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Hip/Leg Pain since 3/15/11 Surgery

maryelleninnjmmaryelleninnj Posts: 101
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:53 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I am 8 weeks post op. Had a lumbar laminectomy and fusion, L3/L4, L4/L5. Recovery has been going well, and I expect to return to work in early June (three months recovery). In the last month or so I've been experiencing hip and leg pain in my right leg. It is painful to go up the stairs, and painful when I change my sleeping position. The pain goes all the way down my leg, but it is not severe pain. Standing and walking are only a little painful. Could this be referred pain from the surgical procedure? I mentioned to the surgeon last week at my followup visit, and he said that if it continues, he'll order me an x-ray.


  • Because your spine is now in a different position, sometimes we feel pain in other parts of the body which wasn't there before surgery. When I started walking down the street at about 6 weeks out, I too had hip and leg pain, but it eventually settled.

    If the pain doesn't go away, then best to get an x-ray done.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Thanks Trish. I saw the family doctor yesterday, and he ordered an xray. He thinks it may be bursitis, and referred me to an ortho if I want to check into it further.
  • After trying 3 weeks or so of PT, the hip/leg pain improved about 75%. Since the cortisone injection yesterday, it is 95% better. This is the first time since my surgery that I've been totally pain free. Yay!
  • I thought the shot would help for a while. The pain is back when I walk. Is it worth it to get another shot if the first one didn't help for long? I'm icing my hip, taking ibuprofen, and avoiding going up steps. This has to go away before my big trip in five weeks.
  • The hip/thigh pain has been pretty bad for a couple of days now. Looks like I'm going to have to return to PT. My second shot is scheduled in about two weeks, about a week before our trip. Waiting for a callback from the doctor so we can reopen our original PT request. I'm taking Aleve, avoiding going up steps, icing my hip, not sleeping on that side.
  • Had my second cortisone shot on a week ago. Still no relief. My whole hip, thigh, and buttock hurts. Walking is very painful, and I can't walk without limping. Taking ibuprofen, avoiding steps, icing my hip, not sleeping on that side. Hope this shot will start working soon.... My lower right side feels like one big cramp. Taking vacation next two weeks. Will probably have to go back to PT when I get back. Hope I can walk on this trip!
  • No relief whatsoever from the second cortisone shot. The physician assistant gave me an RX for Tramadol, and I'm going back to PT next week. Tramadol not helping much, so supplementing it with ibuprofen. Both the physician assistant and therapist think this is a combination of nerve pain and hip bursitis.

    So I'm waiting to hear from the doctor, and he will probably order a test and tell me to make another appointment with him. It was not fun having this pain while on vacation. I was limping -- a lot.
  • Well, the doctor has not called back yet, but that's okay. The PT is helping, and I expect to go for another month, maybe longer, until the pain is gone.
  • If anyone else has had a lumbar fusion and developed hip bursitis during recovery, I would be interested in hearing from you.
  • The PT is working its magic. Feeling much less pain, able to walk without limping. Haven't felt this good in a whole year, at least. Will keep going to PT for a few more weeks probably. Hope I can get rid of this bursitis for good.
  • I had an all too brief glimpse of "normal" last weekend. Now I am limping again.

    Please, can someone give me some encouragement? Can this hip bursitis really be cured? Pills and shots have not helped. I am really counting on the PT, which has helped me the most. If that doesn't do it by Thanksgiving, I don't know what to do next.

    Thank you for listening.

    Mary Ellen
  • At my recent PT session, the therapist told me my hip bursitis is better, and the real problem is the SI joint. Upon further online research tonight, this sounds EXACTLY like what I have, and it even mentions that this often follows lumbar fusion surgery, and causes hip bursitis. I have also learned that one of my legs is shorter than the other, which may have contributed to the cause of the problem. Does anyone have experience with prolotherapy injections?
  • a two level discectomy/lami in July. Unfortunately it was not a success and I am now looking at fusion. However since my surgery, I have had extreme pain in both my hips. It is different than the usual low back/butt leg pain that I have always had since the begining of my injury.

    I mentioned it to the doctor, but he kind of just brushed it off, saying it was from my lower lumber and it can radiate into the hip.

    This is such a different pain and is the worst after I have been lying down, since I can only sleep on my sides. All of the narcotics that I have do not even touch this pain.Advil brings the pain down a small notch.

    Am wondering if it could be bursitis, how do they diagnose bursitis, if I can get my doctor to take me seriously that it doesn't seem to be from my lumbar.

    thanks! Hope that the prolotherapy is helpful for you if you proceed with it.

    >: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
  • Hi ouch2,

    My hip bursitis was diagnosed by the doctor, palpating my hip. This was after xrays ruled out arthritis. My surgeon, PCP, and physical therapist all diagnosed it the same way. It was confirmed when it improved with PT.

    I think my SI joint problem has been there since shortly after the fusion surgery, and none of the doctors mentioned this could be causing my back/buttocks pain. My PT just discovered it the other day. All this time they've been brushing off the back pain, and blaming it on the hip bursitis.

    I will need to talk with the PT tomorrow. Last time I went, she pressed really hard on the SI joint, really putting her weight on it. Kind of worried me, because my instrumentation is around there. Hope she didn't hurt anything inside. The surgery was done in March.

    I hope you find relief soon. Sorry if I don't sound very encouraging, but the more I read about SI joint dysfunction, the more discouraged I get
  • I just found your notes while trying to read up on bursitis, and you and I are in the same boat.

    I awoke in recovery room, after lumbar discectomy in 2007, with severe hip and leg pain. Nothing that I had ever experienced prior to surgery. My jerk surgeon (I won't call him a doctor) actually accused me in the hospital, of trying to manipulate him so that he would prescribe pain meds. I suffered horribly for 3 days until I got back home and my family doc prescribed Lyrica. It turned my unbearable pain into a dull pain I could live with.

    I then started going to a pain clinic where they performed caudal epidurals. I had approx 10 that never worked, before I tried a different doc, who injected at the nerve site, not the base of the spine. The other pain doc tried to tell me that pain meds injected at the base of the spine will rise to the level I needed. They did not.

    Anyway ... The actual nerve site epidurals keep me sane, requiring one every 3 months. Not full relief ... maybe enough to tolerate it.

    NOW ... Bursitis ... A few years ago my hip pain actually began to hurt more if I laid on that side while I slept.

    I just realize that I did not go into my pain ... After 2007 surgery, my hips and legs hurt so bad I couldn't lay on my side or stand up. And this my surgeon claimed was a ruse for pain meds. I was crying on the recovery table!

    Two days after returning home, I had no feeling in the skin between my left knee and top of the foot ... completely numb. It took 2 years to get 98% of the feeling back. But hip pain persisted.

    After going on Lyrica, the pain subsided so that I could walk without pain, but occassionally the tendons in my thigh ache considerably, and of course occassionally stabbing in my shin, but that only lasts awhile.,

    Ok ... Now after a while I realize that laying on my hip actually hurt more than I remembered. Then one morning I awoke and my hip hurt so bad I made an appt with my pain doc, but before I could get in to see him, the pain subsided. When I did see him, he said it was bursitis. But this I see as a different pain from what i have been experiencing in my hip. It hurts when I lay on it ... That is bursitis. It aches without any pressure point, that is nerve pain.

    They did several mri's ... one after I got home from surgery that showed nothing, and one a few years later that showed some arthritis ... and that arthritised nerve is where I get my injections, and they have been working for several years. But now the pain is getting stronger, and I am convinced it is NOT bursitis. Because of the pressure points.

    Do I sound like I am ranting? Well, it is 2am. I woke and could not sleep because of the pain, and tried to read about bursitis ... like I mentioned already.

    So please excuse my 2am iPad - finger pecking. It sounds to me that you might be more like me and less liike bursitis. Hope you discover the answer to your pain..
  • It’s been a while since my last post, and I need some advice. Here is a review and update of my situation:

    I am now almost 57 years old. At age 46 I had a total right knee replacement due to severe arthritis (and a fall). I had tried medication, steroid injections, and Synvisc injections, so surgery was approved, even though I was relatively young.

    Around 2008 at age 52, I developed severe sciatica, caused by spondylolisthesis and severe arthritis. In March 2011 I had a laminectomy and two-level lumbar fusion L3-L4, L4-L5. This corrected the sciatica problem.

    However, during recovery I first developed hip bursitis on my right side. This was corrected by about a month PT. (By the way, it was during this therapy period that my leg length discrepancy was noted. My right leg is shorter than my left. I don’t know if this was the case prior to my knee replacement, or developed after that.)

    As soon as the bursitis improved, I developed SIJD, and continued intermittent PT. This took me over a year to correct. At first, my Serola belt helped. Then it returned (pain was still right SI joint (dimple spot on lower right back). Tried new PT, and he corrected that in 12 visits. I had a good two months pain free – first time in years!

    Then, on December 11, 2012, my husband and I went to the Verizon store to upgrade our cell phones. This required a lot of time, all of which was standing, as there are NO CHAIRS in the store. I had to be standing for over an hour – well, standing and leaning against the counter anyway. The following day, I noticed severe pain in my inner right hip/thigh area when walking. Gave it a couple of weeks, and when I couldn’t take it any longer, went to my PT again. He seems to think it is my ITB that is irritated. In addition to my thigh pain, the ITB is extremely tender, from my hip to my knee. I work fulltime. So now I MUST walk with a cane to maintain my stability. I am applying heat, using a TENS unit, and taking Vicodin at bedtime. Seeing the PT twice a week, and always using my cane. I have only had two visits with the PT, and for now, I am only allowed to do three exercises. (I realize it is kind of early to expect results from my treatments, but I do have a lot of faith in this therapist). The new PT emphasized that I need to stand up tall and straight when I walk, and lengthen my stride. Definitely wants me to keep using the cane. He recommended stopping the ibuprofen, which I did. Wasn’t helping anyway.

    I have an appointment with a rheumatologist on January 24. This will be my first visit with one. In the meantime, I have an appointment with my primary physician tomorrow afternoon. Hoping she will order some x-rays or other tests, and additional labs, so I can be more prepared for the specialist, maybe a different pain RX. This walking pain is really bad.

    Does anyone have any advice for me? Thank you.
  • Please see SI Joint Pain After fusion thread if you would like to respond. Thanks.
  • Hi. I am new to this forum. I am a 43 year old mom of 3 and grandma of 1 little guy who doesn't understand why Grammy cant pick him up ;) But what a God send. Explained a lot for me reading these posts. I had lumbar left sided TLIF on 12-28-12. I was doing really well until two days ago when I first devolved tenderness in my hip and mostly upper thigh. Now it's to the point it hurts to the touch and shooting sharp pain down the same area when walking. I now am experiencing a lot of fatigue and general achy all over. I'm thinking #1 could be this Bursitis you are all talking about and maybe #2 maybe coming down with something? Can someone explain to me what Bursitis is and what it is caused from? I have a call into the Dr. But no rerun call yet. Just generally feeling yucky and a little scared. Thank you in advance for any advice. This do nice to read related stories thank you.
  • I also feel very itchy at times in the hip and upper thigh area and sometimes a little numb.
  • Laurrart - so you are only 3 or so weeks post fusion?. I would check that out rather than making assumptions as I think you are still in the time period where blood clots or infections are possible, so I think you need to see a Dr just to be on the soft aside and rule anything too immediately nasty out. Odds are its nothing, but why take a risk when there is no need to. Good luck.
  • odile53oodile53 Posts: 65
    edited 01/17/2013 - 4:38 AM
    Maryellen, about ten years before I had the injury that resulted in my lumbar laminectomy/microdiscectomy/fusion, I had hip bursitis that was brought about after I stripped and refinished a floor--on my hands and knees. I was on a Medrol pack for ten days, and walking with a cane for much of that time. I have had no recurrence of those symptoms, even despite my back surgery a month ago. I have had hip pain on that side since surgery, but it is not joint pain--it's from the iliac crest, where they harvested some bone for the fusion.

    Laurarrt--if you have hip pain, and they did any kind of incision over that spot, they may have harvested bone from the top of the hip bone (the iliac crest.) Now, they use a bone saw (yuck) to get the small amount of bone they need. It's under controlled and sterile conditions, but basically, it's a broken bone. At a few weeks postop it feels like a nagging dull ache at the spot in many people.

    The thigh symptoms you describe (sharp pains, sometimes shooting, the numbness, and the itching) on the hip to upper thigh sound like they might be nerve irritation that occurred during the course of the operation itself. They have to stretch these nerves to get at the facet joints and nerve roots, and nerves don't like to be stretched. I was told by my neurosurgeon to expect a sensation that he described as a "charlie horse" from the hip going over the front of my thigh to my knee for quite some time after surgery. Sometimes the area feels totally normal. Sometimes it itches. Sometimes it burns. And sometimes it spasms (cramps) right up. "Charlie horse?" HA! If I overdid it on any particular day, it feels more like the running of the Kentucky Derby! And if I want a particularly bizarre sensation, when I use an epilator over the area, it feels like I'm getting jolted with jumper cables!

    I'm a couple weeks ahead of you, and I noticed that the area of pain is gradually and almost imperceptibly, but definitely, shrinking. To confirm my observations, twice a week I identify the area and mark the upper and lower borders with a pen. My doctor said that at least 60 percent of fusion patients experience the "charlie horse" thing, in half of them it's gone in six months, and as for the other half of the people it is gone or nearly gone in a year. He reinforced with me that LIGHT walking (i.e., around the block a couple times a day) will help with getting more oxygen to the site, thus promoting healing, and that I should use the walker when doing so, just in case old Charlie decides it's time to kick me during the walk.

    But for both of you--I'd contact my doctor, or at least the PA, have them call you back and describe what you described here. I'm just describing my experiences: As the ad goes, your mileage may vary.

    Good luck to both of you.

    I'm not a spinal diagnosis. I'm a human being with a spinal diagnosis.
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