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Severe Nerve Pain After ALIF Surgery

Hello my name is Kristina and I am 25 years old. I have had 11 years of back pain due to degenerative disc disease and have two bulging discs. Finally November 9th, 2012 I had an ALIF (Anterior Lumbar Inter body Fusion) with 4 pedicle screws and two titanium cages put in on L4-L5 and L5-S1. The doctor said the surgery went good. But immediately in the recovery room I was screaming in pain. The nurses pushed the max of morphine then decided to start me on diloudid. It took the edge off but my left leg was killing me. Before surgery I had severe nerve pain from my lower back all the way down to the backs of my legs to my toes. That pain was now gone after surgery, but I had new pain down the whole top of my left leg. It was extreme to the point I couldn't hardly lift my leg 2 inches off the hospital bed. I stayed in the hospital four days. The day I went home the pain was a little less. I could manage to walk and move my leg. I got home and over the last eight weeks I have been on a high does of Norco 10-325. Two pills every 4-6 hours. Last week I dropped down to taking one Norco 5-325 only a few times a day. When I had a check-up with my doctor he said my most recent CAT Scan showed a nerve may be touching my lowed titanium cage and could explain my pain. He also said my nerve could just be inflamed and causing this pain. He suggested I take Lyrica twice a day for five weeks until I see him next. After doing some research on this medication it made me nervous to take it, but I am four days in and no improvement. What scares me is say this medicine works, but what happens if I go off of it and I still have this leg pain. The doctor said if the nerve pain doesn't go away he will go in through the back and move the lowest titanium cage over a tad bit. I need to know if anybody has ever been through an experience like me. I am afraid this Lyrica is a bandaid and I will end up having to go back in for surgery in a few weeks. If thats the case I would rather get it over with.


  • Hi Kristina, I can only imagine the frustration you must be experiencing. I am am now 2 yrs 4 mths post-surgery but I too experienced severe nerve pain in my upper left leg which was (in all honesty) one of the hardest aspects to deal with in my rehabilitation. I too took Lyrica and can say that I received great benefit from it but it did take a while to start working, and some of the side-effects were also a bit nasty at times, including dizziness and some nausea. When I eventually went off the Lyrica the pain did not return to the same extent as it was before but it has never completely healed up and I still experience tingling, numbness and a "frozen" feeling in my leg that I have learnt to live with over the past 2 years. Good luck, and I hope your pain improves.
  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 01/03/2013 - 3:15 AM
    so i know exactly what you are going through .i too was in agony after the surgery and 12 months on i am still in pain and have leg and foot problems that i did not have before the surgery .ALIF is very hard to recover from .my consultant told me it can take up to 3 years to recover from .so you still have a long way to go .i refused to take gabapentin or pregabalin or any of the nerve type drugs as they all have horrible side effects .they made me very fat and put me in to urinary retention .i had to come off them {they did me no good anyway} ..its a long haul and i wish you well with it ..i swim when i can but i spend most of my time on my recliner as i am too ill to do anything .even showering wears me out and i am left knackered and just want to rest .its not the life that i would have chose as i was a very active person before the surgeries {i have had 3 in 16 years} once again good luck
    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
  • alexhurtingaalexhurting Posts: 1,991
    edited 01/03/2013 - 3:36 AM
    Its worth a try as nobody wants to go back on the table for another surgery if the posibility is there that nerve is just inflammed ! Lyrica at the lower dose most dont have any serious issues with and it does help with nerve pain !

    Many of us who had issues with these nerve drugs i believe is long term use and increase in dose when nerve issue never resolved ! Your standard dose you can even get samples from your doctors office to see if it helps and go from there !

    I worked my way up to much higher dose with lyrica before i had side affect many speak of same with neurontin and any of the gaba family drugs for nerve pain,

    I think the lyrica comes 25 and 50 then 75! Once i got above the 75 i believe is when i was not liking the side affects,
    So dont be afraid to try it if it might help calm the nerve and deal with it beter,

    My mom was in her 70"s and had stenosis she also took the lyrica and had no issues with it and actualy she was able to avoid surgery !
    I was not as lucky !

    Best of luck !
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
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