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Lumbar fusion patients....ever have this issue?

About a week ago, I started having some discomfort in my lower back and to the left, which is basically where my fusion took place. It's like a sharp jabbing pain....it doesn't linger. At the time, I thought maybe i had pulled a muscle in my back or damaged the fusion because I stupidly lifted a box that was much too heavy for me to lift at this point in my recovery. (Got too antsy to bring in a package from Amazon. Lesson learned.) Anyway, it hasn't gotten any better and now I'm having problems in bed....no, not those kind of problems! ;-) I used to be able to lie on my back comfortably, but now I have this jabbing pain when I lie on my back and I have to bend my left leg to be more comfortable. Turning over is painful because of the jabbing pain in the left side back. Then when I do get settled on my right side, it hurts for a minute on the left side because it feels like the left side is sliding into place. Not sure that makes any sense, but it's hard to describe.

I saw my Neuro on Tuesday for a checkup and told him about it. X-Rays looked good...nothing out of place. He said it might be due to that muscle growing over the hardware, but I don't know if I buy that.

Does anyone have any thoughts as to what might be causing this? Anyone have the same issue? Thanks for any input!
Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry


  • I have fusion of L4 L5&S1. I get a sharp stabbing pain now and then at the top of my fusion on the left. Mine feels like a sharp cramped up feeling, same spot every time. Saw my Physio who gave it a rub and a stretch. I was told to go home lie flat with a heat pack on the spot and 3 pillows under my knees. I find this gives the spot a warm gentle stretch. It worked for me within a couple of days sharp pain gone. Worth a try. I have noticed it happens when I bend lift or carry. The rule I give myself now is if I know it's going to hurt don't do it. It's just not worth the pain.
  • Thanks Kristy! I'll definitely give it a try. I've also increased my dosage of neurontin and that seems to help too.
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • I have had the same kind of pain. Went to see the surgeon on Monday. Had ex rays and everything is going well. Fusion has started and all the screws and bolts are in the right place. He told me sime of my lower pain is from arthritis and has be on naproxen twice a day. It is working!! Hope your pain is getting better. Also said I can do all low impact exercises.
  • Well, I think I figured out my problem.

    I cut back on my neurontin/gabapentin at about the same time this pain started. I'm taking it for a nerve issue in my shin and foot that developed post-op. It was caused by the L5 nerve being disrupted during surgery. My foot started feeling better so I thought I'd reduce the dosage of neurontin. I think I reduced it too much. When I looked at a nerve chart the other day, I realized the L5 nerve root is exactly where my back pain was. So when I was treating my foot problem, I was also treating the entire L5 nerve from my back to my foot.

    I'm back to my prescribed dosage now and things are MUCH better. When I try to cut back on neurontin again, it won't be such a drastic cut as what I did this time. I went from 1800 mgs per day down to 600 mgs per day. Bad idea.

    Hope everyone is doing well now!
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • Jilro, I'm going to try the naproxen too. I have arthritis in my back also, so it might help me too. Thanks for the info!
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • DO NOT cut the dosage of gabapentin without talking to your doctor first......it can cause seizures.
    Just like Lyrica and other neuroeleptic drugs, you must go up in dosage slowly and come down in dosage slowly. Cutting your dosage by 2/3s could have resulted in your having a seizure.
    Your doctor can provide you with a proper tapering plan when you are ready to try to get off it.
  • ECHEECH Posts: 19
    edited 03/21/2014 - 4:24 PM

    I was going to suggest nerve pain. I have had several surgeries and experienced nerve pain. It is like a sharp pain, like someone is poking you. Those nerves were disturbed and have to heal. It does subside in time.
    2007 TLIF L2-L3 Fusion; 2012 C4 Corpectomy, C3-5 Fusion.
  • Thanks for your responses.

    Sandi, believe me, it was a lesson learned. Thankfully, I didn't have a seizure. I've since talked to the doc's RN and we've discussed a tapering program when the time comes. For now, I still need the neurontin and will take it for as long as needed.

    ECH, thanks. I do hope the nerve issue subsides in time. I hope yours has!
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
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