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Pain when Standing...possible cure?

HopeforChuckHHopeforChuck Posts: 166
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I had fusion about 14 months ago--losing track--not much relief, but it is supposedly fusing fine. We have been at a loss as to what is causing my ongoing pain and I think I have some answers.

1. Sitting...the more I sit, the stronger the muscles get, the longer I can sit the next time. It should, in theory, take longer and longer, in between sitting sessions for there to be pain since the muscles used are slowly growing stronger. At first, after my surgery, I couldn't sit at all--then a little bit, a little more, now I am able to sit for a long time before serious pain.

2. Laying down--no pain at all, for the most part.

3. Walking--no pain at all, until after when I stop.

4. STANDING....here is the kicker. If I stand in one spot, I hurt. I can't stand trying to have a long conversations with people...I normally have to sit down. Standing is my worse position. But perhaps it is my worst because it is the least used--it is the least position that I "Have" to use in life. I can always avoid standing for a long time, or sit down, or whatever. With sitting, you have to work through it because you can't avoid it in life. With laying down and walking the same thing. But maybe all this time, the muscles that deal with holding up the spine in a standing position have been so underworked because I will simply avoid standing positions. Maybe I have it all wrong and I should look to work the standing position as an exercise until those muscles are strong enough to support my back.

What do you think?



  • Hey There Chuck,

    I am a fairly recent fusion patient. And I have problems with sitting and standing. My job requires long periods of sitting, so I have a desk that raises and lowers. It is almost impossible for me to stand for any length of time to relieve the period of time I have to sit. I am back off work for the time being. I hope standing gets easier.

    Best Wishes,
  • Sounds good in theory. Are you in PT at all anymore? I have a friend who had L5/S1 fusion a year ago and she complains about the same thing. She can sit without much discomfort, but she says standing for more than 5-10 minutes really hurts her. Hmmmm... I'll have to ask my PT guy. I'll have to get back to ya.

  • My fusion was 3 years ago today. What you described is exactly my situation. I can sit fine, lay down fine, and I walk 4 miles, 5 times a week. However, I cannot stand in one spot for more than a few minutes. I've had plenty of PT and have worked on my core muscles until I now have 2 pack abs, never going to be 6 pack abs again.
    According to my doctors, I had some major compression on my Cauda Equina nerves from my spinal infection in 2006 and probably have some permanent nerve damge there which is causing the standing problem.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • There are a number of reasons for pain when standing. I think all of them involve nerve compression...either from conditions like stenosis, degenerative disc disease, bulging disc, foraminal stenosis....basically anything that can result in a nerve being pinched!

    Do you find that you get any relief from pain when standing if you slightly bend forward at the waist? Do you have trouble when you are walking slowly, as when visiting a museum or art gallery, or a department store?

    I personally don't think it has much to do with your core strength...I think the nerve is the culprit. As Dick suggested, it may be damage caused prior to surgery to decompress. If so, there is a chance the nerve will heal as time passes. There might be some instability. It could be caused by a screw pressing on the nerve. The list is really quite endless.

    You are not alone in this problem. I had PLIF at L4-5 over two years ago and still have the same right leg radiculopathy I had prior to surgery. However, in my case, I cannot stand to walk either. I can go about 3 blocks before the pain sets in and I just have to sit down.

    What does your surgeon think is going on?

    Take care,
  • I had a three-level fusion and, after a year and a half, I'm finally feeling like I'm going to live. Are you getting physical therapy? Sitting is probably the worst thing you can be doing. I go to physical therapy at least once a week. I get stretched out, do Pilates, exercise ball and roller exercises. I had several major flare-ups after surgery and needed to take a medrol pack (steroids) and lots of pain meds to get the inflammation and pain down. I finally feel as though I can move well. I can walk like a woman instead of a robot again. I'm sure it will be more than a year before you feel really well again.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • It sounds like you are doing much better now - great to read.
    I hope that your recovery will continue well and that you will feel that it was worth the extremely long recovery time you have had.

    Happy Easter
  • Can't really offer you any advice except to keep strengthening your core muscles. Perhaps there's wear and tear in a couple of the other levels??

    I have the same problems with sitting, standing and lying on my back. One of my neurosurgeons said I would be left with some back pain and I'm left with level 1-3 and can cope with that most of the time. With standing, after a few minutes, I need to move slightly from side to side to relieve the pressure, and I tell people, so they don't think I'm strange.

    I've had to break up jobs at home so that I don't do too much of any one of them. Found it frustrating at first, but it's ok now. Walking relieves the pressure from too much sitting; same thing with sleeping - need to get up and walk a few laps of the patio. I'm also doing physio, but some of the exercises have caused pain, so I don't do them.

    Would be worth checking with your surgeon.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I have had back problems for a long time and have found, much as you said, that I can walk but if I have to stand still for any length of time I have pain. So when my nephew got married last Fall I was always trying to find a chair to sit in, even for a few minutes at a time, during the cocktail hour. I'm always looking around for something I can lean on, sit on, etc.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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