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Concerned after a L4-5 Microdiscectomy, 4 Weeks Post-Op
katiep1081 posted:
About last May, I noted that my right hip didn't feel right. It was kind of tight, and if I arched my back too far, stretched or turned in the wrong way, it became painful. Not overwhelmingly, but just a little twinge of discomfort like if you pulled a muscle working out a couple days ago. Over the summer, my hip got tighter and more uncomfortable to the point wee it felt like the medial glute couldn't relax, which lead to a constant ache. I tried yoga, massage, swimming all without results. The orthopaedist that my family doctor referred me to thought it might be piriform syndrome, and prescribed physical therapy, which I feel a) didn't help and b) may have worsened my discomfort.

Late in August it began traveling down my leg. First it felt like the outside of the back of my thigh was tight and aching too. Then I began to have stinging, twitching and pain (no numbness) in the lateral posterior knee bend, and down the lateral posterior portion of my calf (never past the ankle). In November, I had an MRI that showed a "large, right paracentral extrusion at L 4-5." I was referred to a back specialist, and he said that he thought, given the length of time if been dealing with this and the way the MRI looked, it was not going to heal or reabsorb on its own. He recommended skipping injections and going straight to a microdiscectomy.

I had the procedure on 12/18, and frankly, I felt AMAZING afterwards. My stitches were a nuisance, but the leg pain and tightness were gone. Due to pain issues, I hadn't been able to lay on my stomach to sleep for several months (my favorite way to sleep!) and finally I could.

Around 01/03, just a couple days after my 2 week follow-up I noticed that my hip felt ever-so-slightly tight and achy. They had told me after X-rays at the general ortho that I had early arthritis in my hips pelvis and lower back. So I attributed the discomfort to that combined with the fact that now that the stitches were out I was moving around a lot more than I had since even before the procedure.

It is now 01/16 and the hip is unchanged but I'm feeling some tightness and aching in my outer calf that is very reminiscent of the progression of my issues before surgery.

I am just desperately afraid that somehow, someway, I've re-herniated the disc. I'm not sure how I'm going to pay the bills from the first surgery. The sheer thought of a second makes me nauseated.

I know that it is not uncommon to have pain or numbness after surgery, and that it can take awhile to fade. However, I was having no pain, no numbness, no weakness for almost three weeks after, and now I'm noticing it. I also know that the greatest danger of re-herniation is in the first months after surgery.

Am I over-reacting? Should I have called the back specialist like 5 minutes ago?

Opinions! Advice! Recommendations! Help!
davedsel2 responded:

Everyone heals at their own rate after surgery. You have had major surgery and what you are feeling could just be part of the recovery process.

Probably the best thing you can do is to call the surgeon's office and describe your symptoms to them. If they feel it could be a problem, they will most likely bring you in for an examination.

I pray you can get answers and relief soon.
Please click on my username or avatar picture to read my story.


bj1208 responded:
Hi and welcome to the support group -

First - One thing I wanted to point out is NEVER SLEEP ON YOUR STOMACH - this can cause more back pains and can damage disc(s) more if they already have problems. Believe me I was a stomach sleeper until I started having back problems and my L5-S1 Disc blew out in 2006. My surgeon at that time even told me to never sleep on my stomach as it puts too much pressure on the lower spine. And there is no way, even now, that I could sleep on my stomach even if I really really wanted to.

Second - As Dave said everyone heals differently. Just as an FYI I just had my 2nd fusion (L4-5) surgery on 12/4 and even though my incision has healed really well I am having recovery problems on my right side. Now my surgeon did say, like noted above, we all heal differently and he said recovery period may be between 6 months to a year - give or take depends on the individual.

Last - have you or do you still have recovery appointments (Post Op Care) with your surgeon? did he/she recommend any Physical Therapy/Chiropractic Treatments? Did you have any X-rays, MRI's or CT Scans done for Post Op Care etc.?

I think it would be best for you to call your surgeon and make an appointment for evaluation. He/she will determine what tests, if any need to be done.

Please keep us posted what you find out~~
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~

Take care ~~ God Bless ~~

~~ Joy ~~
katiep1081 replied to bj1208's response:
Post-op there haven't been any X-rays or MRIs. At my 1st post-op appointment (2 weeks after surgery) they gave me an at home exercise program, but cautioned me not to start it until week 4 post-op, which was officially yesterday (Wed).
I do have one more follow-up but not until February 10th. He also released me to go back to work without restrictions as of Mon. So I will see him, but I'm wondering if I should wait that long.
Like I said, money is a big issue (as I'm sure it is for EVERYONE) so I don't want to rush in there and rack up more imaging and exam bills because I over-reacted.
BUT the 5 months before surgery were miserable. I experienced the worst pain of my entire 32 years. It negatively affected me physically and emotionally. I am terrified of going through another period of time like that. They might have to send the ortho doc to visit me in the psych ward, if that happened!
My biggest concern is that I did go 3.5 weeks feeling like my old self. Only after that did this pressure/ tightness creep back into the calf. I guess I just felt if it were part of the healing process, it would have been there sooner and be fading by now. The fact that it is only now showing up makes me concerned about re-injury.
I have been really lucky healt-wise. This is the first time I've had any kind of surgery since my tonsillectomy before I started kindergarten in '85 (unless you count wisdom tooth removal in '01). So I guess before I ran off half cocked, I just wanted the opinions of people who have been in my shoes.
Thanks for your advice and insight. I will keep you posted.

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