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going for 6 month checkup on L5-S1 fusion still having problems

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
hi again, i go today to doc and my leggs still feel real weak and i am still in pain in low back what can doc do they say most times it is in my head it sends signals to brain i do not understand that they are not the ones going through it and my leggs still get numb and pain in my hips now my knee is popping and hurting anyone tell me what i should ask or do..... thanks


  • I had and L5-S1 fusion back in 2004. My disk was bulging and torn. My doc said that if I wait any longer for the surgery that the pain would be so intense I wouldn't be able to walk. I still had pain in my leg an hip for about a year or so after the fusion. My doc told me it could take up to 2 yrs to fully heal. My low back still was sore here and there but didn't feel the same pain as I did before the surgery. My doc did an MRI with and without contrast every 6 months for the first yr and a half. Then it was done once a year. I would ask if they plan on doing another MRI and when. IF you dont feel comfortable with what your surgeon is telling you during your appointments then I would get a second opinion. ALWAYS listen to your body. You know it better than anyone else. IF you dont get the response or the service you feel you should be getting then see someone else. There is nothing wrong with that. A lot of docs out there will say it is in your head or that you are making the pain up to get meds. I ran into a couple of these. IF you have not had an MRI to take to this apt or if your doc doesn't order another MRI for you to do after this apt I would ask him to do another one or see someone who will give you another. My doc ordered them every 6 months once the 6 month period hit. I would at first get them done every 6-8 wks. The doc needs to be sure that you are healing properly and also needs to make sure that there is no more issues. You could have nerve issues also that didn't show up on the MRI. So I think the first step is to get an MRI, demand if you have to and if your doc wont do it then see someone that will. Good luck with your apt and be sure to write down questions to bring to your doc. I would also get a "diary" and write in it daily. I would write when the pain occurs, what you were doing that intesified it and what makes it worse or feel better i.e. sitting, laying a certain way etc. Keep us posted.
  • How much have you been walking since your surgery?
    Are you on a regular physical therapy schedule yet?
    What medication schedule are you on?
    Do you have any idea how far along your fusion is?

    I'm just wondering as I don't know your whole story.

    If you are going to PT, what do they say about the popping knee? I don't know that your knee is anything to do with your back, but it might be related to your PT or ??

    I personally think the exercise (walking and a few mild leg things so far for me) have been the best thing for getting me past the pain. I know that when my hips are aching and I feel like crap, that's when I need to get up and go for a walk.

    For some reason it really really helps. Whether it is the deeper breathing that occurs when I am out walking, the just getting out of the house and seeing other things, or what - in any case I always feel a bit sore, but oh, SO much better when I get back.

    Don't know that I've helped you much though.

    I would bring all of it up with your Dr. and try to get a good fix on what he wants you to do - for medication, for exercise and how far along your fusion is, and even what he thinks of your progress so far.

    Good luck
  • Hi , I am 16 weeks Pot Operation and my hips hurt so much after lying down for a while. Walking is good but flairs my Sciatic Pain . I would definately see a Doctor you are confident with .I think my Doctor is going to inject Steroids into my Hip joints if my pain does not settle. My pain is different than before the Operation . At times it goes for a short time . I believe in the two year story . Backs never really rest unlke arms that can be put in a Sling. They do a lot of work to the whole area whilst they are in there and time is what we need lots of . Walking is very good , I swear by it.Hope things get better for you but definately look into it if you are concerned. You need to be confident with your Doctor and know he is with you all the way.
  • ..from everyone here. I'm 7 months out (from PLIF @ L4/6) & still have the leg weakness & some lingering low back pain in surgical area...but recent x-rays & MRI's show everything is fine...so it's just a LONG ROAD home & TIME is what it takes...my NS also said figure "2 years" to totally heal & see what's up then....your body mechanics are changed after a fusion (that's part of the "point") so you can expect some stiffness, soreness, etc as muscles & joints try to get used to new positions & loads, etc. My fusion area feels like a "brick" & as it is fusing, that whole area is getting less mobile, so now I have some pains above & below the surgery site (adjacent levels taking the load now) & leg weakness/stiffness & even some hip & SI pain..all normal, NS said, so long as it's not acute or gets worse...

    I agree: WALKING is key! Just start out gentle, like 2-3 short walks a day, nothing major, then quit when you feel sore or tired...gets things moving, helps heal the wound & releases "feel good" endorphines... + helps your muscles get stronger in their "new positions" etc. SITTING just still kills me--gotta keep moving around---

    Keep any eye on the knee thing & ask your doc---could be just another area trying to re-learn how to carry the newly-redistributed loads...

    And your brain CAN send pain signals, even after the initial healing has happened...nerves "remember" pain & sometimes keep firing pain signals along routes that have been distrubed by the surgery..

    It's just a long process...6 months out is "recent" in the fusion time-line, I was told. I believe that wholly, asJulie says it's a "2 year story". It is.

    So see your doc, ask your questions, take your walks & let TIME pass...pain is different now, things keep changing as you heal...improvement happens so slowly, sometimes I didn't even realize I felt better...! Duh! It's a trip, that's for sure!

    Stay in touch! Good to have you here!

  • ...PLIF at L4/5, NOT L/6 (altho some people have an extra vertabrae) Sorry!

    Pain also affects your typing skills... :)

  • Hiya,
    After my first suregry my knees really hurt too. Thenm I discovered I had to wear soft soled shoes, runners of hike boots - I figured it was an impact thing and was a little better. It took my knees a while to get used to bending too!!
    After my second surgery it was my knees but my hips so there is defo something in the changing of the mechanics going on, extra wear and tear where it never used to be.
    take care
  • Hi Lakeside
    Does it bother you to stand still for awhile? I find after standing still for even a few minutes I start hurting over the L5S1 area especially on the right then I have to start moving and the pain lessens. So just wondering if this is part of the healing process? We have so many aches and pain sometimes it just wears one out. :O
  • Lakeside:
    Thank you so much for your explaination of how the pain after surgery can be associated with the body adjusting to the new alignment. I'm schedule for surgery in Sept. 2008 and of course I'm nervous and anxious. I am trying to learn as much as I can about what happens after surgery. I will take your advice and be patient with my healing process. As I have heard, the surgery is not a quick fix, but a long process to a better end.
  • How did you get along at the doctors?

    Best Wishes,
    Christina :)
  • hi The doctor told me he could not do anything else for me and if i wanted i could get some fauscet injections, and he said he did not remember i had a avm in the brain he said it was like a time bomb and i told him i did tell him about that he said he culd get me into a specialist on this in indianopolis i have had this for 5 yrs but know one seemed to want to help me with this i wonder if this has not caused alot of my health problems but for now that is all he is going to do.......thanks so much...jo
  • I'm sorry to hear the doctor couldnt do any more for you but I am pleased that finally someone is going to do something for your avm.
    What did the doctors say about how your fusion is healing up?

    Christina :)
  • Well I had Transforaminal lumbar fusion 10 weeks ago, I had my 8 weeks follow up one week ago. I am not on any meds, i go on the treadmil for 40 minutes 3 or 4 times per week, I stretch a lot and practise bending a little with my knees bent. I am back in the gym, doing little things but it is hard because I am a Figure/Fitness competitor. I can"t train the way I am used to but I do a some lightweight training, strength and core training.

    I think I am progressing pretty good because of my fitness lifestyle, staying active is important when you have injuries, any kind of injury for that matter. My PT and my NS are amazed at my progress.

    My advice to all of you is to stay active, do not be afraid to challenge yourselves a little more each day. Stretch immediately before you get out of bed.
  • I'm at least glad that your doc is getting you into a specialist for the AVM - it sounds really scary.

    How much are you exercising/walking? I can't remember reading it anywhere. I know that the worse I feel it seems the better it helps to get up and walk. It's hard to remember that as I am laying in agony and can't begin to imagine getting myself up and moving. But afterwards, the reward, the being able to breath deep again - it's worth every step.
  • Youre a friend and we care about all our spiney friends. If you disappear for a couple days we start to worry.

    Best Wishes,
    Christina :)
  • Pretty Woman, how are you doing? I also am interested in how your fusion is coming along? Has your leg discomfort improved at all? Please keep us posted! As Chelsea says, it's not a quick-fix, but a long process to a better end--well-stated, as so much of this post-fusion "fall-out" is sometimes just things healing @ different rates, etc...

    Phyllis: Re standing still for long periods: yes, that hurts, as does doing ANYTHING for a protracted amount of time: sitting, standing, lying down, etc...I think one of the keys is to vary your positions & move around as much as you can, frequently. I just get so "stiff" and achy if I have to hold a position for more than 15 minutes or so...driving is just a killer, as is being a passenger..! WALKING is great---I could walk forever.. I know many of you have said the same, that walking & moving helps relieve a lot of the discomfort.

    I am currently working on strenghtening my multifidus (deep back) muscles as they (according to my PT last year) can often contribute to pain/stiffness/achy-ness after lumbar surgery. They get weak & start to actually "shrink" & that can cause other areas to tighten-up, spasm & hurt a lot. You might want to ask your PT about some gentle multifidus exercises, if your doc approves. An easy one (actually it's the 1st one you learn) is to stand, bend your knees just a bit & pull your navel into your spine (contract your abs) and hold that position for about 30-45 seconds (remember to breathe!) and then release. Repeat a few more times & do it often during the day, in various positions (sitting, lying, standing etc) You can "clench" your butt muscles at the same time & that intensifies it & also strengthens your glutes, which also help support your lower back. your multifidus just gets wrecked during fusion surgery & it's a very important set of muscles, which run along your whole spine from top to bottom, in & out of all the vertabrae levels & are meant to hold everything in place & "steady" your whole spine. But during fusion surgery, in order to insert the pedicle screws/rods etc, they must be cut & pulled away from the spine, along w/ tiny nerves to the joints, so they are weakened by this & that adds to our slow/complicated recovery. (They are sutured back together, but they are never the same as b4)

    Blah blah blah, huh! Sorry to ramble, but do hope you are feeling better...remember that 2-year time line & I'm hoping for the best for you!

    Stay in touch w/ us!


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