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6 month post spinal fusion update

ohmybackoohmyback Posts: 39
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello All...

I am now just over 6 months past my L3-L4-L5 spinal fusion and I just wanted to update on my progress. I have been fully fused since about the 4 month mark. The doctor says I should be in a textbook it looks so good. Haha.

Unfortunately, I don't feel as well as I expected after a successful fusion. I am still in quite a bit of pain, which is very frustrating since I am supposedly fixed. I have pain that goes from my low left back around my hip and into my groin. I never had any groin pain previously. I had injections in my hips, and twice into my SI joint, with no relief.

I don't take any pain medication any more, although I never really did because it doesn't seem to help and I have a two year old to take care of. I have had a host of other health issues that spawned from the surgery (such as gastritis) and I have to say that overall I am pretty disappointed with my results to date. I don't know how people go back to work after this. I am in such bad shape if I do anything, such as cleaning the house or picking up my daughter. It's just so frustrating. I guess I am hoping someone will tell me it's going to get better.

-frustrated and depressed


  • I'm sort of in the same boat as you. My NS released me 3 weeks ago because I was fully fused. So he then referred me to a physiatrist because he says the pain I have now is all muscular. I will be seeing the physiatrist next week and hope to get some answers. Have you tried to see one yourself? Have you tried PT?

    Well, my whole body has started to change after this one-level cervical fusion. My right leg has hiked up more than 1 inch causing my hips to be unleveled. Then I herniated the discs in my lower back and I have a lot of new pain that I didn't have before the surgery.

    I recently spoke with an acquaintance who is a rheumatologist, he said that full recovery from a spinal fusion is usually from 12-18 months. My acupuncturist says that is the standard time frame surgeons tell their patients. Well, mine told me that if I am still in pain by 9 months post-op, then the pain will stay! I'm not sure how I feel about using a surgeon who really has no idea what recovery is like because he drops you the minute you are fused! I guess too late to do anything about that!

    I also do not take any medication, but I have to say that the pain I have is not nerve related. I'm assuming you are not dealing with nerve pain? I can't do any house cleaning at all, so my husband has been doing most of it. I can do laundry, cooking and grocery shopping, but not more than that. Good luck and let's hope your pain is muscular and you can find a good physiatrist to work with! :)

    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Oh geez...what a doc you have. My pain is definitely nerve related. I had a bout a few weeks ago where my pain was as bad as before surgery. This was evidently the result of overdoing it on a visit to Chicago...although overdoing it seems to be relative for us spinal patients. I would never have considered going to the zoo as overdoing it in my previous life.

    I do indeed still do all the cleaning and looking after my daughter. Some things I don't do, such as empty the bottom rack of the dishwasher and picking things up off the floor. (too much bending) I just deal with the consequences later.

    I guess I just thought I would be moving on with my life by now. I have been gaining a little weight due to inactivity but mostly my body has just gotten a lot lumpier, especially around the middle. It's really depressing. I can't even bend over to pick something up. I have to squat or do the funny swing your leg back and hold onto the counter maneuver.

    I was kicked out of PT a couple months ago due to my pain level. I was referred to a pain specialist who wanted to put me on oxy but I just decided it wasn't worth it. So I feel stuck. I want my life back. I want to be able to play with my daughter, and be active and some days I just don't want to deal with it anymore. Sorry for the rant. I am just really frustrated.
  • I hate to say I am ever happy to hear of someone's pain, but when you mentioned groin pain I have to say, thank you for writing that!I have not found anyone else mentioning it. This is a very painful thing. It is not 24/7, it flares up and then goes away for sometimes a couple of days. Sitting too long will flare it. Can I ask you if it is similar to yours?

    I have had a crazy year, cervical fusion in January and lumbar in may.
    Unfortunately, I too have pain that hasn't gone away. They tell me that my neck was 25% fused in August, I am getting pins and needles down my arms when I bend my neck and stay that way too long (typing on the laptop :( )
    I also have shoulder pain and limited ROM, they just did a mri.

    I also have new pain in my low back, groin, butt and left leg. I didn't have this prior to my surgery.
    When I went in for the post op I saw the PA, she said not to worry, it's normal and I should give it time.
    However when I saw the NS at 3 months he was not happy and felt I was not doing well. The fusion is growing well, they used BMP to help. But I have the pain and weakness.
    So, he sent me off to a PM doctor and an ortho to check on the shoulder.
    I am scheduled to have shots in 2 weeks, I am trying to keep a positive mindset and hope that it willl help.
    I do have nerve and muscle pain. I am taking neurontin, tramadol, zanaflex. Since they increased teh neurontin up to 2400 mg a day there is some pain relief, not all, but I will take any relief.

    I am so sorry to hear others with similar pain, but in some ways relieved that I am not alone.

    take care
  • Yes, most of my pain is muscular, but some occasional nerve pain. I agree about the whole "overdoing" it. I still haven't quite figured out what that means. Running errands for my kids and the family can sometimes mean "overdoing" it. I'm also very frustrated and fed up with trying to manage my pain. I personally chose not to be on meds, although I will take a muscle relaxant when I need to sleep. I refuse to be on any narcotics.

    Give yourself time for nerve pain to subside. Many people on this forum found that it took over a year. You are lucky not to have any muscular pain. I have very weak muscles in my upper back due to the foraminal and spinal stenosis. Rehab will take a while and I pray I regain the strength that I once had.
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
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