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What if have severe unsteadiness & pain after 3 ops??

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I have had 3x major ops since 2007,
PLIF + dynesys
TLIF + fixed rods
revision for slipped cage

I am 7 months post last surgery with steadily increasing pain. I am now on double the dose of pain killers i took before my second fusion!

My mobility is getting worse. I am so unsteady. The unsteadiness first came about after surgery number 2 when the interbody cage was later found to have crushed L4/L5 and this was unfound for 6 months, despite my numb leg and ongoing pain.
I recently had an ESI and a nerve block and although they never worked pain wise, my gait improved.
Anyone know why??
What can this mean??

I am off to a new clinic on Monday. I have waited nearly a year to be given lyrica (to see if it helps, delayed due to funding!!) and have been referred to world renowned Spinal Injuries Rehab unit BUT as yet heard nothing.

My pain is "UGLY" I take something every 2 hours now, using a pill box and noted to make sure I don't OD. It is like i am taking sweets, nothing helps. If I leave the pills, I can't move. Literally. I use heat pads.

Any help, suggestions would be lovely. Especially as to the wobble. That's just plain weird.

Thanks in advance.
I am so fed up!


  • I also am very unsteady on my feet, I have a fusion at L4 & L5. The nerves at this spot lead to the feet and legs. I am so unsteady that I use to fall a lot until I started using a quad cain. Ugly thing...but no more falls!! I do not know why I am so unsteady.
    believe me I understand your problem but do not have any answers. I did invest in a pair of very expensive diabetic shoes that have helped a lot. They are sturdy shoes with extra padding but they are expensive.($125.00)
    I have severe pain in both feet and legs below the knees. I will be getting a spinal cord stimulator implant in a few more weeks to mask my pain. It will help with my balance too, along with PT. I hope I will be able to toss this ugly cain.
    Best of luck to you. You are not alone with this problem.
    Hugsssssssss >:D<
    Patsy W
  • I didn't know that a SCS could help with balance. Perhaps I need to ask about this?
    Have any docs explanined whats happening?
  • Any ideas on why this happens pls?
  • I'll take a crack at trying to answer some of your questions. I too had problems at L4-5 and had a fusion about 16 months ago. This past Jan. I had a little surgery to clear out the foramen at L4-S1. Even though both surgeries were "successful" and I recovered beautifully, I still have about the same symptoms I had prior to the first surgery.

    I have balance problems, too and sometimes feel like I look like I am intoxicated. I'll get up out of a chair and maybe take a couple steps, and then I bump into something or look like I'm losing my balance. It is hard to explain in words. I don't know if this is similar to what you are experiencing.

    In any case the unsteady gait, or whatever you call it, is caused by the compression of that nerve. Just as this compression causes the symptoms of pain, numbness, etc., the "electrical" sensors that should be coming from the brain and giving a clear message to the muscle are not getting through, or get through intermittantly and it results in the leg not moving as you want it to. Sometimes they get through better than at other times, so sometimes you walk smoother than other times, etc.

    As I understand it, there is nothing wrong with your legs or feet per se. It's just that the electrical system that sends signals to the legs and feet, telling them how to move and how to sense things is messed up. Ideally, when the patient has surgery and the nerve is freed up and decompressed, the signal can then work properly.

    However, in some of us, even though the surgery went well, the nerve is still not working properly and some of those symptoms remain. Maybe it will repair itself with time, or maybe not and the "damage" will be permanent.

    Regarding the SCS, it is my understanding that it only affects the outer part of the nerve that controls the sensual feelings, but does not affect the inner part of the nerve that controls motion. I would assume it would not affect your problems with gait, but I do not know for sure. I would be really surprised if it helped with balance, but, again, I do not know for sure!! Ask your doctor.
  • itsalongwalk -

    I've always loved your name as it is so descriptive of the life of a spiney! What do you mean by the cage crushed L4-5. I'm wondering if this is what is happening to my hubby snce his cage has moved and he is becoming increasingly less mobile and more unsteady.

    Thanks, Terri
  • Hello Terri.
    I have mailed you specifics.

    My cage at L4 slipped immediately after surgery but was not picked up for 6 months. Immediately after my PLIF, I awoke with a numb lower leg and was really unsteady. No-one bothered to review this (hindsight is so wonderful) and I therefore assumed it was part of the package of a revision PLIF and figured my extreme pain was down to that.

    15 months later, I still walk like I am drunk. Occasionally my leg gets weakness and the numbness is slowly spreading. All the docs say is "nerve root looks clear now" and "give it time" ......But my journey commenced in 2007 and it is far from over.
    I am in so much pain and I get so annoyed being bounced from one place to another with nothing happening. I get the feeling everyone is scared to get involved....and I haven't even got stroppy yet!

    Isn't it a basic human right not to be in pain and walk like a drunk person? I mean this is 2009?

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