Many of us have felt new aches and pains after lumber surgery, that were never there before surgery, and which have left some of us thinking whether our surgery has failed or not and whether we will live with this pain from here on.
I am not a doctor, but I am a lumber surgery patient and I suffered from all the aches and pains after surgery (listed below) which certainly led me to believe in the early days that my surgery was a waste of time, leaving me worse off. Happily all these aches and pains resolved over time and I now live a pain-free life.
In my almost 2 years on this spine-health forum I see new lumber surgery patients experiencing similar pains as I did so it leads me to believe that there is a common set of symptoms that lumbar surgery patients might
experience in the first weeks or months after surgery. Please, however, always refer to your doctor/surgeon, if you are worried about any new pain or are in any way unhappy with how your recovery is progressing
The aches and pains which I have noticed as reasonably common in lumbar surgery patients on this site, after surgeries are:
1. Sciatic leg pain (or increased sciatic leg pain) for a period of time – usually explained as being caused by the nerve roots which exit between the lumbar vertebrae and make up the sciatic nerves being irritated/inflamed during surgery. Nerves take a very long time to heal/repair.
2. Sacro-iliac joint (SIJ) pain – on one or both sides. This is the joint between the tailbone and the hip bone and it was explained to me that fusing the lumbar spine changes the geometry of the lumbar spine somewhat, coupled with the fusing of one or more lumber joints, puts additional or new stress on the SIJ joints. http://www.hughston.com/hha/a.sacjnt.htm
3. Thoracic spine pain – this maybe is not quite so common but does appear to have cropped up from time to time and certainly I suffered it for quite some time. Again, I believe that it is due to the change in geometry of the spine due to lumbar fusion and a consequent change in posture.
In my case, the sciatic leg pain cured itself over time and I was able to manage the pain in the first month with nerve pain medication. My SIJ and thoracic pain was managed and cured by my physical therapist.
The purpose of this post is to let new lumbar surgery patients know that the pain that they are feeling after surgery might not be as a result of a failed surgery and might simply be ‘normal’ pains following that type of surgery. My comments above are based on anecdotal observations only and as I stressed earlier, always refer to your doctor/surgeon, if you are worried about any new pain or are in any way unhappy with how your recovery is progressing.
...an old timer here and ex-moderator