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Intense pain after fusion

aztankeraaztanker Posts: 16
Hello forum! I had my L4-L5 and L5-S1fusion (finally after 3 years of fighting with insurance companies) about 6 weeks ago. I was in the Army for 17 1/2 years where I was shot, had metal fragments in my arm and side from an explosion, and had my tibias both shatter due to another explosion and I have NEVER felt the pain I am now in. From week 2 1/2 after surgery, I have massive pain that reaches from the left side of my lower back (where the sciatic nerve was pinched numb for years) down to the side of my left foot including the ankle. The only way I can lower the pain is by laying down completely flat and moving around until I find the right spot and stay there. My question to all of you is: Is this pain normal? (Dr. says it is) and How long can this pain last? For weeks now I have gotten little to no sleep, can barely walk to the bathroom etc, and I cannot even sit up a bit to eat. No meds that surgeon has prescribed works to dull pain even a little. Not even Gabapentin 1800mg per day. Any help or supportive stories will help. Thanks everyone for being here with me on this site!


  • I think that the pain you're describing is the one thing I'll remember the rest of my life - the lightning bolt, massive shooting pain down my legs after my L4/5 TLIF. I had to use a walker and even then I sometimes couldn't make it more than two feet, would start crying and my hubby had to take me down to my recliner (that felt best for me).

    Luckily, it went away after about 1-1/2 to 2 weeks, but it's a real bear while it's there. If you've talked to your surgeon and he isn't concerned, then just hang in there the best you can. The nerves sometimes get really angry after all the work they do during surgery and retaliate, but they'll calm down in time.

    With that said, if it continues more than a couple of weeks or you become concerned, be sure to contact your surgeon again. It's never wrong to call them, even if they say everything is normal.

    Take care and hang in there.
  • First of all, thank you Cathie for your interest and comment. Unfortunatly, so far I have had that pain(exactly like you described. I don't cry often but I have 3x since the pain began)I have had that pain for 3 1/2 weeks so far and I don't see the end. How did the pain subside? Was it slowly, little by little feeling better? Or did it seem rather sudden in the way pain went away? I am beyond concerned about this pain, so is my step-dad who had the same surgery years ago, however, the surgeon as I said is not concerned.
  • Hi Michael. If I remember correctly, it subsided slowly, I didn't just wake up one day and it was gone. But once I started feeling it going away, I felt like it would be ok.

    It may not be the normal post-op angry nerves if it goes on too long, so keep your surgeon informed. Some people have found that there are other reasons this happens to them, a missed fragment, a loose screw, etc., but sometimes it's just angry nerves that get better. You'll only know with time.

    Rest, try to walk and keep a close eye one it. I really do feel your pain.

  • Thanks again Cathie!
    I have tried to walk, however the pain is just so severe in the foot and ankle that I cannot put any pressure on it without either stumbling, or just crying like a little baby. I am going to see a new pain mgmt doc next wed so I hope he will have some options for me. I also have orders for pt, but surgeon doesn't want me to even call them to set appt up until some of this pain stops. I really am glad I signed up on this site a couple years ago. Since the main problems started showing their nasty side, I have felt quite alone in the small town in which I live. (which poses andother problem since I have to drive or ride in a car 45 mins away to see dr.) That's a whole different issue altogether.
    Thanks so much again for your responses and assurance!
  • I'm sorry the pain is so intense that you can't stand on your leg. It sounds like your surgeon is keeping his eye on it, that's good.

    I know that these forums are a godsend for many people who need support and have nobody to turn to. Luckily, we're always here for you. There will always be someone to vent to and talk with. If you haven't already, you might want to go into the chat room and talk live with other members. It can be fun.

    Take care and be sure to let us know what the PM says and how you're getting along. I sure hope the severe pain goes away soon.

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