I had L5/S1 anterior fusion in November 2008. I had a recent CT Scan that showed a progressing fusion that led my doctor to say that I was 80 percent fused and should be feeling 80 percent better by now. I still get the same old back pain when I try to do anything. For instance, today I walked on the treadmill for 5 miles and now I am sitting here icing my back and taking pain meds. The pain is similar to pre-surgery, although I am on much less pain meds. The doctor says that alone is proof that it worked. One week, I tried to really up my activity and it literally felt like I had poured concrete in my back. When I asked him about my activity level he said I should do even more. He said he never has this issue with any patient and I was getting the feeling that he thinks the pain is in my head or caused by the meds. Actually, I hope he is right. He said my pain source was clear cut and I should be better. He said my fusion is textbook healing. I asked him why I have heard of so many others who took 6,9,12,15 months or more to have resolution--and he said that isn't true with someone with my problem--I should be better already. I also asked about those who are told they are fusing per CT Scan, only to find out later they didn't fuse. He said this happens, rarely, when it actually IS fusing early on, but then it falls apart later, thus a non-union. I hope that isn't me--but I have to say that is what feels like is happening inside. So, here are the options:
1. Maybe the meds are still messing me up. I am totally open to anything. I have kicked Oxycontin and Dilaudid, but am still on Vicodin throughout the day. The doctor said I should get off everything--go to Tramadol and Lyrica--give it a few weeks and he bets I will feel better. I would be willing to do this, but the pain is just unbearable in the morning. I may just try it though. I still question the whole pain med thing because I don't understand how that has anything to do with mechanical stiffness. I can see if it were nerve pain--but this is that same burning, stiff, bain pain, plus the nerve pain (but not like the back pain). The doctor said my pain sensors are totally messed up and it is impossible to gauge my recovery as a result. I hope he is right. Thoughts?
2. He mentioned that we should repeat the CT Scan in a few months and then if it isn't still progressing, he would go in and see if it is fusing--if it is fusing, he does nothing, if it is not, he locks down the posterior. He said it is a simple 15-30 minute operation. He was actually ready to do that operation today, based on my pain level, but backed off when he remembered I am on Coumadin for my blood clots.
3. What about activity level? I do feel like my back wants to bend--like it needs to learn how to bend again--yes, it may hurt for a while, but not bending, and being careful about movement may actually be hindering my recovery. Obviously, everything I read on this board tells me that BLT is just terrible--but at what point does that become counterproductive to not bend? He said I can't hurt it and he would even play basketball and things like this. He said activity is crucial to recovering--even these high impact sports. Is he nuts? Or am I nuts?
Well, I could write a book--but I won't--sorry this is long. Please help.