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L4-L5 Fusion on 10/05/11--Sharp/severe pain now when lying down

When I had my fusion (10/05/11), it was to correct the pain I was having when I sat down and weakness in my left leg. One year later that has been corrected but I have severe/sharp pain in my lower back when lying down and making any attempt to turn over. My right leg is beginning to feel like my left leg did before my fusion. I exercise 4 days a week and do my back therapy 3 days a week and walk at least 45 minutes 5 days a week on a trreadmill. I have my yearly visit to see the doctor in a few weeks and I am scared of what he will say. He has me on flexril at night to help with my current pain. He did indicate three months ago that the level below the surgery had got worse. The pain I am experiencing now is worse than before my fusion. It takes my breath away and I scream out in pain. I stay up on my feet during the day because I simply do not want to lie down. If I sit for any length of time, my legs are weak. Has anyone else had similiar symptons?


  • Sounds like L5-S1...I know I had the same exact symptom of not being to turn over in bed and leg pain....I had a 3 level fusion aprrox 8 weeks ago...L3-S1. I dont have the "turning over" pain. to be honest nobody ever addressed my complaint of not being to lift my hips up to trun over....was one of my main symptoms. I hope at least knowing that somebody else can has been there, at least you kow you are not crazy. Good luck with your appointment. Ellen
    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012
  • edited 09/08/2012 - 5:54 PM
    Thank you for posting. Was some nights worse than others? Was the s1 level the reason for the sharp pains while lyiing down?
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  • You described your pain just as I felt mine, and I know that my main issues were L3-L4 and leg pain would go down the front of my leg to my knee...and that was explained to me to be the very distinct L3-L4 pain. I have had pain in my hips most of my adult life which I coulld never identify. As my back problems progressed hip and groin pain became the most painful....and lying down only made it worse and trying to flip from one side to another would bring me to tears...some nights an all cry.

    Yes, some nights were worse as with all of my symptoms....I think again as my problems progressed the time between major flare ups became less and less. I I hope you find the answers to help alleviate some of your pain....I am new this 'fusion" world.....still a little freaked out with what I have ahead of me. I feel like after a 3 level fusion where do you go....seems like levels above or below seem to inevitably end up to stressed.Good luck to you, and let us know how your appointment goes. PEACE, Ellen
    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012
  • Ellen, It is comforting to know that I am not crazy! My l4/l5 fusion was not a cake walk but not as bad as some people have experieced. If I can give you any advice, it would be to TAKE IT REALLY SLOW. I am a Type A personaility and hate to be fussed over so accepting help from my husband and friends was hard. After a few "I can do this myself" experiences and than paying a terribly painful price, I learned to accept their help and grin and bear it. DEMAND that your physical therapist is a back specialist. You will start slow and progress throughout the months--you will get better ONLY if you are committed to your therapy. My husband was a head football coach and athletic director For 30 years and he always said that the surgeon could only do his part but the biggest part of recovery is how committed you are to the therapy. Your surgeon will only put in a few hours of work but you will put in months of hard work. I firmly believe that my the surgery was successful because of my PT. My surgeon told me that the level below the fusion could stay the same, could get worse without surgery, or could get worse because of surgery. I took the chance and sure enough six months after surgery the level below the fusion IS getting worse. UGH. The pain before my L4/L5 fusion is nearly gone (I can actually sit down!) But this new pain is absolutely AWFUL! Thank you so much for letting me know that my I am not going crazy! I hope you recover completely and have a new lease on a "pain free" life! Sincerely, Pam
  • KarenDKKarenD Posts: 742
    edited 09/10/2012 - 2:54 PM
    Reading your posts sounded somewhat familiar to me. I had an EMG result say I have chronic nerve damage at S1. In January I had a laminectomy and discectomy at L4-L5. My surgeon wanted to be as conservative as possible because a number of other levels are showing issues. Since the surgery pain down the left leg has gotten a bit better. The pain in the right is in my butt and around to the groin, down the outside of my left leg and into my foot. My right foot has had increasing numbness over a number of years. The symptoms in the right got a little better and then quickly got as bad as before surgery and now is getting worse, with some numbness going up into the leg, and recently more numbness in the left foot.

    I have a lot of trouble turning over. I have to use my whole body to turn over, sometimes that is painful. I get pain building as I lie on either side and then I have to turn over. I never was one to lie on my back, but with the pain increasing on one side or the other...oh well.

    My surgeon told me to go see him when I can't deal with it any more because it would be extensive surgery - multi-level fusion with rods, etc. because of scoliosis. The point about PT is important, but I have had 1 good PT and the rest ineffective over a lot of years. I hope I could find a good one if I have whatever the next surgery is.

    Take care!

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
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  • KarenD said:
    . The pain in the right is in my butt and around to the groin, down the outside of my left leg and into my foot. My right foot has had increasing numbness over a number of years.
    I thought I was crazy! All my numbness and tingling has taken the same path as yours. Everything I had read and people that I have talked to had the numbness/tingling down the back of their legs. When I started getting tingling in my groin I thought I was imagining things because I had never seen anyone talk about that symptom.

    My main issues are in L5/S1 but the CT I had after my discogram showed some minor issues in L3/L4 that were not there when I had my MRI in June. I also have a spondy that has gotten worse since my MRI in June. With all the research I have done, especially since I have the spondy, I am looking at a 1 or 2 level fusion. My appointment is on Friday to determine what the course of action will be and to get a date on when it will be done.

    I have not had the numbness in my foot for as long as you have but I have had some major foot issues in the last 3 years to include 4 surgeries (2 on each foot). Last time I saw my surgeon, which was a couple of weeks ago, I got the impression that he though some of my current problems were related to the problems in my back so now I am wondering the same thing. I have developed some tendonitis and weakness especially in my left foot over the last year or so. I feel like I need to state though that my back was pretty much asymptomatic until I was in my last car accident back in April. Sure I had some soreness and stiffness. I've also had hip pain and tightness as well. I thought it was because I was an active adult who played years of softball as well as some other sports. Sure it could have been that but now it seems like it could be related to my back.

    I am currently rehabing my left foot and ankle AGAIN so I have been talking to my PT about my back issues. We have already started discussing rehab after the surgery and he has already started coming up with a plan of action. He is awesome. So again I reitterate your point about finding a good PT. It is essential in any rehab especially with the extensive rehab that will have to be done after any back surgery. Best of luck to everyone!

    Single level L5/S1 360 fusion with 6 screws and a rod (10/29/12)
    Diagnosis: Grade 1-2 spondylolithesis, Pars Defect, L5/S1 disc tear anterior and posterior, DDD, spinal stenosis
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