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calf & leg pain after back surgery

Hi everyone. I had L5/S1 spinal fusion with 5 titanium screws & 2 titanium rods inserted 03/07/2013. I was told this would relieve me of my worsening back pain. I was given no warning prior to surgery of the severe leg pain since which I have been suffering from and reading about others similar suffering from for the past hour. Thank god for Google; doesn't make me seem like I should be in an asylum now.

On day 2 in hospital, being on pain killers which were making me very ill and experiencing very poor nursing care, I complained to my Dr of very bad pain from my groin into buttocks, down the back of my legs, particularly in both calves down to ankles. He looked blank and said he didn't know why.

He finally ordered CT Scan & was happy to say I didn't have any crushed nerves so I did not have sciatica. He still couldn't explain the severe, insane pain in my legs.

After suffering 7 days in hospital and another 4 days of suffering at home my Dr sent a script for steroids for 2 days worth. Dexamethasone 4mg x 8. This slightly helped with the pain at night & I did get a few hours sleep.

Once these steroids wore off, I was in absolute agony again. Unable to sleep or stop the pain. All sorts of supposed pain killers just made me dopey & nauseous. I begged my husband to hire me a Tens machine. (From prior experience about 17 years ago, experiencing similar pain in my arm from a red-back spider bite). This helped to some extent. Does not kill the pain, just masks it. After 2 days & 2 nights, I managed to pass out with exhaustion from 3.00am to 5.00am.

I am now only taking one Ibruprofen 200mg every 4 hours & one Voltaren in the morning. Every other drug prescribed so far does not work for me. As others have described, the pain is intense and ongoing. The tightness in my calves is unbearable. The numbness and pain in my buttocks is weird, you'd think if it was numb there shouldn't be pain. So, can't walk, can't sit and can't stand for more than 3 minutes without severe pain.

Funny thing is I feel my back getting better day by day! This was all that I was expecting. I'm due back at work on 14/08/2013, but I can't see that happening at this stage.

I don't understand how this site has been going for several years and yet Dr's world-wide do not warn you, nor have they planned how to help you, or help yourself if you get this pain?

How can any kind of back surgery be allowed to be performed without first finding out how to help all these poor people suffering pretty much the same thing post-op?




  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 07/21/2013 - 8:52 PM
    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.

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    Here are some you should take a look at:
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    All of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Practical Advice for Recovering from Back Surgery - I read on Spine-Health that "For patients who have just had a fusion surgery, NSAID's (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) should be avoided as this class of drugs inhibits the formation of bone, a necessary component of creating the fusion."

    After reading some of the forum discussions, where some people's Dr's say it's okay & some haven't; have there been any updates on this since 2008? Are there any professionals out there willing to give informed advice? An ice-pack alone is just not helping me in my recovery.
  • I'm NOT a medical professional... but my surgeon still is against NSAIDs until after fusion has taken place. That was 2013...
    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.
  • AllybAAllyb Posts: 3
    edited 07/24/2013 - 2:09 PM
    L5/S1 spinal fusion with 5 titanium screws & 2 titanium rods 03/07/2013.

    Thank you AllMetal for your comment, that is very helpful, and I can see you have lots of experience! My sympathies for what you have been through.

    I finally managed to get to my GP who recommended panadol every 4 hours (it is all I can tolerate) and panadol is a pain killer that must be kept up on a stable level.

    I am also on Dexamethasone 4mg (steroid) four times a day and Ranitidine 150mg (zantac) twice a day as well. This is helping with the buttock to calf leg pain and lying down is much more comfortable, so now I can actually sleep better. After standing for more than 3 minutes the leg pain is still severe but I am doing physio exercises and walking around the house. Still cannot sit upright for more than 15 minutes (sore buttocks).

    I also went to 30 minutes of Hydrotherapy, under physio supervision. After 10 minutes of getting my back and legs to relax, I went through a whole range of exercises, which was really good and I highly recommend this. I felt like a ten ton elephant getting out of the pool though. No problems the next day so today I'm going for 45 minutes, still with physio supervision. (I also can't drive myself and am having to organise family logistics of pick-ups & drop-offs).

    Now I'm on proper medication I'm feeling more positive about my recovery although at this stage I'm going to extend my return to work for another month. I was not expecting this leg pain complication. I want to go back to full-time work as well as possible.
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