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Almost 1 year out from L1-S1 Fusion...still have pain

lmacleanllmaclean Posts: 16
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have not posted in awhile. I had surgery in February 09, one level interbody lumbar fusion at L1-S1 with titanium cage, rods and screws. The original pain is gone and I am able to work out with no pain, but I can't stand for more than 15-20 minutes without extreme pain. I get extremely stiff and I feel like there is a brick in my back. As soon as I go sit down, the pain goes away. Could this be from the hardware or scar tissue? I have not been back to the surgeon since my 3 month post-op. He said only come back if I am having problems. I do plan to make an appointment to go back and see him. has anyone else experienced this?


  • Linda,

    Make the appointment. It might be the hardware catching on the muscles in your back.

  • Make the appointment - what you describe does not sound normal. I'm almost one year out from ALIF same level and (almost afraid to say it outloud) doing great.

    I've heard some TLIF / PLIF patients have hardware out after the level fuses, may be a question to ask.
  • Yup, go see your surgeon. I'm surprised he didn't see you again @ 6 or 9 months...when was your last x-ray/MRI? Maybe either of those could show what's causing you the pain. Mine showed scar tissue & other stuff around the hardware & the whole epidural areas...hence the on-going pain for me, now almost 2 years out. I have a mess in there.
    Could also be hardware issues. MY NS offered to take mine out, as he thinks most of my pain is hardware interfering w/ muslces, etc. but I'm putting that off---maybe forever---maybe not, but not just now...
    I "get" the brick...I always say it feels like a "brick w/ a banana clip around it". And stiff, yes. But stiff could be good, may mean you're fused.
    Anway, call him. At least you'd know more then & could plan how to deal/live w/ it.
  • Thanks for all the replies. The last time I had an XRAY was the last time I saw my surgeon which was 3 months post op. I scar easily so I probably have a mess as well in there. Not to mention I donated 60% of my liver to my husband 3 years ago which means I have a lot of scar tissue in the front as well.
  • ...could show if there's scar tissue in there binding things down, esp any nerve roots, etc. Scar tissue in and of itself doesn't hurt; it's what it gets attached to, that's the problem. And if you scar easily (I also do--my incision is like a keiloid) you could be manifesting some signs of increased fibrosis as you heal. Some people produce more scar tissue than others..sort of like ear wax, etc. If your body does this, there's not much to do about it, as surgery to remove it often helps temporarily, but it grows back anyway. In fact, my OR report stated that my NS removed a lot of "epidural fibrosis" from my 2 priors while he was doing the fusion---yet it all returned, I think even more than b4.
    You doc can advise you. Someone told me about some enzymes to take--I think it's serapeptase or something--to help it from building up. I took some for awhile but it was $$ and didn't seem to make a difference. A PT therapist also suggested fascial-release massage & after I showed fusion, I had a few of those, to help break up the tissue & make it less stiff & binding. That did help, a little.
    Find out if that's what it is & you can go from there.
    Yes, a "mess" is what it is. In so many ways...
    Please enjoy the holidays, tho...we still have so many things to be thankful for.
    Off to dinner & church later now. Holiday Blessings to you Linda, and all my spine pals...I'd be lost w/o you all!
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I'm surprised he released you at 3 months since often they want to monitor to make sure the fusion is progressing at 6 months and then again at 12 months.

    You shouldn't have that much pain when standing. I'd think you'd maybe, if anything, have just a little pain if you stand in one place for too long (longer than 30 minutes). So maybe it is scar tissue, bone spurs, or muscle issues.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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