It has been 17 days, or about 2 and a half weeks since my L5-S1 laminectomy. I think I am starting to feel some solid improvement with muscle strength and numbness.
I wish I could say that there are more updates. Recovering from a laminectomy is not a fast process. Each person will go through it is different, so there is no road map to follow either. Day to day is very hard to measure. I do think I can compare over a few days.
As I look back over the past few days, I think I can say the area around the procedure spot is better, I’m walking better, I might have some sensation back and I’ve started to work toward recovery with physical therapy.
Walking is still my primary recovery activity post laminectomy surgery. It is great to be up and around as all of the sitting and lying down is very boring. Initial walks were more forced shuffles. In the past few days, I am starting to walk much better.
I think there are two main factors there. First, I’m healing. As my body heals, I can do more. Second, the physical therapy is helping me with my form and with waking my muscles up again.
I like to measure things, so I use my pedometer and strava to see how I’m doing. In general, for the same amount of time, I am going further. That means my pace is up. I really notice the extra distance; seeing more of the neighborhood is great.
I can tell that if I’ve done a lot more in the day, I am tired at night. I still need to balance progress with doing too much.
Feeling and Sensations
I had the laminectomy procedure because my nerve was pinched causing pain, numbness and loss of muscle control in my right leg. Right away after the surgery, the pain was gone. I still have numbness. The muscle control partially returned. The goal of the laminectomy is to remove pressure from the nerve, and that worked. Now the nerves need to heal from the damage caused by the herniation.
I’m confident that my muscles have been improving. I’ve had sore muscles and I can walk better. The hills on my walks aren’t as hard. I can feel more of my muscles flex, and physical therapy has been a help there as well.
Today, one of two things is happening. I am either used to my numbness more, or it is getting better. Even starting yesterday I think I can feel one of my toes again. My little toe is still numb, but I think it is a little better too. I might be getting used to it, but something is different for sure.
Earlier in the week, my leg was twitching a lot at night. One night my wife said my leg was bouncing around while I was sleeping. In the evenings, I was getting strong sensations that were odd. That has died down a bit, but I think with it, I have more control of the leg muscles.
At my two week appointment, I was cleared to start some physical therapy. No back and no core exercises. That will come around the 6 week mark. Not stressing the disc is still the most important.
My therapy is focused on isometric flexing of some key leg muscles. We also did some things to help with my walking form.
The isometrics are simple. I get in a neutral position where my body is relaxed and I focus on recruiting some of the basic muscles. This was hard for me. My muscles won’t just fire when I try to tell them to fire. I’ve been working on it and am getting better.
The other thing is how to get my walking muscles to fire. When I walk, my left hip drops a lot and I am way out of sync. I am focusing on some walking positions where I just hold the position right before I would step. With some guidance, I have been able to figure out what that should feel like. Now, I really think I am walking better because of the walking exercises and re-learning how to fire the muscles again.
I really think the physical therapy is helping wake the muscles up and fuel healing. I also think that my healing is helping me do the physical therapy. Yes, they seem to be working together.
My biggest bout with pain was a sneeze. The sneeze scared me and hurt. The pain was in the area around the laminectomy, but not in my leg. Aside from that, I am generally feeling much better. Swelling is way down around the wound and the associated pain is down too.
I’m still not sleeping well, but that is getting better slowly.
I’m very glad the pain is down most of the time.