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Thread: post-op hot or cold packs?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    114

    post-op hot or cold packs?

    Now that I'm weaning the pain meds down, I'm, of course, feeling more discomfort. I'm finding that my side incision is where the discomfort is. My stomach muscles also feel so tight when I stand and move...I feel like I'm hunched over. My skin is also very sensitive...a little numb still...and I hate having even clothing touch my side. All this time I've been relying on meds for pain relief and haven't really thought of applying cold or heat...maybe I've been a little afraid too. But I need another strategy to relax my muscles. Any ideas?
    Kathy, 43
    Diagnosed as a teen
    Boston brace 2 years
    63 degree lumbar curve
    Surgery August 26, 2009
    Anterior approach fused T12-L4
    now 28 degrees

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    237
    I don't know about ice or heat but I think you are trying to come off pain meds too soon. You shouldn't even think about not taking them at this stage. They are given for a reason and they help in the healing process. Just my opinion but you are only a month from surgery and that just seems way to soon.
    avis
    1987 Lumbar Laminectomy (forget which levels)
    2005 A/P fusion, L2 - L5, 2/2005
    2009 2 Posterior fusions, T6 - Pelvis, 2/10 & 2/18,
    Dr. Frank Rand, NEBH

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    7,187
    Hi...

    As Mavis said, maybe it's just too early. The symptoms could also be from withdrawal which can make one hyper sensitive.

    I wish I knew why some people are able to be off pain medication is two weeks, while others take 6 months to a year. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to it.

    Don't beat yourself up because you're still in need of pain medication.

    Hope things get better quickly.

    Regards,
    Linda

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    1,757
    Just my $.02, but I also think less than a month post-op is pretty soon to worry about getting off pain meds. I had a posterior only surgery, and I definitely still needed them at that point.

    As Linda said, some people are off med-free very quickly, and some aren't. The meds do serve a purpose, and you have to judge what works for you. Keep reminding yourself there's no valor in hurting more than necessary.

    I can't speak specifically about heat or cold for the abdominal incision, but I know cold worked better for my back spasms. Early on, everything feels tight - but it's also pretty inflamed: Applying heat, sometimes, can aggravate that inflammation even more by increasing blood flow to the area. If I had to choose one or the other to start with, I'd probably try cold first because they shouldn't be much risk it'll exacerbate things.

    I hope you get some relief soon!

    Regards,
    Pam
    Fusion is NOT the end of the world.
    AIDS Walk Houston 2008 5K @ 33 days post op!


    41, dx'd JIS & Boston braced @ 10
    Pre-op 53, Post-op < 20
    Fused 2/5/08, T4-L1 ... Darrell S. Hanson, Houston


    VIEW MY X-RAYS
    EMAIL ME

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    114
    Thanks for your thoughts. I went from 1 1/2 oxycodone to 1 every four hours and that did make a big difference in how I feel. I guess I really don't know what is "normal" at this point. I see my doctor in a week. Last time I went, he didn't seem to worry about writing me another prescription.
    Kathy, 43
    Diagnosed as a teen
    Boston brace 2 years
    63 degree lumbar curve
    Surgery August 26, 2009
    Anterior approach fused T12-L4
    now 28 degrees

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    227
    I use both heat and ice packs...just be careful as I noticed that with my skin numb that I need to be vigilant about how hot or cold my skin truly is. I've heard cold for sore joints/bones and heat for sore muscles. Does that help? Actually I find both help immensely!

    Always Smilin'
    Colleen

    1982 fused T2-L1
    pre op 45 - post op 33 (left thoracic)
    pre op 53 - post op 18 (right thoracic)

    recheck 2006
    right thoracic 57
    lower lumbar 34

    surgical revision April 28,2009
    revision T3-L1; new fusion L1-L4
    unsure of degrees at this point

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    1,757
    Yeah ... I blistered the $^#@ out of my back with a heating pad several times after surgery, and didn't even realize it until people started asking me what I'd been doing to myself.

    (whoops!)

    It's really, REALLY easy to do when your skin's numb ...

    Pam
    Fusion is NOT the end of the world.
    AIDS Walk Houston 2008 5K @ 33 days post op!


    41, dx'd JIS & Boston braced @ 10
    Pre-op 53, Post-op < 20
    Fused 2/5/08, T4-L1 ... Darrell S. Hanson, Houston


    VIEW MY X-RAYS
    EMAIL ME

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Maryland, USA
    Posts
    90
    Hi Kathy

    You and I had our surgeries within several days of each other. Mine was the A/P combo, and I can safely say that I still need my oxycontin and percocet. I take the oxycontin once every 12 hours and two percocet as needed every 6 hours for break-thru pain. Unfortunately, I am still getting the break-thru pain (a very deep ache) so tomorrow when I visit my internist I will discuss when to increase or cut back the narcotics. Clearly, all of us are different in terms of our pain threshold, but I'll let you know what she says.

    In terms of heat or cold, I'm using ice on the bone graft site on my right hip. That is a totally different (and much more acute) pain than the deep ache I describe above.

    Hope this helps.

    Karen
    Karen, 66 years "young"
    Polio at 6
    Diagnosed with scoliosis at school; no treatment
    Lumbar curve in 2005: 40; moderate pain
    Lumbar curve in 2009: 55; pain severe
    Lumbar curve after surgery: 21
    Surgeon - Dr. William Lauerman, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC
    Three surgeries in one week:
    8/24/09 L3 to S1 anterior spinal fusion with Harm cage
    8/28/09 Posterior spinal fusion from T10 to S1 with instrumentation
    9/1/09 Partial revision of instrumentation


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    227
    One other thing I do when using a hot pad/ice packs is put a hoodie on...sounds strange...but when I feel my back with my hands it still gets hot/cold depending what I use and I think the hoodie provides me some protection. Just and idea.

    Always Smilin'
    Colleen

    1982 fused T2-L1
    pre op 45 - post op 33 (left thoracic)
    pre op 53 - post op 18 (right thoracic)

    recheck 2006
    right thoracic 57
    lower lumbar 34

    surgical revision April 28,2009
    revision T3-L1; new fusion L1-L4
    unsure of degrees at this point

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    87
    My complaint at the beginning was swelling and a burning sensation in the low back. The doctor suggested ice, so I used a flexible gel-filled ice pack. Then once the swelling subsided, I'd alternate between ice packs for the swelling and heat for the muscles. (Alternating cold/hot therapy is popular with athletic injuries.) I bought one of those velvety packs filled with rice, flax seed and herbals available at any pharmacy that carries medical supplies. You microwave it for moist heat. And you can also freeze it for cold therapy. I'd stay away from heating pads. Like one poster mentioned, when you are numb there's a risk of blistering your skin.
    Last edited by johnsonbunch; 09-28-2009 at 01:32 PM.
    Sandy

    Thoracic curve was 55 degrees, now 30
    Lumbar curve was 68 degrees, now 26
    Rib rotation was 17 degrees, now 0
    Degenerated discs and sacral arthritic spurs, plus significant spondylosis
    Fused 8/13/09 at age 43 from T-9 to pelvis with iliac screws anchoring hardware to the pelvis, plus osteomies by Drs. Anthony Moreno and Geoff Cronen, Tampa, FL

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