to. You're only the second person I've bumped into since I injured my back with a similar injury as mine...
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  • You sound like you have nerve pain. You need to get established with a new doc and get new studies-be it MRI,whatever. You must do something about the nerve pain before it is permanent. The fact that you are having sexual problems makes me think it is more urgent. Often that charlie horse cramp sensation can be caused by neuroclaudication/pseudoclaudication which means that the nerves in your back are not getting enough blood supply. This if from my experience and opinion. My biggest and most important point is that you need to see a spinal surgeon soon and get new studies. DO NOT monkey around with your symptoms. They could potentially be very serious.

    I don't mean to scare you, only push you towards getting into a spine surgeon. Your business sounds too serious to monkey around with PT or other bandaids(in my opinion.) You've got nerve issues, please get it checked out very soon.
  • lilium and gwennie, YES! That's it!
    Thanx for that.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I am so sorry you are having these problems with your
    nerves. I can totally relate. I had a mircodesectomy
    when I was 28 L4-L5 and 3 years ago I had 2 artificial
    discs put in at L4-L5 and L5-S1 when I was 36. I have permanent nerve damage in my nerve roots on right side L5 and S1 that is moderate and on left side L5 and S1 that is mild. My right calf has atrified no reflexes but I can walk, it still hurts to sit too. I have chronic pain.

    I would call your surgeon and let him know what is going
    on. Hopefully he can refer you to a Dr. where you are
    living now. If he can't I would look for a neurosurgeon
    or neurologist and they should do some tests(emg,and
    nerve conduction test)(I had one)and a MRI and hopefully they can give or get you the help you need. I currently
    take Lyrica for my nerve pain 300mg a day and it is still
    helping my nerves get better. It helps your nerves fire
    correctly which helps with pain. There are other nerve
    pain meds on the market like neurontin and topomax too.

    I am currently also fighting depression and it is hard.
    Some antidepressants cause weight gain. You might want to consider having the type changed to one that doesn't cause weight gain. One that worked well for me was Cymbalta. It also helps with nerve pain. It helped me immediately.

    I think the problems you are having are related to your
    back. A lot of your problems sound similar to mine. I
    too almost lost bladder function and sexual function. My
    groin area before I had surgery used to be flared up all
    the time. It still flares up sometimes when I sit to much. I had 2 totally collapsed dics, stenosis, spondylosis, segmental instability, my vertibrae started
    growing together at L5-S1.

    I hope I have helped you somewhat. I know how frightening
    all this stuff is.

    Take Care! Christie

  • I am so sorry for what you are going through, but you have come to the right place to find people who can relate.

    From everything I have heard and read, any decrease in bowel or bladder (and I'm assuming sexual as well) functioning constitutes an emergency. Like 3troys says, your old doctor can probably refer you to someone in your new area. Please don't delay, it sounds like you definitely need an MRI or other testing to check things out.

    About the antidepressants, if you ask most doctors they will insist that the drugs do not cause weight gain. They do. Indirectly, and not with everyone, but it is a very, very common occurrence to gain weight after starting antidepressants. See a psychiatrist. They have expert knowledge of these drugs and can prescribe them properly and give you the support you need with side effects. Lots of times, regular doctors prescribe antidepressants without properly monitoring the patient, and without the ability to recognize when one isn't working as well as it should. Also, counseling is always a great idea.

    Hang in there, and keep posting.
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