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Tailbone Pain and Leg Cramping after L5, S1 Spinal Fusion

camcyddevccamcyddev Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I am a 34 y/o female, who had a L5, S1 Spinal fusion on 3/11/11 (6+ weeks ago). I actually came back to work 18 days post op as I have a desk position. I was diagnosed with a herniated disk, bone spurs and disc degeneration last summer. I went through a series of treatments before I opted for surgery.

Since I have had my surgery, I have had right calf extreme cramping/aching/throbbing. This is confusing to me because my herniation was more to the left, which should have affected the left side more. Also, in the last 2-3 weeks, directly in the middle of my tailbone, I am having pain like I took a very hard fall.

I wear my brace from the time I get dressed in the morning, until I am getting ready to lay down at night.

Has anyone else had these issues or maybe I am just overreacting, since I am still only 6 weeks out from a major surgery. I know it's going to take time for the nerves to heal, but I am just looking for some input.

Thanks in advance!

-Deborah
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134

Comments

  • I had L5/S1 fused on 3/28/11. It was my 3rd fusion (I am fused from L1 to S1). Before the fusion the disc was removed because it was such a mess. The vertebrae had to be separated before the fusion to do this. I have tailbone area pain but it is from the vertebrae being separated. It is not much fun to still be in so much pain My other fusions were easier recoveries.

    Jani

    Spinal stenosis, spondolysis, spondolythesis, L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion with instrumentation and bone graft from hip, L1/S1 fusion with replacement disc put in, PT, accupuncture, prolotherapy, many cortisone injections, 4 rhizotomies. Currently on tramadol which barely touches the pain.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • You went back to work way early. Sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing or walking. I am 9 weeks out and have tailbone pain as well. Sitting makes this worse. Good luck and take it easy.
    As far as the brace, my docs said it should be worn for at least 3 months post op and I'm glad I have been wearing it because I fell on my back the other day and it helped prevent a lot of damage.
  • Ditto what Z06 said about stretching and getting up and moving. I had serious tightness for months in my hips and legs post-surgery. I still do a lot of stretching because, well, I still have alot of tightness 1+ year later. One thing that I've found really helps are calf compression sleeves. I wear them every night when I am sleeping and sometimes during the day if my legs are feeling particularly cranky. I like the Zensah brand. You can get them at REI or a running store.

    The throbbing in your calves is something you should not ignore. Have you told your surgeon about that? I had some odd cramping and throbbing about 8 wks post surgery and they immediately did an ultrasound to make sure that I didn't have DVT. That can be serious. And if you are sitting a lot it's a real possibility. Please talk with your doc about it if you haven't already.

    I too had and still have tailbone pain. At first it was a very hot, intense burning pain. Over the last 8-9 months or so it has lessened but I still get it (not so hot feeling, but still kind of burning) when I sit. It kicks in almost immediately. I haven't had much help from the surgeon or my physiatrist on that one. I have a desk job but stand all day (I have a tall desk so I am able to work comfortably standing). Riding in a car for longer than about an hour is horrible. After a year, I've decided that it is pretty much the new normal. It sucks, and I'm hoping it will go away someday. But for now I am attempting to make friends with it. I feel much better when I am moving. In fact moving (esp long brisk walks) seems to be the very best thing for me.

    You are only a short time out from your surgery. Give yourself some time. You'll be feeling better before you know it. It seems like forever now, I know. Keep moving, keep up with your PT, and stretch!
  • I had tailbone pain caused by sitting after my fusion - it does seem to be quite common.
    I too have calf cramps (right side only)but have suffered with them since my first bout of sciatica. They hamper my swimming and used to wake me up in the night. I have learnt to help prevent them by keeping my foot at right angles even when asleep and stopping to stretch when swimming every so often. I also stop swimming when I can feel the cramp coming on. I don't stand on tip toes either. Or wear heels. My right calf also twitches a lot. I don't think it will ever go away but I can deal with cramp much better than the constant nerve pain I had pre fusion!
  • I landed here in search of comments on Coccyx pain after surgery and am pleased it appears to be the norm as I was getting anxious. I had Spinal Fusion and decompression on L3,4 and 5 on 23 february and have been off work since. I was able to walk after one week but there is a lot of other recovery involved. I was advised by Dr. Not to start any PT until after the 12th week which I did and found everything to be stiff and need a lot of streatching all muscles need to be worked as well with a series of exercises which i do daily . I cannot swim at all so am at a disadvantage there as it is highly recommended as the best form of theraphy. I am still unable to sit comfortably but it is improving, is like sitting on a marble and is as per a comment above after one hour must stand and or walk. Walking is now the most enjoyable experience I have as I had not been able to acheive 500 mts without stopping these last 10 years. now distance is no object. My doctor did tell me patience is required after such a long operation 5 and half hours and the body has been realigned.as two discs had degenerated for a long period there had to be compensation from else where so a different set of muscles were being used, that has now been changed so what I had been doing for past 10 years has to be recompensated and realigned....same as getting the wheels and tyres on your car put back in line so all are working evenly !
    getting back in shape after 6 weeks is a very ambitious target..at my rate of recovery I will be happy to move, sit and lie normally after six months which is in line with the Doctors ( all three of them) predictions
  • wow! I cannot imagine being back at work so soon. I hope you are taking good care of yourself. I have had 2 surgeries this year, a 2 level cervical fusion in january and TLIF on 5/17.
    my job will not allow me to return until I can resume my work at 100%
    I have also had pain thru my lowback &tailbone, but the pain/burning and stabbing go all the way from my buttocks between my legs and to the front.
    i am getting relief from ice packs and the meds. But I haven't seen anyone else talk about this and am trying to understand.
    have you all had this?
  • I came here looking for something on tailbone pain. Like L345, I am glad to see it seems to be the norm. I didn't have a fusion though. They just shaved the disc off and removed bone spurs on April 29, 2011. I go back to work on Aug 1, which will be 12 weeks. I am supposed to be able to sit for 30 minutes at a time but my tailbone hurts after 10 and when I stand up it just feels like a shock. Like someone hit me really hard, right on the bone. Does anyone know if this pain goes away? I am tired of staying in my bed laying down instead of sitting in the front room but the pain is so bad that I am not willing to risk it.
  • Wanted to welcome you to the forum. I totaly can relate to your tailbone pain. I too, didn't have a fusion,but had a two level dicectomy. I have the same tailbone pain, that is terrible upon sitting and shooting intense pain when getting up from a sitting position. I had my surgery 2 and a half weeks ago, and really don't sit at all, pretty much recline on couch.

    Are you going back to see your doctor before you return to work? Please be careful, are you able to get up often and walk around and stretch at work? Are you doing a gradual return (ie. a couple of hours, slowly building up?)

    Wishing you all the best, and again welcome!

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • I am lucky that I have a job where I can stand and sit and walk as needed. And yes, I did go to PT (15 visits allowed by my insurance). I do have SI joint pain (may be similar to the tailbone pain I am hearing about). I don't have calf cramps but I do a lot of stretching. I understand it is common to have SI joint pain after L5/S1 fusion. I had SI joint problems before my back started deteriorating (all related to being knocked unconscious by a snowboarder) so now it has come full circle. I have had 2 cortisone injections in my SI joints and the 2nd one seems to have worked as I have less pain. :0)

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • camcyddev said:
    I am a 34 y/o female, who had a L5, S1 Spinal fusion on 3/11/11 (6+ weeks ago). I actually came back to work 18 days post op as I have a desk position. I was diagnosed with a herniated disk, bone spurs and disc degeneration last summer. I went through a series of treatments before I opted for surgery.

    Since I have had my surgery, I have had right calf extreme cramping/aching/throbbing. This is confusing to me because my herniation was more to the left, which should have affected the left side more. Also, in the last 2-3 weeks, directly in the middle of my tailbone, I am having pain like I took a very hard fall.

    -Deborah
    Deborah - I've been through a double anterior cervical fusion, followed by a lumbar laminectomy 5 months later which I pushed too hard in PT and re-ruptured the disc, so I too have been through an L5-S1 fusion. My disc was so torn up I had fluid pressing on the nerve roots/sciatic nerves from one side, and scar tissue pushing on them from the other. I ended up going to the hospital 10 days before my surgery was scheduled because I had such bad numbness/tingling in my right leg that I couldn't even put weight on it. The doc was concerned about long term damage and possible paralysis so he got me in quickly.

    Frankly I'm shocked you returned to work in 18 days. My restrictions for the first 3 months were to lay on the couch and sit up for a maximum of 30 minutes every 2 hours.
    Then I went through 4 weeks of physical therapy and finally got cleared to return to my job on restricted duty working in an office.

    For me, the pain started coming back within a week or so of me working out on my own. It turns out ( as of 11/14) that the left side of my fusion is healing very slowly, but my surgeon can't find the source of all my pain. I had a CT Myelogram and a Bone Scan which showed the nerves looked fine but the left side of the fusion was far behind. I go for an EMG tomorrow.

    Sorry for the long story.... I just wanted to say I can sympathize when it comes to sciatica, aching/restless legs, aching calves, and calf cramps that seem to come out of nowhere, and for me it's always at night, whether I'm just watching TV or asleep. I'm going to try taking Magnesium and Potassium supplements along with the b12 and D that I take daily. I don't get where the calf pain comes from - I stretch them daily. My right calf always hurts. After my laminectomy in March of 2010, I had to go back to the hospital because they thought I had a blood clot in my calf. Thankfully I didn't. I am also suffering from the burning/aching pai n down my tailbone and I can't say when it started.

    Let me know if anyone has some good suggestions. I'm seeing my pain management doctor tomorrow and I want to ask about switching from Neuronton to Lyrica. I also want to ask about piroformis injections because I have a LOT of pain on both sides of my butt that's only relieved for minutes after doing piroformis stretches.

    Also, has anyone had any issues with knee pain when recovering from a lumbar fusion? I have constant pain on the inside of my right knee (which
    varies in severity, and also happens with my left knee occasionally also. I've had one leg or the other buckle while standing/walking. The pain in my right knee is on the inside half from about the top of my kneecap down to the middle of my knee. I haven't been working out. Because my surgeon wants me to limit activity until they solve the current pain issie. Does anyone else get this pain? Does it have anything to do with having a pillow between my knees whenever I'm laying down?

    Thanks to anyone who reads and provides any advice.
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