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10 months post L5-S1 PLIF - pain has returned in low back and in both legs..ideas?

Krash4882KKrash4882 Posts: 3
I was in a car accident in 2008. Within a year, I was diagnosed with 2 ruptured discs in my neck at C4-C6 and I had a double anterior fusion done in December 2009. I was also diagnosed with a severely ruptured disc at L5-S1 which had developed scar tissue on my sciatic nerves on both sides so I was suffering extreme pain and numbness/tingling from disc fluid pressure and scar tissue pressure. I had a laminectomy in March of 2010 and underwent a month of physical therapy and then an extra month of aquatic therapy. During the aquatic therapy, I was pushed too hard and re-ruptured the repaired disc. I had a Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 in January 2011. The surgery went great, I recovered well and followed all instructions for the 3 months of rest, then began physical therapy and had very little if any pain. I finished my 1 month and started going to the gym on my own walking on the treadmill and doing the exercises I was doing in physical therapy. I used the elliptical machine a few times but I started having minor low back pain on my left side going across my waistline, down into my butt/hip, and down my left leg. It has gotten progressively worse over time and I was told by my doctor to cease activity. I still do stretches and walk but the only thing I've done at the gym is use the pool to try to keep things loosened up. It feels like the muscles around the left side of my pelvis are very tight and I spend a lot of time trying to loosen them to help relieve the pain but it doesn't last long. I do hamstring stretches, piriformis stretches/exercises, but have stopped stretching my low back by slowly bending over to touch my toes because I fear I'm causing damage. As far as medications go, I am on Norco 7.2/325 (2 every 6 hours, max 6/day), Percocet 7.5/325 1 per night, Motrin 600 1 every 8 hours, Neurontin 400mg 1 every 8 hours, Tinazidine 2mg 1 as needed (for neck pain from muscle spasm), Robaxin 750mg 1 every 8 hours, Valium 5mg 1 morning and night, and Elavil 100mg 1 per night, It's amazing that all that just doesn't provide relief. It barely takes the edge off and allows me to function. With the pain returning so long after my fusion I cannot figure out if there's scar tissue in there again, if there's a problem with the bone(s) and/or hardware, or if a facet joint is blocked/affected. I have had 2 caudal steroid injections and neither provided any relief whatsoever. Instead, the pain has spread to my right side as well and now my right calf/foot ache constantly. I can feel the aching pain "shooting" from my lower back, across my waistline, down my butt, around the outside of my thigh and calf, and into my foot where I get an ache both on the outside and in the arch. I will have to look in to a selective nerve root block maybe. I have recently gone for a bone scan and a CT/myelogram. I will get the results and find out what my surgeon plans to do during my next visit on 11/11/11. I don't want to live on narcotics and my pain management doctor doesn't want to resort to that either so I'm trying everything. The pain is the same type of pain I had while waiting for the fusion surgery I had in January. Thanks for anyone who took the time to read. I'm open to any advice.

UPDATE 10/23 - Left work early today because of the aching pain in both hips/legs. I have also noticed some feeling of weakness lately - mainly in my left leg where the pain first started coming back. Now I'm feeling it in both hips/thighs. My left leg has buckled multiple times while walking. Hoping the tests I've had done provide some answers. I feel just like I did prior to the fusion back in January.


C4-C6 Anterior Cervical Fusion (December 2009)
L5-S1 Laminectomy (March 2010)
L5-S1 Fusion (PLIF) (January 2011)



  • Hi ~ I imagine that you have plenty of scar tissue after your surgeries. Even tho they may have removed some, that causes MORE scar tissue to form. So they could keep removing it, but more will form all the time.

    I've had sciatica for over 25 years (yeah, no kidding) and it's enough to drive you nuts. First, you should be on a high dosage of Neurontin. 400mg is a very LOW dose -- you can go up as high as 3300mg of Neurontin and still be safe. I found that Neurontin didn't work well for me -- I gained weight, plus had water retention. My doc switched me to Topamax, and I had NO problems with that. It took away all the burning/tingling, etc. Also, your pain meds are NOT extended release -- you should be on a longer acting pain medication, such as MS Contin or Oxycontin, etc. Also, your pain meds have alot of Tylenol in them -- that's hard on the liver when you take it for any length of time. Ask your doc about an extended release medication -- it should work better. You'll still need something for breakthru pain tho.

    Best of luck and I'm sorry you're having such pain. Take care & keep us posted. Hugs, Lee
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