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6 year post-op anterior/posterior fusion-chronic pain and med issues

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Pain Management
I am 39 and have degenerative disc disease- had first surgery at age 18 in 1987- then 2 lamonectomies with nerve root decompression and re-routing in 98-99, and finally,3 level anterior and posterior fusion with bone grafts taken from iliac crest, titanium cages, pedicle hooks, screws and plates in 1 very long surgery in 2001 and 1 year later yet another anterior fusion with another bone graft taken from the other side- as well as more pedicle hooks, screws and plates implanted...this is all relating to L4 L5 S1...all lower lumbar- I can say that considering the horrific condition that my spine is in- that all surgeries went fairly well- no complications- etc...I was told that due to the fact that this is all degeneration- not injury based that I should expect further surgeries in my future. My question is two-fold:
First, I would like to know if others who are this many years post-op and have had the amount of surgery I have had- continue to have chronic pain. If so, to what degree? What meds are you taking for long term pain management? I am under the care of a pain management Dr., and have been taking Methadone for PAIN MANAGEMENT 40mg a day. I recently increased to 40mg from 30mg after several years. I had been taking Norco-10 for about 8 years pretty regularly as well- most recently for breakthrough pain-with the methadone- but it has come to the point that the hydrocodone does absolutely nothing but make me irritable and yucky feeling-so I quit taking it-also concerned about the long term affects on my liver. I am feeling like the Methadone works really well- but need something for days when breakthrough pain is not tolerable. Can anyone suggest what works for them as far as something for hydrocodone tolerant person looking for immediate relief when experiencing "bad days"...I am happy to stay on the methadone- and after taking many different meds over past years- this has been most effective for me for my "base" medicine.
Secondly: I have a rider on my lumbar region for my health insurance...and am self-pay when it comes to back issues. I had a CT Scan last week and paid cash- I was given my own set of films- but the radiologist refused to give a report because my insurance was not covering CT- which I paid for myself anyway...my pain Dr looked at scan and said, "you have a solid fusion"- and that is not my concern. My concern is that I wonder if my pain is a result and by-product of my surgery and disease? Or do I have something else going on in there? I suspect that it is a bit of both- and will likely take my scans to Spine Surgeon one of these days. I would like to know what types of pain (if any) other patients similar to me experience now- several years post op. I have essentially four types and regions of chronic pain or discomfort-not one specific- I work from home and sit at a computer- and it takes its toll... I also have chronic left hip pain- that is worse when getting up from sitting to standing- also after touching the area where my grafts were harvested-(iliac crest region)- it will burn for a week- constantly.
I am aware that I eventually need to see a specialist- but really would like to hear from anyone who has been through a similar situation- because Dr's know from a medical standpoint - but only those who have endured this type of pain and suffering can truly KNOW... Any input would be greatly appreciated.


  • Welcome to SH :H Sorry you have been through this at a young age. I have only had 2 back surgeries with no relief, and the last one was a TLIF/laminectomy with the titanium rods, screws, etc. I have severe DDD too and understand how painful it is. I go to a pain specialist for my medications and I've been on Fentanyl 75 mcg patches and Norco 10/325. The Norco doesn't seem to be as helpful as they once were and I have been on them for a couple of years already. Have the doctors talked about a neurostimulator with you? I have the option of having one implanted sometime in the future for the chronic back and sciatic pain. It's nice to have you here and I look forward to reading your posts. Take care :)
  • there was some discussion of the fentanyl patches last visit- but my Dr stated that really the patches and methadone serve same purpose for the long-term pain relief- basically he asked me what I wanted- but I had just been on a rant to the nurse about hating norco- and really- I do... I feel much better after quitting it (180-240 month) a few months ago. I just stopped- no taper- quit- and there was no difference at all.
    there has also been discussion about pain pumps and other implants/stimulators- but at this point am ok with my PM routine now- just looking for a good alternative to the norco-10 for breakthrough...I prefer to just take my methadone- but as we all know- sometimes it is necessity to take a breakthrough pill-
    after 20+ years of severe back issues- I have very high pain tolerance- even my PM dr stated that he was in shock by the condition of my spine and the low level of meds I was on for the severity of my issues- it was a very good feeling to hear that. I am glad to find this site-it is bettersweet to find others who can relate-after a lifetime of frustration-
  • I don't know why the radiologist wouldn.t give you a copy of your notes of your CT scan. You are entiitled to them by law. He or she probably thought you would get them from the doctor who ordered the scan. Have the doctor who ordered the scan send you a release form and fill it out. They may charge you for postage and the cost of photocopying (I'm serious) but they will send you a copy of the radiologist;s report within 30days or they can be fined.

    I take Dilaudid as my short-acting drug. I tend to get very nervous and panicky from most narcotics and this is the only one that doesn't bother me. i don't know why (or why not). Dilaudid doesn't have any Tylenol-like ingredient so it isn't hard on your stomach but docs are generally loathe to prescribe it because it is thought to be very strong.

    Sorry to hear you have so many problems with your back. You'll find many friends here, Susan
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