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Lower back pain two years after spinal fusion



  • VlascheVVlasche Posts: 2
    edited 05/03/2014 - 6:39 PM
    I had a microdiscectomy in '11, an ALIF in '12, and a PLIF in '13. I have been to physical therapy 3 times and I still have massive lower back pain and pain down my right leg. I am currently taking gabapentin, indocin, and vicoden without any relief. My biggest problem is that my pain get worse the more that I walk. I am sad to see this many people having complications with their fusions as well. My doctor does not seem to know what to do. He told me that this last fusion did not take, so I do not know what the next step will be. I am in too much pain to work, so I am now a stay at home dad. The biggest thing that worries me is that I am only 29 and that I will have to file for disability at such a young age. I am also worried that if I file that I will be denied. This is not the first time that a fusion on my body has failed, I have had 4 different surgeries on my right wrist due to a work related injury. That wrist is fully fused. Does anyone have any suggestions that would make walking a little bit easier on myself. This way I could try to lose a few pounds by taking my one year old on walks with me. We shouldn't have to live with pain everyday or take the amount of medications that we do. Good luck to everyone else with these complications.
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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  • dfhughes57ddfhughes57 Posts: 32
    edited 05/10/2014 - 4:55 PM
    100% agree. although I am not in as much pain as you I still have pain a year after my surgery L5-S1 fusion, I was told by my surgeon all the pain would be gone as I was the perfect candidate for a fusion. Well guess what my pain is considerably worse than before the Fusion although I am still able to work with a lot of help from Tramadol by the end of the day I am exhausted and in a lot of pain. If I knew then what I know now there is no way in hell I would have went ahead with the L5-S1 Fusion the worst decision of my life, to add insult to the injury the surgeon that talked me into and performed the surgery said oh well it must be your age (56) that is causing your problem and decided to sign me off of his care as their is no more he can do for me. The biggest misinformation is when people make statements that they were a 100% after 4 to 8 weeks, I find that very hard to believe and if it is true this would not be the norm but rather an exception to the rule.
  • I completely agree but let me offer another story. My friend had fusion surgery due to fractures. They had trouble controlling her pain after & rehab was very hard. Eventually she had tremendous relief. Years later the area above her fusion started to cause crippling pain & she was told more surgery was needed. Fear stopped her following this advise & she has nerve damage & finds walking increasingly difficult. She now needs an emergency fusion anyway & it's unlikely the nerves will recover. I don't know what the answer is but 'avoiding surgery' can be a huge permanently life altering decision also. ;-(
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • PinkellaPPinkella Posts: 210
    edited 05/13/2014 - 12:48 PM
    A friend of mine sees a top spinal surgeon in the UK same one I use.
    She had a spinal fusion she has osteoarthrtits in the lumbar spine..The op was done to relieve the pain she was suffering 24/7 and the op was a total success! six months later zero pain from the osteoarthritis!and two years on shes still doing well!
    Top surgeons who know what their doing, do offer the spinal fusion for pain relief in the UK, pain relief cant be guaranteed. but a lot of times its worth the risk for people living with chronic pain.
    Facet joint Arthritis L3,L4,L5,DDD.
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  • dfhughes57ddfhughes57 Posts: 32
    edited 05/11/2014 - 4:08 PM
    sandi said:
    If your surgeon in fact told you that you would have pain relief, then he is in the spine is done to relieve compression of a nerve/nerves or to correct an anatomical issue.......not for pain relief. If the patient gets pain relief, that is considered a bonus, but to give a patient the impression that surgery is going to relieve their pain is a mis-statement, and erroneous.
    Surgery changes the natural movement of the spine, so there is going to be some lingering pain, and in some cases, it can be significantly more post op than it was previously. Things may improve over time for you yet, as more time passes.
    Yes I realised all what you said after finding this site, and that's one of the problems I have with the whole experience and with this surgeon, he misinformed me and never took the time to clearly explain anything and at no time did he say the surgery was needed for a structural problem with the spine. He had no limitations on me before the surgery I was riding motorcycles, scuba diving etc. The whole reason for the surgery from what he said was to alleviate the pain so I could sleep at night as the pain became almost unbearable when I would lie down. And yes that is my hope things will continue to improve as more time passes you have no idea how happy that statement from you makes me feel gives me hope.

    I also agree there have been many success stories with this surgery, but there seems to be many not so successful stories as well, for me I was taking no meds for the pain before the surgery now I am on Lyrica and Tramadol and still have problems sleeping at night!

  • dfhughes57ddfhughes57 Posts: 32
    edited 05/12/2014 - 11:18 AM
    Thanks Sandi much appreciated and yes that's what I am hoping for now, the pain will one day reduce for no apparent reason.
  • I was fused from L2-S1. Anterior approach, 3 surgeries in one week. I had severe pain that started 8 weeks after surgery that presented as thoracic pain in the middle of the spine (bottom of shoulder blades). My wife and I read this forum and identified it as hardware pain.i also had pain in two places in the spine. It did not immediately present as sensitive to touch until 6 months. I was bed ridden for 10 months because my surgeon continually shrugged his shoulders and said that it was nerve related because the CT scans showed a successful fusion and no loose or migrating hardware. Then 6 months into it, I asked for him to remove the hardware but he refused, stating that I had been through enough. He suggested it was arachnoiditis (it was not). Anytime I would move, I would experience a delayed intensified pain. If I went for a ride in a car for 30 minutes, I would spend 2-3 days in bed, in pain as a result. Everything had a consequence. I hounded my surgeon and he finally agreed that I should have a hardware block. My pain specialist did the procedure. He injected at the top two pedicle screws and viola! The weight of the world can off and intense pain stopped almost immediately. My wife and I went out to lunch! By the time I got home I was in pain again as the lidocaine wore off in 2 hours. I immediately scheduled surgery to remove the hardware. I'm now 9 weeks out of surgery. It was about 1/3rd the fusion recovery. Don't think it's like a discectomy surgery, hardware removal is still a bit more of a recovery. The pain that left me bed-ridden is gone and I'm slowly getting my life back. I still experience chronic left leg pain which is intense in my knee. I also have low back pain that I will likely have for the remainder of my life. I was an athlete and entrepreneur. I lost everything. I wake up in pain in the middle of the night. I limp due to left leg permanent nerve damage. I use MS Contin, delaudid (12 mgs), tizanidine and lyrica to keep from going over the edge. I'm 42 years old.
  • 2014 I had back fusion after discovering I had l4/5 spondylolisthesis & bilateral stenosis which was trapping my siacatic nerve plus trapping my spinal cord which resulted in cysts on my spine,i had to wear a back brace for nearly a yr.Now since the surgery I am still in the same pain, bending, dressing my left side, walking, driving, getting in and out of the car, sitting in chairs I have to use a cushion because the pain becomes to much. I had a mri scan last month I was 100% sure it would come back with arthritis but nothing showed up apart form scaring. I also thort maybe I could still have bilateral foraminal stenosis which is a form of arthritis and is the same pain I had before surgery but my doctor said no, the fusion would have cured that. Some days I am like a old person moving around I have no life and live in constant pain, every doctor I see I don't get any answers but yet the pain gets no better, can anybody help ???
  • I had an L1/S5 titanium fusion in 2005. The first surgery failed as the cage dislodged, so they operated again to amend it. But I was on a floormat for 22 months before and after surgery, as I could not sit. I devised a daily rehab routine for myself which I stuck to rigidly - 3 walks a day, physio exercises & had to take painkillers. Remarkably I never developed depression. I was 32 at the time. My employers could no longer pay me, but kept me on their staff role.

    I have now got two beautiful children. But.......I have had pain in my spine & funny sensations in my legs since December 2004! The surgery eventually enabled me to sit again. Eventually after a couple of years I could drive long distances again & have even been able to sit on long-haul flights. Finding this website today has been an encouragement to me though, as I manage back pain every day - and have done for 10 years. It's hard isn't it. I call myself 'warrior princess' because I refuse to be overwhelmed & have my life stopped again - but people without back pain don't realise how brave you have to be when you have ongoing back & leg pain. I do ballet once a week now - this helps as it's all about core strength. I am on a waiting list for a Pilates class. When I could barely walk & had to lie on a floormat 10 years ago, the Alexander Technique was an absolute God-send. So I continue with pain, but try to keep my chin up. I am now 42 with a young family husband & career. I am a Brit (I think this is an American website?) so I guess I tenaciously try & keep that "stiff upper lip" thing us Brits are apparently known for! But reading that there are other people out there who have similar ongoing pain etc has some how been an encouragement to me today, on a day when my back is complaining quite a lot. I guess there is no quick & easy fix to these backs eh!
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