Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

3 weeks post ALIF/PLIF S1, L5, L4 and having EXTREME burning in left shin and calf

edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey all. I know what I am experiencing is nerve related pain. I was on tramadol after surgery, but was such a low dose compared to the 6 months prior to surgery, didn't seem to be doing much so Dr. switched me to Valtran (tilidin) and the nerve related pain i was having, which originally started as itching, then went to a feeling of bugs crawling and has not gone to a burning sensation became intolerable and i spent most of the night last night in tears because of the pain. I took 10Mg valium just to get me through the night, but that barely worked either.

I'm just wondering of anyone has experienced this sort of pain in the same area and what seemed to work for them? I've read that anti-depressants sometimes work for this type of pain.

The pain itself, seems to be expanding in area. Originally it was just a small spot, now it's going all the way from the top of my foot and heading up towards my knee and now on both sides of my leg.

Anyway - thanks in advance for anyone who can provide any insight to their similar experiences and what helped.



  • I did have pain similiar to yours! I described it as feeling like hot acid had been poured on me. It left me in tears and I would just pace and sob!

    I started neurotin and cymbalta which I was taking before surgery and was mistakenly stopped while I was in the hospital for a week.

    It really helped. I take 600 mg/day of neurontin which is a relatively low dose and 60mg of Cymbalta. Cymbalta is said to help relieve nerve pain. Neurontin can cause weight gain which is why I haven't wanted to increase my doseage, but I may need to anyway. I have an appointment with my PM doc on 6/14 to discuss....

    I had credited my pain relief to neurontin until I read your post. Maybe it was the combination....

    I am 12 weeks post op today and I do get some flare up with nerve pain due to PT. Last week I had a rough week with nerve pain in my right leg and then numbness.

    I am told to not worry, (ha!) that it is part of the process of reactivating the muscles/nerves.

    Are you going to PT? All surgeons seems to have very different opinions of if and when to go.

    I started early at just 2 weeks. Do you have any issues with the ilio inguinal nerve that runs from your hip to your groin?

    I have a lot of issues with it flaring up on my left side under my abdominal incision. My PM doc was going to do a nerve block, but the surgeon says there is too big of a risk of infection...so I have to just suck it up! :)

    Thinking of you and wishing you the best! Hang in there! I really feel for you! It does get better! Shari
  • OMG - What a great description of the pain - hot acid being poured onto your skin. that is EXACTLY what it feels like.

    I am grateful to you for responding - as I head read that epilepsy medications and anti-depressants work for this type of pain. I have another appointment with my surgeon on Monday so will have to ask him about trying this otherwise will ask my GP.

    I do have some nerve issues in my right leg also, since surgery from my groin to my knee, my whole leg is numb, almost like that Novocain feeling. As for around my stomach incision, i've had a strange feeling when i touch i since surgery, so i can definitely live with that. The surgeon said that was from the nerve endings to the skin being severed during surgery and will go away eventually, but as we know, nerves heal differently for everyone. I wish you luck with that.

    As for the PT -No I'm not doing any PT right now. I had PT in hospital, but that was just a few ankle exercises and how to bend properly and sit properly - and they helped me with walking a bit. My surgeon firmly believes that for at least the first 3 - 4 months that and walking is all that I should be doing. He's not a big believer in PT anyway and says walking is the most important thing.

    I had a nerve block before surgery which did nothing for me, so I probably won't be looking at having any of those again anytime soon. My body seems not to respond to cortisone, except for making me irritable.

    I also want to thank you for posting in your "signature" about the delay due to the psyche eval for insurance. I just wrote a blog yesterday about how I think that anyone going through this type of chronic pain and then this surgery, especially the 360 needs to be on anti-depressants and have some sort of therapy.

    Thanks again and I wish you the best. Let me know how things are going with you - as maybe you can give me some hope on those days when I feel like putting my head through a wall.

  • How many times I have felt "like putting my head through the wall"! I think having a 360 is a very unique situation. I have total trust in my surgeon, but there have been many times as I read others posts (that weren't 360's) that I feel a ding of sadness when I see how well they are doing.

    When my fusion was put on hold for the psych eval, I was livid! I was angry, horrified and didn't understand!

    My eyes are open wide now! There have been many times that I have reflected back on that experience and utilized information that I gained from that oppportunity. Boy, do I get it now!

    My surgeon is a firm believer in PT and rehabilitation. I have to say, I am too, I am a therapist (OT) and rehabilitation is the core of my belief system. Having said that, I will tell you that the process is very difficult.

    I am getting stronger. When I started, I couldn't left my left leg again gravity without significant tremors and I couldn't hold it against gravity.

    Because of the inbalance of muscles, the guarding of some muscles and the spasms, my musculo/skelatal system gets pulled out of aleigance. One side of my pelvis gets "stuck" in posterior or anterior tilt. My PT is invaluable for "putting be back". I can't do it myself. If it isn't fixed, I get alot of pain in my knee and ankle as I walk by 2+ miles per day!

    I noticed getting out of the pool yesterday, that it is so much easier for me. Initally, I felt the force of gravity as I got out of the water. Now, it is fine.

    I am now beginning to use the Swiss ball with exercises! Yeah! :)

    But, in the process, I have had many steps backwards. Usually one per week. I am still on pain meds, which my team of doc are fine with. I don't have to ask, it is expected. I can't get through the PT process without them, and the process does cause flair ups! There have been times that I read how well others are doing, no real pain, etc and I momentarily feel sad....but I do believe in the process.

    I was so deconditioned before my surgery! I wasn't able to walk far, I wasn't able to work at the job I love (working with special needs babies), I had given up all activites.

    This week, on Wed., I showered, fixed breakfast, went to PT, went shopping, came home and made dinner. WoW!!! Until this point, I would have been able to do 2 of those activities! Mind you, I did go to bed at 8 that night!

    I hate that you have to experience that pain for 3 more days! Could you call you surgeon and let him know how bad it is? I have called mine before and they are very responsive.

    My big challenge will be endurance this weekend as it is a holiday weekend in the US with Memorial day on Monday. I am going to the capital city of TX, Austin to visit friends for an annual summer party!

    I tried this a month ago and I slept for 2+ straight days! :)

    Hang in there! I will be happy to stay in touch as this is a journey! Take care!
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    The only way I got through the post op pain and nerve pain was regularly taking the pain meds, muscle relaxants and neurontin (gabapentin). I wasn't on the neurontin prior to surgery, I requesting it as I was expecting to have enhanced nerve pain and sure enough I did.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I had surgery 5 weeks ago.I am having that same type of pain. I did not begin PT yet ,I am starting Wednesday .I refuse to take pain meds because of side effects .I'm only using extra strength tylenol .
  • was a Godsend to me when I had bad nerve pain after surgery. It was about the only thing that really helped that burning, horrible pain in my legs. I'm so glad those days are behind me now (at least I hope they stay behind me!). Best wishes to you.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks for your post and congratulations on your recovery going so well.

    Can I ask, was your fusion a lumbar multi level and 360 degrees as well?

    I too don't really like being on the pain meds, but when I have pain that keeps me in tears all the time, I think that I need something.

    I'm very happy for you that you are able to get by on just extra strength tylenol. Either you don't have the same nerve issues that I am having or you are a much stronger person than I am.

    Either way - congrats and wishing you continued success.

  • Thanks so much for the post Linda. I'm off to the doctor again today and will be asking about all these various medications. I put myself back on the tramadol and the pain is less than it was previously, but as the days go by it seems to be creeping back up in strength. As long as it stays where it is, it's tolerable, but I can't take any more of that pain that keeps me in tears constantly.

    Thanks again and best of luck with your recovery.

  • Thinking about you and wondering how your doctor's appointment went and if he was willing to add new medication for your nerve pain.

    Hoping that your days are getting easier!

    Hang in there!
  • Hi there. thanks much for checkin in. My appointment went well, but he wasn't into prescribing anything new. I did have some rivotril (clonazepam) from last year that I started using in conjunction with the tramadol, voltaren and tylenol which does seem to help the nerve pain a bit. It's still there, but tolerable.

    The past few days I've been a bit down and quiet because it's been cold and rainy here which really is effecting my back and I've not been feeling great - stomach issues in addition to the back and leg stuff. Oh the joys of recovery huh?

    The good news is that the doc said I don't have any screws loose, so to speak. They are all in the right place and have not moved, that is great news to me. I have started wearing my brace again now (which is a pain) and am now allowed to go out on small trips to the store and such.

    How are things with you? Hope you are doing well.

  • Well, I think it is sad that he isn't open to treating your nerve pain. In my opinion, until you have experienced it, you just have no idea about the intensity of it!

    Here in the US, it is typical for a surgeon to not want to perscribe meds for long. That is where the Pain Management doc comes into play. They specialize in a variety of different ways to manage pain and are usually willing to try to find what works for you.

    My surgeon writes just the first post op script that yoou leave the hospital with, then refers you to pain management.

    I just think it is unacceptable to have to be in pain! No wonder you have been down! I would be too!

    It is so hard to know what the right amount of activity is. When I was 19 days post op, we were at the beach and went out for dinner. Our friends were an hour late to meet us due to traffic. I lasted half way through dinner....the pain got intense, my abdominal incision swelled, I cried....it was aweful! And the next day too! It was a long time before I wanted to go out to eat again!

    I have found that eating yogurt everyday is great for stomach issues...

    We were gone over the weekend, and I am beyond exhausted...seems as if I have picked up a cold, so I, too, am not feeling very good :(

    Hang in there, this is a long and windy road, but you'll get there! with a little help from your friends! :)
  • It is pretty much the same here. He did want to send me for an epidural, but seeing as I've had 3 that failed miserably and it appears that cortisone just doesn't seem to effect me, I said no to that.

    As I said, the clonazepam is working - and I'm actually OK with it right now. It's tolerable. If it gets back to the pain I was having last week again, then I will demand something else again.

    It really is hard to judge what to do and what not to do, but boy it's oh so obvious when you have overdone it.

    Sorry to hear you are not feeling well. Hope you at least enjoyed the weekend away.

    Thanks again for you note. Was very nice to get in my inbox. Reminded me that there are other people out there. :-)
  • I think I remember from The Scouts, that one is not to travel alone but, to be in a buddy system!

    So...just checking in on ya to see how you are....

    Early in my recovery, my PM wanted to do a steroid injection/nerve block to my ilio-inguinal nerve, but my surgeon was against it for fear of infection...

    I hope you are feeling better, or at least your spirits are brighter!

    Take care! Shari
  • Hi Shari.

    Sorry, but i just saw this. June has not been such a great month. The pain in my leg has gotten worse, but mostly at night - and overall i've been pretty depressed.

    My GP has put me on cymbalta but doesn't want to put me on lyrica - so i'm waiting to see if the cymbalta helps at all - it's only been a week so far.

    I came back on the board today because I'm having this unbelievably sharp pain in my lower right back, just to the lower right of my incision and trying to figure that out. It just was there when I woke up this morning and is not going away at all. happens no matter what i'm doing. so i'm a bit concerned about that. i'm hoping that it's nothing serious.

    How are things going with you?

  • Hi Josh! I have been so worried about you! I, too, have the tendency to crawl into my cave when stressed, but this forum has really helped me to reach out and accept the support of others!

    With fusions, especailly 360, you don't want to go it alone!

    I am sorry you are having such a rough time! This jouney is incredibly long and difficult! How low is your sharp pain?

    Did your GP explain why he doesn't want you on LYrica? Is it possible for you to be seen by a pain management doc or a neurologist ~ someone who specialized in the spine? or specializes in pain?

    Would your GP consider Lyrica's "sister" neurontin? I had no idea how much it helped until it was accidently stopped in the hospital! It felt like acid had been poured on me! It was horrible! Once, I got it started again, the pain got better!

    I am on Cymbalta too! I had been on 60mg. At my 3 month postop my PM really felt like I was depressed, I was crying at my appointment! He increased it to 90mg, and I have to admit, I do feel better.

    However the next day, I went to see my surgeon for my 3 month post op follow up. I had a list of things to tell him and I almost didn't. I had been experiencing some numbness in my right front thigh and hip, as well as new nerve type pain. I also was wondering if I still had facets at my fusion, because this pain was right where the facets would be.

    As I explained this my surgeon got conserned, sent me for an MRI, I have herniated the level above my fusion! I hope and pray that it doesn't interfer with my recovery. I am to go back to see him in 6 weeks if it is still bothering me!

    Tomorrow I see my endocrinologist for results of blood work. He feels that the stress of the fusion and it's complications (pneumonia, plurecy and 3 blood transfuions) have caused my body to shut down. He thinks he can help and will need to be "agressive". I am not sure what this means, but am so hopeful as I just want to feel better. I am exhausted ALL the time!

    I am trying to return to work, not because I am ready, but because my leave is up. I can't go back with light duty, I am to be at 100%. We all know that is not the case.

    My job is very physical, if I can't do it, I will have to quit. I am coming to terms with that! I am not there yet, but I am trying to get there. I have to try, but I don't know if I can do it and I will not sacrifice my spine.

    I have always said things happen for a reason, so now it is time for me to "walk the walk, after talking the talk"!

    We are headed to the beach at the end of this week for summer holiday. It will be a good chance for me to clear my head!

    Hang in there Josh! This is a journey and one that shouldn't be traveled alone! We are here to support each other! There is no way I could do this on my own!
  • Shari - I'm so sorry to hear that you have another herniation and all this added pain and problems. It's difficult enough to deal with the 360, let alone having to deal with all that crap again. Let me know how it all goes with the endo. I will pry that the herniation subsides and things get better for you.

    As for me, my GP said she felt the lyrica was a very string med and she wanted to try the cymbalta first to see if that helped. i go see her again in another 2 weeks. i think if the pain is no better, she'll add the lyrica without an issue or try the neurontin. She's pretty good about that, just a bit cautious. I think that she will probably send me off to a pain clinic again soon. They have been talking about doing another nerve block or perhaps botox in the local area. I know the last time I had nerve blocks, they did nothing, but I have to try and stay open to the possibility. I just started the 60mg cymbalta today - was on 30 mg for 7 days. She said it will take about 10 days before i should see a difference, so 3 more days, but i've got my serious doubts at this point. Also, seems the more active I am during the day, the worse the pain gets and especially at night.

    As for my new pain, it's at the very bottom on my incision, basically right above my pelvic bone. it's pretty sharp pain and seems to go pretty deep. It's still there today, which is concerning, but i'm thinking it's probably just scar tissue and tendons. It does come and go, but is very painful to the touch and has a bit of a click (along with sharp pain) when i push on it. When I got up today, my left side is also bothering me, but seems to be muscular and i am having muscle tightness on the right side above the fusion area.

    My nerve problems in left leg are still there and just as bad as they have been. I've gone to bed the last 2 nights crying and moaning in pain until my valium kicks in enough for me to just basically pass out, which even that takes too long.

    When did you have the pneumonia and pleurisy? I have been kind of worried about that lately as my chest has been feeling very heavy and I've been having some labored breathing in the past week or so. It's been sort of off and on, but I used to be (before I moved to europe) prone to pneumonia on a yearly basis, so i know the feeling leading up to it - and this has felt similar. I was going to look up to see if the cymbalta had any type of side effect that might make you feel that way.

    As for the job. I can feel your pain on that. there is a part of me that would like to go back soon, but I'm currently out until next January and I'm going to stick with that unless i'm feeling 100% well before then. I'm not taking any chances this time around and my job is not that physical, but does require allot of international travel, which is physically (and emotionally) draining and difficult at times.

    I hope you have a great vacation at the beach. I'd just about kill to be at the beach right now. I was in Sicily Italy last summer for vacation and oh how the sea felt so amazing for my back. just standing there in the water, all the pressure i had at that time went away immediately. i almost spent two weeks straight in the water. it was heaven.

    Thanks for reminding me again about the support. i tend to spend most of my day on facebook, which has been a great support group for me, but not really anyone (except one or two) that have had fusions and no one who's gone through the 360. I need to make this place a daily thing. geeze i feel like i need a list to remind me of things i should be doing. Scary that two or three things can make me feel overwhelmed.

    Oh well, hope all goes well for you today.

  • Hey Josh, Hoping that you are having an okay day, or even better, a good day!

    I was having a lot of deep, deep aching and leg pain at the end of the day/night and my PT suggested that several times a day, I take the time to decompress my spine

    So, I made a point of scheduling 2-3 times/day where I would lay on the sofa, on my back with my hips at 90 degrees, my knees at 90, my head in midline and arms at my side. Ideally, I would try to ice at the same time. It really helps. As long as I do this, I don't have that horrible pain, deep, deep aching. But, true to life, I sometimes get too busy or just forget.

    I hope the Cymbalta helps. When I first started taking it, I noticed a difference (emotionally)within a week. This time too, within a week of being on 90 mg's, I have felt better. Almost even happy! :)

    I met with my endo today and FINALLY, a doc that says he absolutely CAN help me! YaY!! I wanted to jump up and hug him!!

    My thyroid level is very low, 63 and the minimal he would be happy with is in the 120's. My body is just not absorbing the medication. It will take trial and error to get there. He changed my meds and will retest in a month. If this is to help me feel better, it will take 17 days.

    I so want to feel better! I miss having energy, fitting into my clothes, not freezing despite the fact it is 100 degrees out. Everyone who sees me says that I look good, just tired and I noticed it in pictures from a wedding last weekend. My eyes just look....there is no sparkle in them!

    So, who knows, maybe I won't need the Cymbalta once my levels get to where they should be.

    Keep the faith with the nerve pain! You still really aren't on any meds that are directly for nerve pain. There is still a lot of hope, I just wish you didn't have to wait so long! And it takes so long for the nerves to heal once they have been compressed/damaged! But, that is also the good news, that there is so much hope still!

    Lst night, I had horrible pain in my left leg, throbbing, thigh/behind the knee pain. I tried everything, meds, break through meds, ice, heat, tylenol pm just to try to sleep. I was still still in pain unable to sleep at 1:30 and I had to get up at 6:30. Ugh!!

    What a blessing for you to be off work until Jan!! That allows you to fully heal, and rehab and enables a true chance for success!

    Wow, being at the beach in Sicily, Italy sounds wonderful. Simply not comparable to Mustang Island, Texas! There is a hurricain brewing to make landfall tomorrow night/Thur morning in North Mexico/Southern Texas. Hopefully, it will be minimal, but the thought of having to pack everything up and evacuate is more than I can do right now! It might just send me to the pysch hopsital and into a lovely white jacket! LOL

    Do you have access to a pool where you could do aquatics? I started my therapy in the pool, once my incision healed and I loved it! I still do most of my home program in the pool, it is just too hot to walk!

    Please do continue to check in here! There is nothing better than the support of others who can truly understand! I am on facebook also, although, lately I am here more often just because everyone here understand...:)

    Hang in there! Looking forward to hearing how you are doing!

Sign In or Register to comment.