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Week 10 Post Op Spinal Fusion-Questions

I am in week 10 post-op, recovering from laminectomy, discectomy, and spinal fusion (lumbar area L2-L5).  I tried it all over the course of about 9 months:  epidural injections, steroid shots. PT, etc.  Nothing worked.  Injections worked for about a week or less.  PT actually made me worse!    

My Symptoms: 

  • EXCRUCIATING sciatica (felt like my lower body was hit by bolts of lightening!) .  I was up most nights crying out in pain.
  • extreme pain in upper hips
  • right and left thigh pain and numbness in left leg.  
  • Lost strength in legs, causing me to actually fall to the ground.
  • Because of the leg strength loss and numbness, my Nerurosurgeon got me in for emergency surgery within 2 days.I basically checked into the hospital via wheel chair.  Was almost a 5 hour surgery

Recovery: Overall, I feel like I am on track to be one of the success stories.   First few weeks were a nightmare, as most who have had this surgery also experienced.  Took about 3 weeks using the walker to finally start walking on my own (I suspect mostly mental, due to being afraid of falling again).  Great news is that the severe sciatica is completely GONE.  I have some lingering nerve pain, most noticeable is I've been sitting too long.  I am now climbing stairs and walking 2.5-3 miles per day. The only issue with walking is that my hip flexors are EXTREMELY tight. 

Questions: 

  1. How long after your surgery your nerves start normalizing?  (lingering hip and leg nerve pain)
  2. Hip flexors:  Anyone else experience EXTREMELY tight flexors before and after surgery?  Mine feel wound up as tight as golf balls!  Is it that nerves could still be normalizing?
  3. Has anyone experienced a "strange" tightness and sensation around surgical area? Like there's a rope wrapped around and tightening the lower spine.  Most prevalent after waking up in the mornings

So glad that I found this forum.  Hoping to get some feedback/advise from those who've been on this journey!

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Comments

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,730

    Welcome jtgrilling to the Veritas Health Forum.

    Nerve healing will take time. And it all depends on how bad and how long the nerves were compressed. Some people have said up to a year where others have said weeks. It just depends, everyone is different.

    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 the article Practical Advice for Recovering from Back Surgery on Spine-health? It offers a lot of practical tips around what to expect before, during, and after surgery. You may also want to check out the video How to Prep Your Home for Spine Surgery Recovery, which also has some great tips.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.
    Sandra
    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

  • 10 weeks seems like a long time, but for spinal fusion it's just getting started.

    Hip tightness and pain are something I dealt with after my surgeries, bursitis is also very common after fusion surgery according to my surgeon because we change the way we walk, I had it after both lumbar fusions.

    Chip

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  • Thanks Chip.  Appreciate your insights.  You’ve had two lumbar fusions?  You’re definitely a great resource for experiences and advice.  That’s a lot of major surgery.  May I ask if you had PLIF, ALIF, or, TLIF?  Mine was Posterior which I understand can be a tougher recovery.  

    I catch myself worrying about every ache and pain maybe more than I should. One day I feel really great.  Next day I feel kind of weak and concerned about everything.  Just hoping to get back to my full normal activity level at some point, although I know I’ll need to be a bit more cautious.


  • Both of my lumbar fusions were posterior, L5 was first, L3-4 came a little over a year later because of stupidity on my part, I went back  to work 4 weeks after the first, I owned an auto repair shop and felt like I had to go back even though I knew I wasn't ready to do so.

    I have also had cervical fusion surgery and probably need more.

    All this so called experience is the reason I tell members to listen to your body during and after recovery, the second surgery is much harder to get over than the first.

    Chip

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