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Afraid the pain is back...

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,900
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I started PT on Tuesday, and had my third session today (Friday). I drove myself to the office, but on the way in, I stepped weird, and had a little twinge of pain in the lower back. In getting upon the PT table, I had two more little twinges that were similar to the nerve pain that I had prior to surgery. The PT said that my muscles were very tight, and did some soft tissue massage. I went ahead with the PT, and ended my session with icing my back. When I went to get into my car to leave, I had severe lower back pain similar to what I experienced before my surgery. It subsided, and I went ahead and drove myself home. I had slight twinges when getting out of the car. I am so afraid that the pain is back. I felt so good, and was rather smug with myself as to how great I was recuperating. I had felt no pain in the lower back since the surgery on August 5. Now I am scared. I am going to call my neuro's office after lunch to see what he thinks. In the meantime, has anyone else had a similar experience to this?



  • Oh dear. I hope it's just a temporary tweak and some rest over the weekend will get you back to feeling find again. I think these things tend to happen when we over-do as we get to feeling better. I hope you didn't do yourself any serious harm.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hi Ann, yep I have had intermittent flare ups of my pre-op pain as well as sciatica on the opposite side as pre-op. They seem to come on when I have overdone, like vacuuming, mopping, etc. The first time it happened it was really scarey and I talked to my NS. He said it was normal and will come and go for a while. He said the nerves are irritated and will flare and settle over and over. So far it has always gone away after a few days. Take it easy and try some ice or heat, I alternate both. Get some rest and contact your surgeon if not better soon, >:D< Sue
  • Between PT, brace weaning, and spending 4 hours up at my school trying to get my room the way I like it, I am sure that I overdid it. I also did a lot of lifting, although it was light stuff. I am currently sitting here with a heating pad! I did call my NS, and he told me to call my GP since my NS is two hours away. I did not call my family doctor yet, as the heating pad is helping. You are correct when you said it is scarey the first time! The NS said that I had a lot of nerve inflammation. This just happens to be the first time that my nerves have let me know that they are still there and still healing! It does ease my mind to know that you have experienced something similar. That is definitely one of the benefits of being able to network with other fusion patients...especially when we had the same surgery date!

  • Just before christamas last year, i started to have physio (PT) :) . My pain was under control so i was quite looking forward to it :) . On my second session i started to feel pain like before the surgery :''( . So the following week i went again and the pain got much worse :''( i said that i couldnt do it they said its because i was working sleepy muscles, i said but it dont feel like muscle pain :( . So by the 4th session i was in agony but i went anyway, and one of the physios said come on you can do this X( , clapping her hands in my face well i was in pain so i was crabby anyway :''( , so i went mad at her saying im in pain X( . She was balling at me saying im thinking about the pain to much :''( , i said i wouldnt think about the pain if it wasnt there. I just hobbled out of the session and went to see my doctor :O . He said it was silly of her to make me carry on because when you feel pain like that :S , your body is telling you to stop :S . I am classed as disabled, and he has told me as soon as i feel pain no matter what im doing i am to stop :) .

    Angie >:D<
  • Before I read your post, I called my PT and told him about the problem. He told me to rest, and only do what I could do comfortably these next few days. Plus, he recommended ice and heat. He is really understanding. Like you, I was really looking forward to PT. Now, I am afraid to try to get into the car! :S

  • I had a return of symptoms after a few sessions of PT as well last Friday. Also scared that the surgery didnt work once I started doing a bit more. Doctor told me to skip PT until I felt better, he is thinking it is muscle spasms. I increased me muscle relaxers and iced/heat my neck regularly. It is one week today and I do feel much better;have not used my weights for home exercises either. Hopefully I will go back Monday or Tuesday. PT said we will go slower. So I understand what you are going through.
  • You are very welcome! Sounds like we are on the same time line. I have just started PT this week and I have been weaning my brace since Sept 29 (suppose to be out of it 100% by Monday). I am due to go back to work on Nov. 4 (or I can go back early or get an extension). Not feeling too sure about the work thing. Now that I am mostly without my brace, getting lots of new aches and pains and flare-ups. We will get there eventually, just gotta keep on going, right?!!! >:D< Cali-Sue
  • I know exactly what you mean about heading back to work. Two weeks ago, prior to starting PT and brace weaning, I was ready to hit the classroom. Now I think that I will ask for an extension. The little flare up was enough to let me know that I am not as healed as I thought. Even though my NS said that it may take more than a year for the healing process (nerves) to complete itself, once I started feeling better, I felt like the world was mine again...even though I still couldn't shave my legs. :))) But after the message my nerves sent me, I've had a reality check.

  • It IS scarey to think that the surgery did not work! In fact, what I felt yesterday was scarier than the decision to have the fusion surgery in the first place. Going into surgery you are alive with the hope that when you awake, the nerve pain will be gone...That you will be one of the lucky individuals who will be able to move on with a pain-free life. I will just have to be more patient, and more careful.

    The heat really helped, and I doubled my muscle relaxer (Robaxin). I ended up sleeping very well. I did some of my easier PT exercises this morning. However, I now have the fear of getting into the car. During the past ten weeks I had forgotten what the nerve pain was like. I did not like yesterday's wake up call! :S

  • Well, I heeded everyone's advice and rested this entire weekend, alternating between ice and heat on my back, hips and groin. I continued with my some of my PT home exercises, but not as agressively as before. Plus, I took my muscle relaxers on a regular schedule. I never had another reoccurrence of the pre-op type pain. But...now I am afraid to get into the car! :))( That was what really irritated my back in the first place. What can I do to regain my confidence? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I hate to live the rest of my life in fear...afraid to even try to return to semi-normal because of the "pain"! I do not want it to rule my life like it has for the past three years. I know that the healing process will take months, and I am at 10 weeks. I just need to regain some confidence in my body, and that gosh darn car seat!

  • Hiya Ann.
    Is it that your car seat maybe to low? If it is couldnt you get a booster seat pad? I maybe just guessing here. Anything is worth a try. Just dont give up, do a little at a time, just dont push yourself to far. Keep posting!

  • Hey, Angie!
    I had never considered the fact that the car seat is much lower than any chair that I sit in! Duh! I will try some type of a pad and see if it helps. Thanks for the tip!

  • I just removed the plastic bag from my car to help me get in and out easily. I used it so that my hips could turn easily once I was in the seat. I would sit down and turn the whole bag toward the front therefore not having to twist my body in the car. Just another idea.
  • This is why this site is awesome! Once again, I did not think about doing this. I know that I did twist a little bit getting in, and of course that is a big no-no. I will try this and see if it works for me! I am already a little bit more excited and less apprehensive about getting into the car again,

  • Ann, where are you with the brace weaning? Did you have a hard TLSO or? I was thinking if you aren't already doing it, perhaps wear the brace while driving. I do on occassion if my back is bothering me. I wore it only 30 minutes today on my evening walk, and I am suppose to retire it by tomorrow, but we will see ;) I am looking for a lumbar support for my car, but haven't found one yet. Needs to be conformed and yet not too thick. I might have to buy one online. I agree with the cushion idea above. I too used the plastic bag for a while, it helps. Take care, >:D< Sue
  • Hi!
    I still have two weeks before I need to be completely weaned from the hard TSLO brace. I do not wear it when I am at home, but I do wear it to drive or if I am out walking. My husband is off work today, so I had him help me into the passenger seat using the plastic bag. It did help to a certain extent. We also positioned the seat so that it is fairly flat in the seat area and almost completely vertical. I really do think that I just was not paying attention, and leaned back when I got in. Tomorrow will be the moment of truth when I have to drive to PT again. I honestly felt so much better before I started PT. I can hardly wait until my muscles strengthen and return to normal. My hips and SI area really ache! The lumbar support sounds like an excellent idea. I just pray that I can make it tomorrow. O:)
  • Ann, so how long total is your weaning process suppose to be? Mine was only two weeks. I am wondering if that was too fast. My upper back and SI joints are killing me. I went to PT today and got a little upper back massage, a tease massage I would call it =P~ . I am getting a full hour on Thursday. I am trying to figure out which exercise is aggravating my SI's, or if it is just all of it combined. I am thinking it may be the all important pelvic tilt and bridges they have me doing. I do so want to get strong and feel better. Two weeks ago I was feeling pretty great, now I am doubting my return to work. My YMCA pool is broken still, so no aquaPT for me, and I think that was really helping. I have been looking for a new pool, but no where else keeps it 93 degrees, most are like 85, which is cold for water. Anyhoo, I am so glad we can compare notes. I am sure you will do fine tomorrow. Just remind the PT of the new issues and take it easy. I am still thinking about trying my chiro, but trying to put it off until I get the massage at least. I think I am too tight to adjust right now anyway. Have a great Monday, >:D< Sue
  • My NS gave me four weeks to wean off of my brace. I know what you mean about the upper back and SI joints. I cannot even begin to do the pelvic tilt and bridges yet. The PT asks, and just attempting it causes pain. I could not do these before the surgery either, during the four months of PT earlier this year. One of the exercises that bothers me are the leg slides, where both knees are brought up, and then you slide one leg completely down and then back up into the bent knee position. I am feeling exactly the same as you. I felt great before the PT. I really wish I knew when I would reach the point where I no longer felt the PT pain. I know its a long process, and everyone says that with PT you feel worse before you get better! Two weeks ago I was walking up to my school and actually teaching a couple of classes and spending the afternoon so that I could build up my stamina. Today I walked up to the school, and could hardly last one class. I could barely make the five minute trip back home. It is such a bummer!
    I sincerely doubt that I can return to teaching full time and keep up with the PT, too!

    Hang in there...I know where you are coming from!
  • Just to update my situation, I iced and heated, and the pain did not return. I rested over the weekend, and felt so much better. I am so happy that we have a site like this to share our problems. Also, I am now out of my brace except when I drive...which I still hate! However, I took the suggestion of using the plastic bag on the seat, and boy did that make a difference.

    Thanks for all of the help!
  • there is a seat inset called a "backfriend" - look it up on google.

    It helps postition the seat correctly for lower backs.
    Makes my car seat better.

    Be so careful of twisting movements and those wrenching up/down's. They are killers on the weak spine!
  • Hi!

    I am on my way to google! It's worth a try. I have to get more comfortable in the car before winter arrives and I have to drive myself to school!

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