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Pain in hip and leg before and after lumbar surgery

Looking for advice or encouragement

I started having severe pain in my right hip and right leg (outer part) about a year ago. Had MRI and xrays. MRI showed some problems around L5, but it did not scream surgery. Xray of hip looked good. Tried anti inflamation medicine - no relief. Had multiple epidural shots (L1, L2, L5) - no relief. Did pysical therapy - no relief. I saw a nuerosurgeon and he said that he could fix, but agreed that I should exhaust all other options first. Went to chiropractor and he did traction, accupucture, etc. - no relief. I also got an MRI done on my hip and all looks good there. Went back to surgeon and he recommended an anterior and posterior lumbar fusion at L5 / S1. I had it done on Dec 18, 2013.

First month of recovery not too bad, but I was laying down most of the time. But stil had pain in hip. Was up to walking 2 to 3 miles a day. Went back to work after 5 weeks (I have a desk job, but do move around quite a bit). Pain in hip still there (no better than pre-surgery). Talked to surgeon who suggested to back off on walking a little. Within the last couple of weeks (7 weeks after surgery) I started to get back spasms in the middle of my back at about 5:00 AM every morning. Once I get up amd move around the spasms stop, but still have pain in middle of back for about 2 to 3 hours, then it goes away (but same thing happens the following night). Still pain in hip.

I talked to surgeon and he is basically saying that I need to be patient. Says everyone heals at a different rate. He did take xrays and says that everthing is in tact and lined up nicely from the fusion. He now has me going to physical therapy, but with some limits on lifting, bending, etc. He aslo prescribed some muscle relaxants for the spasms, but that does not give me much relief for the daily 5:00 AM spasms (I go to bed feeling fine). The worst time for the hip pain is after 8 hours of work, but the good news is that if I lay down for about 15 to 20 minutes, I feel much better.

I am concerned that the surgery will not eliminate the pain in my hip / leg. That is the only reason I got the surgery. Any thoughts or ideas on my condition? Am I being to optimistic in my recovery? I am 58, but thin and have always been very fit. The only thing that multiple doctors have found that could cause the pain in my hip was the problem with my spine (which I had fixed). I realy want to get back to being able to run, bike, etc.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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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
  • Carl OswaldCCarl Oswald Posts: 66
    edited 03/01/2014 - 2:35 AM
    mpage, I have had a very similar experience, only more involved (L1 thru L5 and S1).. Had an open laminectomy and decompression surgery six months ago.. I have been through therapy, additional MRIs, more therapy etc... And, I still have hip and outer quad pain on right side and weakness on left side (to the point of paralysis) all below the waist... Initially, I was doing better and better post op.. As I got better, I increased my exercise regimen, swimming, stretching, etc.. and ended the professional therapy.. (all according to the doctors and therapists recommendation).. Then I seemed to have relapsed with all the original symptoms coming back with a vengeance.. My latest MRI (ten days ago) showed no visual signs of nerve impingement and was much improved over my pre op MRI... The only conclusion I can draw from all this (and my Neurosurgeon agrees), is: The nerve damage was done in the year prior to surgery.. The surgery alleviated the source of the damage.. The damaged nerves have to heal on their own.. And, that is a long and complicated process.. The only thing we have control over is doing our best to create the healing environment that will enhance the process and not hinder or postpone it.. Personally I am on a renewed mission to lose excess weight, exercise correctly, undertake message therapy and Chiropractic alignment from time to time, electro stimulus, proper stretching, and rest.. I have come to this conclusion from six months of agonizing frustration with my own experience.. I hope this helps.
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