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Post-fusion/laminectomy sciatic pain


I am new here. I had a 2 level fusion (L3-L5) and a laminectomy in November 2009. Prior to the surgery my sciatic pain was so bad I had to walk with a cane. For a few months I was really much better. Recently the sciatic pain has returned! It gets worse as the day goes on. I can't stand for any length of time. Waiting in line at the store is excruciating. Oddly walking isn't quite as painful.

I am going to have another MRI but the surgeon did tell me that if the sciatic pain returned and I had nothing wrong with me that showed up on the x-ray or MRI there is really not much they can do except for manage the symptoms. As a 38 year old I really can't imagine living out the rest of my life with this pain. I had all sorts of drugs prior to the surgery and none really helped. Plus the side effects were terrible.

Does anyone have any advice or suggestions?


  • Just wanted to comment on your post and give you some info about my similar experience. I had Tlif of l4/l5 Oct 26/09. Recovery went ok, but I never really got much better. Had ct scan and mri. Surgeon could not see anything he could operate on. Said everything looked decompressed and all levels of spine look fine. I have terrible sciatic pain down my right leg. He referred me to neurologist. Did emg and said I had slight nerve damage in L5 nerve which had been compressed for sometime. Said either the nerve has not regenerated or sometimes nerves get a memory of the pain and just keep on hurting even if they are totally decompressed. Anyone out there ever been told this? The exact wording on the MRI says "the pain generators may have moved more proximmally". Anyways some thoughts re your situation are maybe scar tissue but of course I'm not a doctor. It's not that uncommon for people to continue to have pain after surgery. I really hope he can find you source and correct it. Don't give up trying to find an answer and keep us informed.
  • you have leg pain is because you are not long from your operation and it will take more time for things to settle down
  • Welcome to Spine Health. There is much information here. Make sure you use the other areas besides the forum. There are many articles and videos that you can access. You may want to do an internet search for a dermatome map. That will give you an idea of what nerves effect the different areas of your body.

    I hope you see something on your MRI, if that is what you want. I personally would hate to get cut on again so soon after my operation. In fact I am not sure I could go through that again, but maybe your operation and recovery was not as bad as mine.

    I am 38 also and I had a 2 level 360 fusion in January. I had L4-S1 fused. I was having lower back and leg pain. On my MRI one could clearly see the S1 nerve compressed. My disc were shot on those two levels, L3 looked OK.

    My surgeon said he could relieve the leg pain, but could not guarantee improvement of the low back pain although he said it should improve also. I do not know what pain you were experiencing prior to your fusion, or what your tests and images revealed. I also had more pain while standing than I did when walking.

    I hope you can get some relief from your pain. Sorry Charlie!

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