Super Headache, Round 2

About 5 weeks after my surgery, I went through three or four days of a really bad headache.  I called it a migraine. It went away.  For a while.  Now, it is back every time I stand and there is some concern I have a dural leak (CSF leak).

ache-1297598_1280In consulting my internet doctor, Dr. Google, a common description of the dural headache is “the worst headache of my life” and that is a pretty good description.  After a while of standing, the headache builds to the point of nausea and basically I am debilitated.

Right now, I am waiting on an MRI, so I don’t know for sure I have the dural headache, but my symptoms indicate that I have a slow leak.  The pain builds and is worse when standing or sitting.  Ringing ears, dizzy and nausea accompany the pain.  Sometimes it takes 5-10 minutes for the pain to start, other times it takes a few hours.

This fits into the less than 1% complication.  It reared up as I started to do more and removed the brace.  If I do have a CSF Leak, then there may have been a weak spot from the prior damage and surgery that started to leak.  If I do have a CSF Leak, I hope to get it fixed soon. I do have a really bad headache when I get up.

  5 comments for “Super Headache, Round 2

  1. Bill
    June 10, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Hello Steve,
    Thanks for detailing your process and recovery with discectomies. I hope you are doing well these days!

    I just had a recent microdiscectomy L4/L5. I then had the dreaded spinal fluid leak as you did that was discovered 8 weeks later. I didn’t have the headaches though, but had very bad back pain from a large bump that formed on my back and ran all the way to the spinal cord leak (and I guess the nerves around that area).

    They did a second surgery to repair the dural tear. I am now 4 months past the second surgery. I was starting to feel pretty good and got back on my bike last week. Just a 45 minute ride set me back a couple weeks at least. It is so frustrating! I still have pain in my back, numbness in my foot and I can’t sit for long at all.

    My question for you is how long did it take before your back pain went away and you were able to sit for any length of time? Are you riding a more upright bike now?

    My wife thinks my back problems come from all my bike riding and spending so much time bent over, and she may be right. I don’t ever want to go through this again so I’m going to be cautious with the bike riding. Do you think your bike riding had anything to do with your back issues? Thanks.

    • June 10, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      Bill – let’s say that this was three years ago for me. In general, I’m doing well. I don’t have 100% strength in my right leg, but most of the numbness is better (or it doesn’t bother me). I can sit better (always use better posture now). In general, I’m back to a normal life.

      It is funny what you say about the bike. Do we have the same wife? I do get occasional pain when I ramp up the workouts. I am convinced the pain is from muscle imbalance. I’ve been working on that lately, and… less pain. I try to limit my rides to less than 3 hours. I’m slower now, so 40 miles takes closer to 3 hours. I did go with a slightly higher angled stem and put a semi-compact crankset on my climbing bike. I look in reflections when I can, and my bike posture is pretty good.

      How long? At one year, I was pretty functional.
      At two years, normal, but out of shape. Hard exercise, or new things would put me in a world of hurt. Recovery time is better.
      At three years, I’m doing stupid things again. A few weekends ago, I rode three days in a row, ice skated one day and took my older kid to a rock climbing gym. Monday and Tuesday were miserable. By Thursday I was fine. Woke up a lot of muscles.

      I really think that you need to slowly build up strength and stamina on lots of core muscles and back muscles. Getting balance is hard, but it seems to be super important too.

  2. Ellen
    April 21, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Steve, I hope you will follow up with this blog. I hope your headache is gone. Headaches are the worst. I had a headache several days after my laminectomy, waking me in the night, but now I am 17 days post op, and it’s gone. I have back pain to the left of my incision, but my pre-op spinal stenosis pain is gone.

    • April 21, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Incision pain is normal. That will take some time to go away. If you have relief, that is great as there will be swelling from the incision that will cause some pain.

      I’m feeling good. Good enough I haven’t updated this site in too long.

  3. Dave
    January 7, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    How are you doing, Steve? Hope you’re doing better.

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