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Advice - pain after triple spinal fusion

LucillaLLucilla Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi there

I wonder if anyone can help as I am hitting an absolutely brick wall with the doctors over here in the UK. I had a triple spinal fusion in my lumbar spine in May 2011. Since then, the pain has not improved and I have lost some control of my left leg.

I take 6 Paracetamol, 6 Tramadol on a good day and then top that up with Diazepam and Morphine as and when I need it. After the surgery I have had an MRI scan that shows (apparently) that there is plenty of space for the nerves so they have no idea why I can't control my leg. I have also had an X-ray that shows the screws/rods (I have 3 cages) all look OK and that the bone is growing round the screws nicely.

But, that doesn't explain the pain. Although my pain radiates all down my left side, into the right side and then down my legs - when you actually touch my back there are 2 spots that are horrifically painful - they are at the top of my scar roughly around where the top screws are. These "pain spots" have been consistent since the operation and I have several massages each week to try and keep the muscle spasm manageable and use 3 or 4 hot water bottles each day to try and control the pain.

My doctors say that nothing can be done and I have to live with it. I am 39 with 2 small kids and to be honest, I am struggling. I can't sit in a chair at all without either ceasing up or getting in severe pain so I spend my days either on a reclining chair, sofa or in bed (on bad days). I do the school run in my automatic car in the mornings and afternoons but not much more. I use crutches to get about for short distances and a reclining wheelchair for anything more.

I am not the type to sit around doing nothing and I still ride a horse twice a week using lots more drugs and velcro to stick my bad leg to the saddle. Plus I am just learning to ski in a sit-ski as we had booked a family ski holiday before the failed operation last year. I am doing my best!

My questions are this:
- could the MRI scan or X-ray be missing something that is not quite right with the placement of the screws at the top of my fusion where I get my pain hotspots? If so, are there any other options to investigate the problem?
- could the pain hotspots be caused by really bad scar tissue? If so, can it be removed and how can it be removed?
- do I reallly need to take this level of drugs for the rest of my life? If so, surely they must be causing me some damage?

Any help, ideas, suggestions - in fact anything would be really apppreciated as I do not know where to turn and still feeling like this 10 months after the operation just doesn't feel right.

Many thanks


  • Hi,

    Sorry to read that you are having such a rough time.

    I had a bad time following my fusion (only L5S1) and it was/is a battle to get anyone to listen. I am in the UK too. I was fortunate in that I had BUPA so have managed to get a second opinion referal.

    Is there a chance you can push for a second opinion or could you afford to pay for one privately? Sometimes the original surgeons are too close to see what is wrong.

    I hope that you can find a solution soon,

  • I'm in the UK too.
    It helps considerably if you have a really good GP who will get things moving. If, like me, your GP is more interested in his golf than his patients then you should either change your GP, or become a pain in his @r$e till he refers you in desperation just to shut you up. Seriously, everything is out there free on the NHS and a second, third or fourth opinion can be had, any sort of scan you can think of and any amount of treatment provided your GP tries hard enough on your behalf.

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
  • have sent you a PM
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Thanks everyone. Actually I have PPP insurance so can go privately and am already on my second spinal surgeon. I think the problem is actually understanding what is out there - it seems so odd that they won't put a camera in and take a look or something as I have never relied scans/Xrays - experience for me has proven that! Lucilla
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