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Where to turn now??

Try to make a long story short....Had annular tear at l5-s1, 360 fusion on feb 1 2011. All went fairly well recovery wise, then in August of last year I started having pain again in the lower back. Went back to surgeon and he said "hardware is all good!" and seemed to ignore my concern for the pain I was having. Tried physical therapy, injections, chiropractic, and acupuncture. The chiro and acupuncture worked great, then the effects started to wear off and it was no longer helpful. Pain Mgmt dr said that he can't burn the nerves because my hardware is in the way so that option is out. fastforward to this year.....after giving up and trying to deal with the daily pain, decided something needed to be done. Primary care referred me to a neuro (refuse to go back to ortho that did surgery) view and he won't do anything. I'm in so much pain. I feel like I have something jabbing me in the lower back on the right side, like hardware or bone or something is catching every time I move...heck even when I don't move. Pain down my right leg in the area that would be L4 nerve root. The neuro yesterday said he didn't see anything terribly concerning on the MRI and didn't want to do any diagnostic surgery or myleogram or anything because he doesn't want to "put me through all that". Something is wrong inside and it is obviously not visible on MRI. I dont know what to do. Pain meds are out because of work, school, kids. I feel like I have been backed into a corner. I dont understand why I can't get the doctor to take me seriously? I know this isn't right! I cried the whole way home yesterday out of frustration. Do I just keep searching for a doctor who will investigate further or do I just live with the pain until I crack? Do I go back to my pain mgmt doc? Do I go back to my primary doc and see if he will order a myelogram or something more diagnostic?



  • Hi,
    I am sorry that you are suffering again. I have been there and I know how awful it is. I had a PLIF at l5s1 in October 2009 and I began with back pain about 6 months post op as well. It was wierd because I had had no back pain pre op. I was fobbed off for ages! I had that same l4l5 type pain as well. I had front of thigh pain that kept me in bed at times and my back froze a couple of times.

    It turend out that I had an infection on my hardware that my surgeon kept saying I couldn't have! It took nearly 18 months until he removed the hardware! I had it taken out last August. Unfortunately that didn't cure my pain.

    I got a little bit better but by January this year it became apparent that I still had something going on. I got referred to a new surgeon, seems like he is a troubleshooter. He redid all my scans and blood tests. I had MRI with contrast to check for remaining infection and scar tissue, a CT to check for fusion and standing x rays.

    Turned out I have pretty bad facet joint arthritis at l4l5. I couldn't believe that could be causing so much pain but just over three weeks ago I had facet joint injections and an epidural at that level and I feel so much better! I know that this is only a temporary fix but it is giving me a chance to get on with some rehab for the time being.

    So I wonder if your surgeon has actually looked for scar tissue? Has he looked at the next levels for arthritis? My original surgeon wouldn't look past the end of his nose!

    I really hope you find an answer. Can you go and get yet another opinion?

    Good luck.
  • tracibennttracibenn Posts: 95
    edited 06/15/2012 - 5:38 PM
    I've had an MRI, but not a CT. What does that show that the MRI doesn't? I plan on going to another dr. Someone has to find the cause of this pain! How did you find out you had an infection? We're you symptomatic for infection?
  • I had an L5S1 PLIF last July. Starting about six to seven months post-op my pain levels have climbed through the roof. That coincides with my return to work, but that's not the issue. My MRI from 10 days ago shows "persistent moderate to severe bilateral neural foraminal stenosis which could affect the exiting L5 nerve roots and cause a corresponding radiculopathy." All along, my surgeon has been telling me that my hardware is still right where he placed it.

    That does not compute too well for my tastes.
    Disability retirement
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