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Discouraged at 25

Hi everyone! I joined the forum awhile back and have never been active, but I really need some advice and support at this point.

A little about where I am now: I had a successful L5-S1 fusion in May 2007 (age 19) with rods and screws to correct a severe disc herniation at that level. I was pain free for over four years until September 2011. A CT myelogram revealed herniation at L4-L5, most likely due to increased stress from the L5-S1 fusion. I had a second fusion at L4-L5 in January 2012, connecting down to previous hardware so now am fully fused from L4-S1. I was pain free for 3 months following the second fusion, but after that point the pain returned and has not left since. I am now a year and a half post op.This is the same pain that caused me to resort to surgery in the first place-- shooting nerve pain/sciatica in the left leg, along with the tingling and discomfort. It is not constant pain but when it shoots, it is a 9 or 10 out of 10.

After both surgeries I have had positive results with physical therapy and can walk regularly. Also, my surgeon has done several imaging studies to confirm that both fusions were successful and there is no problem with the hardware. I have been diagnosed with lumbar radiculopathy since they cannot find anything concrete that's causing it. I have tried oral steroid tapers (twice), steroid injections (4), bi-monthly medical massages, painkillers, muscle relaxers, PT, and yoga, and I am still in pain. I also lost 30 pounds to reduce the strain on my back (I now weigh 130lbs) and the pain persists.

Does anyone have experience with this, or advice on how to manage it? I work full time and refuse to take pain killers around the clock because that would prevent me from working. I do take one vicodin occasionally if the pain is too intense and I take muscle relaxers to sleep. I am so curious about the cause, not to mention frustrated, and am hoping that somehow even 1.5 years after surgery things will get better.



  • I understand.... I so understand.... Tonight I am experiencing a lot of.... LEFT LEG PAIN.... I consider my surgeries successful because #1 I'm walking #2 I can now tolerate the pain with out pain killers.... I had been on this wonderful downward slope of leg pain, but it stopped... its not nearly as bad as before, so I feel like I shouldn't complain.... but dang.... my evening/nights are miserable... I think that's one reason I get on here... not just to complain but to get my mind off my left leg and butt cheek. What I can tell you is that I use to have the exact shooting pain you describe. I never had them standing, only sitting or laying down. Time did truly make this better, along with gabapentin. I am so happy I "stuck it out" with that drug... not so great side affects in the beginning but has taken away the shooting level 9 pain. I had come off this drug once the shooting pains stopped but when I told my surgeon this he suggested I not stop taking it so I started back. I don't take nearly the amount I use too, so I do plan to discuss this with him at my next appointment, perhaps that can be adjusted to help my "evening misery". (Which I hate to complain about, especially on here... because it isn't severe pain any more, just mild to moderate). Anyways, my point is... nerves take time to heal. I know they told me a year of continual improvement (which is kind of right since I'm coming up on a year this month) and "supposedly" people continue to see nerve improvement after a year, even years... that's what I'm hoping for. Let's stay positive for each other.
    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.
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