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Back Problems Message Board


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Hi there, I posted about a week ago because after my laminotomy/discectomy I developed foot drop. Had a very bad herniated L4-L5 herniated disc that required emergency surgery. They said I was on the verge of developing Quada Equini. Before surgery I had severe right leg pain but no weakness. It has been 2 weeks since my surgery and the foot drop is getting better but I am having alot of aching pains in my ankle and the front of my calf. No swelling just throbbing. Right after surgery I had no leg pain for a week. I am worried I have reherniated it. Is it normal.:(
You need to try to relax a little bit, and just keep doing your walking and resting, and be very careful not to bend or twist at the waist, avoid pushing, pulling and reaching overhead.

You obviously had some trauma to the nerves and they are now expressing their opinion of the whole experience. They are "waking up" and I think that's why you are having a variety of neural experiences with your recovery.

Do you have any reason to think you may have reherniated?

It is perfectly normal to have a variety of nerve symptoms after surgery to decompress a nerve...and, the bad news, these can last for months. They can come and go, and return again....but, if you are concerned, give your surgeon a call and discuss the situation with him.
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone says the doctor or PA or nurse told them that nerves take a long time to heal, pain after surgery is perfectly normal, etc. I'm sure every single one of them must say the same thing to each and every surgical patient!!

The deal with reherniated a disc is interesting in that once it has been surgically altered, it is quite vulnerable for the first six months. I've heard of people sneezing and reherniating.

Also sometimes all the disc fragments are not removed despite the surgeon's best efforts to do so...and a fragment after a few days or weeks ends up lodging up against a nerve and starts to cause pain.

It may be that now that you are a little more active, you have stirred up a little more inflammation.

There are many reasons why someone is pain-free for a few days or weeks, and then has the pain return. I'm eleven months out from my recent fusion, and I'm still holding my breath, expecting my sciatic pain to return any day...and I've been doing this since I left the hospital!!

Just continue to follow all your surgeon's instructions. Avoid bending or twisting at the waist, pushing, pulling or reaching up overhead...and lifting, carrying groceries, etc. Walk short distances several times each day to keep scar tissue from forming any attachment to a nerve. Drink lots of water...and, maintain a positive attitude. Don't overdo as rest is just as important as walking.

If the pain continues to worsen, call your doctor's office again to report it. But, chances are good that it's just one of the newly decompressed nerves complaining. ;)
I will keep my fingers crossed that it is just the nerves complaining. The pain is not the same as before the surgery, It does not go from the buttock down the back of my leg and then aroung the side of my knee. That was the worst!!! A burning pain from hell. This is more of a cramping throbbing pain and mostly when I lay down at night. It is in the hip area and the front part of the calf. I wonder if during surgery that the Dr could have nicked the nerve because it was so tight in there. Thanks for answering my questions. This is such a scary time. I am 45 have always been very active and never had any surgery before. So this is all new to me. Have been afraid I will not have a normal life after this. Had my first outing today in the car. A little uncomfortable, I think I will not attempt to drive myself for another week.
Becca,
I had a discectomy in October. I remember a couple weeks afterward I woke up with pain in my calf. It felt like a bad cramp. It went away after a week or so. I was in a similar situation to what you describe. Before surgery, I was barely able to stand up out of a chair. Since then, I've recovered but I still will get some minor pain in my leg (about a 1-2 on the pain scale), I take a prescription of naproxen (same dose as the OTC drug, but easier on my stomach) only when I need it, which now is maybe once every week or two. I can recall two instances where I thought for sure I had done something to mess it up. Pain came back and was at a 4-5, and was a dull throbbing. I took my meds but it persisted for 7-10 days, then thankfully it went away. It usually happens after some more intense physical activity.

The reason I tell you this is that there were times when I got myself so worried, and I wish I hadn't. I'll never be completely pain-free, but I'm pain-free 90% of the time, and the other 10% is nothing compared to what it was before the surgery. Don't let it get you down.
Just remember that cleaning house is one of the hardest things on the lumbar spine, particularly after surgery. Your discectomy may be healed on the surface fairly soon, but it will take a good six months for it to "scab over" and become strong enough to withstand activity.

It is a good idea to limit activities, and really baby yourself for the first three months, and then very gradually add in "old" activities.
I had a similar surgery, although My surgery was a little more extensive.
I got the drop foot and numb lower left leg about 2 weeks After surgery, and it's now over two months and still have it. I wear a leg brace that helps, but still waiting.
And , yes , they all say it takes time for the nerves to heal. I'm my case it could take 6 months to a year!
Mine is a server case of Neuropathy, (nerve damage) and am take some pain meds, and Prednisone which is helping with the right leg pain.

Hang in there and be patient, do what they say, and be careful about lifting, stretching, etc...
Good luck
Paul





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