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Spinal fusion 14 months post op. Need help

I am off to see my pain management dr once again in a few days and am in an information gathering mode. I am 14 months post op spinal fusion surgery and am still suffering severe pain in my right buttocks, hip, leg and foot. My pain seems to be increasing by the month. I have not been able to sit since before the surgery(L5S1 spondy). Now I am finding that standing is also proving to be an issue, due to increasing pain in my rt heel. My original surgery was for L5S1 only. According to my neurosurgeon my right vertebra had collapsed by the time they went in for the fusion and my nerve root was crushed. Somehow(unsure exactly) my L4 vertebra broke during the procedure which cause more trauma to the damaged nerve at L5/S1, due to excessive bleeding and vacuuming of bone debris etc, etc from the site. I was told after the surgery that there was a chance my nerve would be permanently damaged. However, I had no idea that the pain would continue to increase or worsen over time. First it was 12 months for the sciatic nerve to recover; now I'm hearing 24 and I am so tired of fighting the pain in my hip and leg. Can't wear pants any more for more than a couple hours as my back is so sensitive but cold is so painful I have to cover my legs. Now that summer is leaving I am dealing with the constant feeling of burning and shock-like electrical currents running down my leg daily, and especially at night. When I try to sleep my right toes move all by themselves and then cramp up. I'm sick of the gabapentin, nortriptyline and pain meds. Sorry, enough of the complaining!

My questions are:

Anybody had anything similar as far as symptoms?

Has anybody out there an idea of how often a vertebra away from the site breaks during surgery and why it happens? The MRI I had 2 months prior to my surgery makes me question my surgeons answer that it was due to arthritis in bone.

I would greatly appreciate any input. I am flat worn out from the pain after 2 years of this.

Thanks to all and hope you all the best. It is truly disturbing how many people suffer from terrible and chronic back pain for years on end. WHATS UP WITH THAT?


  • EmilyEEmily Posts: 112
    edited 10/18/2012 - 7:14 AM
    How terrible for you that a year after surgery you're struggling so much.

    After my first L5-S1 PLIF my pain also got worse instead of better. Your symptoms sounds very similar to mine at the time. I used to get these shock-like pains from my heel up through the leg to the back when stepping even the slightest bit off-center.

    Turned out that I had an infection and a lot of inflammation around the failed fusion. They fixed that 16 months ago, and I am doing so much better. During the second surgery a piece of my L4 broke off too, because of the screw that was loose and the bone that had become soft.

    This much pain is not normal. You should really ask for an exact diagnosis and I would suggest you also ask if there is no infection. My problem got picked up via a SPECT scan.
  • especially where you can't wear normal pants due to the pain and strange feeling on your skin {not your words but i knew what you mean} .i am 9 months ALIF S1/L4/L5 .i am i in the same position as you more pain and leg problems ..i too don't know what to do .my pain is increasing by the month i have no advice for you as i am waiting for a reply from my consultant .good luck and i hope your pain subsides
    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
  • Just 6 weeks post surgery, from 2 level fusion and decompression @ L4 L5, .I also have these electrical type shocks, in right thigh to knee, This starts after I walk for maybe I/2 mile when this happen have to take weight off right leg this stops the shocks, my thigh is very sensitive if the hair in this location is gently brushed its like a thousand pins scraping the surface, same with the pants and bed sheets irritate, taking lyrica for about 4 days now but this has not calmed this down yet, See the surgeon shortly will mention this.

  • I am seeing a new primary next week and will take your comments with me. It is very helpful to have some support as the doctors in my HMO don't seem to have a clue as what to do with peripheral nerve damage following fusion surgery. Am hoping to force there hands into referring me to the University of Washington Medical Center where I know there are some extremely good doctors. Still waiting for my medicare to kick in so I am not out of pocketing all the expensive tests, etc. Can't sit for more than 30 minutes and now standing is also an issue due to my right heel. I am very interested in some posts I have read about some doctors removing hardware after a couple years as it can be the problem particularly in small people. I am 5'2' and about 110 pound so I will mention it to the doctors I am currently seeing. Anyone else hear anything about hardware being and issue as far as infection, reaction, etc?? Best to all and who today was a good day for you. Sorry about not responding but I lost my uncle to cancer (diagnosed 10/1 and passed on 10/28) so have been really missing his presence. He was my support as he suffered from severe stenosis so had a good understanding of how painful spinal issues can be.
  • my consultant .has told my family doctor that ;;;in his opinion i wont get any better ;;; .and i should make the most of whats left .as there wont be any more spinal operation !! .
    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
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