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L5-S1 spinal fusion nightmare - HELP anyone else have this happen

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in New Member Introductions
Not to scare anyone but I had L5-S1 spinal fusion 1/07, after which pain didn't go away. After waiting for healing time, I was told that It appeared that the new bone that had grown grew outside of the cage and was pressing on the Sciatic nerve. After which 7/08 I underwent 2nd surgery to remove hardware and bone was shaved down to decompress nerve. Upon wake up from surgery, my foot was in extreme pain. I told the hospital staff and doctor and was told that it was probably the positioning on the operating table that caused pain and that it would subside in a few days. No, it never went away and I have loss of feeling in side and back of lower left leg, 3 toes don't move, and I have to use a Walker because I have loss of strength in leg. The Neurosurgeon told me "well it appears you have permenant nerve damage, sent me to a Pain Management Specialist whom immediately told me I needed a Nerve Stimulator implanted in my back in order to have a
"better sensation of feeling" in my leg. He did not suggest any tests, or offer other treatments. He also told me I needed to see a Pschiatrist for a Psychological evaluation due to insurance requirements for implant and he would like to have it in his file. Well it's now October and I finally got a 2nd opinion. I had 2 nerve tests done today and was told that the S1 Nerve is damaged. Is it permenant??? I am in the process of getting a new MRI to see if something else is pressing on the nerve or if the nerve was damaged during surgery..... I did not suffer any leg pain, numbness, loss of strength prior to 2nd surgery and was told both times that I had an 80% chance of full recovery. I am now Disabled and on Social Security. Mind you I am only 42 Years old and in good health otherwise. My best suggestion to all of you is to get a 2nd or even 3rd opinion before getting Back Surgeries. I pray for all of you suffering and wish you all the best. ****** If anyone else out there has gone thru similar situation, please comment back***** I am so frustrated and just want my life back again!!! ~X(


  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. Oh my, i would always suggest a second and a third opinion. i guess hindsight is not the best, right? sorry your surgeries were a failure. i do not have your current problems, but i do have pain!! ~X( perhaps it is time to start thinking about and building a new life!! moving forward can be so much more rewarding than thinking of the past!! good luck with your new pain program! Jenny :)
  • Hiya
    Welcome to Spine Health >:D< My heart goes out to you. Check out the Chat room here . :H

    Angie x
  • I have had a failed surgery and only wish that I would have found this forum before surgery. Most people here will tell you to save surgery for the very last resort as there are no guarantees. Especially with fusion I think it is about a 50 % success rate. For the 50% that is successful it was well worth it. The other 50% are usually in more pain than they started with. I am so sorry to hear that your surgery was failed and hope that you find a non surgical alternative for pain relief. Good luck and please keep us posted.
  • would have liked to find this site before surgery. Wouldn't have helped with my particular problem (had MVA) but I would have known how to take better care of myself. Post-op instructions from docs seem to be very limited. I saw a list of post-op instructions on a hospital website that was very imformative and fit everyone.
  • Hi,
    I woke up after my first surgery with the numbness and pain in my left foot. I don't have the push off capability anymore, not the feeling in many other parts. After my fourth surgery things got worse for my foot. I lost feeing in almost all of it. I was told to give mine time. Now we are looking into my foot and ankle in case the problem happened there and there is something pushing on something. I should know the results next Wednesday and all I want is to have them figure out what the heck is going on cause trying to walk on a foot that screams non-stop at me really wears me down.
    Sometimes other opinions don't matter as I got them. My nerve roots were compressed and inflamed and I guess sustained damage. I just had never even known that my foot could or would be affected from back surgery, especially since it was normal beforehand. I am beginning to think that this is more common than I thought cause of all the people on here I have met that have the same problem.
    I have yet to figure out what my new life will be but there is a reason for me having to go through this and I hope in the end I learn that reason. Please feel free to PM me if you want to talk. There are many of us with the same issue and together we can help each other get through the long days.
  • Hello all, I am new to this forum and have enjoyed greatly being able to read the posts and rejoice with those who are celebrating and feel the pain of those who need it.

    I am preparing for a spinal fusion surgery at the end of this month for spondylolisthesis. L5-S1 is the problem area. I currently have constant lower back pain, sporadic shooting pain in one leg and if I stand for more than one minute, my other leg goes numb/tingly.

    I have been working with my current doctor for about 18 months and feel like this is the right choice for me. My doctor told me that this type of surgery for this type of problem has a better than 90% success rate. I was disheartened to read your post that states only a 50% success rate. I was aware that not all surgeries have the same percentages, but this sounds pretty similar to mine. I'm hoping that your figures are for maybe spinal fusion in 'general' and that my doctor is still right about my kind of surgery 'specifically'.

    I'm 35 with two teenagers at home and would really like to think that I'm going to have an awesome recovery and healthy and active life after this. 8> :SS
  • think that 50% is based on stastistical analysis. I have heard that the figure is more like 70-80%. BUT! that is also something I heard and not based on stastistics. Please don't let any figures scare you...every person and every surgery is different.

    If you are concerned with it, ask your doc what his figures are. Mine told me. She was proud of it.
  • Although it seems that things are just going down hill, I am thankful that I only have to use a Walker and am not in a Wheelchair. I have to keep mu chin up and be as positive as possible. My family would fall apart even more that they already are if I didn't. Good luck to us all and take care of yourself! #:S
  • Hi, thanks for the welcome, this is my 1st forum and so far very helpful. How are you doing now? Are you able to function at all? I can only guess probably not. I just had my 2nd and 3rd opinions yesterday and looks like permenant damage to S1 nerve whatever that means. The new doctor's think that the 1st made a mistake???? They'll continue to do additional testing and we'll go from there. Hope life gets better for you and that someday there will be an instant cure for our issues. Take care and stay in touch,
    SoCal Susan :H
  • Sorry to hear about what you are going thru as well. My Surgeon told me that my recovery rate would be 80% and that was for both! I finally got a 2nd opinion and what did I hear rate for success??? oh 50% for 1st and 30% for 2nd. To think, he wanted me to have a Nerve stimulator implanted right away ($50.K for the machine alone per me new doctor) plus whatever thousands they would make doing the surgery... The new doctor finally had a Nerve study done on me and we're getting a new MRI (since one was never done after 2nd surgery) New doc thinks that the 1st doc made a mistake and cut the Sciatic nerve during surgery, imagine that. Finally I feel like a doctor cares again and that if there is something that can be done to fix this, he;ll find it. I truly hope things get better for you and want to keep in touch. Take care... SoCal Susan :H
  • I also awoke from surgery screaming of foot pain. Both my husband and myself asked for an x-ray (denied) they said it was probably the position I was in during surgery or the fact that my feet were taped together???? I also woke up during the 1st surgery a few times, they blame the fact that I had been on pain meds for so long that it was impossible to keep me asleep. What nightmares aye...
    I go on the internet as often as possible, but there are some days when I just can't. I'm sure some of us all have those unbarable pain days. Hope to talk further soon, SoCal Susan :* :S
  • Sdroxx, hello, welcome to SH. You will find this site is a great source of information and support. I am sorry your surgeries were not successful. As many have said spine surgery is a game of Russian Roulette, you just don't know if you'll get the loaded chamber and sounds like you did unfortunately. Can you tell us more about your self? What was the indication for your fusion, spondy, ddd, etc.? And did you have BMP? There have been several on here with bmp problems. I hope that you can find answers for your problem and get some pain relief. There are many here with SCS as well. Do you take any medication for nerve pain such as lyrica or neurontin? or steroids? Nerves are very slow to heal often taking a year or more. Good-luck in your journey and know that you will find great support here. Sue
  • Lucy, I had fusion for spondy on August 5. My surgeon said 80% success rate. The indication for surgery often determine the success rate. I am doing very well, just starting PT to strengthen my muscles so I can back to work. This surgery is very intense with a long, slow recovery. My NS says this is the most painful surgery he performs and he kept apologizing for all my pain in the hospital. I have little pain now in my back and original symptoms are gone. Good-luck to you and check out the surgery section as there are lots of fusion patients posting there. Take-care, Sue
  • :) I tried to send you a pm but it was blocked. perhaps you want to consider changing that. a pm is a big part of the forum. sometimes it is better to communicate privately or maybe just becocme good friends. the pm is the only way to do that. anyway, something to think about if you want to make use of all the great features here. Jenny :)
  • Welcome to SH. I am so disheartened to read your post. I am looking at a fusion of L3/L4 - L5/S1. I have totally blown discs - torn all the way through from left to right and arthritis and I seem to worsen almost every day. When I read posts like yours I begin to wonder if I can live with this horrible pain. What if I only think it's horrible? What if it gets worse? Can I deal with that? I wish you the very best at finding some relief. I still have no idea what I am going to do.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I have had so many problems with my back and neck it almost isn't worth telling. Those reading this would be so boared reading it. Here goes. My first problem was in 1998. I had a decompressive cervical laminectomy. I don't think that was worth it. Then I got a new Pain Care doc and he and my neurologist decided an implanted neuro stimulator would be the answer to all my prayers. It works real well on my low back, legs and feet. In 2005 I had another neuro stimulator implanted in the other hip to help my cervical. My neurologist moved to San Antonio so I had to find a new neurologist. He also agreed with the stimulator mainly because it would help with the pain from the bone spurs left after my cervical surgery in '98. The new doc also took over the job of handeling my meds. I had tried accupuncture, pt, myofacial therapy (my ins quit paying their part of it, botox injections - my husband counted 58 injections and quit counting). My new neurologist/pain med manager put me on a new med and wanted me to have a pump inplanted. He arranged an appt. with my neuro surgeon who imfatically said NO..... So the doc increased my meds. I was falling, waking up in the middle of the night making sugar mountains with a tylenol on each one, sleeping wherever I fell, etc and he didn't do anything about it because he got a promotion to head up a rehab hospital. I ended up in the hospital. I had all these "specialists" but no family doc, so they turned me over to the medical students and their teacher. They pumped my stomach because they thought I was on street drugs, ha....I was taking enough prescription drugs to choak a horse. They found no drugs. not street drugs and none of my own meds. My family told them to contact my pain care doc because it might be my stimulator. NOOOOOOO, the doc was a god and he knew better. This went along for 4 days - I was tied to the bed and on a ventalator. My stimulator cycled. On fifteen minutes and off fifteen minutes. My husband went to my pain care doc's office first thing Monday morning and my doc was walking out of his office to come see about me. One of the nurses at the hospital called him and told him I was there and what they were doing to me. What my family told his was what was going on. The med I was on had an adverse effect on me and I broke he main lead in one of my stimulators. I was electrocuting myself every fifteen minutes. I never got a bill from the doc or the hospital, HA. Now I am having a reaction to my pain patch. My feet and legs are huge. I think I had better call my family doc tomorrow and let him look at them. Anyway, that is part of my story. I am interested in this message board and glad it is here. Viki :O
  • :) fauciabella, hi and welcome to the forum! :H you certainly have alot going on. check out the diferent forums and make yourself at home. good luck with your treatment. we are here if you need us! Jenny :)
  • had this operation done and now wish i hadnt i have had excactly the same happen as sdroxx can you please send me more details of how you are getting on thanks
  • Hi I realize this forum is from 08 but I hope it falls on some helpful eyes... I' was injured on July 23 2011..got ran around by work comp drs until finally having second opinion 7 months later and finding out the entire time I was being told nothing was wrong I had a compressed nerve smashed against my spine... Finally got surgery approved and was told I would be back to 80% well initially I did ok but after starting PT Everything fell apart and the dibilitating muscle spasms returned which has left me completely incompasitated I can barely walk... The spasms are so bad the pull my body 30 degrees to the right and antime on my feet it gets worse and worse.... Please if anyone reads this and has any info that could help me I'm at the end of my rope and I've been told by the surgeons this is as good as it gets.... There has to be something that can be done.... Hugs and love to all dealing with spine issues as this has been a real eye opener for me and I need HELP!!!? Thanks again
    My direct email adress is as follows as I'm not real sure how to use this site very well.... Dadss74@icloud.com
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