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New Back?Side?Pelvic? Pain - Any Ideas?

Jan MartinJJan Martin Posts: 164
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I’m 9 weeks out from lumbar fusion. I’ve been very happy with my progress, but…. for the last 2 weeks or so I have been experiencing a strange new pain. It has begun to wake me up each night in the wee hours of morning. Changing positions in bed does not help. The pain is deep inside the space under my left pelvic/hip bone and I feel stabbing in my lower left abdomen. Sometimes I think it feels like a muscle spasm and sometimes more like a stabbing pain. It is quite severe. Once meds kick in, there is some relief. It is so much worse in the middle of the night/early morning, it’s not nearly as painful through the day. Occasionally it will creep up during the evening. I searched for previous posts and didn’t see anything similar. I don’t know if this is a post surgery complaint or some other medical thing I should have checked out (female? gastro?). If I do call a doctor, who should I call – PCP or surgeon? I was wondering if anyone can relate to this and has advice about where to go to start figuring this one out.


  • Hi Jan,

    Were your herniations on the right side? If so, could you possibly be favoring the surgery side and overusing the muscles on the left? I'm not sure of your age, but, if you're at the mid point of your cycle, pain such as you describe could be from ovulation. Lastly, have you had any problems moving your bowels lately? I'd try primary first since they have a better overall picture of you as a patient.

    Hope this helps ~
  • Anytime you have issues with your back or relating to it, I would call my surgeon. He is the one that knows what he/she did and what is normal. Thats my opinion. I have made calls, and never felt out of order. My otho wants me to call him first. Hope this helps. Love, Robin
  • I think I have been reluctant to address this since I've been lucky so far with my recovery. I know weird pains can pop up after fusion and keep telling myself that's all it is. I think I probably need to rule that out. I thought I remembered someone referring to this kind of feeling on a previous post but danged if I can find it. Part of me is avoiding the possibility of something else going on. After all, I'm having too much fun recuping from spine surgery. :)
  • I have started PT. As soon as I started reading your post I immediately thought of the pelvic raises - lie on floor, knees bent, raise pelvis upward - that I was instructed to do. They have been quite difficult and are really the only exercise that I seem to have trouble with, it's hard to get the beginning movement started. Now that I think about it, PT and the pain began about the same time. I wonder...

    Your ideas about changes in posture relating to the new pain make sense too. I'm working hard to keep it correct and I have to remind myself that I don't need to favor my right leg anymore and that I can stand up straight. There is truly quite a difference in the way I stand and sit - several friends have commented on it. There's got to be some changes going on that I hadn't thought about.

    I'm going to put a call in to the surgeon and ask a few questions and also discuss this with my physical therapist. I'm going to keep better track of my activities and specific pain episodes to see if I can pinpoint some connections. I'll keep in mind a call to my PCP may be in order if I notice any other issues that you mentioned. It's hard to know since there are so many "parts" in that area.

    Thank you for your input. Your responses are always thoughtful and informational. I really enjoying reading your posts.
  • How are you doing by now? Is the pain any better?

    I'm looking for an update in your progress!


    P.S. Could you go back to teaching at three months??
  • It is better, thanks Gwennie. I think it was the result of the exercises I was doing. I backed off and have been adding them back in one at a time to see iwhich, it any one in particular was causing it. Whether or not it was the stretching or not, it is better.

    I'm right at 3 months post-op and although some days I feel pretty good, there are some days that kick me in the tookus. I have one more month of leave and I am so grateful that I did not have to return to work as soon as I thought I would. I am nervous about going back. Someone else started my classes so they're not mine and the kids and I will all have a big adjustment, not to mention getting caught up on all the admin. issues, changes in procedures, etc from last year. I'm also concerned about fatigue and pain. I've learned my lesson, well sort of. I over do it now and then and really pay for it. I've been doing water therapy for a couple of weeks (which I love) and start regular therapy this week and of course I am walking but it is nothing compared to being on your feet all day at school. Thanks for asking Gwennie.
  • Be sure to be careful with PT. If they ask you to do something that you just know is going to aggravate something, speak up. I discontinued PT after a couple session and waited another month to start up again.

    I know some people just do whatever the therapist asks of them, and then live to regret it. There is such a fine line to doing just enough to stretch yourself beyond what you can do so you improve, and doing too much and causing a flare. I still have trouble finding this balance any time I try to do something as mundane as cleaning the house. I can only work about a half hour -- any longer and my back aches for days. But then I was never able to build up my walking due to the continued compression of the nerve...so my recovery has not been on a "normal" trajectory...whatever that means. @)

  • Have you started any new activities or exercises? Are you in PT yet? It looks like you had quite a lot done in one surgery...anytime you are working around the lower lumbar area, there are many possibilities for new pain. The pelvis is so intricately tied into the lower spine -- various soft tissue, muscles, ligaments, etc. that it is sometimes hard to sort it all out.

    I guess you want to rule out that it might be something else that might be in your intestines, ovaries, bowel, colon, etc. but I think I'd check in with your surgeon first. He would know from your description if it might be a femoral artery, or psoas muscle or something like that.

    You may find while you are healing that the slightest change can result in muscle imbalances, etc. I have spent the last nine months working on postural things...really learning many new body mechanics, breaking some old habits...simple things like always crossing one leg over the other, standing with more weight on one leg and foot, with the other slightly turned out, etc.

    When I was in PT after my fusion, the gal I worked with had special training in using biofeedback for pelvic floor dysfunction and it was there than I learned how much all of this is tied together. Sometimes what is perceived as lower back pain caused by a disc herniation, is actually stemming from weak pelvic floor muscles. We know that if the pelvis is tipped too far forward or backward, it can affect the muscles in the lower back, throw off posture, can result in knee pain, etc.

    I just mention all this to illustrate that the new pain may be somehow tied into your new posture. Don't forget that you had a grade II spondy and it has been corrected to some extent, resulting in all the soft tissue having to get accustomed to a new position too. Probably some ligaments are being stretched out that were used to being shortened, etc.

    Unfortunately most surgeons aren't all that concerned about soft tissue problems and don't seem all that interested in body mechanics and how the body moves and is all inter-connected. I had to learn about this elsewhere.

    Anyway, hope this gives you some fresh ideas to think about and maybe suggest to a doctor, if need be.

    Hopefully it is something simple that will just kind of resolve on its own as your body gets used to its new position.

    Let us know what you find out.

    Hang in there -- just a little bump in the road....
    xx Gwennie
  • I would stay in the pool all day if they would let me! I will be very cautious next week when I start "land" therapy especially after that last round of pain issues. I understand what you mean about finding that balance. Once I get started on something, it tends to turn into a much bigger production than I orignially intend and I pay for it. Today is a great example. We had friends over for dinner last night so I did my best to clean up the house some, go to the grocery store, and fix dinner. I could barely move by the time they got there. Didn't know whether or not I would be able to get out of bed this morning. I guess that's why I'm sitting in my recliner on such a beautiful day.
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