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Back Surgery and residual leg pain

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
This is my first post. I underwent an interbody spinal fusion back in 2006 from L4 through S1. I was OK for a while, but the pain came back. I tried everything including physical therapy, chiropractic, pain management, epidural blocks, facet blocks, etc. You name it, I tried it. I decided to visit my neurosurgeon earlier this year at the recommendation of my pain management specialist to discuss more surgery. The surgery was done in July of this year. They removed my old hardware (pins, rods, screws, etc.) and I was re-fused using something called BMP, some sort of synthetic bone paste. For the first 4-weeks after surgery, I felt 10-years younger. Then came week 5. Pain started shooting down my right leg and my right foot has been numb since the surgery. It was 10 times worse than pre-surgery. The only way I could obtain relief is by laying in a supine position (together with narcotic pain relievers). The ortho surgeon who assisted with the surgery suggested that I obtain a new MRI to see what was going on. There was a spinal fluid leak during the surgery which was repaired and he was concerned that a spinal fluid leak could be a possibility. The MRI revealed a large bilaterial fluid collection at L5-S1. Emergency surgery was scheduled for the next day and they opened me up again. Thank God, it was not a spinal fluid leak. The way it has been explained to me is that when they removed the old hardware, my body's natural reaction was to try to fill in the empty space with fluid; and that my body was also reacting to a new foreign material, the BPM, creating a "perfect storm" and a lot of fluid; they indicated that my body was not absorbing the fluid fast enough and that it had built up causing my pain. Two drains were inserted into my back to collect the excess fluid, and I was released from the hospital two days later feeling pretty good. The drain was removed before I left the hospital. It lasted about 10 days, until the leg pain returned again. I cannot sit for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. I just have to lay in bed in a supine position with a heating pad for relief. I am so frustrated right now, that I thought I would use this forum to vent. I meet with my neurosurgeon tomorrow to obtain a script for another MRI to see what is going on now. Does anyone out there know if this is normal for the body to create so much fluid after surgery like this? Or, could there be something else wrong preventing my body from reabsorbing this fluid? I would appreciate any info. Thanks.


  • I really do not have any answers for you but I wanted to welcome you to the forum and tell you how sorry I am that you are going through all of this. Have you thought about getting another opinion or two? I have heard several stories about surgeons doing something wrong during surgery and not admitting to it. Not that this is the case with you but if it were me I would want to get a few more docs to take a look at my MRI. I feel sure that other members will be along anytime now to offer information and their support. Good luck and please keep us posted.
  • And welcome to the board.
    It seems to me that you have been through a hell of a lot already. I rally hope that you get some answers when you see the ortho tomorrow.
    I also had multiple fusion with BMP and it does seem that the BMP can create an inflammitory environment being a foreign object. Now you will read all the pros and cons of NSAIDS here but in a lot of cases they are very useful. Mine was one.
    So can I suggest that you ask the ortho about anti- inflam meds as they may assist you in lessening the fluid produced.
    Now I am not a Dr, I just know from my own experiences. I have not had a 'fluid' problem, just pain from the inflammation and the BMP (all of which is actually a good sign).

    All the best for tomorrow and please let us know what is said and done.
    Blessings Sara
  • Hi

    Sara - how do you know that the pain is from the BMP?

    My second PLIF was with BMP and was lot sorer than my 1st PLIF, but I read that removal of pedicle screws is painful too??

    Anyway, grabbing onto hope....
  • I also had fusion surgery with BMP and at 5 weeks postop my leg pain returned. Turns out the BMP caused a boney tunnel to grow around a nerve root and compressed and flattened one of my nerves making it grossly inflammed. Had the bone removed, that leg is much better, had hardware on that side removed too. I am not fused at all more than 1 year later, guess the BMP just wanted to make bone growth on nerves for me.
  • He all, I just found out myself that I too suffer from excess bone growth from the BMP used in the PLIF surgery. It's so new to me, I have no idea what options are available to fix it. I'm patiently waiting for the dr's office to open so I may make an appt and also searching the net, not to successfully, for further information on possible options.

    Any help in terms to search on or point me in the right direction would be appreciated.

  • Are you still having hiccups?
    I 've been having hiccups for 3 months ( everyday since my surgery on aug 30, 2008.
    I had 18 hours/day to 3 hours/day now.
    How are you managing to control it ?


  • about overgrowth of BMP and how it effects the fusion.
    He said it is all to do with the placement of the BMP. He places it as far from the spinal canal (on the edge of the body of the vertebrae)as possible with the 'spacers' between the canal and the BMP, this way it wont grow into the nerves.

    Itsalongwalk, the Dr said the pain was probably from the inflammation caused by the BMP not the BMP itself.

    ernurse, so if you are not fused at all after a year, then what are they doing for you?

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • My spacer filled with BMP had moved into my spinal canal...long story but on removal the surgeon said it was empty. I dopn't know where the BMP went to.

    I daren't ask...I don't want to know the answers! :))(

    I did feel loads better but now 5 weeks...not very good

    also know from my own questions and posts that nerves can take many months to recover.

    Hers hoping tomorrow is better, for us all.
  • I think I have the same problem so if you find any answers please pm me. I am going to have a new scan soon.
  • Just wondering how you are doing with the revision?
  • Hello i had a two level fusion at l5-s1 an l4-5 with artificial pro disc at l3 .I Have the same problem after about six weeks the leg pain returned. In both legs my Dr tells me that i'm fused an that i should NOT have any pain .My back feels like it has a ton of pressure on it I had my surgery on7-15-08 i have been thru six weeks of p/t my left foot gets tired quick then it starts to flop . I have been off work for sixteen moths i just don't know what to do at this point . Current med soma 4-daily 400 mil gram of lyrica an percocet every 4-6 hours any input would be great . PS i still walk a mile or two a day on my treadmill i'm a 46 year old welder plumber i'm just at Witt's end ???????? vondownum@yahoo.com
  • Leg pain occurs due to several reason, it may be due muscle cramp, muscle fatigue, exercise excessively or holding muscle for a long time in the same position.
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