teorudabahMemberNovember 25, 2011 at 5:25 amPost count: 3
I was in for a lumbar microdiscectomy at L5-S1 last thursday afternoon. My surgeon came around after I had come around from the anesthetic but I’ll be honest with you, I don’t remember anything! All I remember him saying was that the herniation was much larger than the MRI disk I had given him showed and that he had “shaved” some off which should help. Have tried calling since as I just had a few small questions, but no answer! Can’t believe I missed my opportunity to talk to him. Maybe you can help with a few questions?
– Having some tightness/burning down my leg the odd time but nothing you could compare to the pain before. Also get numbness in my foot the odd time. Is this anything to worry about or just normal for recovery after nerve exposure?
– How long should I stay off work? I work in IT so spend nearly 9hrs sitting at a desk in the day which possibly is what caused the herniated disc in the first place so just want to be sure before I go back. I was told six weeks by one nurse, 4 by another and 2 on the initial letter from the surgeons.
– Should I be lying for the majority of the day and walking when possible? Do I need to do physio at some stage?
– Am I ok to take Ibuprofen? The main pain I have at the moment is my muscles in lower to mid back seizing up. A friend who had the same op told me his surgeon recommended he stay away from ibuprofen as a pain killer as it can cause scar tissue to build up near the nerve?
TeoDonald Corenman, MD, DCModeratorNovember 26, 2011 at 12:54 amPost count: 8459
Short term memory always suffers immediately after anesthesia. I have had patients mad at me for not seeing them immediately post-op even after I had spent ten minutes talking with them in the recovery room.
I cannot answer for your surgeon but I will tell you what I would answer to my patients.
Tightness and some mild burning in the leg is not uncommon after a surgical decompression for a disc herniation. Most patients have had significant pain prior to the surgery and after the pain is gone, these symptoms are uncovered. The symptoms were actually present before the microdiscectomy but were not noticed because the searing pain covered these symptoms up. It might take as long as three months for these symptoms to fade away.
Intermittent numbness can take as long as six months to disappear. The area of numbness will shrink down over time.
I cannot speak for your surgeon as far as going back to work but for my patients, they can go back to a sedentary job within one week to as much as six weeks. It depends upon how well the symptoms are relieved and if the job allows frequent position changes and part time work in the beginning.
I want my patients to walk after surgery a reasonable distance. Short walks are better and multiple “laps” instead of one long walk are preferred. Sitting time is to tolerance.
Ibuprofen is OK to use after about one week from surgery. Ibuprofen will not cause scar tissue to form.
Dr. CorenmanteorudabahMemberNovember 26, 2011 at 10:33 amPost count: 3
Thanks so much for your advice, really helpful. My own doc still hasn’t come back to me so it’s been great to get a professional point of view. It’s a really great thing you are doing here for people. ThanksteorudabahMemberDecember 11, 2011 at 11:36 amPost count: 3
Just another quick question relating to the my surgery described above. I am now 3.5 weeks post op and am now having sciatica pain not only in my left buttock as before but also in my right one from time to time(which i never had before, herniation was on the left). Is there any reason why this could be happening now on the right side? It’s only maybe a 4/10 level pain but is uncomfortable.
TeoDonald Corenman, MD, DCModeratorDecember 12, 2011 at 4:09 amPost count: 8459
Pain in the same distribution 3 weeks after a microdiscectomy is not necessarily unusual. The compressed nerve can swell after the pressure is taken off and the swelling can take some time to dissipate. If that is the case, an oral steroid can be effective to reduce the swelling as long as you understand the potential side effects of oral steroids.
Pain in the opposite side is somewhat more unusual. Inflammation in the canal can affect the opposite nerve. If there is a post-operative hematoma (a small collection of blood that causes some nerve compression in the canal), that can cause this pain. A recurrent disc hernation can occasionally cause this type of pain. Infection can also produce these symptoms but most likely, significant back pain would also accompany an infection.
You need to contact your surgeon for further follow-up.
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