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Thread: When is the pain "supposed" to go away?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Indianapolis area
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    974

    When is the pain "supposed" to go away?

    Hi all,
    I am 11 weeks post-op and just wondering when the surgical pain ended for most people? I realize, of course, that every one is different. But what is the norm or benchmark? If you are still in pain at six months, do the docs start to think something could be wrong? A year?

    Dr. Lenke's assistant told me most people are off narcotics by three months. So is that it?

    Just curious. I am still in pain, but I do have this gut feeling it is going to go away at some point. And it does seem to be gradually getting better. Just wondering if/when I should start to worry that it's not going away.

    If you are pain free--when did you first reach that state after surgery? Many thanks!!!

    Evelyn
    age 48
    80* thoracolumbar; 40* thoracic
    Reduced to ~16* thoracolumbar; ~0* thoracic
    Surgery 3/14/12 with Dr. Lenke in St. Louis, T4 to S1 with pelvic fixation
    Broken rods 12/1/19; scheduled for revision fusion L1-L3-4 with Dr. Lenke 2/4/2020
    Not "confused" anymore, but don't know how to change my username.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    4,136
    Evelyn

    I was around 4 months when I was sitting here and realized that I had no pain. It didnít last too long since recovery is just like a see-saw. Good days and bad days. What happens is as time passes, there are more good days than bad. Pushing the limits happens, I spent a day walking around at Virginia City, walking on planks at 3 months,(mining town) and I basically slept for 2 days straight after that.

    2 or 3 months on meds is probably average....When I quit, the pain rose for about 3 days, then dropped like a stone.....Terminating meds should be a goal at some point.

    Try not to worry about when the pain will subside, it will happen when it happens and you will be pleasantly surprised when it does. Donít think that somethingís wrong because your having pain, itís a long recovery. Mine recovery took 1 year for 90% and 2 years plus for the fine tuning.

    I thought I had an incisional hernia while I was having gall stone problems. After seeing my vascular surgeon, he mentioned that there was NO way he was going back in so soon.....that was around 3 months...I think a year is a benchmark......I did lose my gall bladder at 15 months post.

    Keep walking and hang in there, it gets better.
    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 61, the new 61...
    Pre surgery curves T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    1,978
    Everybody IS different... I was on pain meds for 5 months-- and needed them. After that I had tramadol "as needed" to take, which I tried to get along without but still needed sometimes; probably for at least a year to two years. I would describe it more as aching but not intense pain-- lower end pain. I don't remember exactly when the pain stopped for me, but I can tell you with certainty that I just celebrated my 5th anniversary from my surgery and I am pain free unless I totally overdo something and then I am just uncomfortable.
    67 and plugging along...
    2007 52į w/ severe lumbar stenosis & L2L3 lateral listhesis (side shift)
    5/4/07 posterior spinal fusion T2-L4 w/ laminectomies and osteotomies @L2L3, L3L4
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Rush Univ. Medical Center in Chicago

    Corrected to 15į
    CMT (type 2) DX in 2014, progressing
    NEW 10/2018 x-rays show spondylolisthesis at L4/L5 - Dr. DeWald is monitoring

    Click to view my pics: pics of scoli x-rays digital x-rays, and pics of me

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    31
    Hi Evelyn (and everyone!),
    I am a little over 9 wks postOp and know what you mean. Today was one of those "two steps back" days for me where I woke up and my back felt like it was on fire. I did go out for over a 2 mile walk later today, though, and it definitely feels better tonight. I wonder if that burning pain I occasionally have is nerves regenerating? It just doesn't feel like the muscular pain I used to have prior to surgery. And it doesn't usually last very long, a couple of hours and then it subsides. I am with you, though, I would just like to know when I might have a day that pain/discomfort isn't in the front of my mind! I am sure it will happen, just not soon enough, eh?!?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    213
    I agree, you keep up the pain meds and slowly wean yourself off when you start to realize you forgot to take one right at the time you should

    Yes, it gradually happens you realize you aren't in pain any more--I did use Tylenol for a while after I was off the prescription pain meds until around five months.

    You will have leaps and setbacks. You push yourself hard one day and then you end up resting for two days.

    Even at nine months post surgery, I still get the burning feeling a couple times a day in parts of my back.

    To me the weirdest part is your skin will itch and you will reach back there to scratch it and you can't feel it--my skin "feeling" sensation isn't coming back very quickly.

    Patience: rest, listen to your body when it feels it might be time to start cutting back on the prescription meds.

    Best of luck!
    Discovered scoliosis when 15 years old.
    Wore Milwaulkee Brace for 1.5 years.
    Top curve 85 degrees, bottom curve 60 degrees

    Surgery completed August 23, 2011 (during an earthquake, can you believe that?)
    Dr. Charles Edwards, II
    The Spine Center at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, MD
    Before and after xrays:
    http://www.valley-designs.com/myspine

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Lilburn, GA
    Posts
    201
    Quote Originally Posted by djkinkead View Post
    Even at nine months post surgery, I still get the burning feeling a couple times a day in parts of my back.
    Me too! Just when I think it's gone, bam!!

    Also, I have numbness yet super sensitive areas on my back especially upper back.

    So many quirky things. . . .
    50 years old!!!!!
    Wore Milwaulkee Brace 1976-77
    Original curve 36 degrees ( measured in the 70s)
    Advanced to 61 degrees 01/2011
    Surgery 07/11/2011
    Fused T1-L2 (curve now in the 20s!)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,707
    Evelyn,
    I think you will notice gradual improvements in the next few months. I remember thinking that I needed to kick my workouts up a notch or two and really over did it and started taking Tylenol again at 7 months post-op after rarely using it. Kelly told me that I had inflamed the muscles of my back. I still have some aches even at 16 months when I take deep breaths or if I sneeze, and wish I knew for sure that I am fused. I wonder if the mild aches I occasionally have are from the exercises I'm doing or from playing a lot of golf. I feel extremely fortunate with my recovery and just keep my fingers crossed that I continue to do well. Best of luck with your recovery and hoping that you soon are in less pain.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Indianapolis area
    Posts
    974
    Thanks, everyone! It's very encouraging at this stage of my recovery to hear from those of you who have crossed the pain hurdle!

    It's a little strange for me right now. I feel like my "surgical" pain is almost gone. Meaning, my incision area doesn't hurt. But as I get more active, I am noticing more seemingly random aches & pains. Right now my left calf muscle and left shoulder hurt. Possibly these pains have been here since the surgery but I didn't notice them when I was on more meds. I think more likely I slept on my shoulder wrong and overdid the calf muscle on a walk.

    Anyway, I have been reading this forum long enough to know that post-op people have all sorts of strange aches & pains, and that they usually resolve within a few weeks. So, I'm planning on that!

    Thanks again,
    Evelyn
    age 48
    80* thoracolumbar; 40* thoracic
    Reduced to ~16* thoracolumbar; ~0* thoracic
    Surgery 3/14/12 with Dr. Lenke in St. Louis, T4 to S1 with pelvic fixation
    Broken rods 12/1/19; scheduled for revision fusion L1-L3-4 with Dr. Lenke 2/4/2020
    Not "confused" anymore, but don't know how to change my username.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,707
    Yes, I think it's perfectly normal. I only slept on my back for a whole year because it just wasn't comfortable on my sides. I had lots of zings and mild aches that were often in different places of my back, hips, shoulders, etc. I am confident that you will eventually notice it less and less.
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN
    Posts
    416

    Cool Happy Summer!

    My pain experience after 3 surgeries has been different each time. After my first surgery I was in severe pain for at least 9 - 10 months. My second surgery seemed less painful, and I was off my pain med fairly soon afterwards. I don't mean to say I didn't have pain, but the level of pain was much less and didn't last as long. This last surgery has been different in that I have a constant low level of pain that won't go away. It flares up from time to time. For instance I am right now sitting on a heating pad. I expect I will always have some form of back pain...but it is tolerable. A few days ago, I thought something was wrong because my back really really hurt, but then the next day it was much better. So just the normal ups and downs of recovery.

    The weirdest thing that I have had since my original surgery; the nerves all along my incision feel raw and sensitive. Last night my sleeping hubby's arm fell across my back, and I just about jumped across the room! It felt like a lightning bolt hitting me. I've wished this would get better in time, but it hasn't.
    May 2008 Fusion T4 - S1, Pre-op Curves T45, L70 (age 48). Unsuccessful surgery.

    March 18, 2010 (age 50). Revision with L3 Osteotomy, Replacement of hardware T11 - S1 , addition of bilateral pelvic fixation. Correction of sagittal imbalance and kyphosis.

    January 24, 2012 (age 52) Revision to repair pseudoarthrosis and 2 broken rods at L3/L4.

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