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My friend had sciatic nerve pain for several months before having a laminectomy along with a spinal fusion (L4/L5) for a herniated disk. She is 4 months out from surger and still experiencing back pain and sciatic pain - the sciatic pain may be worsening slightly. She is becoming depressed because the process of nerve growth is very slow and not visible. I was wondering if anyone else out there has had this and made it through, and may have some words of advice as to what helped them both physically and mentally? Thanks!

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Sorry to hear that. On Feb 9th this year I had a 3 level spinal decompression and flex things installed with 4 screws to L2 & L3 and L3 & L4 along with fusion to L4 & L5. Sciatic pain was my most severe complaint. I had and still have some hip pain and a little lower back pain but nothing like it was. I knew the minute I had come to that the sciatic pain was gone!

My surgery was just over 2 months ago. I get depressed and aggrivated because I feel like it is such a long process and I have days that I sit and cry. I understand her emotions definately.

If I were her I would go back to the surgeon and demand some answers. If there is no satisfaction there move on to another neurosurgeon. I am assuming a neurosurgeon is who performed the surgery????

I have been told by others that a year is "acceptable" recovery time. I am a very independant single mom who has always done all my own home maintenance, furniture moving, yard work, etc. I find it very frustrating that a majority of these things I can not currently do and realize that some of it I may never be able to do.

Sciatic pain has to be right up there in the top 5 most horrible pain there is. Good luck to her....follow up with the Dr! I am curious - have they done follow up xrays. My Dr/neurosurgeon had me have an xray several days after surgery, another at 1 month and I go again this week for another to follow the healing process. Is she in a brace?
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Hi there - thanks for the post!
My friend did have the operation done by a neurosurgeon and has been back 3 times for follow-up x-rays. Everything looks fine. The problem is that the neurosurgeon is mostly interested and experienced with the harware and healing of his surgery, not following up with pain and medications, and particularly not in dealing with the depression that goes along with the decreased mobility. She was in a back brace, but only for about a month, then she weaned off of it to stregthen the muscles and prevent atrophy. It helped with her posture immensely, which helps her back. She went to a pain specialist who deals with chronic long-term pain patients on a daily basis and received a shot which helped her back pain immensely. They understand the depression issues as well (friend has medication that helps with that as well-noticable difference).
Also during the months after the surgery, my friend had quit the prescribed walking and PT exercises, was depressed and didn't want to leave the house, which resulted in some additional weight gain, which compounded the back pain problem. I was gone from the area for a few months, and she has no close friends in the area for moral support or to get her out and motivated. I just moved back, the weather has made going outside pleasanat, and she has recently begun dieting and exercising, and has been running a few miles a day (while I also run at a different pace) several days a week to take it off. The running hasn't detrimentally aggravated her back, her doctor didn't restrict her from it, and the positive effects of losing the weight are well worth it. The exercise and getting out more is improving her spirits significantly. Even the days when she is more sore in the morning, she will go out and by the time she is done, her back has loosened up and she feels good from the workout. She is now 6 months out from surgery and the sciatic pain is gone for the most part, and her back pain is kept in check by the meds to the point where as long as she doesn't overdo things, it is manageable. The main problem now is that she is having some short-term memory problems with the opioid meds (hydrocodone/methacarbamol). Have you or anyone else had this?
At any rate, from what I have seen with my friend, the best thing for her was to just start getting out and being active on a regular basis because it improves overall health and mood - even when she doesn't feel like it. The pain is still there (although to a lesser extent), but her mood has made it much more bearable. If you have someone to exercise or walk with, do it. Or look for a walking/exercise partner on Craigslist or similar. There are definitely other people out there in the same situation, or just want to walk to lose weight - or ask your PT if there are other patients they could set you up with to do that? And you mentioned you do a lot of housework - if someone else can do the lifting, let them. My friend is the same way and wants to do it all, but lifting is straining weakened back muscles, not strengthening them like walking/stretching exercises do. :-) Thanks again for your post - I hope your recovery goes well - just hang in there, it will get better! And if you have had any short-term memory loss or problems from your meds, will you let me know? Thanks!!
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Hi again,

I am now wondering if she went too fast or if I am going too slow :-) My Dr still hasn't gotten me into PT. We are supposed to talk about that Thursday, which is over 2 months since surgery. Last month when I was at the Dr they hadn't even released me to sweep or mop the floors. I do it anyway but as far as he was concerned all I should be doing was walking, sitting, or laying.

Yes, I have the hydrocone. I might be mistaken but think it is the same as vicodin. When I had the surgery on a Tuesday and wasn't released until Friday. In the hospital they gave me 2 every 4 hours. I vaguely remember the hospital stay. I am guessing it was the drugs. When I came home the first few days I only took 1 when I thought that I needed it. I didn't like the way they made me feel....like a sickening, head swimming buzz on. Most of the time only took tylenol. We went on a vacation with family 2 weeks ago and my niece and I did a lot of outlet mall shopping and I took the prescription before we would head out and when we would get back attempting to reduce the pain I had with walking too much. I can't really say that it affected my memory but I wasn't taking them "regularly".

I am glad to hear your friend is doing better. The weather has gotten beautiful here now too.....I think I will take your advise and start walking more than just around the house and yard.

Another curiousity question - I have dealt with the pain for at least 5 years with the past 2 being really bad. It had gotten to the point that I could not lift my right leg. My question is did your friend loose muscle tone in the painful leg. My right leg is considerably thinner then the left. Now that shorts season is back...it does look odd.
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One more questions....How old is your friend? I am 52
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Hi there,

Glad to hear the weather is getting better there as well, and getting out in it is a great idea! It will help with the muscle tone as well!
My friend is 50. She started PT about 6 wks out from the surgery. About 4-5 months out from the surgery, her doctor cleared her for all activities that didn't hurt her. As for the housework, she was not supposed to do that for at least a month, and then they were to teach her the proper way to bend and move to avoid injury to her back in PT. She was doing things like sweeping at 1 month out, but it seemed that it did more harm than good, because she could hardly move the next day. She is just very stubborn about wanting to do things herself and had to learn the hard way... :-( Housework should be done at a couple months and then slowly, so you are being smart, don't feel behind. Her doctor actually told her to just walk and go to PT.
As for the atrophy, she didn't experience any of that because she was still walking around prior to this surgery, it was just extremely painful. I have noticed that it is harder for her since her couple months of inactivity while I was gone because she put on weight and lost muscle mass, so it is harder for her to get back into activity. But, like I said, she has had a cortisone shot a month or so ago, and has been running 3 miles a day, 4-5 days a week for a little over 2 weeks now and loving it, so there is hope!! The only problem is that the shots are pretty expensive (even with insurance), some of the symptoms (numbness in legs, pins and needles pains) are starting to come back, so we will see.
I hope things are going well for you!! Good luck!!
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Hi there
I had L1 - S1 fusion in November 2009, I still suffer very badly from pain and on some days can barely move. I have very poor balance as a result of the pain and have 2 subsequent falls. I have done a lot of research and have found that this can continue for up to 2 years form the date of surgery, so dont get your hopes up of any speedy recovery.

This is a long slow recovery process that should have been told to you by your doctor. I have even gone to the extreme of designing some specialised beds for spinal injury patients as well as for home use. These help because they can be used in the living room as well as in the garden, they help you to spend time with your family, without having to sit and put pressure on the spine.
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Hello,

I had spinal surgery about 11 days ago for the C56 and C67. I am still experiencing nerve sensitivity in my right arm and around my shoulder blade on the right side of my back. Help someone. I need some insight. The disc was removed and a titanium disc with a spacer was put in.
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Hello

I am flat out amazed after reading these entries. I suffered a back injury L-5 S-1 disc herniation ten years ago while working as a police officer. The past ten years I underwent PT, (5) epidurals, months off work and finally two failed back surgeries that involved trying to shave down the disc. Massive scar tissue set in and caused unbearable pain that caused me to finally undergo a Trans-1 fusion of L-5 S-1 in April of 2010. My recovery now at about 5 months post op is very slow and I'm still off work. My surgeon is not allowing me to fully sit down until at least January of 2011. I can walk short distances for therapy and participate in limited pool therapy. My Neurosurgeon has strictly forbid regular PT sessions. I still have not participated in any postoperative MRI's. I used to be an avid runner and completed one marathon and according to my surgeon that activity is all over for me.....As far as pain control, I take Norco and Soma for some relief. I have also been told that it will be a year postoperative before the success of the fusion operation is known. I am 47 and was in good shape prior to the fusion. My injury will probably force me to an early medical retirement for my line of work...not what I wanted after 24 years in law enforcement. The lack of freedom is really depressing for me.....
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I'm in alot of pain mostly sciatic nreve & a bulding disc, I'm seeing a doctor that wants to do the spinal fusion on me, I'm almost 64years, very over wieght. but I keep trying to lose all this extra lbs. I'm worried about the recovery, I take care of my step dad, that had a stroke & my bro. he has pain problems too, in his back. any advise on the recovery part??? any help is wecome. I have had so many shots in my back , that I have stop counting, going on 4 years of shots now.
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hi, I am posting because I am currently recovering from my second spinal fusion surgery. L4-5. The first fusion was done anteriorly, about 18 monthsago. After the 1st spinal fusion surgery, I experienced immedaite relief from the pain I had been in for too many years to count. I did well for 3 months or so, after which I starting experiencing different pain and numbness and tingling in my left leg and foot. I did not take narcotic pain relievers for longer than 1 week after surgery. After going through PT, cortizone injections, acupunture, and exhausting every other option. I opted for additonal spinal fusion this time the surgeon performed a posterior fusion. I am 3-1/2 weeks out of the 2nd surgery and am doing amazingly well. I did not need any pain meds after the first week. I walk daily, do not bend, lift anything more than 7 lbs, or twist my back in any way. I cannot do these activities for 3 months. This is so the fusion takes well. after that I will start walking so that I will be back to my 5-6 mile walks I was taking prior to the 2nd surgery. I go in 1 per month for x rays to check the fusion. I am posting mainly out of concern, I see alot of people are still using narcotic pain meds well after surgery. There are non narcotic pain meds that will give people relief from pain and are not addictive. Also, keeping your mind busy during the healing process is very important. It is a long process and the restrictions are hard to deal with. There will be alot of ups and downs, good days and bad days, the mainthing is not to overdue. Do not stress your back. I think I did after the first surgery, being stubborn to do alot for myself and I think that is why I starting experience residual pain months later. I had a spacer put in after a disk was removed (1st surgery) and the fusion did not heal well which caused a stability issue, the second surgery was done to insert screws and bone grafts at the back side of the original fusion to stabilize and the difference is like night and day. Hope all who have had this surgery heal well, listen to their surgeons, go to a non narcotic pain reliever, and keep their chins up during the 12-24 months month healing process.
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On October 13, 2010, I underwent decompressive laminectomies at L3-4 and 4-5 and spinal fusion with hardware including rods and screws from L3-S1. My symptoms primarily were severe left anterior thigh pain, pain in the left knee cap region and left buttock pain. I am sure I had back pain, but the other pain was so intense, I did not recognize it. I had surgery on Wednesday and was discharged on Friday. When I first woke up from surgery, I did not have the leg pain, but as soon as I was walking, I felt it again. The doctor said all I was allowed to do upon discharge is walk. My dilemma has been no one to care for me. The surgeon did not want a home health nurse for fear of infection. I do have a live-in boyfriend and 20-year-old daughter who is a full time college student and works. Asking them to help is like pulling teeth. They become angry and most often will not lift a finger. Yesterday my home had not been cleaned for two weeks and I was on hands and knees scrubbing floors, vacuuming, dusting and doing laundry and it has taken its toll on me. I am so fearful that I will not heal. This has been the most difficult thing I have ever encountered. How do you get people to help you?
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I had l5s1 fusion october 12th. The 6th day post op was the last day i took any pain meds...I have on occasion taken a tylenol or two but not to the point I was pre op. I have complete resolution of leg pain and my biggest complaint is my restrictions. i feel I could do more than allowed but at times have been reminded by pain not to do too much. I read many horrible posts before my surgery but im proof that it can do wonders....
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floridagirl, I hope you're doing okay. Leave it to them to do it and when they ask where their laundry is, or their dinner, or their groceries, tell them when they decide to get the groceries and do their laundry, they'll have some. Take care of yourself. What ingrates!
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Thank you for the reply. I kicked the boyfriend to the curb. I came home on Friday and on Sunday he came out of the guest bedroom after watching TV and started playing an imaginary violin and stating, "should we have a pitty party for you today?" I asked him what he was doing and he asked if I was "still" feeling sorry for myself. I explained I just had a major operation a few days ago and was not allowed to do anything. I wasn't feeling sorry for myself at all, but doing what the doctor told me to do. At that moment I was laying down on my side and watching TV. I got off the bed with my walker (I am only 47 BTW), got up and he started verbally insulting me, bringing up an incident I had shared with him years before about my brother. It was like my illness was bothering him and he was picking a fight for some unknown reason. I told him if he didn't like being here, he could leave as he was living off of me for free most of this year anyway. I proceeded to the master bedroom closet, removing his clothing from hangers and folding it. He pushed and shoved me to the floor. I was horrified that he was going to hurt me further. He took what little he owned (that I had purchased of course) and left. The morning of my surgery, he had taken me to the hospital and flipped out when he could not find the parking garage. The attendant came running to us. My daughter had been following us and she too was in shock over his episode. I was nervous before the surgery and even more so by his outburst. They had to sedate me upon check-in. He had an emergency appendectomy in April of this year and I was the doting girlfriend, taking excellent care of him. I have heard of people who "when the going gets tough, they run out," but had never experienced this before. I do believe he is bipolar and have witnessed odd episodes in the past two years. I also realized he was a narcissist. While the surgery has been hard, being treated this way by what I thought was a loved one really took its toll on me.
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