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Pain while walking or standing

Hi.. I'm new to the site, but have spent alot of time reading, and trying to ease my fears. First of all, I am an EXTREMELY ACTIVE PERSON and I work construction, so lifting and hard work are just the norm.

I had a fusion/fixation with rods installed at L4/L5 on July 19th. Had a really rough first 2 weeks, and actually don't remember much of it. Lots of little issues came up, from allergy to tapes, swelling of the back and hips, swelling of the lower extremeties, etc. I am 4 weeks post op, and as I'm resting and relaxing around the house, I am about 99% pain free. Very happy. My issues come when I walk or stand for more than 20 minutes at a time. I was told to carefully walk when I could, though I wasn't told how long, or how often. It seems as I walk slowly for 15 - 20 minutes, I start to get pain and/or burning in my hips and upper legs, and sometimes in my lower back on each side of my spine. The longer I walk or stand, the worse the pain gets. Standing is sometimes worse than walking. I am rarely taking pain meds(Percocet 5mg, and have stopped taking my Flexeril 10 mg). This might not have been the best thing to do. I've been very careful about "bending, twisting, or lifting", but I'm scared to death that something isn't right. I have high expectations of myself, and just want to get back to a normal life within a week or two...lol I had a fusion of C6/C7 about 6 years ago, and built my house at 5 weeks post op. Am I pushing too hard and expecting too much??


  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 08/17/2013 - 1:29 PM

    Firstly I would say, having had both an ADCF of C3/4/5 and a PLIF of L4/5. that it is very normal to find the recovery after an ACDF is much easier than after a lumbar fusion.

    I think perhaps the fact that there is much more weight on the lumbar spine means that it is a longer and more painful recovery. Each of us is different in how our recovery goes and it sounds like you got off to a complicated and not ideal start. You are only a month into your recovery and it is normal to be limited in what you can do. If you try to push yourself too early, you are very likely to cause a flare in your pain.
    Lumbar fusion recovery does require a lot of patience.

    It is normal to not be able to stand for long (20 minutes is more than I could have done at 1 month out) and walking should be built up slowly depending on how you cope with it. It is better to take several short walks each day than to try to take longer walks. I have always found standing worse than walking.

    I do think that perhaps you are expecting too much of yourself.

    I expect that you will be seeing your surgeon for your post op appointment in a couple of weeks.
    I think you will find that he is not concerned at how you are doing and hopefully will be pleased with your progress. Do speak to him about your hip and upper leg pain, but I think he won't be surprised by it.

    Try to think of this recovery as a marathon rather than a sprint.
    Boredom and lack of patience is often the most difficult thing to deal with.

    You may find, as many of us have, that coming and talking to others in a similar situation helps to pass the time but that it is also very helpful to realise that others have been through very similar things.

  • Thanks for the quick reply and the comments. I know I'm not the only one that has gone through this, and I look forward to hearing of the experiences of others in the group.

    One other thing that is troubling since surgery is the sensation of "chills". Being an outside person, and one that is used to working out in all types of weather, heat and cold has never been an issue. I have noticed since surgery, I have had chills, and trouble keeping warm. I know this may sound crazy, but it seems to radiate out of the incision site, and out my extremeties. I'm not comfortable if I don't have the house thermostat set on 75 or more. I'm learning to dress differently and I'm trying not to drive my wife out of the house. Has anyone else had this kind of experience??

  • I am not absolutely sure what you mean about 'chills'.

    Something that I have, that maybe what you are experiencing, is a feeling like goosebumps that will suddenly happen, even when I am not cold. They will travel down my legs (sometimes being in other parts of my body too, including the back of my head under my hair) and will last for 30 seconds or more. I still get this after my lumbar fusion over 3 years ago and my ACDF 9 months ago.

    I would definately tell your surgeon about this at your post surgery appointment. If you have already had it and don't have another appointment for a long time, I would contact your surgeon and let them know about it. That way they can decide if it is important or not.

    My surgeon thought that my 'goosebumps' sensation could be from left over permanent damage to my cord. I do have some other strange neurological symptoms too.

    Do let us know if you find out what is causing this. We can all learn from hearing others's experiences. :-)

  • MarkWVMMarkWV Posts: 18
    edited 08/19/2013 - 6:48 AM
    These comments sure ease my mind, and I appreciate it. The chills I have go along with goosebumps too. Mine can last for quite some time, but when I get them, most times I actually am cold. Not normal for me to be cold until the temperatures drop into the low 60s, but there seems to be a strange coincidence here. I have a call in to my doc now, and have a follow up appt. on the 29th of August. My pain is minimal today, so I will try a short walk this afternoon to see how it feels then. Again, I appreciate all the information.
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