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Scar swelling and pain 10 months post fusion - paranoia!

nelnnel Posts: 401
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi again. I have been keeping a low profile recently as I feel I had hit a wall in my recovery but now it seems I am on yet another down. I am going to have to have a bit of a rant, sorry!

My recovery has been slow all along (IMO!!). I had a wound infection appear 10 days post op that stuck about for a month so I was banned from physio/exercise for ages.

Then when I started doing more exercise I got knocked back, then again when I returned to work 11 weeks post op. I struggled through at work until about March (Op was in Oct) when I started to (finally) feel better. This was about the 6 month mark and I thought "Oh, everyone is right about the magic 6 months" ;)

Then I had a spasm over the Easter weekend that made me stay in bed for two days on as many pills as I could get. Then my Mom, who had terminal breast cancer, had to be admitted to a hospice on the Thursday after Easter. I drove to see her (50 miles each way, on UK traffic filled motorways!) each day she was in there until she died 11 days later. After that I took both an emotional and physcial turn for the worse.

I continued to struggle through at work, never feeling as good as I had back in March. Then I went to the GP about mid June and was told that as I had had back surgery I should expect to have back pain for the rest of my life. She was so patronising and (IMO) stuck in the dark ages. I insisted that I had felt loads better than I was at that point but she just repeated that it was to be expected.

Well, a week later my back pretty much froze up. I couldn't put my shoes and socks on again I was that bad. I ended up having a week off work.

Since then I have slowly got a bit better, but still not as good as back in March.

Then last week my back started to actually hurt to touch - I noticed when my car seat touched it. So I had a poke at it and there was a little lump under the scar. The lump is getting a bit bigger, is warm to the touch and the top inch of my scar is inflamed. My physio said to give it a couple of days to settle by itself, he thought maybe just tissue inflamation. Well it hasn't got better so I am supposed to see my GP on Friday. Couple with this hip, groin, thigh pain and I have had enough!

So, has anyone else had anything like this? Could it be, as I have a horrible feeling it is, an infection? If so how the heck could I have an infection now? I feel totally paranoid now, but also wonder if if there is a problem inside that might explain why my progress is so random and so full of bad weeks compared to the good days. I did a bit of google last night (I know!) and came across stuff about hardware infection etc and am pretty scared that I am going to need more surgery. I know I am getting miles ahead of myself, lets hope the doc just gives me some massive antibiotics and sends me on my way!

Sorry, again, to moan, but this is the only place where people actually get it!


  • Very sorry that you have had to endure so much over the last several months.

    It's good that you are going to see your GP on Friday. One thing that can linger in the body undetected for quite some time, is MRSA. Not trying to say that's what you are experiencing, just expressing how important it is to see your GP when something anomalous like this occurs.

    I think it's perfectly normal to be concerned about something like that happening. Many times I've "just known" when something wasn't right and needed to be investigated further.

    Keep us posted.

  • Thanks for your kind words.
    I have called my surgeon's secretary today and he wants to see me so I have been squeezed in tomorrow. I must admit I am really scared that it is something bad/will require more surgery. I think I might not sleep very well (again) tonight.
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  • In my mind, if I knew that tomorrow I will have just the right expert looking at things for me, I will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and rest. I'm really glad that you were able to get squeezed in for tomorrow. Let us know what the surgeon has to say.

  • Well, there is no infection. Phew. The swelling is caused by the muscles pulling on the tendons that attach to the spine processes apparently. He said it should settle down.
    The pain in my hip/leg etc he puts down to scar tissue around the nerve and he says it will settle down.

    I suppose what I really want to know is "when?". I am so fed up with not being anywhere near 100%. But I suupose I should be greatful not to be in all the pain I was in this time last year.

  • I am so pleased that you were able to get an appointment quickly to see your surgeon, and that there was good news that there is no infection.

    Although your spine and surrounding tissue needs 'time' (that ever present requirement for spinal surgery recovery), that is a much better alternative to needing further surgery.

    Please don't feel you have to apologise for moaning to us. That is part of the deal when we join here. You can offload to us and we will offload to you.
    (You have helped lots of us spineys along the way, and we are glad to help you too. :D)

    Hope that things start to feel more comfortable very soon and that you feel less anxious about what is going on now. >:D<
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  • Hi again and Thanks Jelly!

    I am relieved not to need surgery but I am just soooo frustrated with my lack of progress since April. I suppose I was sort of hoping for a "concrete" reason for it all rather than this woolly time to settle etc. I am a scientist (Chem teacher) and do so much better with order rather than all this vagueness. I have said to Drs and PT that I just wish there was a book to read that would tell me what I should do and when to do it so that I would get better as fast a possible! It's the inconsistency that is getting me down, and I have noticed a massive change in my mood when the condition of my back changes. It doesn't even seem to matter what I do - some things (dancing the night away at my friend's wedding for instance) cause no problems but going out for lunch cripples me. Arrrrghhhhhh!!
    Anyway got to go and have my bath now (me time!!).
    Thanks for listening!

  • ..... with that feeling that we need to 'do' something to speed things along. I find that my walking, exercising and physiotherapy as well as eating healthily make me feel like I am doing my bit to speed things along.

    I hope that you enjoy your bath and feel very relaxed afterwards.

    I am going back to work on 1st September, after a very long break. I am looking foward to getting back to normal life, but at the same time, I feel rather nervous. When does your school start back?
  • Glad to hear that it is not an infection and that it should settle down in time. Oh the curse of a scientific and logical mind! I used to be a mechanic and saw things in black and white and how all the pieces fit together to make something tick. Break one of those pieces and it brings the machine to a complete stand still. The big problem with anything to do with our body, is the "human element". Totally unpredictable and the most frustrating variable on the planet.

    I found that during recovery from surgery, if I track how I'm doing, what I've done that day, how I feel, etc ... that it gave me something to piece together and crunch numbers in order to see trends and success. It's just something I found that would help give me a little peace of mind when I could see improvement. It's kind of like when you live with someone and see them every day, so you won't notice change as much as you would, if you hadn't seen that person for a year and then suddenly show up. I may not have been able to see progress during the day, but at the end of each day, I could review my notes and see the progress in black and white.

    Thanks for the update. Glad that you are okay.

  • Nel,

    I am so happy to see you have no infection. The scar tissue certainly sounds plausible. But I am in the same exact boat as you. I have many of the same symptoms. Lower back, hip, groin and thigh issues. I too had my surgery last fall, In November. My surgeon has been unhelpful. I am having a series of ESI's starting in 2 weeks and if they are not helpful my pain mgt Dr is referring me to a Neurosurgeon. The frustration lies in doing everything I can do, physio, diet, medication, as prescribed and still feeling no better than I felt before surgery. Maybe a little but the trade off is much worse now in other areas. Please keep in touch. PM me anytime. The support here is invaluable.

  • Thanks Guys! I really think I might have gone mad without the support of this board. Other people just don't get it.

    Trasee, I saw your post somewhere else and my heart goes out to you. I followed your return to work posts and knew you were having a tough time. It is sooo hard when work is all you can manage in a day. The docs just don't seem to understand how debilitating this pain is. I wouldn't wish it on anyone but I think some of them could do with experiencing the pain we have so that they understand us better!! I have been doing all the right things too - I am startting to think maybe I would be better just doing what I want! The whole "listen to your body" thing is really hard when your body seems to mumble everything!! I hope you get some relief soon.

    I feel like all I do is moan, and I do realise that I am better than before the surgery but not that much better. And now that the hip pain is back I can't sleep again, so am back on codeine at bed time and really feel back to square one. The pain is now mostly down the front of my left leg.

    It has been summer holiday so I have been off work, which helps, but like jelly am back on september 1st. I am really worried that I am going to end up pruning my life back to just going to work, swimming and walking. No shopping, meals out, fun etc cos it is always the final straw! So I end up resenting work cos it is all I can do, and if I do something else then I end up in bad pain and then the cycle all starts again.

    Thanks again for all your support.
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