Chronic pain after surgery but my mri is clear

Hello all, I hope you are all doing ok. I know how difficult it has been for so many of you with chronic pain. This is my first post & looking for advice please. 

Today I got results of my lumbar MRI. Basically neurosurgeon said all looked clear apart from slight scar tissue. In 2019 I had microdisectomy / decompression on L5/S1 for a extruding disc resulting in foot drop & severe impingement on nerve. The injury was very bad & I was unable to walk and in agonising pain. Surgery was successful but it took a while to regain strength in my leg. I began physio & after several months I started Pilates. All was good until pain crept back after 6 months. 

In January I went back to physio due to back pain, tingling/ numbness in legs . Physio believed it to be a flare up rather than anything sinister but after ten sessions I really got no relief. Covid happened and i stopped physio. Now I’m in bad pain all the time. It is nothing as severe as the pain before surgery last year but it’s constant discomfort/ pain stiffness, sharp darts , radiating down both legs. I’m on painkillers / anti inflammatory. Had mri and today the results came back as clear. I know it’s crazy but I was devastated. I I wanted them to find something on mri so it could be fixed & pain free .i was certain something would shoe up.  I feel so frustrated & don’t know how to move forward. I have 3 young kids & it’s affecting me caring for them. 

Is it possible that an mri can be clear but there can be something underlying? Thanks in advance. 



  • @threescompany.... I’m so sorry to hear that you’re in so much pain. This is my first post as well. I’ve been on here for some time reading all the posts. Yours hit home for me because I’m dealing with the same issue. My cervical MRI and X-ray also came back clear with minor bulging at C4-C5. I was devastated. You’ve been dealing with this longer than I have and I know how frustrated you must be. For myself, it’s only been 7 weeks of pain. I’m taking Gabapentin and Tramadol along with Robaxin which barely take the edge off. I also go to PT twice a week. I had a steroid injection which didn’t work and I have an appointment with an ortho surgeon next week. My original ortho surgeon left the practice in the middle of all this so I lost more time. I had ACDF in April of 2013. This feels exactly like that but worse. What does your dr suggest for next steps? You can’t continue like this when you have 3 little ones to take care of. I hope you get some answers soon. Keep us posted. 


  • Thank you Aggiemamma :-) 

    I’m so sorry to hear what you are going through. It sucks! 2 years ago I had no experience of back / body pain. Now I feel like an old woman hobbling about. I feel bad on my husband putting up with me! 

    That’s what’s so frustrating. He didn’t really have a plan or suggest anything. Not even injections. I did have 3 before the surgery,which did nothing. 

    Yesterday the results came by letter confirming all was clear & advising that if I felt I needed to discuss further  then I should arrange a review. I think that if mri is clear they won’t take it seriously. Last year i had a serious injury & maybe he feels I’m not that bad anymore. I can’t believe nothing showed up!! It’s getting me down. I don’t even know what to do next!! I hope your appointment goes well. If surgery is your next option, it is generally successful & you won’t look back! 

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  • @threescompany.... have you considered getting a second opinion? There’s obviously something going on  even though the testing doesn’t show it at this time. Sometimes we have to be our advocates.

    I’m definitely open to surgery. I just need this pain to stop. Like you, quality of life is important and I want to be able to enjoy my grandchildren without being in so much pain.

    Good luck! 


  • Welcome threescompany we’re glad you’re here!

    Sorry you are dealing with this, if it were me, I would make an appointment to be seen in person so you can explain in person exactly what's going on, there are other test that can be done other than an MRI, at times you have to push for treatment and if you aren't getting anywhere you may need a second or third opinion.

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    Have you read through our Chronic Pain Resources on Spine-health? You’ll find a number of valuable Chronic Pain Coping Techniques and resources for Understanding Neuropathy Symptoms. It’s a comprehensive resource for those seeking more information about chronic pain. I hope you find these resources helpful.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.


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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,554

    I agree with Chip, make an appointment to be seen in person. Before you go, make some notes of your pain, where, when, what triggers it, etc. so you so don't leave anything out when you talk to someone. If it were me, I would get a second opinion from an orthopedic or neurologist.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

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  • Thanks also Sandra & Chip. It’s so nice to get comforting words! 

    I have read through the “coping with chronic pain techniques” and I’m determined not to let this get on top of me.  I’ll go back to my consultant - he’s an neurosurgeon - and see what he says. Hopefully it’s temporary and maybe with an injection or something, they can get to the bottom of it. I’ll keep you posted 

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