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iSpine Discuss Open decompression - no recovery in the Main forums forums; Hi - I am new to the forum. It looks amazingly helpful. I'd be very grateful for any comment or ...

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Old 04-20-2010, 10:12 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: London UK
Posts: 3
Unhappy Open decompression - no recovery

Hi - I am new to the forum. It looks amazingly helpful. I'd be very grateful for any comment or advice on my situation.

I had an open decompression operation of L4/5 on February 1st and was told that I might recover in 6-8 weeks. It is now over 11 weeks, and I am no better than I was before the operation. My condition is severe neurogenic claudication, making it difficult for me to walk or stand up straight. During the first 6 weeks I did make some progress, and reached a point where I could walk very slowly for about 15 minutes, carrying rather than using my walking stick, and I could stand upright for some of the time, especially in the mornings.

But from Tuesday 16th March, I suddenly deteriorated, and almost had to start from scratch again. On that night I also had agonising pain in my right hip, followed by numbness. There were a few things I did on that day which could have triggered this change: on the Monday 15th, I had acupunture for pain in my left leg - I also drove for the first time that day. On Tuesday I sat at my computer for quite a while, and also had a hot bath. Maybe one of these things caused the change.

My doctor also suspected that I might have a hip problem which was preventing my recovery - and an X-ray did indeed reveal osteo-arthritis on both sides, worst on the left. But nothing extraordinary for a 58 year old, who for years was a regular jogger (how I regret that now!).

One of my big problems in all this is the lack of aftercare advice I have received from the NHS (National Health Service) here in the UK. (I'm going to make a separate post for UK people on this.) I have not seen my surgeon since the operation - my next appointment is two weeks today. His advice is also not to have physiotherapy for three months from the operation. This means I just don't know what is best for me. Should I try to walk as much as possible? Am I doing the right exercises etc etc?

Fellow sufferers, I don't need to dwell on how awful all this has been. Many of you have even worse problems. Ten months ago I was fit and active: walking, cycling, salsa dancing, going to the gym. Now I am virtually housebound, on sick leave from work, and unable to do all those outdoor things I used to love doing with my 12 year old son!
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Old 04-20-2010, 03:36 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 1,596

Hi Geoff and welcome to the forum,

I can't speak directly to your specifics, however, yes, the sitting for a long time and the hot bath could have 'caused' something, especially given that's when your reversal bagan. Ice is much better than heat or sometimes used in combination- heat for relaxing muscles and ice to reduce inflammation.

Also sounds like your hip pain could be coming from your back, which also began with your returning symptoms. I wouldn't wait to see your doctor again. See if you can get in sooner but we've heard of problems before with the UK health system????

Do not walk as much as possible in one long burst. If you feel up to it and it causes no additional pain, try walking several times a day in shorter walks. Sitting also sounds like your enemy. Exercises??? Don't know what you're doing but it sounds like you should slow it down. If your surgeon doesn't want physio, that should tell you to keep exercising to a minimum.

Good luck and please keep us posted, Dale
3 level Prodisc adr S1-L3, Oct 12, 2005
Dr. B in Bogen, Germany
Severe nerve damage in left leg, still working on it
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:59 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: London UK
Posts: 3
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Thanks Dale for this advice, and for posting it so quickly. It's so good to hear some comment in this climate of medical silence I live in! What you say sounds sensible to me, so I will follow your advice, and I would certainly like to think my hip pain is a consequence of spinal problems rather than something new
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:12 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: N. San Diego
Posts: 255

About your situation:
-open decompression operation of L4/5
-My condition is severe neurogenic claudication, making it difficult for me to walk or stand up straight.

Was your spinal canal too narrow from bone growth so they opened it up?
Have they done any followup diagnostics to see why your recovery is off track?

I had a surgery that didn't go well. In hindsight my guesses at what I did to cause setbacks were not good thinking. I think no matter what I did or didn't do I was going to hurt. When you're that fragile it could be because things just aren't right, not because of something you did. I doubt therapy could help (just my opinion like everything else I'm writing here). Walking even a little bit and even slowly always helps the body overall.

I hope things improve for you.

2003 L5S1 Charite
1981 L5S1 Discectomy
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Old 04-22-2010, 01:40 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 111

Your situation reminds me of "Chirogeek's" experience. He is a distinguished member here, an expert in the field, and has his own website, worth a look in your case. Pity he seems to have inactivated his detailed diary pages which were enlightening reading.
Dr. Doug's History

He tried no surgery, then had surgery, which he later regretted and possibly made him worse. Exercise etc often caused flareups and setbacks. After many months his own body slowly healed things as well as it could and he gets along ok but gently ever since.

I ruptured thoracic disc with sequestered fragment in June 2009. hospitalised and on morphine for pain. have had no operation. only recently able to drive short distances and very careful getting in car and properly supported. would not get into a bath. generally lie down rather than sit. Still experience sig. pain when on feet for over an hour or so, but it is improving slowly. At time of injury my expectation was to get back to work within a few weeks.
Your body only has what you eat to work with. Some 'extras' might help.
BioMed Central | Full text | Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplementation to treat symptomatic disc degeneration: Biochemical rationale and case report
Collagen Type II Shown to Reverse Skin and Joint Aging
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exercises, laminectomy, open decompression, physiotherapy, recovery

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