Post op help

I had my long awaited L5/S1 discectomy nearly 2 weeks ago and I am sadly still getting nerve pain down my leg to my toes. It's not as bad as it was before .... But it's more than noticeably there.

I usually try to be positive and answer other peoples posts by trying to lift them up or give them something good to think about but I'm failing with myself. I gave it a while before I posted on here to see if things got any better but they haven't and I find myself slipping down very fast into depression. Today I am trying to handle Mother's Day for my 6 year old with a smile but have to keep dashing off somewhere quiet and alone to cry and wonder if this is my life. Pain, restriction and drugs.

I know so many have it worse than me but I am honestly running on empty as on top of this I am now seeing a rhumatologist and I'm having tests for suspected RA.

Can anyone honestly tell me that they have had this op and it's taken a while for the nerve pain to settle or is this it??

I'm not sleeping well and all I can think about is how bad my life has turned out - I hate feeling self pity but it's just how I feel. I'm a relatively youngish 48 year old and feel such a failure to myself my partner and above all else my daughter. My close friends have all deserted me one by one as it's too much reality and doom and gloom for them I guess - they never really 'got it' or understood the pain or the mental strain I felt and I can't keep moaning to my partner as he needs a break too.

I feel very isolated and alone. Am I kidding myself to think that it's early days? I went for a wound check and asked the very young nurse about the nerve pain and just got a smiling and yet unconvincing yes yes yes - this is to be expected ... but before the op my consultant said it may only reduce the pain a little or not at all and those words are ringing in my ears now.

I just have such a bad gut feeling about this and feel very very very low today.

Sorry for the negativity but I can't seem to shake it off. I am falling apart mentally with it all.


Last edited by

18 Replies

  • Hi Tracy,

    Please take heart - it is very very early days for nerve pain to settle. I have had 6 disc surgeries over 40+ years now and it does take time for nerves to settle having been jangled by any pressure on them. The surgery itself will have caused some nerve pain also. Nearly 2 weeks is just beginning the healing process.

    I do so hope you can enjoy your Mothers Day and know that being the right side of the surgery you can start to heal. Be very very gentle with yourself, you've been through a lot and your body needs as much rest as you can manage as a Mum and gentle gentle movement according to what your surgeon and physios advice is.

    Thinking of you,

    Take good care of you,



  • Thank you Curlygirl - is it really that way? Am I expecting too much too soon? The consultant and Gp want me off my drugs and I have cut down drastically but I think it's too much too soon and feel like an addict if I ask for more but I will just have to say how I feel and that's that. Consultant wants me off Gabapentin in 3 weeks and morphine like now!!

    I won't keep bothering you and just a few words will do but as you are the only one that has answered can I ask how long it took you to lose this nerve pain and how well did these surgeries work out for you?

    I have just woken up - all I want to do is sleep but thank you for taking the time to reply to me xxx

  • Hi Tracy,

    I'm more than happy to respond any time. I agree with much that Pat said but I have to take issue with her description of 'very old' at 62 cos I'm only 2 years behind!!! Careful now Pat!!

    Back to you Tracy, it is very very early days and you are only just starting to clear the anaesthetic from your brain and body. The morphine will have messed with your emotions, as will the trauma of the surgery. These things will settle, they need acceptance and patience from the patient 😏. An attitude of 'this too will pass' will really support you. Each anxious thought is putting further stress on your body and worsening your pain. A partial discectomy is REALLY GOOD NEWS!! it means you haven't lost complete disc height which is very much in your favour. It seems the surgeon has only needed to remove a portion of the disc, the bit that was irritating the nerve root. If you think about waking up having laid on your arm a bit funny how long that pins and needles feeling takes to go? Your nerve has been irritated for much much longer than that and will take time to settle. I can't give you a number - every surgery I've had has been different but I do know about nerve pain and that patience is essential.

    I totally understand how you may feel about your daughter - I have 2 sons, now 25 and 23. To tell you that I've been treated at the pain unit for 40+ Years and have 6 prolapsed discs with multiple spinal and shoulder surgeries will tell you that my sons have never seen me as I would have wanted them to. I believe tho, that they have turned into really fine young men who are caring, compassionate and understanding of others. Of course I wouldnt have wanted them to see me in such pain but, it is what it is and raging against it will only help for a while. i look at them and know that they have received the really important stuff of unconditional love, respect, family values and resilience. None of those things require a robust body to deliver.

    And, we have had a laugh along the way, despite the really tough times.

    Your surgeon would undoubtedly be wanting to manage your expectations by what he said about outcome. Spinal surgery doesn't provide a cure, it is aimed at an improvement and there is plenty of time for you to start to feel this.

    I really hope you can look at your little girl today and just allow her smile and her love to soothe you, perhaps ask for a gentle hug from your partner too - they are evidence that there is far more in your life than pain, restriction and drugs. Your life isn't perfect , no, but wow! A 6 year old - how heartwarming looking at and listening to her must be.

    Take heart, onwards and upwards,

    Enjoy the rest of your Mothers Day



  • Hello TracyK99

    I'm here too!

    Just as Shirley says this is very earl days and if you want to feel negative, angry and any other emotion then fine. BUT....never say you are a failure. You are comparing yourself with others who do not have pain or need operations or strong meds to get them through the day. Don't thin about others worse off than you. Some poor sod will be at the bottom of life's heap and have no one to feel for.

    It is hard I know and having that hope any op like this is oing to cure all, or even part, is part of our survival instinct. The need to be part of the pack. Show any weakness or disability and you are rejected. Oh what a wonderful place Utopia must be!

    Sometimes it is hard to lt go of 3 little words...used to be. I used to be able to walk to work. I used to be able to touch my toes. I am a very old 62 and been a very long time since I have even seen my toes!

    Never feel alone. You know there is always someone around here. Even if you get stuck with me in the wee small hours! I think they are allout playing Mumsies. Not to be recommended.

    Children are very resilliant and adapt to their situations. So you can't do so and so but you can probably find you can do something else. We say in our house that if a fit pain free person wants to solve a problem - ask someone in pain. You will have found a way to do it which causes least pain.

    Right that's my rant returned!

    Little acorns - mighty oaks. Maybe only a medium sized oak for most of us but take it slowly, your pace and don't be rushed by consultants. Put your foot down but don't fall over.

    Bigs Hugs

    Pat x

  • Thank you so much ladies you have made me smile, shed a tear and somewhat try to get a grip! ❤️ Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts as I really appreciate and needed it especially from those that know. I must just get it into perspective and realise that this ISN'T a cure but something to improve the pain ... If I'm lucky.

    It's funny but 'well people' have been telling me "ok not long now till your op and everything will be back to normal" and I began to believe them. They meant well but had limited understanding but it rubbed off on me and I almost feel I have let them down ... Ridiculous I know.

    I will try to give myself time and live with the cards I have been dealt - no choice so no point dwelling. I made myself get out of bed and went for a little walk (brrr cold) with my family and feel a bit better and took a small amount of Meds to take the edge off. Next week my lovely GP is back from leave and I will chat to her and tell her that I'm having a bit of trouble coping. I do expect so much from myself as I used to be the one who would sort out and solve everyone else's problems - I was strong and to admit weakness and vulnerability is a bitter pill for me to swallow. Maybe I have been bottling things up for too long and now the flood gates have given way which has knocked me for 6. I feel like I'm in mourning for the person I used to be - so physically strong so independent but she's gone and I am so sad to see her go. I must rebuild and move on and you have told me this will take time - I just wish this awful feeling would pass and give me a break so I can do that.

    Time, time , time. Thanks again you lovely ladies, you don't know how much you have helped me today. You have good hearts to find time in your own pain and situation to offer me some support and that is truly appreciated.

    May karma smile on you ☺️

    Love Tracy xxxx

  • Tracy you are so right, it is a sort of bereavement. But the you you knew before hasn't gone, it's just going to be different and all the strength you've needed to get to this point will help you move forwards.

    Perhaps your lovely GP will talk about some antidepressants? Depression goes hand in hand with pain. Getting out for a walk today was a great step tho, gentle exercise and nature are known to be great mood lifters.

    Am usually around so just shout.

    Onwards and upwards eh? But gentle, kind steps



  • I am already on a mild dose of Mirtazapine and really don't want to add to that but will speak to my Dr - so many things to consider and too much brain fog. I can barely manage to decide how much sugar to take in my tea these days 😜.

    Had a long talk with my poor, long suffering partner and he helped me feel better just by getting it off my chest, having a big blub and letting him know how I feel instead of the huge amount of energy that is needed to hide it.

    A new day tomorrow and laying in bed is definately the worst thing to do so I must fight it along with this overwhelming fatigue.

    Goodnight dear Shirley and Pat - big gentle hugs and kisses.

    Tracy xxxx

  • What a fantastic post from Tracy, Pat and Curly. Really demonstrates the strength, wisdom and support found on this board. Best wishes Tracy, you will get there.

  • Thank you Calceolaria - I don't know how would have coped yesterday without reaching out and getting some support. Often people don't realise how powerful words can be and how they can take the edge off a black cloud day to help you scrape through. Sometimes just that little bit of support goes such a long way to banish the feeling of isolation and loneliness. Even in a room full of people you can feel alone unless you find someone who has some idea of where you are coming from. Powerful stuff. Thanks for taking the time to read this thread and leaving a lovely, positive comment too

    T xxx

  • Hi Tracy, hope you are feeling a bit better in yourself today? I started taking Duloxetine last year as the emotional side of being in pain was getting to me and I watched a YouTube lecture about it being prescribed for pain. I can honestly say it did bugger all for the pain but it really changed my relationship with it for the better! I just don't care! Lolz... So, like curly said, if you continue to find yourself overwhelmed then do discuss with your GP coz you sound lucky to have a helpful one. But also, it is early days.... I felt like I'd been in a road traffic accident after my surgery! you have been through a lot and you are still the same strong and lovely woman but you've been thrown a curve ball.... Big hugs ❤️

  • It's such early days and so much potential for improvement in the coming months - up to 18 months I read somewhere. I'm six months post op (L4/5) and while I'm still sore and very occasionally can feel nerve type pain down to my toes if I over do it, I am better and more stable but I'm still using medication to control the pain. I did feel better and come off almost all the medication but once I was back to caring for the kids it came back. Be careful coming off any medication and make sure the Dr gives you a withdrawal plan, the Gabapentin withdrawal was really hard as I did it too quickly and it added to the depression significantly.

    It's really tough when everyone thinks surgery is an immediate and complete cure, for some it is but for others, especially if you suffered for a long time before surgery, it isn't. Try to get a physio as soon as possible to check your progress and keep up the exercises you have to keep the nerves free. Your muscles may have to relearn how to work without the injury you had and that's hardwork but can wait another month or two once things are healed and have settled down. With small children my GP recommended intensive rehab and ideally on a residential course, although not easy to find but something to consider in a few months if you are still struggling.

  • Hey Boozybird,

    Will read up about Duloxetine thanks! Strange thing is, I felt Ok after the op but something crept up on me and hit me over the head with a saucepan yesterday lol! I expected too much from myself as usual and probably reduced my Meds too quickly. Today I am out of bed, got breakfast and my little one off to school, did a bit of ironing and on the advice of my partner yesterday, I looked into things to fill my life in small ways. For example Aqua aerobics for when my wound heals, maybe use some time by learning to speak Spanish which I stared tentatively years ago and then had a chat with a friend who will be visiting soon to take me out for lunch. So small things (that I may very well never get round to do lol) but I feel like I am fighting this thing instead of laying in bed feeling sorry for myself. That said, I think we sometimes have to allow for days like this where it does creep up on you and you really can't seem to shake it but the first step is to admit how you are feeling and TALK!

    I expect the occasional saucepan on the head day, but as Shirley said to me, I must repeat the mantra of "This too will pass" without becoming too complacent.

    Thanks for your kind words and wishes - big hugs right back at ya! ⛅️❤️ xxxx

  • Hi Ariadne!

    Your situation sounds very very similar to mine and that is such a relief.

    My consultant makes me feel he is very competent at his job but I feel he sees things a little black and white regarding drugs and lacks a certain bedside manner - he's very stern and scary lol!

    I am certain that the reduction of Gabapentin sent me a bit loopy and made me sensitive to the nerve pain (just like yours, it goes down to my toes) and is much more noticeable especially in the mornings which sets me up for a bad day. He told me to come down from 3 a day one week then 2 the next week then 1 on the third week then NONE! I think this was wrong and as my GP was on leave I dropped my severadol and Oramorph drastically and immediately and I think it was all too much for me. I basically went cold turkey, thought I was invincible, did this all myself without a proper plan and paid the price.

    When will I stop thinking that I am a Superwoman honestly ....?

    I saw a Physio at the hospital and she gave me some gentle exercises to do (which I have been doing) and I will see her again this week and ask for a proper plan. The physio that I saw before the op which my GP set up for me left a lot to be desired and so I will ask for a referral somewhere else if possible.

    You have really perked me up as I now believe this IS a long journey and not to be afraid to rely on Meds if I suffer pain.

    Thank you so much for telling me your side of things - it really has helped.

    I hope you are coping now and things are getting better for you too - keep me posted please.

    Warm wishes Ariadne and thanks again xxxx

  • Lady, you need to be kinder to yourself, back surgery is hard physically and emotionally.It's not like having your appendix out, pain+ surgery= complete relief. It just doesn't work that way, think of your nerve like this, it has been compressed for a long time, when you lift a heavy object off the carpet,the carpet stays flat, it comes back gradually and boy it takes time, some days it feels like no progress is being made and other days it feel like there is. You are not at EITHER of those stages yet.It takes at least 12 weeks before the rawness of surgery BEGINS it settle down.There are no promises of a cure when you have surgery,but nobody would go into it if they thought that it wouldn't work ! You are not alone in thinking that results should be quicker! And certainly not alone in expecting to much too soon. Take the advice of your Dr's nurses physio and anyone else you have contact with. As for the mood, see your G.P and TELL him, unless you do nobody will know. As for the people who have fallen by the wayside, that's where they belong, try and find a support group for pain sufferers, like minded people like us, learn to be positive about your future, you could be doing this for some time, you can't go under now,there is too long a road ahead. Never give up and never quit.

  • Thank you Kitty - I do need a stern talking to as left to my own devices it all goes a bit pear shaped ☔️ I was a bit blinkered, unrealistic and too harsh on myself but thanks to this Godsend of a forum I am slowly getting things into perspective and easing up on myself. Trying to live up to impossible expectations from people who through no fault of their own didn't really understand how this all works. I still feel a little pushed by my consultant - even my GP (great as she is) was talking about leaving the Meds behind ... I still have no idea of the time frame she had in mind so just assumed she meant straight away (maybe she didn't mean that though) and as for my consultant who had more or less said, 3 weeks to stop Gabapentin - Impossible! Ariadne is still taking Meds 6 months down the line so I will take them for as long as I feel nerve pain. I just needed to hear from people who have experience of this kind of thing as anything else anyone tells me is just unreliable to me.

    I am resting now but hopefully I will gradually get the balance right between moving around enough and resting at the right time too - keeping my mind busy and switching off when it's time to. It will take me time as my mindset has been wrong for so long.

    Fair weather friends were never my cup of tea and this episode in my life has given me the chance to see that. I do have some friends left and now they mean more to me than ever.

    So Kitty, thank you for sharing your common sense and the time you have taken to offer me advice - so much appreciated. I will try my best to give myself a break ... And as a brilliant nurse at the hospital said "That's something us women are not very good at" So so true. 🌟 love and hugs ❤️

    Tracy xxxx

  • Tracy please believe me when I say that it does take time..a lot of time for things to settle after surgery. I did have the same surgery ten years ago...sadly I had a second one which caused damage..but the first one did take a lot of time before the pain eased. Surgery is invasive and its only a couple of weeks. Give yourself at least two to three months. Are you seeing or will you be seeing a physiotherapist. Its important to gradually get moving...but at a slow pace until you recover fully from surgery. Take advice from physio. It is scary when there is no real improvement immediately ...I hope you start to feel better. I now practice mindfulness and I am sorry I didnt start that years can help a lot. If there is anything else you want to ask please do.

  • Just read all the posts and they were really great. Tracy you sound like a really strong insightful women...pain is so difficult to deal with and is so isolating and misunderstood. You are doing really well considering your only a few weeks post op. I am a veteran at this stage. My life has utterly is a day at a time. But I know who my friends are..and forums like this are a blessing and I would be lost without them.

  • Hey Sweetpea!

    Here here! This forum is a blessing and the only one I use - it seems I was lucky and found a good one straight away!

    Yes I have a physio at the hospital to see as previously mentioned and do the very gentle exercises she has given me but will need my GP to arrange a more long term one as the hospital is not for long. I am now aware how important this is but to give myself a while to heal before they bring out the big guns so to speak 😣

    I feel so much calmer today and happier with the knowledge and advice given - it honestly has made that amount of difference to me.

    I plan to make some real life changes and will spend the next couple of months recuperating and focusing on a plan for these changes. That in itself will give me focus and make me feel more proactive and strong I'm sure.

    I'm sorry to hear that you have your challenges but now I understand that it's just part of our lives now and we must now find coping mechanisms and that is as individual as we are I think. Mindfulness is one that I read about a lot and will look into further.

    Thank you for reading, responding and caring Sweetpea - maybe this is one of the good things to come out of our difficulties by making us all more open, compassionate and aware? There are such lovely people out there, just like you, that have truly restored my belief in the better side of human nature.

    Warm wishes and hugs ❤️

    Tracy xxxx

You may also like...