Three weeks after my first back surgery in 2010, I had convinced myself that everything had gone smoothly and that I was ready to return to work.Â After all, the swelling and inflammation had gone done considerably and I was starting to feel like my old self.
As I sat back in my once comfy office seat, it didn’t take long to realize that the old habits that had twisted my back into a knot would return to do the same if I didn’t make some adjustments.Â The first adjustment would be mental.Â I had to tell myself that I wasn’t rehabilitated yet and that office work could wait.Â Luckily, I had an employer that was very supportive and allowed for flextime so that I could work PT in the office and the rest of the time at home.Â This gave me an extra month to let the scar tissue and alignment issues settle down.
So when is it too soon to begin work again?Â A recent study presented at American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting, finds that on average people who were working before a single layer lumbar discectomy were able to return to work in 67 days post surgery.
Though my personal opinion is that it’s different for everybody and that you’ll need to really stay in tune with your body.Â I know that doesn’t help much but setting an unrealistic recovery schedule might just drag you right back to the operating table.Â Alberta Health Services has some common sense tips on what to do when you do decide to get back to the 9-5.Â The most important in my opinion would be to not sit for too long.Â Stand up and do some light stretching or if possible, go for frequent short walks to keep blood flowing to the back.Â These little preventative measures have made a huge difference in the productivity and quality of the office life.
Alright, so….If you can look past the cheesy Bollywood actor on the packaging, Sandhi Sudha joint pain oil is one the best ways to fight inflammation.Â I’ve gone through several bottles of this somewhat smelly potion over the last three years and I reach for it any time I feel my back heating up.Â I was as skeptical as anyone at first especially since it has that snake oil marketing quality about it, but for me this is a great naturopathic alternative to taking anti-inflammatory meds.Â I’ve come to rely on it now and so I’m passing along my recommendation.
Now why would I name this blog discectomypain.com if I hadn’t endured a micro-discectomy for a herniated disc?Â Well I have, so hence the name and on with my first-hand account – but first a bit of history for context.
About two months ago, on a random Tuesday morning, I bent forward to tie my shoe laces and never really got back up for the better part of five weeks.Â I’ve been suffering with sharp, zinging lower back pain for years (related to 2 herniated discs – L4/L5 – L5/S1) but this time the mild Sciatica I had been experiencing on and off for years, turned into an excruciating nerve pain that got worse over the course of 5 days.Â Luckily, I had an up-to-date MRI so the surgeon quickly diagnosed an L4 protrusion pushing on the Sciatic nerve.Â My options:Â 1) wait it out and hope it eventually settles down 2) Discectomy.Â Notice that there was no option 3 for me.Â At the time of the diagnosis, I had been on laying on my stomach for 2 weeks – the only position that didn’t aggravate my Sciatica, medication brought no relief, and seeking any type of therapy meant moving, and moving was intolerable.
The miscrodiscectomy took 2 hours and when I woke up the nerve zingers were gone…errr…for the most part.Â After a few days of recovery I could tell that all was not perfect.Â As the surgeon explained to me, there may be some permanent or semi permanent nerve damage depending on how hard my Sciatic nerve was pinched.Â I still feel a duller version of the original sciatic pain radiating down the back of my calf to the ankle…about 1/10 the strength.Â Other issues I’m experiencing include partial foot numbness (top half) and scar tissue pain from the incision (which is minimal).Â This article outlines some of the complications that can occur after surgery.
All things considered, I’m glad I went through with the procedure but time will tell if it was a complete success.Â Here’s my scar and minor swelling 4 weeks post surgery:
And here’s Susan Kaye’s follow up videos after a microdiscectomy at L4/L5.Â Watching her recover really put my mind at ease pre-surgery.
1 month Post-Surgery
6.5 month Post-Surgery
1 year Post-Surgery
In September of 2011, I underwent a Laminectomy for a herniated disc at L5/S1.Â The operation was performed by a Neurosurgeon who advised decompression to alleviate a large herniated disc applying pressure to a nerve root.Â He also performed another procedure unrelated to the L5/S1 disc issue which I won’t discuss at the moment.Â The entire procedure lasted approximately 5 hours and I stayed one night at the hospital.
After years of suffering through lower back issues, I’ve decided to share my trials and tribulations.Â It’s been a rocky road these last few years as I bounced from doctor to doctor in search of lower back pain relief.Â Multiple surgeries later, I’ve decided to take the matter into my own hands with hopes of creating a community that can share ideas about back pain and maybe even come up with remedies for common ailments.
There’s no shortage of random articles on the web about spine related issues and general back pain from sitting too long, but there doesn’t seem to be many centralized sources for good information about not only the root causes of back problems but solutions don’t require surgery.Â There is one great source of information that I would suggest to anyone suffering from chronic low back pain.Â Here’s a link to www.spine-health.com
Ok, so here’s my story…with a happy ending. For those of us that suffer from constant back pain, well know, getting comfortable on a couch, a bed, a recliner etc..can be a huge challenge. And once your settled in and you’re ready to watch TV or Youtube, you really don’t want to move. And that’s the huge benefit to having a solid pair of wireless headphones that let you stay in one position without struggling to hear sound on any audio playback device. Read More
Every time I purchase a well reviewed (4 or 5 stars) product on Amazon, my faith in humanity goes up a notch. Seriously though, when a group of well meaning people come together on a forum to honestly critique a product, it cuts through the clutter of generic advertising pitches and testimonials to get to the truth which is – does this thing work or not? The Miracle Ball really does reduce muscle tension especially in the hip flexor region, where I need it the most! Read More
Here’s an excellent question and answer interview with Dr. Michael Barnes, an Orthopaedic surgeon practicing in New Zealand. He answers several questions post lumbar micro-discectomy.
Here are the Key Points:
- A disc protrusion (disc herniation) occurs when a piece of the intervertebral disc (the soft part between the vertebrae) separates or partially separates and compresses a nerve in the lower spine.
- Disc protrusion with pressure on a nerve causes sciatica which is pain down the leg in the line of the sciatic nerve and may also cause weakness or numbness.
- Sciatica often gets better within days or weeks without treatment but sometimes
persists for months and sometimes never gets better without surgical treatment.
- Surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
- Surgery involves extraction of the disc fragment from under the nerve root through a 3cm to 4cm incision (longer in large patients).
- Some patients go home the day after surgery, some on the second day.
- Return to work is variable and may occur in as little as one to two weeks for
sedentary workers who can get up and walk periodically or may take up to two to
three months for heavy manual workers.
- Complications or post operative problems are rare with the exception of recurrent
disc protrusion which occurs in 2% to 3% of patients in the first year after surgery and 10% at ten years from surgery.
And the full length article can be found here
Also known as spondylodesis or spondylosyndesis, is a surgical technique used to join two or more vertebrae. Supplementary bone tissue, either from the patient (autograft) or a donor (allograft), is used in conjunction with the body’s natural bone growth (osteoblastic) processes to fuse the vertebrae. (Wikipedia).
I winter’s up here in Canada are cold and on the recommendation of my chiropractor I purchased this Lower Back and Shoulder Heat Wrap to warm my bones during the deep freeze.Â I surprised to find how comfortable this wrap is with it’s fleece like outer material.Â Much more useful than a heating pad as you can sit or walk around in it though I usually have to tie a double knot on the strap.Â Way better than the velcro strapped gizmo I used previously to this.Â The only minor complaint I would have is that if you overheat, the flax seeds inside will burn and stink up the room, so follow the instructions by gradually heating in the microwave.