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Hadn't post in awhile and wanted to provide an update on how I"m doing one year post op from a microdisectomy for a herniated L4/L5 disk compressing the nerve that resulted in a weak leg/foot.

I had posted some desperate posts on here related to the drug neurontin as I could barely function on it. I went on it 6 months post op due to increased nerve pain (evidently this is not uncommon when the nerve is healing. Pain shot up to a level 10).

Started neurontin late feb or early march for nerve pain and am just now getting used to it brainwise. I now have a shortterm memory again and can actually stay awake! It has taken nearly 5 months though to get used to this stuff where I can function again. I was basically a vegetable for that five months. But it has helped my pain considerably and because I was getting breakthrough pain i upped my dosage to 4 times a day three weeks ago, not 3, and that has helped tremendously.

Taking 200 mg 3x a day, at 5 1/2 to 6 hours after a dose, I would start to get level 10 breakthrough pain. And it seems to me, that once that pain breaks through, it's awful darn hard to get in back in control. Do you find that?

I am finding that taking it 4 times a day (every 5 hours) keeps the pain under control with fewer breakthroughs and I can not only function, but I"m not having to lay on the couch screaming (only sometimes! not every day). That's exhausting and the rest of the day is ruined, because for me anyways, once that pain reaches that level, I'm down the rest of the day in pain. It just won't come under control for at least 6 hours, even with percocet. and that kind of pain results usually in leg weakness too, making it difficult to move around. Nerve fatigue the PT calls it.

I am not saying you should take this drug. It is a major drug with major side effects. But for me, I would be dead without it's pain control. It doesn't work for everyone. I was lucky that it works for me. I don't know if this is true but the doctor and the PT told me that I needed something to get that nerve to stop being in hyperdrive, get it under control, so it would heal, and so that I could survive another day! PT said once the nerve goes into hyperdrive it can get stuck in that mode and has to relearn. Who knows if they know if that's true or not. I just know the pain was unbearable.

FYI: I started at 400 mg 3x a day, then went to 200 due to dizziness and sleepiness and loss of brain function, but that also brought on more pain to deal with, though it knocked the pain down enough I could move around some, more than if I wasn't on it. And at 200 mg I regained a lot of brain function (was a vegetable at 400 mg). I just could not exercise in the pain I was in (stabbing like a knife, like walking on glass, toes felt broken) and the doctor said if I did not exercise the nerve would not heal. The catch 22s we face!

Now I take 200 mg 4 times a day, and am feeling so much better: less pain less often, fewer pain breakthroughs, and brain is just about 90%. I have gained weight, but unlike at first when I started this drug and ate everything in site, my eating has stabilized and I'm back on Weight watchers. Who needs to gain weight with a back problem?! That could have been the prednisone too.

So I guess if you can hang in there through the months of getting used to it, it is possible to adjust to this drug. AndI can say too from experience that if you can hang in there through the months of recovery, your nerve can get better and your leg stronger. And your back pain less. If you exercise and stretch.

I had severe reactions to the neurontin: dizziness, vertigo, could hardly form words, hands shaking, sentences blurred on the page, sleepiness, could hardly wake up, no short term memory at all, blanking out (nearly walked into a moving car) etc. The doctor said I had a severe reaction to it, more so than most people do, but to try to stay on it at a lower dose and get used to it because it was helping the pain.

Anyways, I thought I'd post this ordeal and how it worked out if anyone was interested and is going through this. I do worry about liver damage from this drug. The doctor says it is a low enough dose that it isn't a concern but my other doctor is monitoring my liver anyways. And I think it IS a concern.

Oh, I was told by a pharmacologist/chiropractor that L -Glutamine works just like neurontin and is cheaper. I asked him if I could take it with neurontin and he said yes, but I would check that with a doctor or pharmacist first. Has anyone tried this? I would try it alone but I am scared of losing the pain control I get with the neurontin. He also said fish oil was good for nerve regeneration.

I have a feeling due to my long recovery from this damaged nerve that I may be on this for 2 or 3 years. But I do know I would have taken my life definitely had I not gotten something for the level 10 pain because nothing else was touching it and i did not want a spinal pump.

And I can also say that the one year mark for me anyways, has brought a lot of improvements. I have heard it said time and time again that it often takes one year after back surgery to really start to get past the pain. And of course, the meds are helping that too. It seems to take that long for the inflammation to come down in some cases.

Hope this helps.

I am doing much better. Started deep water aerobics a month ago with an aqua belt and I swear the arm and leg exercises (just simple ones) have strengthened those muscles and stretched them out so I have hardly any muscle spasms anymore. I am in the water daily now and it is just the best exercise and the BEST pain reliever! I have found that swishing my arms back and forth in the water has loosened my whole back up and now realize that a lot of my pain was due to tight muscles. At least the back pain was.

Anyone else finding that? Anyways, arm stretches help because it loosens that upper and middle back and the lower too. Wonder why the PT didn't know that?

Also, been going from the cold lake to the hot tub back and forth and that heat/ice thing really works.

For me, the next step is to get the weight off and keep upping the exercise, building muscle, and keeping up the PT stretches/exercises. I feel like I want to live now that t he pain is better under control and am motivated now to keep going, keep fighting, like there is hope and a life with bearable pain.

I hope this post helps someone see that it CAN get better. I"m still disabled quite a bit no doubt, but can now walk 2 miles at a time most days, and do some hills, and have found a med mix that has brought the pain under better control. I hope to avoid morphine and spinal pump and regain the use of my foot again someday. I do have to lay down throughout the day due to pain/leg weakness. Have found that laying down as soon as that pain reaches a level 6 is wise or it shoots to a 10.

I'm not pushing this drug. Just wanted to relate my experiences. I would rather not take it. My gut feeling is it could result in long term health problems, but like I said, for me, I would not be alive right now without it. Nothing else was touching the nerve pain. I was/am desperate.

If anything, the water is the best exercise and pain reliever I've found. And the arm stretches (just a simple swimming motion or arms out to the side, palms down, up and down). Frankly, it's been better than all the PT I did and paid exorbitantly for.

Blessings to all. Hope to all. Hang in there. There is hope. This forum has kept me alive some days. It is such a valuable tool. Thanks.





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