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Anyone here with minimally invasive L5-S1 fusion?

pmf75ppmf75 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had L5-S1 minimally invasive surgery on 9/20, released by my NS on 11/30. I started physical therapy on Dec 13, when at my mom's in Tennessee. I live in metro Detroit. My NS is the chairman of the entire spinal surgery dept. at Henry Ford...very large teaching hospital system. Anyway, he released me to my reg internal med Dr. Immediately after I started physical therapy, I developed pain and a numbness to the skin just below the area of my left lower incision site. It's about 4-5in long and 3 in wide area that is numb to touch on my skin!! Very very painful too! I am leaving TN much earlier than planned for several reasons, one being this painful, numb area, and also because the pharmacies here won't fill my pain med script, even though my Dr. mailed it to me(not tried to call it in) and I hand delivered it. The Tyl 3 is a joke! I am in agony, and so I set up an appt with my reg Dr on Jan 7. I am hoping she will order an xray, but the way she is, she will probably just refer me back to my NS, who thinks there is nothing going on, and that my surgery was a complete success.

I have been reading on here about people with fusions, who don't totally fuse for upwards of a year?, and some people not at all? My NS only did a CT post op, 2 days, and 2 xrays on 2 different appointments. I have been an xray tech, CT tech, MRI tech since 1981, and I saw the xrays, and I see no way how he could determine from them that I was fusing! I'm just worried about this painful and numb area that came about immediately after physical therapy. Should I be concerned? I also have a slight left-to-right scoliosis in my lumbar spine, which causes me to have a slight pelvic tilt when standing, that is visible when you look...any opinions, suggestions?



  • I have no idea what that entails.
  • Those spine surgeons in the Detroit metro area really like to discharge their patients quickly. Have you called his office to see what he thinks might be going on?

    When your surgeon released you after two months, he would only be able to tell if your hardware had slipped out of position (assuming you had hardware....)He could tell if you were beginning to grow bone but I don't believe he could say with any certainly that your fusion was a success. Of course, he probably assumes that if he did the surgery, it would be a success, and maybe by his definition, it is.

    Sorry to be snide, but I have several friends and relatives who had lumbar fusion in the Detroit area, and in each case the surgeon refused to believe they could still be in pain....after he had performed such a perfect surgery, etc.

    Are you in pain and numb under your incision, or are those two different things? (in pain elsewhere, and numb along the incision?)Also, keep in mind that "fusing" is a term that means one thing to one person and a different thing to another. It is fairly common for many people to have the bone filled in by about six months, but the bone continues to gain strength and harden for at least another six months. Sometimes this process can take up to two years, particularly with multi-level fusions.

    Bone growth can be seen as early as a couple weeks, but that does not mean that the patient is "fused." The process has started, but is not completed....

    But some people are told they have fused only to find out a year or two out when they are still having lots of pain issues that indeed...the fusion is not complete...in some cases, hardware has come loose, perhaps bone has only filled in at one area, but not all over, etc. In most cases, the patient would not be told this until about a year post fusion, unless it is obvious from imaging that the hardware is out of position. They will hold out the hope that the patient is still fusing.

    Sorry I can't comment on the sore-to-the-touch and numb area around incision. I never experienced that. I don't quite see how PT would cause it, but I'm sure it's possible. Have you tried backing off the PT to see if the pain goes away, lessens or stays the same?
  • Thank you Tetonteri for your reply. It was very informative. I came to TN to stay at my mom's place, as I live alone and thought I would do my therapy here. It's a small town area, but fairly decent healtcare. The therapy place said they had experience with therapy on post fusion patients with hardward, so I came. After 1 day of therapy, the pain and numbness to my skin in the area just below my lower left incision began. The pain has continued to increase, so therapy backed way off of what they had me doing, and they added e-stim. I don't know..I'm so confused. I am heading home a month earlier than I planned due to this complication. I will see my reg dr.on Jan 7,and will ask for a renew of my therapy script and will also ask for water therapy to be added, as the therapy place I am going to is the one where I went the entire past summer prior to surgery,and they have a pool.

    I hope she will refer me back to the NS department and let them repeat xrays, and hopefully a CAT scan, as they did a cat scan 1 day post op. They can compare. Also hope to get a referral to pain management, where I also went for the entire summer. This is not what I expected when I went into surgery, and after being on this site and reading alot of posts, I realize that I went into this almost blind. I didn't ask enough questions, and the surgeon didn't offer hardly any information...he is foreign, Abdulhak is his name, and he was like a man of few words. So we shall see. As soon as I am home, I will get my pain meds, and wait 3 days to see my reg Dr. and see what direction we will take...sigh
  • I haven't called my NS department, because I am so far away from them here in TN. I won't be back home until Jan 3, then I will call them and inform them of what I have happening. But during my first several months, I called them with a concern, and the last time I called them, the NS himself got on the phone and reamed me out for calling..telling my the fusion was a success, and that they don't have time to deal with someone who calls daily with problems(which was bogus,I only called them 3 times)and he said if I have a problem to go to the ER, at the same hospital,which is the main hospital for the health system, and then a NS resident would be called for eval. So, I may be up against a brick wall with my NS and this issue I am having...if so, I get my records, films, cat scans, etc and go to a NS at the U of MI...
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