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Same symptom pre- TLIF L5/S1 4,5 months now. Sign of failed surgery?

Hi all

I did a TLIF on L5/S1 approx 4,5 months ago. Pre surgery I have pain on my back when walking. And more pain on m buttock when sitting. Max sitting time would be 25 minutes. After I did some Occupational therapy, I became more mobile and able to do a bit more things for myself. I walk several miles a day. One in the morning and the others are spread through the day. Which is good.
However, the pain on my buttock is still the same before the surgery. It is so frustrating......... Seems its endless.
Just wondering if this is an example of a failed fusion surgery?
Any opinion would be greatly appreciated.



  • Roz:

    This is a very difficult question to answer. I recommend that you read all the literature contained on the forum to become a more informed patient/victim.

    I believe that I may be included in this category. My TLIF (L4-S1) was performed in January 2011 and for the 8 weeks following surgery I felt so much better, but ever since then it has been a steady and slow increase in pain. We've done all types of therapies and diagnoses without any definitive improvement or identification of the source of pain. My surgeon wants to do it all again as he is willing to state medically that the fusion failed. I am not ready to submit to another surgery.

    I have yet another follow-up/routine appointment with him in two weeks and I told him that I would make a decision by then. My options are referral to pain management or submit to another surgery. I vaccilate daily with my decision. However, since I have yet to be under the guidance/control of a PM doctor then I believe it would be prudent to at least try that prior to undergoing another major surgery.

    Sadly, the number of individuals who fail to achieve success from a spinal fusion is large. I did not think that I would be in that category and neither did my surgeon. But, life happens. All I know is that I am experiencing greater and more persistent back pain now than I did prior to my fusion.

    Read up on the issue and seek medical opinion (second and even third). Ortho surgeons are just like auto mechanics, some are real good with Fords but they struggle with Chevy's.

    I wish you luck. Goodness knows we all need a bunch of that!

  • Hi,
    I really hope you don't accept "failed back surgery syndrome" as a valid diagnosis. You are part of a huge group of people (many of them on this site) who just keep having pain even after fusion surgery, supposedly the "gold standard" of back pain surgical treatment. I would either refuse to have another surgery (as you seem inclined) or look for a better and more specific diagnosis. In my case, I developed adjacent segment disease within several months of fusion even though my doctors would have written me off as a case of failed back surgery syndrome. The diagnosis basically means that your surgeons can't find the cause of your pain, even though there most certainly is a cause. I have taken to calling this diagnosis "failed back surGEON syndrome," and before you go ahead with yet another surgery I would do as much research as you can on the unimpressive outcome data on fusions. I have yet to find any real research showing that fusion is any better than physical therapy over time (although it does provide quicker relief of leg pain). In some cases, of course, fusion is unavoidable (trauma, cauda equina syndrome, etc.), but its use for run-of-the-mill axial low back pain has ballooned over the past decade even as few people actually get any relief.
    If you continue to have pain, you should ask your doctor for an MRI to see if you have new pathology at the adjacent level. Just remember: your doctor presumably recommended fusion for you. Did he/she make the wrong diagnosis?
    Good luck,
  • Thank you for your responses!! Really appreciate it.
    Prior to treatment I seek like maybe more than 5 opinions and most said there is spondylosis and ddd happening. There is also another surgeon suggesting herniation. I don't have nerve damage at all because I can use my legs well and no pain at all on my legs.
    Surgeon said my problem is degeneration on L5-S1. And there is also spondylosis at that place. There is no other problem.
    I am definitely seeking other opinions. One of the doctors I went suggested that because the quality of L5/S1 is poor therefore all the pressure are given to L4/L5. And those two is not doing a fantastic job therefore, giving pressure to the muscles and nerves at the buttock area. I wonder if it is possible. This doctor is an orthopedic surgeon. Treatment option, is a set of enzyme injection total of 6 times. He said it would help the spine to function properly. Very vague......
    Another spine surgeon suggested there might be osteoporosis happening at the buttock area.
    So many different opinions..............
    Or am I actually not patient enough in my wait?
    Thanks again!!
  • Roz5382RRoz5382 Posts: 46
    edited 01/01/2013 - 7:51 PM
    The recent X-Ray suggested that my fusion progress is really good. Last time, in November he said that I have fused 50%.

    He will see another one of my X-ray in February.

    A lot of unanswered question. And I certainly do not wish for another round of surgery.
  • Raja Usman AliRRaja Usman Ali Posts: 2
    edited 10/30/2015 - 5:03 AM

    I was having pain in lower back and both legs since 2011. I tried everything to avoideW operation but at last it became so swear that I was unable to stand.Weakness in my legs became to.much I was having trouble in holding urine and etc etc.
    My Spinal Surgeon did TLIF of my L4-5 in June 2015. After surgery I am feeling even worst. My back is always stiff and while walking I am.only able to walk for 400-500 meters in a day. I cannot sit for more then 30 mins. Since my operation I am using pain killers continuously due to intensity of pain.
    I am in army and its getting impossible for me to carry on that job.
    Can anyone tell me how much time it will tale to heal and how much % fitness I can achieve.
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