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20 week post ALIF.. still have leg pain.

scmgurusscmguru Posts: 103
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi folks,

I had a L5/S1 MicroD back in January which didn't work and an L5/S1 ALIF with homograft and BMP, the first week of July.

Unfortunately, I still have lower back pain and sciatica that alternates sides on a day to day basis.

Had an epidural steroid injection about 2-3 weeks ago and that didn't seem to help.

Not sure where to go from here. Definitely discouraged :(



  • a second opinion about what is going on. First off, January-July is too soon to not give the discectomy a chance. If the nerves were really hurting before surgery it can take awhile to calm down. Why did they jump so quickly into fusion without trying a nerve med first like Gabapentin or lyrica (which I would ask about taking now for a few months)? Now..worry about not feeling better after having a fusion in July also, in my humble opinion, is too soon. Take it easy, I know the pain is tough and it is easy to get discouraged! HEAL!

  • Been taking neurontin (900mg/day) since january 2010.

    L5S1 fusion in July was done because my DDD disk nearly collapsed completely a few months after the MicroD in January.

  • Well that just really stinks. I was taking neurontin 1200 a day and it really helped. What are they telling you about the recovery time for the fusion?

  • Angela,

    Haven't really told me a whole lot.. other than it takes time..;)
  • Hang in there! What a bummer to have 2 surgeries so close together, but it is great that they were willing to hear you and investigate after your Micro...

    Recovery from fusion is a long, long journey! Initially I was told 6-12 months and after surgery, I am told 12-18 months.

    I am 8 months post 360 l4-5 fusion and am finally getting there. The nerve pain is settling, I am regaining independence and activities that I enjoy.

    Unfortunately, I herniated the level above my fusion and have severe inflammation at L3 with pain and numbness...

    I am going for my 2nd epidural injection next week and pray that I have good results.

    Hang in there! It is so hard to be patient when you are hurting. Do you keep a pain journal? Thankfully, I did, more to support my need for meds than anything else. But, it was that journal that lead my surgeon to send me for an MRI which revealed my new herniation!

    Wishing you the very best! Please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing!
  • Sorry to hear your slow recovery.
    I'm 9 weeks out ALIF, I am a MESS!. Lots of back, leg & nerve issues and even bladder problems. I was told recovery would be much quicker then PLIF. My time frame was 6 to 12 weeks for full open ALIF 5 inch incision with bone graft.
    I am awfully tired its 2:30 am, and I just wanted to connect with you and let you know I am hear and feel your pain.
    I will reply tomorrow!

    Hope you sleep well
  • Bad couple of days, burning lower right back pain shooting in to my leg. bedridden last night, ok this am, but by 3pm, nerve pain in my back and leg.

    This level of pain imtensity is new post surgically. Its bad enough that I cant think straight and want to curl up in a ball in bed.

    Ice is no help.

    No return phone call from dr's nurse.. next office visit is 13 days.. this sucks.

    I find it unconscionable that a dr is so busy they make patients in pain wait weeks for an appt.
  • I'm sorry that you've still got nerve pain. Yeah it is so hard having to wait for nearly two weeks to talk to your surgeon.

    I had an ALIF last year, and it took 7 months for the post-op pain in the back to go down to a manageable level. I was lucky with the leg pain in that L4-5 went away straight after surgery, but L3-4 took a few months to settle.

    Are you able to do short walks? I needed to do short walks during the day and night to settle my leg down. It was a nuisance having to get up several times in the night and walk up and down the patio, and I didn't get much sleep.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Can definitely walk.. I'm just getting a really annoying "buzzing"/burning sensation down one leg at a time,.
  • Sorry you are still having difficulties. I had a 2 lvl PLIF fusion on March 1st of this year. I just went back to a desk job on Monday.

    I still have signif. pain at the surgery site. But thankfully my nerve pain is mostly resolved. I hope you get better with time.

    Recovery takes so long..Hang in there. Also if the nurse didnt call you back. Call the MD after hours and see if he or she is taking their own calls. Tell them you are a surgical patient and you will get a call back.

  • I am sorry you have to suffer. I can relate. Post ALIF now 10.5 weeks and my back pain is about 25% better as long as I don't sit for more then 10-15 min. Pre op I was having leg nerve pain intermittently mostly left leg and constant left foot. Right leg would flare up without warning and was always take your breath away pain. NOW POST OP my legs are 100% WORSE! All this and my oxy intake is triple of pre op rx!

    Crazy nerve issues deep pain, walking is a challenge, I fight daily.
    I use a cane as my legs really get shaky and often go numb.

    My NS is not really there for me at all, he is disappointed and dissatisfied with my lack of process. Maybe because I signed up with a pain doc 3 weeks post op as I was decressing vs. progressing. Surgically, he did his job and I believe a good one.

    My pain doc has been instrumental in coordinating my care. Do you have a pain mgmt doc? Who did your epidural? Pain mgmt, might be a good option as many surgeons (not all) really don't concern themselves with a lot of the post op complaints after you reach their predetermined you should be better time. IMO, from my experience.

    Trish is right sometimes it really helps me when I'm getting wierd electricity like feelings in feet or legs, to get up and try & walk them off, I do laps around my house, pacing throughout the house for 5 min or so and sometimes it settles.

    I am neurontin too, waiting for results, just started this week, and like everything....takes time. Lidoderm patches help with pain too, have you tried them?

    Hang in there. I know its hard. But if you not getting the right service from the doc maybe you need to find someone more compassionate and has time for you. I will pray you get some relief!
  • After 3 microD surgeries over the last 10 years, my Dr. finally determined it was time to fuse. He told me a fusion was in my future before the last microD surgery.

    Like you, I had surgery earlier this year in Feb. It seemed to work and got me out of the pain I had at the time. He told me after 3 microD surgeries, I was basically bone on bone, which I guess wasn't absolutely true, because the pain came back in August this year. After the conservative treatments didn't work again, we decided that it was time for ALIF surgery. I actually had my ALIF on Oct. 28th, the day this thread started. So, I am a little over 2 weeks post-op right now.

    Just when I thought I was getting better, the nerve pain in my leg started (the opposite leg that was bothering me pre-surgery) and was just terrible, much like yours'. So, this week, I started the 900 mg of Neurontin like you too. It seems to help a little for now. Still having some back pain too. I'm worried that this pain will not subside. If so, my Dr. told me that if there is still some disc in there that he missed, that he would have to do another microD from the back to make sure he got everything. I'm hoping that my nerves are just irritated still and the healing has not fully happened. My doctor said that I should be able to go back to work after 3-4 weeks (desk job), but I just don't see how's that is going to be possible. I was hoping to go back after Thanksgiving, but that is looking like a fantasy at this point. Let me know how it's going for you since it seems like we have very similar symptoms and circumstances.
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