Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Why is my back pain worse after L4-S1 fusion

Suffered with left hip and neck, mid to lower back pain for over 24 years. Suffered chronic pain in the same areas for over 10 years. Had L4-S1 fusion with pins, rods, and screws on January 31, 2013. Suffer from knee and ankle joint pain. Have constant numbing and tingling of both feet. Moderate leg to foot pain and jolting shocks of pain coming from lower back to bottom of feet. I have felt like I am being electrocuted. Unable to sit, stand, or walk for more than 5 mins at a time before the chronic pain does me in. I have burning pain in my mid back. Since surgery my skin hurts to touch on my left hip buttock area and left upper leg. Feels like a first degree burn.

For the first two month it was like I was hit by a semi-truck after surgery. I felt I have been progressing well up until about three weeks ago (3 months after surgery). Since, I have felt worse then I did before surgery, but it is more in my lower back with a lot of pressure pain below the L4-S1. The pressure pain is so bad that I am unable to stand for more than 5 minutes. Lying down use to be my most desired position of comfort before surgery but now once I hit the bed the pain in my mid and lower back is so bad the first 60 seconds in bed, it brings tears to my eyes. But once that subsides enough for me to tolerate the sharp shocking jolts of electrocuting pain runs down from my back to the feet. My pain meds barely work now. I use to be able to take pain med and be able to get up and do house work or garden but now I can't do anything but sit or lay down. I am not sure what happened, maybe I did something to my back again because I did feel like I was getting better. When I try to sweep my floor I feel like something is going to snap or break in my back. Any information would be helpful so when I return back for my second post-op appointment. You can email me directly at nikitarose4u@yahoo.com but put in the subject box "Response to spine health forum" so I do not delete the message as spam.


  • I'm sorry you are having such trouble. What does your surgeon say about your issues? After I had a laminectomy and discectomy of L4 - S1, I thought I was recovering nicely and then my pain got worse and symptoms from before surgery returned. My surgeon ordered an MRI, which showed what the issues were. Given my other potential back issues, he recommended and ALIF L4-5, L5-S1. He indicated that I might potentially need a PLIF and/or more levels fused with rods, etc. I would contact your surgeon immediately and you could seek another opinion.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

    - Detailed medical libraries of Articles and Videos that address almost every Spinal Conditions and Treatment

    - The Wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - Under the Resource tab, there is a section Doctor Advice Health Center which can be invaluable.

    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a Support System. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 International members and growing daily.

    - It is very important to understand the Forum Rules to make sure all of your posts do not violate any of the rules.

    - As a new member, it is helpful to understand the 'makeup' of these forums, how to make posts, tips on adding images and much more. You should read Forum FAQ

    Here are some you should take a look at:
    Read before you post
    Tips for Newcomers
    Understanding the rules

    All of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the Private Message facility to contact any one of the Moderators on my team:






    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I came on here today because I am 2 month post op from L5-S1 fusion. I was doing amazing up until yesterday....PAIN increased. Today I just cried. My dr told me I will have good days and bad days and so did people on here that went through this surgery. So i am pretty sure it is normal. Just NOT what we want. The emotional rollercoaster is tough sometimes.

    What concerns me though is what you have been doing. Gardening, housework, sweeping!! I was told specifically not to do anything like that. There is no bending, lifting or twisting for 4 months for me. Every patient is different and every dr has different orders but that just seems like a lot so soon.

    DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.
  • I had L5/S1 fusion with a decompression on 10/9/12. Since the surgery my pain has only increased. I injured myself at work on 9/26/11 lifting and have been on worker's comp since. I was in physical therapy prior to surgery and then again 3 months after surgery. I was told there was nothing further they could do because I was strong, but they could not help with the pain. This past Wednesday my doctor decided to send me for an FCE. I tried as hard as I could then afterwards all the pain set in. I have been in bed in pain for the last 5 days now. If an hour and a half test did this to me going back to work will be impossible. I applied for disability because I know my body. Part of me wishes I never had the surgery because I was able to do much more prior. My doctor said I could have the surgery on my terms or one day end up in emergency surgery. Not much choice there! The pain not only takes a physical toll it takes a mental toll too. I have two young kids I can't even play around with as I would like too. Unless you are going through it nobody seems to understand. I never knew working hard and doing my job would lead to this. I guess this was just meant to be for some reason.
  • One is that with fusion, there is a change to the spinal movement that once was part and parcel of the spine itself. When fusion is done, the rods and screws are meant to prohibit movement so that the bone growth of the fusion process can take place. That is why there are the restrictions put in place post op- to give your body time for that bone growth process to take place in the areas where the surgery was done.
    Second problem is that the fusion process changes the musculature in the spine- some due to the surgical cutting that is necessary for the surgery to take place, but also because of the change to the functionality of the spine, the muscles function and position also is changed, and this means that the muscles must make adjustments to both the cutting but also the new positioning and lack of movement in the spine. This can take some time- for your body to acclimate to those issues.
  • I had lumbar fusion of L4-S1 on January 17, 2013. Back and legs are now better (not great, but better). Major concern is foot pain. This can be very limiting. I am on 400 ml. of gabrapentin per day. I cannot do without this. I walk a couple of miles per day. By the time I get home I can barely walk. Feels like I am walking on hot coals. Pain doctor is suggesting Cymbalta.
    Anyone know a good treatment?
  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 06/25/2013 - 3:37 PM
    I know it took me months to see a difference on gabapentin. I took much more than you....I started taking 300mg twice a day and then I took up to 1800mg (600mg 3 times a day)... after awhile I was able to stop taking it... unfortunately I had to have some more surgery and went back to it. I find once it finally "kicks in" it makes a huge difference. I'd ask your doctor if upping the dosage would be safe for you.
    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.
  • My surgeon & pain management doctor have both acknowledged that the post-operative pain tends to increase at around 3 months after surgery. I don't know if this is a well known or proven fact, but I have definitely experienced it myself very recently.
    I don't think you need to go see your doctor again right away or that you have re-injured yourself if your pain increases right around that time. My surgeon explained it as the time when the rate of bone your body is producing finally begins to overtake or overcome the rate of reabsorption of bone (your body is continually undergoing both processes, but I'm not sure if that is always or just after a fusion surgery). I don't know WHY this unbalancing of those processes causes an increase in pain, but I was warned about it after my first surgery (ALIF in 2010) and my second (salvage fusion, since the first one never resulted in a complete union at either joint, L4-L5 or L5-S1).
    Does this help anyone?
    Hope you all are healing well & not hurting today! :)
  • Hello

    I read your post about your back issues. It sounds like what I go through on a daily basis now. I had s1,l5 and l4 fused rods and screws put in on 11-05-12. I felt better for the first 7 months just minimal pain. Last July my back started hurting again. I had. a CT scan in July. It showed a non fusion at the s1 and l5. I started a bone growth stimulator and still use it every night for 30 minutes. 2 weeks ago I had a CT Mylogram performed and it still showed a nonunion and screws loose at the s1 l5 level... This procedure is scary they put a needle into your spine(spinal tap) and then do X-rays and ct scan while moving you all around so the dye will get all over your lower spine. I am now scheduled for another back surgery on 4-7-14. I am petrified because when I woke after my first surgery it was the worst pain I have ever felt. I am best man for my brothers wedding at the end of May. I hope I will be able to function at the wedding. I could have waited until after the wedding but I have pains like most people on this board. My biggest fear is when they put you to sleep and you are gone from everything for 6 to 8 hours. Waking up with that pain again gives me nightmares frequently. Damned if I do and damned if I don't???
  • Chia44CChia44 Posts: 1
    edited 07/23/2015 - 5:43 AM
    I had this surgery Sept this year will make one year. I am in more pain than I was prior in addition to new problems. My right leg from the knee down lost some sensation and I now have "nerve" pain in that foot. I am beside myself on what to do. I have consulted with another surgeon who says the fusion is good, all the hardware still good and that statistics show that this surgery almost never helps people with pain that's in the back itself, more for extremity pain. which I did have, and still do. I am depressed and just so frustrated as no one has any answers or solutions for me. I heard about people getting the hardware out of their back, any thoughts? I'm desperate. Thanks

    Moderator's message...Please click on link for helpful information
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Lucia M Vickers
  • ricknavy63rricknavy63 Posts: 3
    edited 08/19/2015 - 3:30 PM
    Jan 2015 had 2 level fusion and 7 months later I have severe pain from right knee down to toes. Both feet are 100% numb and both having burning sensation throughout the day. The right foot gets really sensitive and burns severely whenever I put any stress on my back. I can not sleep without taking 900mg gab and 10mg Norco X2 every night! What upsets me the most is my Neuro~Surgeon says the surgery went great and he essentially is done with me and referring me to a neurologist. I got a 2nd opinion from another Neuro~ Surgeon and he said your Dr is wrong and this is nerve damage from the surgery that still needs time to heal and not a neuropathy issue. I'm tired of taking drugs to feel comfortable. Worst part is I got hurt at work and work comp is paying the bills and salary right now. They are so tired of this that they had me fill out all paperwork for Social Security Disability back in June. I'm so upset with the run around with work comp and the waiting game. Mean while I'm living with daily pain and no plan in sight to get healthy! No work, no P/T, no nothing until my legs and feet are getting healed. ANY ADVISE WOULD HELP.....THANKS
  • jujudunjujudun Posts: 8
    edited 01/31/2016 - 8:34 PM
    I have diagnosed by MRI spondylitis slip disc L45 Lumbar spinal stenosis. Moderate severe. After rising sitting I must sit a few minutes or foot tingles like asleep. Radiating thru leg. Getting worse. Can barely shop or walk without continually needing to sit. I am very active healthy 65 year old. 170 lbs. 5 foot 6. Surgery an option. But what are my risks. Will I be worse. Seem docs don't push surgery. I can bend touch toes. No pain. But how do u live when can't walk or stand. Without numb. I can't stand it. I will fall if I don't sit many times a day. I hear surgery can make you worse

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Liz, Spine-health Moderator
Sign In or Register to comment.