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Post laminectomy journal

Sharing this just in case it helps anyone else with a laminectomy in their future.

Post-op journal


Had L 4-5 decompression laminectomy on April 12, 2017, at
Oregon Specialists Surgery Center, Dr. Julie York, neurosurgeon.


4/12:  Very
comfortable post-op thanks to the surgical pain meds.


4/13: Wow. Underestimated how potent the surgical pain meds
were, and had to play catch up with two vs. the one 325 mg hydrocodone to
regain at least some control over pain. Very painful getting in and out of bed.
Spent most of the day lying on my back on the bed.


4/14: Still a very close thing keeping ahead of the pain;
even set my alarm to take meds every six hours.  An old and unwanted friend from my fusion surgery
reappeared:  chill/fever episodes
with temp swings from 98 to 101 and back in 20 minutes, accompanied by
drenching night sweats. No  fun to
agonizingly crawl out of bed at 1 a.m., teeth chattering, to put a towel down
and a towel over to get out of the soaked sheets and blankets. Did manage 200
yards on the treadmill at slowest speed. Realized that lying on angular ice cubes
using the ice bag proved by the surgery center may have actually been bruising
my lower back. Switching to smooth ice gel packs really helped here.  That was dumb.


4/15: Hydrocodone is moderating the pain reasonably well.
Still hurts to ease very slowly into and out of a chair or the bed.  Another 200 yards on the
treadmill.  More chills/fever
episodes and drenching night sweats. 
Constipation getting severe; eating lots of fiber; bumped up Senna to
three 2X day and added docusate sodium.  Wearing back brace for short periods, but compression hurts.


4/16:  Pain is
moderating so took myself off the hydrocodone and took two regular Tylenol in
the morning.  Very sore, but no
further painkillers after this.  Finally had relief from constipation, which also decreased
thoracic discomfort level.  Made it
400 yards on the treadmill.  Severe
night sweats continue. Woke up with severe cramp on outside of left ankle –
much like nerve compression symptoms pre-op.


4/17:  Pain
continues to improve.  Went 600
yards on treadmill.  Having some
numbness  in rear of right thigh –
much like pre-op symptoms; also some pain 
in right knee/ upper shin. 
More drenching night sweats. Still very little appetite.


4/18: Pain continues to  improve. I can also feel the benefit in abs and back muscles
from treadmill work reducing pain and making it easier to tolerate hay fever
sneezing. Moderate night sweats. Minimal appetite.  Short errand to bank drive-up window and home.  Dealing with some post-op depression and
sadness, likely related to the stressed and all-absorbing focus on the upcoming
surgery, followed by the lack of something to worry about after it has passed.


4/19:  Back
sore, but I can ignore it.  More
right leg rear thigh numbness and numbness in right foot from heel around
outside of foot to toes. Minimal appetite.

Went 1/2 mile on the treadmill. About 300 yards in, rear of
right thigh and glute quite numb, with numbness/tingling in bottom of right
foot.  As soon as I got off the
treadmill and sat down for a while, numbness subsided. This is a bit worrying,
being similar to pre-op symptoms. Early afternoon and doing some food prep, I
am having right-leg numbness symptoms equal to pre-op  condition.


4/20: Minimal night sweats last night. Less pain this
morning. Am having some moderate numbness in right leg and foot upon standing.
Just 200 yards on the treadmill, but at higher speed.


4/21: Virtually zero night sweats.  Went ½ mile on the treadmill, and about
400 yards in had full numbness back of right thigh, right calf and tingling
around heel and outside of foot. By 600 yards, had pain right thigh and calf.


4/22:  No night
sweats. Main issue is numbness in right leg after standing 10 minutes or so.


4/23:  Night
sweats over. Comfortable to sleep on stomach, right or left side.  Had to quit treadmill after ¼ mile due
to right leg numbness.


4/24: Went 600 yards on the treadmill, with right leg and
foot going numb about 5 minutes in. 


4/25:  Went 900
yards on the treadmill this morning. Rear of right leg, right calf and foot
numb enough I had to be careful getting off the machine.  Can walk all right on the flat, but
uneven terrains and stairs could present fall risks.  Later today, more right numbness and some pain in left thigh
even sitting down. Also realized a lot of bruising accumulated two or thee
inches below the incision site.


4/26: Skipped treadmill to give back a rest.  Lots of right leg numbness, and ankle
cramps both right and left legs. 




--Use refreezable ice packs with smooth contours, not ice
cubes, which can bruise tender tissue.

--When using incentive spirometer, lie on back to avoid
severe pain upon coughing.

--Be aggressive with painkillers the evening following
surgery, as surgical pain meds are much more powerful, allowing one to think
one is not in as much pain is he or she really is.

--Be aggressive with laxative program.



  • I'm going to agree with the laxative program. I find Miralax and lots of water help with the pain killer constipation. Trying to go number 2 with staples in your back is not fun when you're constipated. 
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