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Leg fatigue, weakness - 6 months post-surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi to everyone,

I had 3-level fusion (L3-S1) with hardware in mid-June. Periodically, I have episodes in which I feel as if I have the flu - i.e., that same kind of malaise, fatigue that comes with a viral syndrome. Feels alot like nerve sensitivity - not pain, per se - but tiredness. This is not happening all of the time, but it sure does make life miserable when it does happen. Other than this, I am back to work FT, complete with PT, doing back exercises every day, all is good.

Anyone have this problem, and if so, any suggestions as to how I can resolve it when it occurs?

Thank you!


  • You had a BIG surgery, and even though your life is returning to normal, and you are feeling better, your body is still recovering. I imagine you had nerve compression if you required a 3 level fusion. As you have heard many times, it takes nerves a very long time to come back to life. Most people cannot believe that you are still recovering from any surgery after 8-10 months, but that is the case with a fusion. You may see signs of fusion early, but for it to be completely healed can take at least a year.

    You need to find what helps you feel more comfortable. I use a heating pad a lot, and I use the seat heater in my car a lot, even in the summer, as it feels good on my lower back, and keeps the muscles from seizing up. I don't put the heating pad on my legs where I have the pain, but on my lower back, where the nerve roots originate. I also find a warm bath comforting.

    Do you get any relief from Tylenol? There is a product called Curamin that you can find at health stores and online. I took it after my fusion when I couldn't take anything in the NSAID group. It helped a bit with my nerve pain.

    Otherwise, just try to be patient and think of it as "healing pain" that will eventually go away.
  • I would probably be going to my PCP asking for a complete physical.

    Maybe you have mono...or some other viral infection.

    Good luck to you.



  • OK, so this seems crazy maybe, but I do believe that weather changes like barometer changes affect our pain levels after spine surgery.

    Are you having cramping in your legs? That can be a symptoms of neuroclaudicatin/pseudoclaudication where the nerves in your back do not get enough blood supply and therefore make your legs feel crampy and tired. Often this can happen with scar tissue. Google it and see if it sounds like your symptoms.

    And I agree with the other poster,always good to get a good complete physical with labs and all of the things appropriate to your age. Never know, could be related to someting not about your spine at all!

    Keep us updated if you find some answers, we all like to take in every bit of information we can. Good luck!
  • I had my 2 level in July and while I am also back to work FT, and going to PT, I am also struggling with fatigue and leg cramps.

    Most of the cramping comes in my right leg, the one that is numb. The PT thinks I am dealing with some muscle atrophy from the nerve damage - but we are working on it.

    On the fatigue and daily aches - I'm sure the cold is not doing me any good, warm (no HOT) showers feel like heaven. But I just wish I wasn't getting so darn wiped out every day.
  • Are these episodes happening when you work? I find that long hours and hard work definitely stir up symptoms. I get this crampy sprained ankle feeling in my left ankle, and some sciatic type pain as well. You are still only 7 months post-op and still have a lot of time for improvement from what I have read from others here. Hope you are feeling better soon. Cali-Sue
  • Hi there Saltzy, long time no read! :D I hope you are doing as well as possible. This is definitely a long haul recovery as we can both attest to. My new motto is "once a Spiney, always a Spiney". I am beginning to think it is never over. Even with success we have to be constantly cognisant of our backs and our limitations. I just bought my own house, cleaned one bathroom, and have had sciatica for 4 days since. I was thinking of busting out the tile, but now think I had better pass on that one. Oh well, guess I need to get out the check book to get anything done. I am thankful to be working and not limping, so that is still an improvement. Hope things continue to improve for you. >:D< Cali-Sue
  • Sincere thanks to all for your responses. I do appreciate it!

    I have recently had bloodwork and physical exam - and no findings. No rhyme or reason - can happen after I work - or not. I do believe that my symptoms are nerve-related; I don't have cramping - it's more tiredness and weakness...that said, I do believe that the sensation is very much like what I experienced before the surgery - i.e., the limb weakness and fatigue that comes with spinal stenosis. Perhaps inflammation in the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve can occasionally cause this. Just glad that it is happening less frequently!

    Thanks again!

  • I had ALIF/PLIF in late July. Just this morning I was wondering why I seem to have days when I feel really exhausted and yucky - yes, it feels almost like I am getting the flu. As if my body is really heavy - especially my arms and legs. And not exactly nauseated but just not quite right. Similar to the way I felt shortly after surgery. "Malaise" is a good word for it, I think. And I can't necessarily connect it to anything I have done or activity level; maybe to barometric pressure and chilly, overcast days as I do seem to feel so much better when it is warm and sunny. But this morning I just wanted to crawl back into bed and stay there like a big lump.

    It seems hard to imagine that at 6 months post-surgery I would still be experiencing this from the surgery - but I guess it just takes your body a long time to recover and adjust. Some days when I start out feeling yucky and pooped I find that I feel much better after PT in the warm water pool. But other times I just feel more wiped out when I get out of the pool. Who knows. But I agree with saltzworks that a warm bath or shower helps a lot.

  • MSG and Salzworks,

    I am retired, and have great admiration for both of you that you are back at work already. That can take a lot out of you. I had a relatively smooth recovery, but I still get tired quite easily, even after almost nine month post-surgery. I accept it as part of the recovery process. As far as the leg cramps, I always had these, so I don't think mine have any relationship to the surgery.

    My only advice is, try to take short rest periods at work, if at all possible. Hopefully, as time goes on these problems disappear and your stamina returns.

    Best wishes to both of you,


  • Thank you both so much for your kind responses!

    Meg, not that I am glad, but it does sound as if we have quite similar symptoms. Frustrating! Strangely enough, mine went away the afternoon after I had posted, and were back !5 days later - now gone again...for now. Onward and upward!

    Wishing all the best of health!

  • One thing I just thought of - are you still taking meds? I can't blame any of my stuff on TAKING meds, but I could possibly re-think my being on Tylenol only.

    I did just start taking Melatonin (5mg nightly) again. I have GOT to get better rest.

    p.s. MEG - you and me, same days for both surgeries, we're twinners.

    p.p.s. Hi Cali-Sue - love and miss ya :) (but I've promised Kinpain to be around more
  • I take tramadol from time to time, but less and less frequently. I don't think there's a connection with meds (good point, though!)....

  • Thanks for providing very good information was using serelax to cope with fatigue now will follow your also..thanks
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