Monday, November 22, 2010

What to expect on post-operative pain.

I've found an interesting tid-bit from Mr. Boeree's website, which is consistent with what they kept telling me at the hospital:

Although the recuperation after total disc replacement is relatively quick, you are certainly likely to be aware of some discomfort and soreness deep in your back. The wound itself and the surrounding stomach muscle will also feel quite bruised and tender initially. These symptoms will gradually dissipate over the days and weeks following your operation.

Another cause of lower back discomfort after disc replacement can be the facet joints having to get used to the slight readjustment of the vertebrae and often the rather improved range of movement compared to what they have been used to! Again these symptoms will usually settle, but if they remain troublesome we will sometimes recommend a course of facet joint injections.

It is not unusual to experience post-operative pain in one of your legs. This is caused by the nerves being slightly stretched as a result of the restored disc height. There will also be some bruising around the disc replacement which can irritate the nerves a little. Almost invariably these symptoms will pass after a few weeks, but if you are worried or the symptoms are very troublesome contact your GP or Mr Boeree’s office.


  1. Thanks for the update Mike.

    Did you consider having the L5-S1 disc replaced? I read that you may have had an issue with that disc which put additional stress on your L4-L5. Did you consider the M6 for that level as well? Or did the medical team decide it was unnecessary?

    Also, before your surgery, did your lower back feel extremely tight? It seems that all I want to do is stretch my lower back. It's like I'm in some sort of vicious cycle, where I don't want to move because it hurts to move, but if I don't move, the musculature in my lumbar region becomes extremely stiff... and then I'm afraid to stretch and potentially damage my discs even more.

    Also, I feel like I get much more tired at the end of the day than I ever used to, like dealing with the background pain (it's not awful, but it's always there) really exhausts me. Did you ever feel like the pain was making you really tired?

    It's really frustrating.

    I'm really hoping that within 2 months you feel 100%... like you could go out and run a marathon or something...

    Also, what do the doctors say about your vertebrae getting enough blood and nutrients without organic matter in between them? Are they nourished appropriately without the disc material there?

    Thanks again for your responses! You're like a lifeline to a potential solution.

    All the best,


  2. Mr. Boeree told me the L5/S1 disc wasn't causing any problems, so there is no need to have it addressed. I was left with a few questions on that level but it was my fault that I didn't ask the right questions.

    Yes before surgery my back was very tight.. I found that pulling my legs back and other stretching did wonders. I don't think it did anything to make my problem worse.. instead it alleviated the symptoms a little bit.

    The pain didn't get me physically tired. Instead, it drained me mentally.. it was all I could think about.. it was the subject of every one of my conversations.. It embarrassed me because I wasn't able to do what a man was supposed to do. I guess this resulted in me not wanting to do anything.

    About the question "Also, what do the doctors say about your vertebrae getting enough blood and nutrients without organic matter in between them? Are they nourished appropriately without the disc material there?". This is a question for your doctor (you could email Mr. Boeree too).. I'm no doctor but I know for a fact that the discs themselves lack proper nutrition naturally.. they have no blood flow of their own. As for the vertebrae, I have no idea!

    Where are you in the process? Are you still deciding your next step?

    Feel free to ask any other questions! Just remember i'm no doctor, but I will do my best to answer the things that i've researched already!

  3. Mike,

    I'm glad to hear you're doing well. I know how it is recovering from spine surgery because I had a couple myself many years ago (fusion L6-S1 - I have 6 lumbar vertebrae instead of 5) and then the hardware had to be removed later. I found that pool therapy helped me more than anything.

    Now the disk above the fusion has gone bad - my films actually look very similar to yours - and I have two recommendations: another fusion, or a prodisc implant. I want to avoid fusion, but I am wondering if the M6 could be an option instead of a prodisc. I've been in touch with Stenum but then I saw some of your material about Mr. Boeree. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions that might be better done via direct e-mail. Would it be possible that I could e-mail you directly?


  4. Hi Joe. I'm sorry to hear about your problems! It sure is daunting recovering from spinal surgery, but it is a lot less than I expected (not that it makes it easy though!). I have a similar problem down at that level (partial fusion between L5 and the sacrum with an underdeveloped disc).

    An M6 would definitely do a better job at preserving the adjacent L4/L5 disc.. graded resistance will also provide better natural movement..

    You can email at and i'll reply from my private email! I'll do my best to answer any questions, and please don't hesitate to ask as many as you want.

  5. Hey Mike, I just recently found this blog and it has been really really informative. I'm in a pretty similar situation to what you had before your surgery (30yrs old, non-healing L5-S1 disc bulge that I've been trying to cope with since March, and looking for a solution that will get me back to a very active lifestyle). It has been really hard to find detailed personal experiences of people in the same or similar boat as me/us. Your information has been very valuable and I hope you keep updating with your progress like you have been. This may be a treatment option I may seriously consider (and I don't think I really would have before reading your blog). So I hope everything works out for you. Keep up the great work!

  6. I'm glad you found the blog informative. I feel that it's a nice way to express myself. Talking to people about my problems gets a little annoying for them, and it doesn't make for an interesting conversation.. Posting details on my blog and having people read the experience with all the attention in the world is more than I could ask for! Plus, I have all the time in the world (it gets kind of boring in the afternoons!).

    I'm sorry about your problems by the way.. So you've problems for 8 months? Have you tried traction or decompression?

    I guess your concern is what kind of lifestyle you would have after a surgery like this one.. Everything indicates to a very active lifestyle, but I still haven't read any real details on outcomes on M6-L surgeries so I wouldn't know what to expect.. i'm just hoping for the best! I do have the reassurance of having a great surgeon, a great device, and a very positive attitude.

    If you have any questions, make sure you contact me! I'll be posting a forwarding email address on a new blog post.