Brief history - successful discectomy 2/28/12 at L5-S1 for herniated disc; sciatica in right leg returned in late May. Two MRIs revealed disc degeneration. I wasn't comfortable proceeding with a PLIF with my existing surgeon, and after some research and recommendations I decided to go with an ALIF on 8/30/12 with a highly recommended surgeon. Recovery seemed to be going well with moderate but manageable pain up until about 3 weeks ago, when I began feeling sciatic pain in the right leg again that at times is close to what I was experiencing before the fusion. Not as bad, but very painful and disruptive to work and life in general. My ALIF surgeon put me on a 7-day steroid pack which did nothing to help. He then OK'd temporarily bumping me back up to oxycodone (I had been on Lortab 3x/day for the prior 4 weeks) and requested a new MRI to see if anything stood out.
MRI results revealed a small pocket of fluid back there but the images suggested it was not impacting the nerve. No other significant findings. With that, the only suggestion is the pain I'm experiencing is just part of the recovery process as the nerve grows out, which obviously can take months. I expected some continued pain in the months following the surgery, but not at the level I'm currently going through. They are also referring me to a pain management MD, because according to my surgeon's gopher they're not allowed to continue prescribing me pain medications.
A couple of things are bothering me now. I can't tell if my surgeon is trying to get rid of me (I do still have another follow-up xray appointment Dec. 10) and they feel like I'm making things up, or if this is truly part of the post-surgical recovery. I'm very concerned about the level of sciatic pain and whether or not I can expect things to get better, since technically my MRI didn't show any problems. Ten weeks out, is this common for L5-S1 ALIF patients? Neurosurgeons/orthopedic surgeons often say it can take a year or more to resolve, meanwhile other patients go a few months and they're back to a (mostly) normal life. How concerned should I be right now? Tips/suggestions?
Worried as hell in Atlanta-