Monday, March 17, 2008

Preparing for Tethered Cord Surgery

Since this is a quickly growing phenomenon with patients who also have Chiari, I hadn't heard a lot about preparing for the detethering surgery. I am happily at my 6 weeks post-op date and will share with you my thoughts on the topic.

Emotional Prep:

Since I had the 'occult tethered cord' I talked with a lot of other patients who had the surgery to help convince me that even though my TC didn't show up on an MRI ~ it was still there and needed surgical attention. Also the affirmation that if you have Chiari and Tethered Cord (TC)~ it's best if the TC is addressed first and then the Chiari. Also, please don't be afraid to ask your surgeon to explain in detail what the surgery entails, this greatly alleviated my doubts and fears.

Physical Prep:

I did a lot of core exercised to strengthen my stomach and core muscles in anticipation of using them instead of my back muscles.

What to expect physically?
  • Keep in mind that everyone has a different pain tolerance, so don't be shy about asking for pain medication. If you are lucky enough to have a pain pump button at your access ~ don't be shy in pushing it for relief!
  • I won't lie to you ~ the first couple of days are really tough and painful.

  • Get up and walk as much as you are able ~ it will be painful but the more you walk the better you will feel.

  • I had heard that nausea is a big symptom after surgery, so before the surgery I expressed my wish not to be nauseous and so I had some kind of medication go right into my IV the whole time I was in the hospital and I never felt nauseated the whole time.

  • You will most likely have circulation boots on your legs when you wake up from surgery. They are like blood pressure cuffs and they are annoying at first but you get used to them. They help prevent blood clots from forming since you will be bed bound for a couple of days.

  • You will most likely have a drain stitched into your lower back ~ don't worry ~ you probably won't even know it's there ~ and they will un-stitch it before you leave.

Random Thoughts:

  • If you are traveling by car back home, grab hold of the handles near the roof of the car and pull up when you are approaching a bump.

  • Bring a small pillow to put behind you in the seat to support your lower back.

  • Ask for extra heat packs from the hospital to take home with you ~ they greatly alleviate the pain the back.

  • Bring some kind of moist facial wipes to wash your face with while in the hospital ~ it feels so good to get your face clean and makes you feel a little bit more human.

  • Eat LOTS of BRAN products ~ FIBER ~ trust me ~ you will need them.

  • I experienced vertigo every time I would lie down or turn over in bed ~ it will pass ~ only lasts about a week.

  • A positive attitude goes a long way. To fight cabin fever, try to plan an activity each week that you can look forward to. It will greatly lift your spirit.

  • When you are ready to toss the sweat pants in favor of your favorite jeans, put on a camisole top and tuck into your jeans to keep your incision from rubbing on your jeans.

  • Everyone's recovery is different. At 5 weeks post op I was walking a mile 5 times a day and doing some select PT exercises at the gym.

If anyone has more questions on the detethering surgery, please feel free to e-mail me at: Our dear friend Queli will have her detethering today @ 12:30pm ~ I am sure she will be able to post on this topic soon when she is up for hopping on the computer again. Hugs to all of you ~ Lace


Queli said...

Stage 11 L4 Laminectomy; Section 4 Filum Terminale.
Bah Hummbug!!!!!!!

Do does this mean I can no longer play tether-ball?
Wasn't hurting yesterday; day of the surgey; that's where I mistakening spoke famous back words I have been eating every since.
Words like "Little to no pain" or "Didn't really feel like surgery"
Yeah, I am starting to feel it.
Thanks for the tips Lace!

Queli said...

Heavy pain little attention to anything I say

manditalita said...


Thank you for always checking in and leaving a comment! I'm so proud of how well you are doing. Glad to hear all is well so far.


Carolyn said...

Thank you for this post. I will be printing it up and bringing it with me in June!

bobblehead said...

have 2 more diagnostic tests day after tomorrow & hopefully SFT next week, so glad to find your page! thanks for the tips!

Nancy4366 said...

How in the world did you qualify for TCI surgery if your "TC didn't show up on an MRI?"!

What diagnostic testing did you have? What symptoms did you have and fow how long before your DT'ing surgery.

mike said...

having a tethered cord release in 2 weeks, had a back operation 20 yrs.ago they wanted to release the cord back then, but were afraid to do more damage than good, now they want to try again to release the cord, having another disc out ,has anybody had a bad experience from this , don't know if this is going to be bad for me or good

Unknown said...

Wonderful tips. I've recently been diagonosed with sp bif oc with tethering. Need un-tethering done before can have new disck in c-spine. Did you have pain and symptoms of TC? If so, did they go away with the surgery. I'm 51, have had increasing leg pain for years but it was thought to be from the congenital scoliosis.
Some article says timing is key to have improvements post-op. Also, my surgery will be through a tube.