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Question about pain after L5 S1 lumbar spine fusion

I had a L5 S1 lumbar spinal fusion in January. I had this part on my left leg that felt like it was asleep and I couldn't touch it. Just recently that leg now hurts all of the time 24/7. It is causing extra pain in my back and through my butt hip and leg. Does anyone know what this could be? I'm getting worried. It hurts very badly.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 04/04/2014 - 8:26 PM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Sounds similar to what I had after surgery. Does it feel like a really bad sunburn and when you touch it, it feels like sandpaper rubbing against it? If so, it might be a nerve issue and your surgeon could put you on neurontin or gabapentin for nerve pain. I'm on gabapentin and it's under control. When I first came home from the hospital though, it hurt so bad that I couldn't stand to touch it or have anything brush against it, like the sheets. I had to wear a knee sock to bed just to get any sleep.

    You should call your surgeon and see if they think that's what's going on with you. It's pretty common. I'm just not sure it's common for it to develop this long after surgery. It's caused from the nerves being moved around during surgery.

    Good luck!
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 04/05/2014 - 7:12 AM
    prior to surgery, and it is relieved during surgery, it is common for their to be a significant flare up of nerve pain as the nerve wakes up.....it usually settles down but it can be painful when it occurs. There are several medications that can help to ease some of the neuropathic pain, such as Lyrica, or gabapentin or cymbalta which help ease that intense burn , stinging pain.
  • Thank you so much for your help, I called the doctor and he said it will go away with time! Fingers crossed!

  • I had a lot of nerve pain following my L5S1 fusion and my dr put me on Neurontin. It is a miracle drug for nerve pain!
  • Hi and welcome to fellow fusion recovery ... I too had a fusion at L5/S1 and at L4/L5 ... It is a slow job and you can have a whole range of pains, aches, nerve pains and certainly a lot of tiredness .... Nerve pain is something that is coming Nd going with me, one day left leg another day the right leg. It is quite common and cN almost be expected. Do not worry, it will pass.
    I find amitryptyline very, very good ... I tell everybody it can be taken over a long period with no side effects (at least for me)
    I am nine weeks post op now and beginning to see improvements on how much I can do .... But it is often different each day and if I do too much it can take a few days to regain ... Early days, good luck
  • that was the day I had my third spinal operation and the symptoms that have been described ..sunburn.sandpaper numbness and untouchable pain 24/7 I have myself its so bad that I am unable to wear anything on my lower body so I have to wear baggy shorts with no underwear as I can't stand anything on my legs or feet I have problems with my feet too they swell up and hurt [I had no problems with my legs and feet before the ALIF and I still have intractable spinal pain which requires 500 tables a months just to keep me from screaming its hell and it's destroyed my life ..its been 17 years of hell my problems started in 2007 when I had a redo of my original operation but it got worse over the years and ALIF was done [ I wanted ADR but my consultant said my spine was too bad for ADR so a fusion was done ..the worst mistake of my life I am now a 24/7 cripple with no social./sex life .I just battle through each day but its hard work even spending my life on my recliner ..sleep deprivation and constant pain is very hard work .I am 47 male and married ..I feel like my life is slipping away as other members of my family are getting on with their lives I just lay there ..life is no fun where you're in constant pain and unable to be normal
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • It seems hit and miss with fusions. I had two prior operations. l5-s1 right and left both discectomies. then the disk flattened out and was bone on bone to 3mm of space. no pain, just weakness in legs after walking short distances and forget bending. I judged my day by how long I could go on the elliptical machine. my left leg would go completely numb as if I did not have one.
    Two options Plif or Alif presented. With the scar tissue from the past surgeries I went with Alif. Felt great for 6 days with only mild discomfort in my back, then on the 6th day while going to lie back down in bed I felt a burning pulling sensation and then a snap like a rubber band. Pain started right away, took a 6 day prednisone pack and the pain went away until two days later when it came back. 3 days later same burning pulling sensation and the snap. I have had constant pain after that and even two more prednisone packs had zero effect.
    I have a constant burning in my left foot from my 2nd toe to the 4th toe and it goes up past my ankle about 3 inches. the inside of my left foot is numb thru my big toe. I would say a constant 2-5 pain level for me, but more often 3 most of the day. When it is really bad my left leg below the knee feels like my flesh is going to explode off the bone and the burning in the top of my foot is pulsing so hard I feel like some creature is ripping out of my skin. The surgeon sent me for MRI after months of not sleeping more than 30 to 40 minutes at a time. After MRI review I was told every thing is perfect it is just the Radiculitis (nerve root being stretched) and that it would go away. Well when the surgeon first mention it was 30 days post operative. It has not gotten better. I could not take the lack of sleep any longer ( I try not to use the pain meds unless I just can't stand it).
    I was given a sleep aid, but I found that it just prolonged the sleep and when I did wake up holy cow I was hurting, pain at 7-9. Long and the short of it, two doctors are not so sure it is just Radiculitis (MRI seemed to show fusion device was way left and covering the l5-s1 to the left).
    My PCP suggested hot baths and muscle relaxers (left side L5 had light fluid build up and suggested it may also be soft tissue related). Ding ding went the bell, fell a sleep for 5 hours with out sleep aid or pain killers and when I did wake up I fell back to sleep in just 15 minutes. 63 days of sleeping for only 30-40 minutes at a time , this was Rip Van Winkle sleep:). I have done this about 8 times at night and so far it works every time, when I don't do it back to not sleeping.
    I still deal with the constant pain and only hit the pain meds when I can't stand it any longer during the day. Some days I just can't get the pain to go below 5 or 6. I called the surgeons office and asked the nurse if the surgeon could review the MRI again and mentioned I had seen two other doctors and when they reviewed the images in one series the saw what seems to be the fusion device covering the nerve root, both what not sure if this was intentional and told me to verify it.

    Shortly after they were calling me like I owed them money and telling me to they want another MRI.

    It may turn out he burning and snapping was the device moving, it happens.
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