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Lower back pain two years after spinal fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Lower Back Pain
Has anyone experienced lower back pain after spinal fusion and removal of all hardware? It has been two years since my spinal fusion and I have had all my hardware removed. I am having similar pain in my lower back when sitting and driving as I did before surgery.


  • I had a one level fusion L5-S1 (with laminectomy) 12/19/06. I always made a point of insisting I did not have back pain. The pain was only in my legs. Now, two years later, I am having low back pain. It just started a month ago. I have no idea what's going on. I don't know if this helps you at all or even relates to your circumstance. Susan.
  • make an appt. with my surgeon - I was supposed to go for a follow up after last surgery and held it off. Hopefully he will order an MRI. The pain is not so bad that I can't handle it but it is frustrating because I have been feeling so great this far and now it feels like I'm back where I started
  • Two weeks after the surgery I was having a weird sensation down my leg and when I went for an MRI it showed that the screw on the left was migrating away from the bone so he removed it. Then this past Feb. I was having consistent pressure on the right side of my lower back and another MRI showed that the tissue was growing over the hardware so he removed that. I had many nerve issues after the fusion and was hospitalized four times on morphine. No drugs helped. I had two nerve blocks two days apart and it was the only thing that relieved the nerve pain in my foot
  • I had L5/S1 fusion on 7/1/08 and I started having low back pain a couple of months later and worse nerve pain down butt, legs and hips only now it's both sides instead of just the right. My ortho says everything looks ok and that nothing shows I should be having this pain. Ok, so I am just making all this up ~X( Why would I do that? Anyway, I hope you find out what is causing your pain. Get to your doc and get a new MRI and let us know how you make out. It is so frustrating to go through the surgery and all the pain and stress from recovery just to have the pain all over again. I keep wondering why I went through with this surgery. I know have numbness and the pins and needles feelings in my feet and legs which I never had before so now I think I am worse off. I am being "forced" to go back to work in 15 days due to financial reasons.

    I wish you the best of luck and take care of yourself. I understand your frustrations and am here to offer support.
  • It's been six years since my fusion and started having low back pain and difficulty sitting, same as before my fusion. Still have my hardware. Have had two steroid injections which have not helped. Was going to have radioactive lesioning to block nerve but hardware is in the way. Shall I suggest hardware removal or does someone have another suggestion? I am seeing the pain clinic at Mayo and think I should be seeing a neurologist instead. Thanks for any advice. Can't believe I am once again in this situation.
    Janet S. said:
    Has anyone experienced lower back pain after spinal fusion and removal of all hardware? It has been two years since my spinal fusion and I have had all my hardware removed. I am having similar pain in my lower back when sitting and driving as I did before surgery.
  • hardware removed and I can honestly say after hardware removal last year I felt better than after the fusion. Not sure why I am re-experiencing this same pain again.
  • I am still having severe back pan 11 months after my surgery. I had a 360 spinal fusion at L5/S1. They went in thru my stomach & my back, put in hardware & took bone from my hip to put in the space that they removed the disc from. The pain was not too bad about 3 months ater surgery, but it has been getting increasingly worse. I am as bad if not worse off than I was before the surgery. The doctors keep saying everything looks good, but than why am I in such awful pain. I am missing work becacuse of it. This is my 2nd surgery. I had a laminectomy discectomy in 2002. within 3 months my disc had rehernaiated.
    Anyone that has had this surgery and is still having pain, i'd love to hear about it. I am at wits end and dont know what to do anymore. ~X(
  • I also have pain following fusion and hardware removal. The pain is not similar to my pre-operative pain but is still bothersome. The pain didn't occur until about 6 months post surgery.

    I had AP fusion L4-S1 in 9/07 and hardware removal in 9/08 eliminated almost all my pain but it still persisited in the lower left side of my back. I personaly attribute the pain to either scar tissue or muscle issues and have found GREAT relief from ultrasound massage. Have you tried this?
  • Hi everyone, i'm new to this site. my history is ruptured L-5 S-1 disc on mothers day 1997, discectomy in jan of 1998 did good for a couple of years, then my vertibre collapsed with bone spurs and calcified disc pressing on the S-1 nerve. Fusion surgery in feb of 08. did good until august, started feeling sharp pains in left side, continued to get worse, doctor ordered pt. that made it much worse. now am in chronic pain all the time. a mri showed epidural fibrosis surrounding the nerve. they are doing a neurofornimal epidural shot on tuesday but they said it won't help the scar tissue for it is a hard substance. but we are trying anyway. from what i understand there's not much that can be done. pretty frustrating. thanks for listening.

  • Hi Janet, I hope you are feeling better. I've had more back pain that I'd ever had following my fusion on L4 in Sept. 2004. But finally after a yr or more, my left leg pain almost completely disappeared. Then in Feb. of 2007 I fell from a ladder, mssing a step and my Dr. says he doesn't think my fusion took. Personally, I think I had a weak fusion and now it's broke...no doubt about that...for, at times I have that horrible old left thigh pain again that I've had for nearly 30 yrs. Mine all began when I was pregnant with my 2nd son. That son is now 34 yrs old. I really thought my prayers had finally been answered when this Dr. told me my back was unstable and I needed a fusion. I didn't have a clue to what pain I'd be going through following this surgery and during recovery. So now, he says I need a 2 level fusion because L 3 is in really bad shape. Here I am almost 1 yr later and I'm still hurting; but, can't talk myself into having this done again! Some days I can hardly be up at all...back pain will let you walk most of the time; but, not that leg pain. I wish this hardware was out too...but, it's just as bad of a surgery to get it out as to put it in, isn't? So sorry about all your pain too! I checked on having a micro type fusion; but, was told I wasn't a good canidate
    Love and God Bless, Anorman
  • I am new to the site and posted this twice as I really need some help/insight for people with failed back surgery (pseudoarthrothis) I had a lumbar fusion at L5-S1 a little over two years ago. I sustained a back injury 22-years ago while doing squats and have lived with the pain ever since. Finally, unable to stand it I had the lumbar fusion. I have continued to experience severe back pain and recently was diagnosed as suffering from pseudoarthrosis by a neurosurgeon. (My orthopedic surgeon that did the fusion never mentioned the non-union.) The neurosurgeon says I need to have another fusion, this time much more involved - more risks, more possible complications, etc. He says his success rate is 90%.
    My pain management doctor says such repair surgeries actually have more like 40-50% success rate and says I should only submit as a last resort. Four weeks ago he did ESIs over two days from L3 all the way down to S1. Fairly high dose of steroids in an attempt to deal with the pain aggressively. Some relief.
    I am at a loss at what to do and frankly am beginning to think this is just my lot in life. (Prior to surgery I tried chiropractic, decompression, massage therapy, injections, physical therapy, acupuncture, stretching program, heat/cold packs, etc.)
    Now I have developed severe pain, tingling and numbness in both feet - primarily on the bottoms of my feet, hurts to walk. Seeking insight from fellow pain sufferers:
    1. Anyone had the repair surgery - successful?
    2. Anyone developed pain, tingling, numbness 4-weeks after ESI's?
    3. Anyone had any success with lowering pain using some other treatment?
    I am at a loss at what should be the next step. Any insight, suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
  • I had 2 spinal surgeries. During my second one, Dr removed old hardware from lumbar area and inserted new hardware in upper levels. I have to say that my pain in lumbar area much worse after removal of hardware and my spine is less stable.
    Pain is much worse after the surgery than before and I can say that before I couldn't get up from chair or walk...

    Everyone is very different and results of surgeries varies too. More levels done - usually more problems after. I thought I will go through surgery and will be like new again and can go back to "normal life".
    Did not happen for me; so far I am awaiting on test results, but according to my Doctors I need to go now to cervical and T areas to fix.

    To all: feel better please! :-)
  • Please tell me about the ultrasound massage. I also have had the same exact fusion as you and I had the hardware removed 3 weeks ago. I am still in constant pain and am serching for some relief. Also, please tell me how long after your hardware removal did it take you to feel as if it did some good. Maybe, I haven't given myself enough time to recoup but I am over the pain. I need some relief.
    Thsnk you
  • Geetings to all.

    I'm not sure what will come of posting... other than to know there are people who know what this stuff is like.

    Is it OK to give a brief history?
    I had a spinal fusion 01-28-09, L-5,-L-6,S-1 -- a little 7.5 hour surgery. I don't know all the terms, but the Drs. went in through the front and the back. The fusion was only on my left side because I still have something in the nerve where a schwannoma had supposedly been removed when I was still living in Brazil (2002).

    It either came back or was never removed, but in any case, there seemed to be greater erosion or bone loss around it, as the erosion was going down into the S-1.

    The fusion did help eliminate most of the sciatic pain that ocurred on the L side, opposite of the schwannoma. (Thank God for that!) Anyway, the problem is that I still have so much pain especially at night in the Sacro-iliac area when I lie down. So I don't sleep. And I have lost a good amount of weight. 142-5 down to 128. (The scale yesterday said 125.5, but I don't believe it)

  • I had a spinal fusion 14 years ago and I've started having a similar pain. I went to my doctor because I could feel a knot in my lower back (I almost thought it was a tumor), they suggested pilates and handed me pills. I have been doing pilates for 1.5 yrs and it helps a little, especially rolling on a firm bolster. But the pain was still bad-- until-- I had a Thai Healing Massage.

    My first session was 2 hours long, the Therapist insisted on giving it to me for free, just by taking one look at my back she knew I was in pain. after that session the ache was gone. I called my fiance as soon as I got in my car and burst into tears I hadn't felt that "normal" in so long. The ache was gone. I've been going back ever since and my quality of life has improved.

    Before you do anything drastic, try it!

    ** I still have all of my hardware, I am a fit 28 year old female, and I drink tons of water.

  • I, like you are having a hard time with the pain after having a L5S1 lumbar fusion. It has been over 10 years and I have had complications the whole time. "Lately my pain level is fairly severe and I am unsure of what to do anymore. I'm not sure if you finally got relief or not. I am hoping that you did.
  • I’m two years post still have my hardware and having pain too. I am more active the b4 my surgery so I don’t know if its that or what.
  • Anonymous said:
    Has anyone experienced lower back pain after spinal fusion and removal of all hardware? It has been two years since my spinal fusion and I have had all my hardware removed. I am having similar pain in my lower back when sitting and driving as I did before surgery.
    I still have the hardware...
  • :< Hey there. I had my surgery Sept, 2011. For about 6 months it seemed to be getting better, I started having muscle spasms that would pull my back over to my left. (Kind of a Quasimodo look) LOL. That has eased up kindof, but I also developed an uncontrollable itch on the left side that drives me crazy, becuase I cant fell me scratching. And most of the pain is back. Im never got off any of the meds and cant stay off work long enough to go on disability. Went back way too early because finances.
    I am frustrated too and dont know what else to do. And I agree with Mings that in some ways I am worse off since the surgery. I wish you the best with becoming pain free.
  • Hi All, I was just wondering if it is normal to still have some severe pain after having the fusion surgery? I had a disc collapse at L5S1 and my neuro dr inserted spacers and screws. Now my right leg is numb and I am having some pretty bad lower back pain. I am on pain killers, muscle relaxers and neurotin. It feels like I have a ball attached to the bottom of my right foot when I walk. I know this isn't normal. Hope everyone is doing o.k.
  • i had a 360 july 6 2010 my legs cramp always in pain
    nerve pain is the worst i work full time and most morn i have a hard time getting started at this point i dont know what anyone can do they almost tell me im not nuts so i cant get disabity this state that i live in sucks when people that have nothing wrong with them get it and i have to go to work every day to support my fam
  • Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of us that end up with pain after fusing the L5/S1. My first one failed - Dec 2005 - I had my second one - May 2011 - but I'm still in horrible pain almost all the time and every day. You shouldn't be hurting. Hopefully, you have a good pain management doc as that seems to be the only thing we can find that helps us. I had a permanent spinal cord stimulator impanted just over a week ago and it helps with the pain. But, I still take all the same pain meds and I could definitely use more. The SCS helps but there doesn't seem to be a "solution" to our type of pain. Keep us posted. Jerome
  • on march 9th 2011, i too had the l5s1 fusion., instead of using bone from my hip, they used an artificial disc. now, for about the last 5-6 months i've been experiencing terrible pains that run into my hips. and in the past 3mnths I've experienced this, "bendy straw" type of creaking when i move side to side... some days it doesn't matter how i move... any suggestions for pain relief? mind you, i'm only 23 and had this surgery 11 days before my 22nd birthday. i just want something to look forward to other then knowing pain is my my past, present, and future...

    what makes it worse is that I've got other things wrong with me. i had 2 wrist surgeries in December.. and in one arm the bone grew too long (meaning there will be surgery again), and in the other, after three months the bone isn't growing in.. now i'm using a bone growth simulator, and if things don't heal... then its artificial bone injections or bone graphs from there...

    the point of that explanation is maybe my body is being weird? maybe creaky isn't something you guys have experienced? if so, was there something wrong by doctors view? or is it a never ending cycle of feeling crazy? i guess when being this young and in debt for more pain but no answers its frustrating... i'm sure 2 jobs doesn't help... but anyone? any ideas? any answers?

    i read someones post about Thai healing massage... where did you go? did you have the Bendy straw creaky effect? how much do those cost?

    anyways, sorry if there was a lot of rambling... just half of the life i've lived is pain... and i don't want to have to worry that is my future.
  • I had the same thing done to my back. I tried pain pills,didnt help. The dr said to try physical therapy.I want a magical pill,there is none. PT is helping somewhat,but this is my second time. T Have you tried tramadol or ultracet? Non narcotic. Works for me. Still have some pain but,can handle it.I hope you feel better soon,and hope this helps.. harpo
  • I had the same thing done to my back. I tried pain pills,didnt help. The dr said to try physical therapy.I want a magical pill,there is none. PT is helping somewhat,but this is my second time. T Have you tried tramadol or ultracet? Non narcotic. Works for me. Still have some pain but,can handle it.I hope you feel better soon,and hope this helps.. harpo
  • Hey All just wanted to check on everyone I am still having pain 16 months after L5s1 fusion. My right leg is still numb and I still feel like I am walking on a ball. Starting to get use to it wish I didn't have to though. Now I have 6 bulging disks on top of that. Had to file for disability and I am just 46. I am still on pain killers, muscle relaxer, and nurotin. I am allergic to ultram and drugs like that and all of the nsaids. My doctor advices me not to lift over 5lbs and that's hard to do at times. She said if I wasn't careful I would wind up in a wheelchair within 2 years and I definitely don't want that. Please everyone who has had back surgery ( I have had 3) take care of your back. I have severe degenerative disc disease and was a CNA for 13 years so everyone please take care of yourself.
    Have a blessed day, Michelle J.
  • Like butterflies is not flying the sea, no one to blame
  • I had a complete fusion at L4-L5&L5-S1 in July 2010 and contracted a staph infection due in large part to an incompetent surgeon in my opinion. I lost 30lbs going from 170-140lbs when i had it completely removed 4 months later after finding a new awesome surgeon who happens to be a surgeon for T.C.U's football team. I was very fortunate to be able to get in with him. Anyways, in March 2011, once the infection was gone and I was back up to 165lbs, he did re-do the fusion but I still had alot of low back and hip pain combined with severe leg/foot nerve pain. Around november 2011, the level of back pain started becoming unbearable anytime i did so much as stand up. He said this was from the fusion healing and because i am tall& lean, when my low back muscles flexed, they would hit the hardware causing severe spasms, swelling, and more nerve pain. On april 2nd, i had the hardware removed and have only been home 2 days from hospital. I am so sore now obviously, but will keep you posted how i do as it heals. I originally injured my back in 1998 when i was only 24 years old. I worked until 2008 when i could no longer stand it and finally had to just go on disability. I currently take 80mg. Oxycontin 3x per day, 10mg. Percocet 5x per day, 350mg. Soma 3x per day, 600mg. Neurontin at bedtime, and 250mg. Nuvigil daily from being so exhausted from never sleeping more than 3hrs straight at night. What makes this so frustrating for me is the fact that i am only 37 years old, disabled, but yet i feel as if i am 80 years old most of the time!
  • that my L5/S1 fusion got denied. Granted, I am still in pain and go to a pain management dr regularly, but after reading this and so many other posts, I am beginning to t hink that surgery would do more harm than good.

    I am about to get my second round of injections and then a RA. The injections have helped, but they do not last very long...a couple of weeks max. I am hoping the RA provides more relief for a longer period of time.

    I had a 3 level cervical fusion done a couple of years ago which has not caused me one single problem. I am blessed in that area and hope to continue being pain free there.

    My lower back pain just sucks...which I think we all know. I'm not bad enough for LTD, but there are some days when going to work takes every ounce of strength I have to make it through the day.

    I am interested in the Thai massage mentioned earlier. Where do you even begin to look for someone who does that and won't hurt me? I am trying to exercise more to shed some of this lovely weight I've gained...but that is a catch 22....I'm supposed to walk but I can only walk so far before my back says ok that's enough for today! Then I end up paying for it later.

    I truly hope medical science hurries up and finds a solution for us so that we can function and feel normal again.

  • KchadwickKKchadwick Posts: 5
    edited 04/23/2014 - 6:41 AM
    I have had two fusions L4-S1. The first surgery did not work 7 mos later I have had another. My back feels frozen and I am limping on my right leg. I am unable to bend over at all and sleeping is horrible. Anyone else having same problem? I am unable to go back to work as I have an extremely stressful job where there is nor break time all day. Let me know.
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