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Pain 3 weeks post op - normal???

I am so discouraged. Had fusion with decompression on L5-S1 on 4/11. First week of recovery, i dont remember. I was so drugged. Had a rough few days at home with med issues but NO back pain! I was shocked and told everyone how i have no pain even though i had spinal surgery. Well fast forward to now, 3 weeks post op, and there is pain. Not even at the level where the fusion was done, but above it where the incision starts. Its not the incision......maybe the muscles that were cut?
I was only taking 10 mg of Opana ER every 12 hrs for pain. Nothing else during the day. Today I had to take 5 mg of oxycodone around 2pm. I just couldnt take it. I feel pretty down about having to take a pain killer during the day. I thought things were going amazing, was off of so many other meds, and was ready to love life again. Now i feel weak. Like i couldnt tough it out better. :( Feeling so discouraged.

Is it normal to have post op pain at 3 weeks? How long were you on pain meds for a spinal fusion like mine?

DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.


  • You are still early in your recovery. Fusions take quite a while to heal from and many people don't ever quit experiencing pain from them. A fusion is a stabilizing surgery there is no guarantee your pain will completely go away. However it doesn't hurt to call you doctor, that's what they are paid the big bucks for is to help with your questions and to make sure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible. My fusions were about a year ago and I still experience pain from them. It not excruciating but its there.

    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • These posts always tug at my heart... having had multiple spine surgeries, I UNDERSTAND the rocky road of recovery. It always happens that you see great speedy recovery, then hit a major bump and so fourth. It is normal... its also emotional. Hang in there, you will have some bad days but you will ultimately heal. Don't compare pain meds either... or at least try not too. Let your surgeon handle that. Even someone that you think had the "same procedure" even at your age could still have a much harder or easier recovery... your surgeon knows exactly what he had do to and can be a great resource for you and pain meds. I'm not trying to "compare" surgeries but I'll just say my last fusion was more "extensive" and I required pain meds for four months. Each month my doctor stepped down dosages etc until I was off of them. Now I'm on them PRN while I recover from my last.... I don't feel like a sissie to take them. You shouldn't either. You've had a major surgery, allow your body time to heal and give it what it needs for now. Welcome! Above all try to stay positive, and remember you are FIERCE, you are a spine surgery survivor. ;)
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Had a l4/l5 lumbar discetomy on march and I'm still having deep pain in the incision sight. They say it takes a long time for all the muscle and even the nerves to heal. If it goes backwards instead of forwards push for an MRI
  • 3 weeks is still really normal....if you're in pain, use the medication as pain can interfere with healing, your blood pressure, your ability to follow through on walking & physical therapy. I'm almost 4 month out from L5/S1 TLIF with hardware and I still use medications (I waited too long to have the surgery, so I have permanent nerve damage....YMMV). Don't try to wean yourself off the meds too early, but do use your non-med arsenal to help you heal :-)
    1/16/2013 Minimally invasive TLIF with rods, screws, and cage on L5/S1 joint to treat grade 2 spondylolysthesis, pars defect, degenerative disc disease. Dealt with chronic pain & nerve issues since at least 2007.
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