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9 months later and ticked off! It's an unsolvable puzzle

FormerfireFFormerfire Posts: 148
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Exercise and Rehab
Hi everyone :) Hope this wont be toooooo much of a whinge.

After l5S1 surgery in May 08 i have been in rehab (lol)...not. Really they massage my back to try and get rid of the back spasms.

Then they tried Pilates which seriously caused my back to go biserk.

So since sep they have been giving me core exercises (really really little TA ones) but basically trying to get rid of the spasming. My Quadratus lumborum (big back and butt muscle) overcompensates for my surgery site apparently.

I ran out of cover and got sick of the pain so went on valium. It fixed the spasms really nicely, so then we discovered the real pain is STILL the surgery site. The joint has totally seized up. So I got given some exercises to loosen it (as well as hard prodding and massage) and I could hardly move for days. So PT backed off that and just did ultrasound for a while.

Now, in response to the mobilisation attempt of this joint the inflammation must have irritated my nerve that feeds the muscles around the side of my hip so that i have bursitis in the hip joint. It feels like bone grinding on bone and as if i am 100.

Does anyone know what I am talking about? Have you had the same? How did you fix it?

I just want to know this will get better.

On the bright side I have hired a treadmill to make sure i can get all the walking in i can (so i havent given up....just mad).

And i am so doped out on Valium i just want to sleep all the time...not good for work or the kids.



  • There are a couple of us who have had problems with hip pain/SI joint pain following surgery - we are still seeking answers but have stumbled on a couple of possibilities. There are a few posts on this site about this but it basically has to do with slight pelvic rotation that affects the piriformis and hip flexors. Do you also have pain in the buttocks or groin on the side that hurts?
  • Hi megb, i have the normal glut spasm pain but nothing in the groin. Its more on the outside of my hip/leg joint and if it really bugs me it goes down the front of my thigh as well. You can actually see the bursa sac puffed out on the side (gross).

    The PT thinks the seizing up of my L5S1 joint (and maybe l4 now) is somehow causing the nerve that feeds that joint or bursa to get irritated resulting in the muscle spasm causing compression on the bursa and inflammation (or something like that). Its on the opposite side to surgery too.

  • Sometimes I think the hardest part of this whole recovery thing is the frustration of not being able to find answers to these puzzles - it is truly stressful!

    I tried all kinds of things for the pain on the outside of my hip - ultrasound, PT, injections - to no avail. Finally, a week ago I went for acupuncture and it has helped immensely! I have gone from pain after walking for about 12 minutes - or sometimes much less - to very little pain even when I walk more than 30 minutes. Not perfect, but so much better. I have had only 2 acupuncture sessions but am keeping my fingers crossed!

    If you find something that helps please let us know!
  • To a buddy in the land down under!
    Do you recall my post about gluteal muscles?Mine still are causing pain.I used to have a very intense pain in my right hip.The infection damaged my right para spinal muscles badly.In response to the pain,my pelvis shifted,had muscle atrophy in my right leg.Hip pain radiating to the front of my thigh is still present,but way better.Stretching and exercising them glutes.I pay special attention to G.Medius.
    My wife massages them almost every night.Along with a hot shower or jacuzzi,massage helps immensely.I went thru my PT with pain.Guess it's part of the game.Gym sessions still hurt,but it's getting better.I see improvement in range of motion,strength,stamina.All the good things that we long about...
    What I am trying to say is,arm yourself with patience and persistence.It might take some time but it would get better.Hope you feel better already!

  • Thanks Gogo and Meg

    I would have to say i am getting worse not better. BUT i know there has to be an answer.

    The PT is guessing that at the scar level or possible one higher there is inflammation that is aggrevating the nerve that feeds the muscles on my hip and they are doing whatever they are doing (contracting probably who knows) and giving me the pain. The bummer is my whole spine feels very very weak, my sciatic pain in initial leg is back.....

    i see surgeon again on Thurs so hoping for a scan and injection. The PT wont let me do any exercise (so no effective rehab) till I get this under control.

    But I am doing those glute stretches....lots of stretches.
    Thanks for all your replies, just nice to know there are others out there - with answers :)

    Hope you are doing better Gogo....my friend
  • Did they find the cause of your hip pain? It seems to me that unless they fix these causes we will just keep chasing the overcompensating parts of our body that keep causing pain.
  • I hope the injections help some. I had injections in my shoulder when I had bursitis from a subluxation and they helped a bit but I needed surgery eventually. I was also on valium for 9 months for a whiplash injury and helped and I was even able to work taking valium once I got used to it. I hope you get some relief soon. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thanks Charry, I dont think they will inject the busitis area but the back joint causing the problem leading to the bursitis............i think?
  • Hi,

    I just saw a new PT this last week and he believes all of my pain is related to very, very tight external hip rotators. Apparently, they try to compensate for lack of stability/strength in my other hip and ab muscles and thus all are in pain. (I hope I am describing this correctly - I think that is the essence of what he said.) He gave me some simple exercises - stretches for the external rotators and strengthening for other muscles - to do at home. He also showed my husband how to use his elbow to massage the muscles in my left buttock - that really helps and when my husband is not available I use a "thumper" kind of massager that also helps.

    The other thing I did that has really helped is to get acupuncture for my hip. It has eased the pain enough for me to walk better and I can even go up the stairs without that bone-on-bone pain feeling. After 2 sessions I was amazed at the difference. The PT suggested I go ahead with that as necessary as it will give me relief while I work on the muscle problems.

    I hope you find something soon that works for you!

  • There is a massage tool called a theracane that you can find at one of those back stores or online that is very helpful for working on trigger points, and areas such as you describe. It looks like a small shepherd's hook with a couple spokes that come out from the straight part. They have knobs on the end that you use to jam into the trigger point, muscle, whatever. It is designed for you to use by yourself.

    Be sure you're drinking LOTS of water.

  • Thanks everyone....I saw the surgeon again. He is giving me 6 facet joint injections on Friday and hopefully that will knock it on the head. Then i can get these stretches and exercises happening.

    I will look into that self trigger point thing...sounds strange but interesting.

    Hopefully some good news for you soon
  • You mentionned drinking lots of water - I know it is a good idea in general but is there a specific reason to do so for this type of pain. Just curious. (I have come to realize how very ignorant I am about the body and how it works!)
  • Good luck with the facet injections, hope they work for you! I had those multiple times and they worked once. For about 4 days. The relief was absolutely amazing during that time though!!

    I do feel your pain (pun intended!) about lack of a diagnosis. I have test after test done and find very little to explain my pain. I'm guessing you are (were) a firefighter also, and know that simply treating the symptoms won't cure the problem. That alone contributes a lot to my frustration.

  • I am not sure if the news is good or bad :(

    I had 6 facet joint injections 10 days ago and got instant relief.....until the last day or two. The hip joint on the left is seizing up again and i am noticing the same weakness in my back and pain especially at night when i turn over.

    I am trying to stay positive because the relief has been great. I cannot bear the thought that this is as good as it will get.........

    Has anyone worked out this hip pain?

    I just want to exercise and get strong again.

    BUT being pain free for a week was absolute heaven :)
  • Have you had a post op MRI to see what is going on in there?
    I had horrible hip pain.I was bugging my surgeon about it every time I saw him.Finally he gave up and sent me for MRI of the hip.There was nothing wrong.It was all due to muscle imbalance and damage caused by the infection.That was exactly
    one year ago.This time last year I could barely get out of my
    bed.Walking was about 1hr/day in about 10 attempts.Now I have nearly worked that pain out.Stretching,exercising,massage,hot tub.For the first 8 weeks of PT I was still using pain meds and muscle relaxant.After 3 weeks of therapy I got rid of the cane.Walked with one for six months.
    My advise is to get a MRI to rule out structural issues.
    Then,patience and persistence must become your allies.Oh,and a good Physical therapist.
    Don't forget to let us know how you are doing,eh.

  • I had an ESI last June in my left hip(Bursae),and had immediate relief.My hip was inflamed and VERY painful at the time,and I am not a fan of ESI's after having had several in my cervical area without success~the last one actually hit a nerve-hense-the last one.I had that done the same day as the one in the hip-what a day too-was I sore-lol.My Dr doesn't do these ESI's with sedation as I've read so many of the others getting,but only an injection of novacaine first to numb the area--one shot of novacaine,are you kidding me..I've had several shots for a filling at the dentists office.This was a huge needle(well-bigger than normal-lol)going into my neck !

    Anyway,to get back to the matter at hand..the ESI really did help my hip.It was like magic,and I often refer to it like that because I limped into the hospital and I walked out without the limp.Honestly.

    Does your hip ache severely if you try to lay on that side in bed,even the other side radiates the pain over to that hip in a couple minutes-does getting in & out of the car feel embarrassing because it's so painful and takes longer than usual? I know how you feel-I felt like I was an old woman.

    I hope you get relief for that soon,the bursae can be pretty painful when it's inflamed.
  • Thanks for your support guys.

    I went to the GP today and he said its bursitis in the left hip (he doesnt think its related to my back but I reckon its all tied in - and I am learning to trust me lol).

    He said it will take a year to go away at which point I replied that that is completely 'unnacceptable' advice. Then he told me to walk like Charlie Chaplin (yeah right). Having ignored those jems of info he sent me to get another injection, this time into the hip bursa.

    No instant relief this time.......hopefully it works.

    It is as you say Robin, bone on bone seizing pain and at night a cannot sleep on that side, and even the other side still puts pressure on it.

    I am off the valium and all medication now as well.

    I see the PT again tomorrow. I am not sure whether I am supposed to avoid PT till it settles (i think that is the usual recommendation) or not. Guess i will find out tomorrow.

    My PT wanted a post op scan but the neurosurgeon didnt want to do it. I may go back to the dr and get him to refer me to one, even if only purely for peace of mind. :)

    sorry this was so long
  • I hope the injection in the hip bursa works for you - please let us know! After my first success with acupuncture for the hip pain I was so excited - then it came back after I walked on the beach, squatted for quite a while cleaning baseboards etc. etc. Back to Acupuncture and this time it took 6 treatments before I got relief - but right now (knock on wood) my hip pain is pretty much gone. (Strangely enough the acupuncture also really aggravated my pelvic and abdominal area for several days making it achy and crampy - this happened the first time too. Weird.)

    I have, however, wondered about an injection so please let us know how you are doing!
  • Hi Meg

    The hip injection was not as good as the facet joint injections i had.

    After a day it felt heaps better and I could walk and sleep without the pain. However I have got awful heartburn and nausea from it (about a week later) and then to make matters worse the pain has gradually come back. I cant walk up stairs and it catches when i get in and out of the car. I can sleep on it at the moment, but it is definitely causing me grief. This would be my 4th burst of bursitis since Xmas.\

    I was thinking of going and trying the accupuncture :(

    I am pretty sick of whining about it all, but I am over the endless move,ent of the problems lol. (It would be ok if i was 80...........but im not).

    Let me know how you go, and what you decide.
  • Hi -
    My hip stuff was slowly getting a bit better from the combo of acupuncture and the very mild exercises my new PT gave me (he said it would take MONTHS to really improve). Then I seem to have contracted some kind of nasty stomach virus that lasts and lasts - like 10 days! I am just starting to feel human again but can tell that 10 days with almost no food and less exercise has really set me back. I feel weak as a kitten. So, I start over with the exercise thing.

    I hope you are doing better and getting some relief. I forgot to ask - have you tried TENS?


  • Sorry to hear that Meg. That's the last thing you needed!

    I haven't tried TENS....you can get your own now can't you? I think it used to be just at PT. I will look into it definitely.

    I am pretty frustrated. I am regressing at a fast rate. The bursitis is bugging me, but to make matters worse i now have sciatic pain in both legs again, which is worrying me. I am paranoid that the disc that is left has moved out to the left this time. I saw GP and he is very reluctant to get me a scan because he says i have had too many xrays??? Hmmmmm...... I told him I just want to know what exactly is happening. I do not want to find out that it is doing something and I could fix it, in other words i dont want it all over again but on the other side. I think he thinks I am a hypochondriac......gee, all i want is to be stronger again.

    BUT - hubby came home and said he could cheer me up. A man at his work has 3 discs like mine and they are apparently inoperable. So I have been put in my place and am very thankful that I do not have anywhere near as much trouble as some people. Good for me to remember :)

    I hope your stomach has settled down.
  • Well, I know what you mean about feeling like the doctor might think you are being a hypochondriac - I feel that way every time I go. Maybe I just fell like I am sounding like one! But it is really a pain to almost always feel lousy and like things are getting no better - and maybe getting worse! Like you, I just want answers!
  • Well out of desperation I went and saw a chiropractor today who took a detailed history and full back xrays.

    She seems to think that my L5S1 herniation was caused by pressure on the discs because of a twisted pelvis! This would also be responsible for my bursitis. She seems very thourough and didnt crack anything - she wants to make sure she has got the diagnosis right. But she said if i didnt fix this chances are another disc will go because it puts more pressure on the Lower back.

    I am SO glad to hear this, as i have sciatic pain in both legs now and was worried i might have slipped the disc out to the left this time. MAYBE - i have finally found an answer and someone who can help. This would explain why pt hasnt helped yet too.
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