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Why are my hip, knee, and ankle joints so tight and locked after lumbar surgery?

Six months following lumbar surgery, my legs and feet feel like they are made of wood.. my knees lock into a rigid straight position and sometimes "snap" forward (left one) occasionally when I walk... My quadraceps as hard as rocks and won't seem to relax, even when I stretch them in the pool.. I can walk but really have trouble going down hill...Have to use a walker and take little baby steps.. This is not where I expected to be after surgery, months of therapy, etc.. Any advice or similar experience will be appreciated.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    is that your muscles have tightened up and have not been stretched.

    That is fairly common after lumbar surgery and physical therapy should have address that. But, post physical therapy, an approved stretching should always be done to avoid those tight muscles.

    The only thing you mentioned, that I really dont know about is your knees locking and snapping. If that is fairly common, I will talk this over with your doctor.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I exercise, stretch, etc every day and have been through therapy.. I must say: the therapist stretches my legs with range of motion I cannot perform on my own.. and it does work temporarily.. My quadraceps are the worst, and very difficult to get stretched and flexible as they should be, not matter what I do.. My tendons and ligiments get so tight, especially after exercise, I think they are going to snap.. I'm considering seeing an Orthopedist to look at this from a different point of view.. (hips, torso, legs and feet) instead of strictly the spine.. Thanks for your reply.
  • LeeLeeMccDeeLLeeLeeMccDee Boston MAPosts: 105
    Hi Carl, I had put up a post recently asking anyone if they had noticed "arthritis" like pain after spine surgery.
    I got one reply I think but your description of what's happening to you relates more closely with what my pain is like in my knees, arms and shoulders and extreme heaviness in both legs. This debilitating pain began after my two level lumbar fusion November 13th. Sometimes the pain is worse than my surgical pain (complication at L5/S1, fracture and collapsed within 3 weeks of my fusion). I have no idea how to get help for this or who to ask first about the pain. I'm on 20mg Oxycontin twice daily and Oxycodone 5mg 2 4-6 x/per day, Valium 5mg twice a day which takes the edge off of "both pains" but does not last and would definitely not allow me to work more than a few hours a day. When I have a "good day" and my meds seem to be magical, I end up doing way too much than I should and boy do I pay for it the following day. This repeats itself time after time. Why am I not getting better consistently instead of staying the same for the past almost 3 months and why the arthritic type pain to complicate my recovery??
  • LeeLee, I feel for you.. My pain isn't quite as bad and do not have to medicate as much.. I don't have it as bad as alot of others.. I am just frustrated that the same sympoms persist six months post op and alot of therapy, special exercises, swimming etc.. It seems to have been a waste of time..My leg pain is very specifically located on the outside of my right quad..(an area about the size of a baseball).. My left leg is neurologically disconnected from my muscles. I have to lift it with my hands and arms.. the same as before surgery... I have another MRI scheduled for the 21st.. If they can't come up with specific causes and remedy, I am going to visit an Orthopedic Physician and try to get some answers.. Good luck.
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