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Thread: Nerve Theory

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Nerve Theory

    I'm not an expert on nerves. All I have to go on is what I'm experiencing as I recover from surgery. But I've made up some theories of nerves. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I had a lot of nerve pain immediately after surgery and had no idea what was going on. Unfortunately, I didn't know how to explain the pain and at the time so I didn't seek help in handling it. The nerve pain in my ribs was the biggest pain I had, even more so than all my drilled bones. So when I had to take a walk down the hospital hall, I could hardly walk. It wasn't the bones bothering me, it was the nerves but I didn't know how to explain the pain at the time. Now I know the difference between bone pain, nerve pain, muscle and tissue pain. Each is handled differently, with different medications and treatment.

    Since my surgery involved "untwisting" my twisted spine, that meant that nerves were stretched. Because of my injury before surgery, I wore a very tight brace 24 hours a day, only taking it off when I showered, for two and half months. With the tight brace on, I breathed fairly shallow and my waist and rib cage tightened up a lot. After surgery, I had trouble inhaling because of the restrictions I'd placed on myself before surgery. This increased my rib pain post-op. By week 4 after surgery, I was in agony and even went to the emergency room because I didn't know what was going on.

    I discovered that taking big, deep breaths stretched my rib cage out and helped the nerves stretch to where they needed to be. My rib pain dramatically decreased with deep breathing exercises. I wish I had done deep breathing exercises before surgery. That would have helped post-op a lot. I also started using a heating pad held around my ribs post-op and that helped greatly and was very soothing. I'm at 4 1/2 months now and still use the heating pad on my right side any time my ribs ache.

    Here are some other theories I have about the nerves:
    1. Nerves grow very slowly. Which is why there will be random pins and needles and random jolts months after other pains have gone away.
    2. Even severed nerves still transmit information through the nerve network. Several weeks after surgery, there was a small spot on the side of my foot which, if pressed on, even when pulling on a sock, would cause an explosive "nerve jolt" in the center of my back. My theory was that the usual path for that information through the nerve network to my brain was cut during surgery. So the nerve in my back was like a downed electrical line. When a telephone pole is knocked down, any live lines will emit sparks of electricity. So basically, I had a "downed line" in my back. So when the side of my foot was pressed, the signal would pass up through the network until it came to a dead end, where it would "explode", like a spark. This phenomenon only last about a week and then it passed as the nerves made the connection. I never felt it again.
    3. On random occasions, I experience a jolt so big it makes me startle or even leap a little. My theory is that it is a nerve connecting after growing back into the nerve network. Like plugging in an appliance with the switch already on so there's a spark.
    4. Once a nerve connects, usually with a jolt I can feel, I will regain feeling in some previously numb section. The numb section starts out feeling quite raw and tender and then I no longer notice discomfort.
    5. Once a nerve connects, I never again feel a jolt in that exact same area.
    6. I've taken note of which sections of my body are still numb 4 1/2 months after surgery - various sections on my back, a small area under my left breast and much of my right hip. These are the places in which I expect to feel the most nerve jolts in the months to come as the nerves slowly regenerate.

    As mentioned earlier, these are just my own theories as I try to understand what's going on inside. Please feel free to correct me or add your own experiences. I would like to know how you have handled the nerve pains of recovery.
    Last edited by JuliaAnn; 02-08-2013 at 06:26 PM. Reason: Edited to add a comma so you wouldn't think I was in the shower for two and a half months. ;)
    1973 Age 15 diagnosed with scoliosis but told too old for surgery.
    2001 age 43 told too old for surgery, did physical therapy & traction.
    2001 to 2008 Intermittent use of home traction machine and TENS unit.
    2009 traction no longer effective - physical therapy.
    2011 More physical therapy. 2012 Collapsing scoliosis - MRI before surgery
    At age 53, surgery on October 2nd, 2012 with Dr Hey
    Fusion with titanium rods and bolts from T1 to pelvis.
    Post op x-ray

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Lilburn, GA
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    201

    Me too!

    Quote Originally Posted by JuliaAnn View Post
    3. On random occasions, I experience a jolt so big it makes me startle or even leap a little. My theory is that it is a nerve connecting after growing back into the nerve network. Like plugging in an appliance with the switch already on so there's a spark.
    Hi Julia Ann!
    I have those same jolting sensations and I am 19 months post op. I like your theories and they make sense. I'm just sitting here hoping this nonsense will eventually stop. Sometimes I gasp when I get those jolts and my family looks at me with great concern.

    Parts of my back are also still numb and my surgeon says some of it may never go away. I'm okay with that.

    I don't have them too often and hopefully it will go away someday.
    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!)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,707
    I think your explanations make sense. Don't you think if we had all been given a handout explaining what to expect with typical aches or pains caused by nerves healing, spine derotation, ribs rearranged, etc. that we would be more accepting of vaious pains and less stressed, especially knowing that it's normal and won't last forever?
    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/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    88
    Quote Originally Posted by golfnut View Post
    I think your explanations make sense. Don't you think if we had all been given a handout explaining what to expect with typical aches or pains caused by nerves healing, spine derotation, ribs rearranged, etc. that we would be more accepting of vaious pains and less stressed, especially knowing that it's normal and won't last forever?
    YES!!! I totally agree!!!

    I honestly thought it would take me just three weeks to get back to almost normal. I didn't have a lot of information and have no idea how I reached that conclusion. Perhaps I read of a teen's return to school on a blog or something. I did not know that I would need a more accurate portrayal of my recovery. I walked into the whole surgery rather blithely and blindly, happy as a lark. If I knew how much pain I would be in, I would still be every bit as optimistic. My attitude would not have changed. But knowing what was ahead would have taken away soooooo much stress as I faced the pains and limitations after surgery. Not knowing what was normal only led me to believe I was constantly messing up my recovery. All that fear would have been banished if I had known what was ahead.

    Perhaps surgeons don't give us the whole story because so many people fear pain. Personally, I always ALWAYS appreciate knowing what a procedure will normally feel like. That labels the whole experience Normal, which equals Manageable. I can DO normal. I don't do Unknown as easily.

    Yes, a thorough booklet of "What to Expect for the First Year After Surgery", including the rough and ugly stuff, would have been absolutely invaluable!!!! (exclamation points can not emphasize this enough.) We ought to treat Scoliosis Surgery with as much clarity as we do pregnancy, with illustrations, diets, exercises and all.
    1973 Age 15 diagnosed with scoliosis but told too old for surgery.
    2001 age 43 told too old for surgery, did physical therapy & traction.
    2001 to 2008 Intermittent use of home traction machine and TENS unit.
    2009 traction no longer effective - physical therapy.
    2011 More physical therapy. 2012 Collapsing scoliosis - MRI before surgery
    At age 53, surgery on October 2nd, 2012 with Dr Hey
    Fusion with titanium rods and bolts from T1 to pelvis.
    Post op x-ray

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