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Is there still hope?

ohmybackoohmyback Posts: 39
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am now 9 months post op from a 2 level lumbar fusion and unfortunately for me, I am still in quite a lot of pain. Not that I expected to be pain free, mind you, but I certainly thought it would be better than this. I guess I am looking for a little hope, because as a 29 year old in otherwise relatively good health, I feel like every day I wake up in pain, I am closer to losing my mind. My worst fear is spending the next 50 years living like this. I don't take any pain meds because I have a 2 year old to care for, and my doc has basically written me off as a success because I am fused. He has done more steroid injections since my surgery (which never help) and then recommended me to a pain specialist who was a total quack and just wanted to put my on oxy.

I have gained probably 10 lbs since my surgery, exercise is not possible, and I am getting really depressed and angry. I imagine the advice here will be to see a doctor for meds, but I do try to avoid taking meds when possible.

Someone please say it gets better.


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Why are you living in daily pain when there are meds that can help you? I fully understand your need to take care of your kids and not want to be on drugs but there are medications that will allow you to live a normal life or as normal as us spineys can get. Maybe you can speak with the doctors about switching your meds until you can find the best fit for you. I am on numerous medication and am able to work full time, take care of both of my elderly parents, and raised my son alone to become a great man. Please reconsider speaking with a doctor and trying different meds.Untreated Pain can cause so many issues in a persons life.
  • I agree with Susan where she suggested that you could speak with your doctor about finding a suitable pain med that will help you cope. Steroid injections didn't help me either.

    Each of us heals differently, and for me, I still had back pain at 7 months out and it gradually improved. I'm not pain free now but can do most of what I want.

    Do you have help with your 2 year old? There might be some movement you're doing that is aggravating your back??

    Whilst I was fused before the 6 month check-up, I was still healing for many months.

    Hope you can get some help with your pain.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I appreciate the responses thus far. I feel like I am spinning my wheels because daily life seems to cause me so much pain, general housework, cooking, decorating for the holidays etc. I rarely lift anything but my 30lb daughter, but I do live with the mentality of if it needs done, I am going to do it, pain or no pain. (within reason of course, I am talking general life stuff here) I don't want to take pain meds because of my 2 year old, but also because I find everything I have tried thus far does nothing for the pain and makes me very sick. (I got gastritis as a result of my surgery and it causes me grief daily)

    I am going back to see my neuro next week for a final fling at figuring out what is wrong. I am thinking I have a problem at another level or maybe they caused permanent nerve damage during the surgery. My skin is highly sensitive to touch all over my backside. Anyways I just need an answer...I hope I get one. And I may break down for the pain killers but I know deep down it isn't a long term solution.
  • As you've heard plenty of times I'm sure, each of us recovers differently. I had a double lumbar L4-S1 and that first year was difficult. Prior to the surgery I could hardly walk, couldn't stand for very long, and had no use of my left foot due to a pinched nerve. Post-op I could use my foot again but the nerves "turned on" as it healed and I thought I would go crazy with the pain. I was always stiff, uncomfortable, it was hard to work out, my foot felt like it was on fire most days, and I had bouts of pain.

    I had the surgery when I was 28, so I understand that frustration. "Will I be in this amount of pain for the rest of my life? Because I have a lot of life left. No one my age, that I know, has this kind of problem."
    I had that depression that came with every aspect of this surgery/recovery. My husband deployed to Afghanistan a year post-op and I was in no way clear of the pain when he did so that left every chore in and out of the house for me to do alone. We have no family where we live and friends would help now and then but really I was on my own. 1 year post-op and I couldn't sit to save my life. My tailbone felt like it was going to burn my whole backside off. It was sharp and kept me from doing stuff that required sitting...social things. I got back into PT and they had to realign my hips, and this took a few months of constantly pulling and tugging and strengenthing those muscles but eventually the pain subsided.

    What I had to keep in mind, was that my body was adjusting to it's new normal. I pushed it when it shouldn't have been a lot of the time. I didn't push it like I should have as well. (Excersise etc.)
    But now, two years later, with the exception of some minor stiffness, and the slight lingering nerve damage to my foot, I am pain free.

    So while I don't know your situation fully, I can at least say there is hope. It's a long recovery and being the squeaky wheel will pay off. Get someone to get your pain under control. I opted to stay off pain medication and to allow ice and physical therapy to do what it would do. I think I literally lived with ice on my back for a year.

    But you asked if there was hope, and there is. I can only say this in hindsight now because that first year was so difficult. It does get better for most of us, but it takes time, an absurd amount of patience and work.

    Do see your doctor, and pain management to see what they can do to ease the pain. Make sure you haven't aggravated something in the area, or that another disc hasn't been damaged. Find out all you can so you can find the solution. Mine was physical therapy for months and months and months as my body adjusted to the fusion. Also a memory foam topper for my bed helped A TON.

    I hope it gets better, keep your chin up and do pray you find answers for the pain.
  • You have more options so yes there is hope.

    I disagree with some of the other comments. They follow the same pattern of just see a PM doc and get drugs. Not everyone has to live with drugs. Sadly many on here think and do just that.

    Since you have a small child to deal with it is understandable you can't be doped up. You can take a moderate pain killer or nerve pain killer to take the edge off. Say a 50% reduction in pain without becoming stupid. That way you can safely take care of your child and not get so depressed.

    Next, go see that surgeon who you feel is writing you off as a success. Tell him that is not acceptable. He is not just to turn you over to a PM doc and unload you. He has a responsibility as your surgeon to follow through. Just because he worked on discs, added hardware, whatever. That is not sufficient and you are still in a lot of pain. You want him to examine you again from the beginning and figure out what is wrong. You need to be stern and make it absolutely clear you are not accepting this. Think of your kid and how upset you are you can't spend the time with him/her you want too. Once that mom instinct kicks in. I'm sure you can muster up what you need to get in that surgeons face.

    Then go get a second opinion from a surgeon who has success with redo surgery. Sometimes the 2nd set of eyes alone will find something. If the 1st surgeon screwed up, the 2nd, if he is honest, will tell you what is wrong.

    There is hope if you don't give up, doesn't matter what others on here say, me included. See my signature, that's when you give up...

    Good luck.
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