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Extreme Nerve Pain after ALIF...need Help from other Spine Fusion recoverers!!

SplendagrrlSSplendagrrl Posts: 108
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Ok I need help from fellow Spineys! Anyone who has been through back fusion and experienced anything remotely like I am going through. First off just had ALIF surgery a week ago on two levels L4-5 and L5-S1. I did great in hospital 4 days was up day after surgery making two loops walking around hospital. By The 4th day was walking,dressing myself everything. So I went home had normal surgery pain in back and stomach, but could take care of myself, I live in country and started walking clear down driveway to mail box and back on my own things seemed to be going good. I still had back pain but the meds helped with that and my pre nerve pain in my legs was gone. Then things went hay wire around the 7th day. It's kind of hard but will explain to the best of my ability, hoping someone will have been through this and can give me their experiences.

First thing I all of a sudden started getting shooting random pains down the middle of my back, my back would go out then it would be over. At the same time my back started hurting so bad all the time in the middle and over to the right where I had to call the doctor and tell him my meds were not controlling my pain. That's when they said they would up the pain meds and the made me a pre-op appt the next day and I would pick up the script then and could talk to the doctor.

While all of this is going on I am suddenly having jerk like spAsms all the time when I get tired. I will start to fall asleep easily then my phone or lap top will jerk and fly out of my hand. Weird never ever had these jerks before.

Anyway so the next day I went to the appt talked to the doctor looked at my X-rays, he upped my pain meds and told me the pain on the right side might be the SI joint and he sets up an appointment for me to get a shot for tha joint to help with the pain he also said this doc might be able to help me with my neck also which I had a fusion on two years ago and now all of a sudden is also causing me extreme pain.

So anyway after the appointment things don't seem to bad, I got meds for my pain and I am going to see someone about the S I joint and then my neck, other then that the healing seems to be going alright, I am doing tons of walking and practically taking care of my self. Me and my daughter even stop at Costco on the way home and got a few things, we also picked up my new prescription. I know this sounds crazy but suddenly all hell broke loose by the time I got home and hubby was a witness to the horror.

On the way home because first off all it's a hour and a half trip to the doctor, then an hour and a half home, then an hour at Costco and half an hour picking up my new medicine from pharmacy. So by that time I am suddenly starting to hurt so took one of the pills on the way home. When I got home I was hurting bad I walked into the kitchen I got an electric shock down my spine and back went out at same time, I screamed and grabbed the counter to keep from falling. This was the worst pain of my life. Now I couldn't walk so hubby helped me to bed. I decided that pill wasn't working for crap so took another because it says 1-2 every 4 hours. So I lay there awhile biting my tongue in pain, meds are not working, waiting for second pill to kick in. Of course then I have to go to bathroom ugghhhh I asked hubby to come help me so he puts his arm around me and try's to pull me up and the electric shock and back lock up hit at the same time again and I scream in hubby's ear. Let me tell you I have been through alot of pain in my life but never so bad I actually let out a scream like I have been stabbed. It's like when I go to sit up now or stand the pressure on my spine in the middle sends an electric shock and pain so bad from the pressure it just gives out or just locks. So this happens a few more times and I am getting scared.

So now almost every time I almost fall asleep this is when I am not moving at all. I fall asleep and am waken up by an electric shock in my spine where I jerk awake practically bouncing in the air screaming body jerking then my back locks for a few seconds in that extremely painful moment. So I finally make it through the night after taking just about everything I could to go to sleep. Well I try to get up this morning and it happens again, my husbands not home, I am scared to death because I am just laying here doing nothing and this pain shoots through me and wakes me up and can't breathe at the same time. So this next one I am laying here holding my phone I get this electric shock, locking of my back, body jerks and phone flys out of my hand and I am really scared because I can't move and no help. The pain is so bad I don't want to reach for the phone and get another shock. Anyway I lay there long enough deciding if when I get the phone I am just going to call the ambulance or what. I finally get the phone and decide I am going to just take lots of meds and stay in bed all day maybe this is all happening because I have been doing too much. So that is my plan as well as calling the doctor to let them know what is going on.

I feel totally weird with all this stuff going on suddenly and many things all at once. It is so hard to deal with and feel normal after surgery. In fact was never told what was normal or not normal to do or feel after surgery during recovery anyway. What I need to know is if anyone recovering from fusion has ever had these extremely painful shocks in spine and if so what happened or what were they called or what was your diagnosis. Please help I am scared, in pain and now suddenly feel like things are going crazy and who is going to believe me anyway.


  • Jackie, I am so sorry you're going through this. I've never had a fusion, so I can't really gave you any fusion experiences. It does sound like maybe an ER trip might be needed! It sounds awful!!! I'm sure someone will jump in that have had ALIF, an gave you some first hand experiences! Take care, gentle hugs, Brenda. C.
  • Could I suggest that you're being a little too active for so early on in your recovery. It's boring having to rest so much, but do try and slow down. From what I'm reading, your back is "screaming" at you to take things easier.

    Good that you've got your pain meds increased, which I hope is helping now.

    I did get back spasms and nerve pain in areas that were different to pre-surgery and I soon knew when I'd overdone things because the pain level soared. This went on for a few months, gradually decreasing. Thankfully, I didn't get electric shocks or body jerks.

    I was confined to home for 6 weeks until I could drive, and then it was only locally. My first outing was to the surgeon for the 6 week check-up and a friend took me. The "four walls" syndrome was horrible but I was determined to get well. I got tearful at times.

    I didn't start walking outside the house until a couple of weeks out. I did lots of short walks up and down the patio which is smooth and flat.

    Once I was able to go outside the house to walk, I used a walker and when I got tired, could sit down on it, and then continue. I made sure I stood up as straight as I could. Once I was able to dispense with the walker, then I walked more. It was Spring and the weather was beautiful and so I went walking every day on the path alongside the creek, which is just behind my back fence.

    Hope your recovery starts to go more smoothly now.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I think you forgeting you are still recovering, long dive? Spazms will hapen i am sure if the muscle was cut to do the fusion, You want to have less pain then you have to work your way up to more activity slowly.

    You are not doing yourself much good if you hapen to start geting too active soon as pain is not too bad, I would do less so i dont need to take more pills and work my way up, this could take months not days or weeks,

    So do only slow things around the house and once everything heals up will still be maybe a long recovery, Untill you reach a point where you are doing pt and exercsises for 6 months and you feeling strong you are way too early to posibly be driving 2 to 3 hours and also walking and standing for hours, Remeber its fusion right?

    You cant rush fusion and recovery, Let mother nature take over,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • So sorry that you are dealing with so much pain,spasms and jerking. I agree with the others that you had a huge day, and your body is probably screaming out because of it. Just reading all that you did yesterday and thinking of sitting in a car that long, walking around costco, hurts me just thinking of it, and I am not 1 week post fusion.

    Is there anyone you can have stay with you today, so that you are not alone and can help you with things (getting you something to eat, helping you if you need to get up to stretch, bathroom etc)?

    Have you called the doctor to let them know what is going on? Are you on any muscle relaxers to help with spasms?

    Thinking of you today, hope that the pain settles down for you. Let us know how you are doing, when you are up to it.

    Big but very gentle >:D<
    >: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
  • You are ONE WEEK post op!!! Try to take it easy. Getting worked up is only going to make the situation worse (Trust me I know from experience). Maybe your doctor can prescribe you valium. It helps a lot for the anxiety as well as muscle spasms.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • So sorry you are in so much pain! I really do understand.

    Surgeons tend to bathe the nerves in steroids right before they close your incision to help with the pain. This tends to help for the first week or so. Then it wears off.....

    You can't really go back in time, but you can help to make the future days more tolerable.

    Try to look at your days in blocks of 4 hour time periods. During that block of time, take your pain meds regularly~set your alarm if needed. Try to eat a little something. Rest and try to nap and try to walk a little....walk around your home.

    I wouldn't walk outside very far right now as I think you a experiencing a bit of a "set back". Not sure if you reclinded your seat in the car or if you sat for the car ride. My surgeon limits my sitting as it puts so much pressure on your spine. I can only sit 20-30 minutes at a time a couple times a day.

    I cried alot between week 1-2 after my fusion. My sister held my hand one day as I was in so much pain and just waiting for time to tick by on the clock so I could take more meds.

    Hang in there! You may need to have your meds increased during these early weeks. During both of my fusions, I took 10-15 mg oxicodone every 4-6 hours and had narco 10 mg for breakthru pain.

    Please let us know how you are doing! Wishing you the very best!

  • Thanks Trisha for your input and advice. I guess you are right maybe I was just doing to much. It just did not seem like it. I was specifically never given any rules except no bending, lifting or twisting which I was not doing. The only thing I was doing was walking, and was never told there were limits there in fact everything I have read was about walk, walk, and walk some more. And at the time it was not causing me any pain. So I don't really know. I basically have confined myself to bed for a few days to see what happens.
  • Alexhurting thanks for giving me advice and taking the time to read my post and trying to help me. I know I am in recovery but had to go to my post op appointment with my surgeon which was an hour and half one way. I really had no option there and my daughter did the driving. Remember I had been sitting in the car all day so us stopping at Costco for a few things was for me to stretch my legs and get my walking in for the day. I have not been really doing anything since I have been home, I hired my daughter to cook and clean so the only thing I have done is walk to the mail and back each day. I was told you should be walking 15 to 20 mins a day so I did not think my walk to the mail box was hurting anything. I had not had the bad pain until 7 days after surgery so it was just weird for it to suddenly happen and for the pain to be so bad that all of a sudden my pain meds were not working. I agree at least I am thinking it must be right that I am overdoing things by my walk so now I have put myself on bed rest and no walking to mail for a few days to see if things settle down. I am just Hopi g there is not something else going on because of the surgery. I also have been taking the same meds for five yrs only upped the dosage once so this was definitely not to have to get more stronger meds. And would never ask unless the pain was there.
  • Thanks Karen for the sweet HUGZ! Yes my daughter is with me waiting on me, cooking, cleaning going to the store etc..I do haves call in to the doctor and have not heard back yet. Yes I was already taking Cymbalta for nerve pain, Soma for relaxing muscles, and the highest dose Percocet. Then my doc ordered the straight Oxycodone and that did nothing at all pain wise. So I ended up taking both the Percocet and the Oxy and that has helped. I still have lots of pain but it works better than nothing. Yesterday I put myself on bed rest and slept all day and no walking except to bathroom. It seems to have settled things down a little, so I am going to keep this up through the weekend and see what happens. If these nerve shocks do not go away then something else is going on.
  • Donnabe, thanks for taking the time to read my post and reply. I don't understand why I have given the impression to everyone that I have not been taking it easy. I hired my daughter to cook, clean, help me, take care of the animals etc.. I have not lifted one finger since getting out of the hospital. The only thing I have done is my once a day Dailey walks which is the impression I got that we were supposed to do and the best thing for us. I only went somewhere one day and that was to my post op app, grabbed a few groceries with my daughter on the way home and got in my Dailey walk there instead of at home. I was not having any anxiety at all in fact things were going great until the 7 th day when the pain hit big time for no apparent reason. I do have xnax which was given to me by the doc prior to surgery to help me relax if I need it. I just wish everyone who has been through back fusions would tell me how their pain was so I could have some comparisons and see if I am on a normal recovery tract or not. Do you know if there is an article telling what to expect pain wise during recovery from fusion and what we should or should not be doing during recovery??
  • Thank you Shari for reading my post, listening and really giving me what I need in your post reply. Telling me a little about your experience helps me tremendously to know a little of what should be going on right now. I wish everyone would give me their experiences the first week or two after fusion. There seems to be alot of info on what you will need as so forth during post op, but there is not anything telling us how we should feel or what we will probably go through to know if we are having a pretty normal recovery or not. I also have found no guidelines of exactly what we should or should not be doing after surgery. I have read alot about letting pain be your guide and really thats what I was doing. I was feeling pretty good, taking my normal pain killers, going for walks each day with no problems afterwards, nothing to say hey you need to slow down a little, no warnings nothing. Just suddenly boom!!! Pain out of control!!!

    So the only thing is like you said I must suddenly be having a set back. So I cut off walking to the mail and now on bed rest because now I can't hardly move or walk. When I get up I feel like my back is going to go out. I put in a call to the doctor and now just kind of waiting to see what's going to happen. Funny that you mention the steroids because at my post op my doctor said he did not do that for me. So anyway right now I am in bed, back to square one can hardly walk, taking the meds that I have, Percocet and Oxycodone and they both together are doing alright as long as I don't do anything. Trying to change positions enough to stay comfortable, doing alot of reading online. Thanks for your concern, I am alive and well at the moment...lol
  • I remember my fusion. First few days was not so bad right after surgery i was not bad,

    I think the medicarion they pump in there while they are doing surgery keeps everything calm. Once that wears off and you start moving around walking you finaly start to feel everything,

    Once you start walking all the nerves start going back in to place and setling back in to place, back muscle has to build back up because everything is on the legs now with back being weak,

    I had hard back brace so it was a bitch geting in the car and drive, Eat healthy and do what ever it takes to fuse so you dont have further issues later with fusion,

    Good luck
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Hi Jackie

    Sorry if I came on a bit strong about activity levels. It's all "trial and error" during the early days finding out what's the right level of activity.

    My post-surgery back pain was more like a great big ache and couldn't get comfortable no matter what I did. Then there was some leg pain. I was taking Oxycodone every 4 hours with Oxycontin twice a day, and Neurontin (Gabapentin) twice a day. The meds didn't take away the pain, but made it bearable.

    With walking, I did lots and lots of small walks around the house and patio, at all times of the day and night. I did walk out to collect my mail, but then my letterbox is not too far away from the house. Being in the country, not sure how far your's is from the house. It was a couple of weeks before I ventured outside the house, and I could only do about 10 house blocks before I fatigued. I used a walker for a couple of weeks. I was able to gradually increase distances.

    The back ache/spasms went on for 6-7 months. The spasms were in the thoracic area. The leg pain gradually decreased during a three month period. Once I went out walking, I started getting pains in different areas of the body, especially the hips. I understood it was the back settling into a different position, and it went after a couple of weeks.

    My stomach was tender for a few months. I had the usual swelling after abdominal surgery. Once the stitches dissolved and I'd seen the surgeon, I started using Bio-Oil on the scar to soften it, and today the scar is barely visible.

    Terrific that your daughter is with you caring for your every whim :))( You need lots of cheering up and support.

    As the days go by, you'll work out what the right level of activity is for you. If your back starts screaming at you, then you'll know to pull back and rest. We've all done too much at times and paid for it !!

    Keep as well as you can.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Checking in to see how you are doing.How wonderful that you have your daughter helping you with household chores and for support.

    For myself, like Shari, I would do things in 3-4 hour blocks (actually still do as my surgery was unsuccessful and am now awaiting fusion) I would rest, take my pain meds, when they kicked in, walk around a bit, stretch, eat, drink, and then do it all over again.

    Car rides are the worst for me as I am still unable to really sit. Generally if it is more than 15 minutes, I am a passenger,I lie my seat all the way back. I then lie on my side with a pillow between my knees and one behind my head. This is the most comfortable for me.

    Sending healing vibes and prayers your way.

    more gentle >:D<
    >: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
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