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New Leg pain after L4/5 Fusion

Liz49LLiz49 Posts: 39
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My TLIF fusion was 9/29. My "bad" leg, the rt. one, felt 90% better right away! But my good leg (the left one), which had no pain before surgery, was numb since i awoke from surgery. It's very weak and now it's gotten painful. I'm so scared.

I can walk with a cane, to support the newly hurting left leg. Sleeping in any position hurts my left leg. I'm so disappointed -- there was no pain in this leg before!!! Has anyone experienced this??

I will see my surgeon's Fellow tomorrow. He thinks it's all ok but wants me to be seen asap. Since he's going out of town I will see his Fellow orthopedic. Are there any questions you all can think of that I should ask the Fellow?

Thanks so very much.


TLIF L4/5 on 9/29/10
Foraminal stenosis at L4/5
Severe DDD
5 epidural injections and PT before surgery


  • Hi Liz,

    I am so sorry to read that you are in such pain. I have leg pain after surgery at the L1/l2 level that I really didn't have before surgery. I know that every situation is very different, but I would make sure that you write down all your questions and concerns for your doctors. I am told that in my case it is all related to the nerves, and this will take a long time- 18 to 24 months. I was also told that the slow healing time is not the issue, but if you plateau in your healing process then that is not a good thing. I was wondering if you are working with physical therapists or occupational therapists? They are also a good source for monitoring your recovery process on a weekly basis. I hope that you are doing better by the time you read this reply. I strongly encourage you to ask away when it comes to questions for your doctor. I learned the hard way that we truly need to be our own best advocates. Please let us know how you made out at the doctor's visit. I wish you all the BEST, and you can send me a personal message if you would like.

    All the BEST,
    glo :)
  • Liz, see about a walker, seeing you are having issues with both legs, i use one & it really helps keep me steady!
    Please let me know what fellow says 2moro or later 2day. It's late, I don't sleep well.
    Check your in box for my earlier reply.
    Wishing the best for you!
  • First, please realize that you're really, really early out from a very serious surgery, so many things are going to happen in the first months post-op, many you may not understand.

    Second, I had the same thing happen to me after my TLIF at L4/5. For the first week, I felt my legs getting more and more painful and by the second week, my MIL (who was my caretaker) had to make emergency calls and find a way to get me a walker because my legs hurt to much I couldn't walk by myself.

    In fact twice while I had the walker, in the middle of the night I got up to go to the bathroom and couldn't make it all the way - and it was only about 25 steps. I got half way and the pain was so bad I yelled for my husband (he was in the same room, but a heavy sleeper) and he popped out of bed immediately and saw me standing there crying that I couldn't even take one more step by myself. He had to help me to the bathroom and then downstairs to my recliner.

    So, although it's never a bad thing to talk to your surgeon, it's not uncommon for things to get worse after lumbar surgery before they get better. I'll never forget that pain and it sounds like what's happening to you.

    I have to wonder if it's the nerves readjusting themselves and simply getting ticked off, but I don't really know. By the time I got to my first post-op appointment, it wasn't as bad and my doctor wasn't concerned when I told him about it.

    It did go away within a month (actually three weeks I think), so I hope that you're only going through the same thing that happened to me and that your legs will settle down soon.

    You're not alone. It really is amazing how difficult recovery from a TLIF is and I wish you the best and a quick relief from your pain.

    I hope this has helped. Take care and don't hesitate to PM me if I can help you in any way.

  • Liz, you and I both had our fusions on the same day :) so it will be interesting to compare notes as the weeks and months go by.

    I, too, am having more leg pain, as well as more back pain. My worst leg pain is in my thighs where the muscles are sore like I've been kicked by a mule and now the soreness seems to be working its way downward (oh fun). Also having numbness in some toes and occasional nerve pain in shinbone on side opposite my original pain. Am going in for staple removal tomorrow morning and will ask if this is normal, but I think I already know the answer. Lots of trauma was done to my low back during surgery and I expect a good deal of soft tissue swelling is still present, as well as nerves which haven't been freed up in some 35 years which I characterize as going "wow, what happened here!". And there was messing around with other nerves in the region, so I figure most anything goes in this early post-op time. Wishing you relief from your worry, as well as the pain, numbness, weakness you're experiencing.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Thanks, everyone, for your responses. I have not been up to doing any computers for quite some time.

    It's day #11 and I'm now on Lyrica for the new left leg nerve pain. I pray I'm like you, Cathy, and that it goes away soon. A part of me wonders if I'd had a PLIF if this would have happened. The Dr. explained that they "cleaned" the left foraminal opening, stretching the nerves on that side. But the cage is inserted slightly to the right of center. There are 2 screws on each side. Oh, how I need to have faith!!! It's hard because my kids are only 14 and 9 y.o. They need me!

    My hubby has been very supportive. I Thank God for him everyday.

    Take Care All and Goodnight,
  • Linda, it will be interesting comparing our recovery. We just have to remember that each person's recovery is unique, so if one is doing a bit better than the other, it doesn't mean that the reverse couldn't happen down the line.

    Mine was a TLIF, which is slightly diff. than your PLIF. And you had a 2 level fusion!!! How are you today? My nerve pain was awful last night. I sure hope it gets better and better as time goes by.

    I've been praying a lot ... it helps very much. But pain is pain. I'll pray for you too.

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