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Back Problems Message Board

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Hi There

I had a herniated disc L5-S1 and had a partial discectomy 5 months ago. I am only 28. I recovered well after operation although it was a very slow process which i did not realise. when told the recovery period was six weeks i expected to be back to normal after then. Not the case. Still getting back ache on and off and have to lie down in evening to rest leg as still playing me up. After around 2 months of op felt really good but then started getting anoying pins and needles on and off and now i am getting pain in leg again. Not same pain as before though but still enough to worry me. Have trouble with stretching leg still and feels though the back of my calf is so tight and could do with a good massage. Only had 3 sessions of Hydrotherapy which at the time seemed to really help but feel as though need something else done as leg still feels weak and not right. I have been doing my exercises the hospital gave me but do not seem to improve my leg much, just feels as though the muscle is tight or something. When i stretch my leg when laying down it goes into a cramp and tightens so much i can not move and really hurts.
Has anyone else had problems after this time period?
I have private health care and have just called the specialist to see him on Friday, just to put my mind at rest as am worried may be a problem there.
Does anyone know what exercises or activites can be done to help strecth the mucles in leg and strenthen it?
I will let you know the outcome of the visit to the specialist.

Jason, I looked up some other posts by you and saw your problem is at L4,L5. I will try to explain what they will probably do.

When you arrive at the hospital, you will go to a room to get undressed and put on the gown. A nurse will give you an IV. You may see the surgeon and an anesthesiologist before the surgery. If the anesthesiologist offers you something to calm you, take it. This will make you very drowsy and you may not even remember entering the surgery suite. I barely remember it.

During the surgery you will most likely be placed on your stomach. The operating table will have a section that will drop down so you will be in a kneeling position. You will be totally out for this and will have no memory of it. The surgeon will use some different tests to ensure he cuts into the correct place.

Once this is identified, the surgeon makes an incision no more that 3 to 4 inches. The skin is held aside and the surgeon will next pull the muscles aside to expose the layer of ligaments beneath. This is called the ligamentum flavium. He will have to cut through this to see your vertibrae. Once he can see the vertibrae, he will cut an opening to see where your disc is herniating and pressing against the nerve. Now is where he actually removes any disc material pressing on the nerve. He may have to pull the nerve aside to do this. Once he is satisfied he has removed all of the disc material needed, he sutures ( stitches ) the ligamentum flavium back together, moves the muscles back into place and then closes the incision with staples or tape called steri strips. The bone is not filled in. After this, you will go to a recovery room where you will wake from the anesthesia.

During the surgery, you will have a tube down your throat to help you breathe and help with the anesthesia. This is removed and you begin to regain consiousness. Once you are coming awake, you will be taken to your room in the hospital. You will still have your IV that will be giving you antibiotics and fluids. You will also have morphine most likely in you. I was given hydrocodone ( vicodine ) as needed. I took 2 every 4 hours or so. I only spent one day in the hospital. I had to show I could get out of bed and go to the bathroom.

The really great thing to me was waking from the surgery and having my sciatic pain GONE. The incision was sore and that lasted about 5 weeks. After surgery, you will be restricted to no bending, lifting or twisting. They call it the BLTs. My surgery was more complicated than this due to the nature of my injury and I missed 8 weeks of work. We are all different though and heal at our own rates. Don't measure yourself with others. Just concentrate on getting better. The first thread that states post surgery ideas is great. The two things I could not do without were the raised toilet seat and a grabber. You should also try to raise everything above your waist, like food and clothing. Get some shoes that you can just slip your feet into. I still wear mine alot. You may also want to think of ways to keep yourself entertained. I have a laptop computer with wireless internet and it was my link to the outside world for a while.

I truely feel I am one of the success stories. I am 3 months post op, back to work and looking forward to snowboarding season. Please feel free to post any questions or concerns you have. There are alot of awesome people in this board that can give you great info and listen to you vent. Good luck and THINK POSITIVE!!!

Hi Jason,

I think Alan covered it almost. I was really scared when i had my operation as had never even been put out before. I was taken down to the operating theatre and whilst a nurse was chatting away to me the iv was put in then that is the last i remember. Upon waking felt fine just very drugged up still. I was given morphine injections when i needed which i must say were great. No pain while on these just very sore when moved. I had to lay on back for 8 hours afer op without being turned, which was fine. I was in hospital for 3 days and was not allowed to go home until could walk and climb stairs. An absolute must is to arrange for a raised toilet seat and a helping hand ( which is a stick with a grabber on the end to pick things up from the floor). I could not have managed without mine and after a week i was doing nearly everything with it.I was up and out of bed the next morning and walking( Taking pigeon steps though)

Do not worry, It will take a long time for you to recover, but if your pain is anything like mine was before the operation( i would have cut my leg off if i could) then you wont look back. It was the best thing to do. After operation the pain was gone in my leg completely. It was such a releif . I would have another operation tomorrow given the choice between pain or releif.
Everyone is different with regards to surgery it all depends where your bulge is and how big it is. Mine was very large.
After the operation and discharge from hospital, you can only sit for around 15min max, then you must either walk again only for around 10min and then im afraid the rest is lying down. YOu must not bend at all!! for 6 weeks, not even to put your socks on. I lived and died in tracksuit bottoms as the scar is quite tender afterwards and mine was exactly level with the belt area so jeans were too painful to wear.
I was very luky as my mum came to stay with me for 2 weeks after the operation, to look after me and do all the every day things that i could not do, even putting the kettle on was too much you really feel it on your back, only allowed to put minimal ammount of water in otherwise too heavy to lift.
I am sure you will be fine, i found the recovery at home afterwards much worse than the operation itself. It is very boring and you feel useless, so try to arrange for company or get lots of stuff to read or keep you busy as tv just gets tiresome.

After 6 weeks you can start to drive and it is great to actually get out into the real world.

Wish you well

Not sure if this helps or not, I am three and a half years post op, I agree that the relief from my discectomy was fantastic, I walked the same day as the surgery, my back did feel unstable then but quickly settled. I needed no pain relief post op but had two days in ICU due to my BP bottoming out big time, The next day I was allowed off the ward to walk and over did it :) I walked around a city block, got half way around and realised my mistake but that gives you an indication of how good I felt.

I still have a residual weakness of my leg which is progressively getting worse and while I am careful in how I move I have an autistic son and another with suspected addisons disease so I can't always rest when I should and do far more lifting than I am supposed to. I used to be a nurse but have never returned to work as I felt that the risk of re-injury was too great with my childrens needs. Post op, I wasn't allowed to stand still for more than five minutes (you should never do this anyway) sit for more than ten but was allowed to walk as much as I like as long as I was aware of my comfort zone. I was allowed to lift one kg (approx 2 lb) in the first six weeks, with no bending allowed. I moved the kids and I in with my mum to prevent my being tempted for those six weeks. Whatever you do the first six weeks is crucial to your recovery, it is when the scar tissue is made and it is the scar tissue that will support your spine, if it doesn't form and harden you are at a far greater risk for re-injury. While I will never play sport again, I garden, renovate both my house and furniture and have a good quality life. My children were only 3 and 4 when I had the surgery so they were still very labor intensive. Plan ahead and try to make sure that the initial recovery period is as stress free and temptation free as possible and you should be fine./

I would have surgery again if my pain got as severe far sooner than I did last time. I only had the physio visit once in hospital as I was self exercising and doing more than he would have given me anyway and was sent home with an exercise booklet to follow and use as a guide.

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