Your back is a complicated structure with all of its muscles, tendons ligaments and disks. Let’s not forget all of the nerves that run through the spinal canal to various parts of your body.
With all of these complex structures, It’s no wonder that back pain is one of the most common causes of doctor visits and why there are so many back surgeries performed every year.
Sometimes people have pain after their back surgery. What causes this dreadful pain to occur? How long will your misery last? I will answer these questions and more in the following paragraphs.
Scars Tissue Can Cause Pain?
Sometimes the scar tissue, known as adhesions will attach itself to nerves and this will cause a person to have pain after surgery.
There is a procured that will remove this scar tissue. It’s known as lysis of adhesions. This surgery generally takes just a few hours and usually, a person can go home within a few days.
The possible side effects include bleeding and infection. This is why it’s important to tell your doctor what medicines you are taking and any diseases you might have before the surgery.
Another thing that can cause back pain after surgery is epidural fibrosis. This is also the formation of scar tissue that usually occurs 6 – 12 weeks after the back surgery. A time when it is very little to no pain.
The fibrosis tissue doesn’t hurt itself, but its connection to the lumbar nerve root will cause you to have severe pain.
Sometimes arachnoiditis occurs with epidural fibrosis. This is especially true when the person’s had several back surgeries.
Arachnoiditis is inflammation of the meninges, one of the membranes that protect the nerves. Arachnoiditis is often caused by puncturing the dural sac.
You can have epidural fibrosis without arachnoiditis, but arachnoiditis seldom occurs without epidural fibrosis is present. Usually, the pain from epidural fibrosis will improve after 3 months.
If you have pain after spinal decompression surgery the pain is probably from something else like; misdiagnoses, disk herniation, incorrect lesion selection or a battered nerve root.
The Throbbing Truth of Laminectomy Pain
If you’re having pain after microdiscectomy, laminectomy or discectomy the doctor should do either an x-ray or an MRI of the area.
This will help him determine the cause of the pain. A lot of the times it is disk herniation. With Disk herniation, a person won’t experience any pain and then the pain will come on suddenly.
There are other possible reasons for pain after a laminectomy, discectomy or a microdiscectomy.
One possibility is the surgeon could have accidentally missed a piece of bone, or a particle of the herniated disk.
This fragment can push on the nerve root, which causes the pain to occur. An MRI will be able to determine if this is your cause of pain.
Pain in the Rear
Piriformis syndrome is another cause of back, hip and leg pain after surgery. This syndrome is caused by the sciatica nerve being pressed by the piriformis muscle.
The sciatica is a nerve that runs along the back, buttocks, hips, legs, and feet. The symptoms begin as pain, tingling, numbness in the buttocks.
Eventually, the pain will radiate down the entire sciatic nerve. The pain is worse when a person sits for a long time, runs and climbs steps.
What Causes Pain Years After My Surgery?
If you start to have pain years later, then scar tissue is probably not the cause of your discomfort.
It probably has to be a pinched or tethered nerve. This can be caused by a herniated disk, or stenosis, which is a new bone growing near the nerve.
The doctor will ask you to raise your leg straight up. If you have pain during the movement, then it is probably a tethered nerve.
The doctor will probably advise you to have an additional discectomy or decompression surgery.
How do you Spell Relief?
Sometimes a surgeon will opt to do a few of the following techniques to stop epidural fibrosis they are gelatin, fat grafts from the wound, sponges, and silastic, which is a silicon-based sheet.
Any of these procedures blocks cells from going into that protected nerve root area which stops the fibrosis to form.
A few studies have been conducted, on this procedure. They remain inconclusive as to whether this does stop it from occurring.
Stretching has shown to help the back heal, and prevent scar tissue from developing.
These stretching exercises should begin within the first few weeks because scar tissue begins to form as early as six weeks.
Related: Stretch and Relieve Lower Back Pain
The theory behind this is that if the area is mobile, this will protect the nerve from being pinned by scar tissue.
One recommended exercise is stretching the hamstring muscles while flexing the ankle. Your doctor or physical therapist can advise you on other appropriate exercises.
If your pain is caused by scar tissue the doctor will suggest you perform exercises. He will probably prescribe Neurontin for pain. If this pain occurs after the first year, then he will start you on pain management.
A Quick Review
Occasionally the nerves become irritated from the surgery itself. In fact, most orthopedic surgeons will tell you that it could take up to a year for your nerves to completely heal. Of course, the pain will become less severe as your recovery progresses.
Sometimes it’s scar tissue or fragments that cause pressure on the nerves, which causes the pain. Your doctor will be able to tell by an MRI what’s causing the pain and he will adjust your treatment accordingly.
In the meantime, take your pain medicine, apply heat and ice to the affected area, do your stretches and other recommended exercises.
In addition, you need to eat right, get plenty of rest and follow your recovery program closely.
This will help reduce your pain and help you get back to a healthier, happier you, a lot quicker.