Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

hello everyone, have more pain after fusion then prior

Hello everyone I do hope this is the right spot for this. My problem could be covered in many, but it all revolves around chronic pain.
Here is my story. I injured my lumbar spine at work, when I lifted a wire spool weighing roughly 125lbs. When I lifted it I was fine, I went to turn and instantly I had a stabbing pain in my back as well as going down my left leg. Which was so painful it almost buckled my knee. I went to the clinic, which he stated it was a strain. After a few follow up visits, I seen a diff. dr which said it wasn't a strain and sent me for an mri and started me in p.t. the mri showed herniation at L4 &L5. I ended up switching to a dr of my choice, which did two sessions of cortisone injection. The first gave about 2 days relief, the second nothing. He then sent me to an orthopedic surgeon, which did a discogram an determined that both discs were pain contributors. Finally two yrs after the initial injury surgery was approved. From surgery till now, the pain has increased. I am now one year an 4 months post op. The surgeon has stated since my 6 month ct, that I was healed. Although on the ct and mri reports stated it wasn't completely fused. I had a second opinion 2 months ago, which he stated it wasn't fused an stated psuedarthrosis. Any ways. I just got off the phone with the original surgeon because he wanted another radiologist to go over all the cd's and he said again. I am completely fused. I asked ok, then why is it many others have stated I am not. Also why am I in more pain now then I was prior to surgery. His reply just like everytime since surgery, I have no clue because you are fused an shouldn't be in pain. The surgeon which did the second opinion said there is two thing which could be done. The first is pain meds an p.t. the second is to go in through the back this time an add rods to support the vertebrae. The first isn't an option, because I have been in pain management for 6 months and have been on everything from elavil to dillaudid (litterally over 30 diff meds)since surgery an nothing has provided relief at all. The original surgeon says that another surgery is likely to just add more pain. I'm just wondering if there is anyone in this forum, which has went through the same or similar problem? If so what was the cause of the pain?? Any help would be appreciated, I'm at a loss. The original surgeon just seems to be washing his hands of me and the other says I need another surgery. Thank you in advance

Sorry about the long winded post, I just wanted to provide as much info as possible and I'm sure I probably left stuff out



  • Welcome.........first, we can't begin to hazard a guess at what may be causing the problems you are experiencing. If it is pseudoarthrosis, it may be part of the problem , and refusing might be the solution, or it could be some instability issue that is causing the pain. It is difficult to be certain from imaging if the fusion is solid or not, and at times, the only way to know for sure is to go take a look and see.
    Since you have differing opinions, I would suggest a consult with at least two other surgeons to see what they think. You can also ask for another radiologist to look at the images and report their findings as well since there appears to be uncertainty regarding the status of the fusion.
    The thing is that your ongoing pain may have nothing at all to do with the fusion status , it could be something entirely related to another level or not your spine but muscle spasms or some other issue. So you may have to start at the beginning, and work your way through the steps to find out what is causing the pain......not the way any of us want to do things, but that may be the only way to get a clear picture of what is going on and where the issues are coming from.

  • what type of fusion did you have because you are still very early in your recovery AND FUSIONS ARE NOT DONE FOR PAIN RELIEF they are done to stabilise the spine and prevent further collapse of the adjacent disks ,I have asked my consultant why am I still in pain ?? he told me many time that the fusion is purely a mechanical fix to stabilize the spine and if you get any relief then that a bonus and not a guarantee this should have been explained to you by your surgeon BEFORE you had the surgery .but that doesn't help you now ..you could try a TENS and make sure you on the correct painkillers swimming can help too but if you're having lots of pain and leg /foot problems then I think that you need to see you consultant again recover from ALIF can be as long as 3 years and when I say recovery I mean as good as you will get from a surgical point of view .PLIF tends to heal quicker but its still a massive operation .I know is soul destroying being in pain all the time but don't get too down you have still got a chance as you need to give it time {impatient patient syndrome !!}as my consultant called me .I am seeing my consultant this Friday and If I find out anything that may be beneficial to you I will post it meanwhile try to stay positive
    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
  • Thank you for your responses. I am kind of thinking that there is something else wrong, which is why surgery just added more pain. The surgeon has said many times that L2 and L3 are in good shape, although I really don't trust him any more. My lower back muscles have pretty much been locked up since surgery. In therapy they used a TENS unit which helped a little but it was like my body built up a resistance to it. Then they tried an H wave unit which had the same results. The surgeon has said the only way to tell if it is completely fused it to cut me open an put a couple clamps on the vertibrea an try to move them and if they move then go ahead an add the rods to stabilize my spine. But as stated I don't trust him any more an will probably switch to the surgeon that did the second opinion. From the research I've done he is one of the top in the united states. I'm not to sure the name of the surgery. It was an anterior fusion, with cages with BMP. They went in directly in the front from under my belly button. I'm trying to keep positive, through out this but as you two know at times it is very rough to keep your head up. I was never told anything about fusion not being done to eliminate pain, if he would have said that I wouldn't have done it. Especially an anterior fusion. That alone has created problems, which I'm still searching for answers. I do appreciate your responses
  • I had my fusion 1 year ago and I have more pain and no fusion. Being 1 yr and 4 months out is not early in your recovery. You should not be in pain by now if the surgery fixed your problem. Also, don't believe the "Fusion is not for pain relief". I know plenty of people who got immediate relief from their fusion and their doctors specifically told them they should have at least 50-80% pain relief. There are the cases where a fusion is needed for stability but not all cases.

    Anyway, hang in there and I hope you figure out the problem or at least find a good doctor who can take care of your medicine needs. Also look into SCS as I am. (Spinal cord stimulation)

    Grade 4 tear in l4/l5 was missed in first MRI so did injections for a year
    SI joints "messed up" not sure if I will get them fused at a later time
    Had Open PLIF L4/L5 5/28/13
    Woke up to permanent nerve damage in legs and feet.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 06/20/2014 - 3:22 PM
    While the fusion process may occur rather quickly in some patients, in others, by and large the majority of them, two years post op is generally the marker where we are either able to return to most of our previous lives, feeling better, or not....and especially when there is nerve involvement.
    Some fusion patients are told that recovery is 3 months, but that just means that the acute phase of recovery is 3 months, the rest of it goes on for much longer.
    Spine surgery is not done for pain relief, it is done to correct either an anatomical problem or to relieve nerve compression. Yes, some lucky patients get instant pain relief, and some get it later in their recovery, but it is not the purpose of the surgery.
  • I can relate totally to what you are going through. First I found it very helpful for me to get a copy of my medical records from the neurosurgeon and from the hospital with the surgeries took place. It is my understanding that the surgeries are videotaped you make it even get a copy of it. There are things that no doctor will tell you. Hopefully by you researching your own medical records this will lead you to make the best medical decision for you. With prayers.
  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 06/21/2014 - 10:45 PM
    many surgical decompression done in the uk before 2000 were done without any form of fusion and as a result the nerves that may have been saved from damaged by a fusion have been left to get damaged because the bone around them has been removed and the nerve bundles are free to get damaged that's why many say they are in more pain now that before their fusion .the damage was always there .and I have some news folks its there to stay it won't go nerve damage is permanent some nerve damage can be caused during surgery and that's just unlucky but the main cause of ;;failed back surgery ;;is initial trauma to the lower spine and insufficient surgical support so in English ...if you had a decompression before 2000 you are more than likely not to have had a fusion to replace the bone removed during the laminectomy or discectomy and therefore your pain is coming from the nerves already damaged at source {in you road traffic smash} or your fall and so on ..its very unlikely that nerve damage would have been done during surgery but that also can happen fusions in himself don't cause nerve damage its the damage to the spine that's causing the pain ....in the USA things are different I don't have the stats from the USA but from what I was told fusions and ADR have been used for many years with better end results .I just wish the spine guy I have now would have been available to me when I first needed spinal surgery !!
    that's life
    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
  • john1971jjohn1971 Posts: 21
    edited 06/21/2014 - 3:51 AM
    Well that isn't good about the recovery time. I remember I was told I would be off work for 9-12 months after surgery. I thought that was an incredibly a long time. Now being told it could be 2 years :-( just for recovery. The surgeon surgeon pretty much wants to push an FCE to get my restrictions, so I'm thinking he just doesn't want to mess with me anymore, or like he said before there's nothing that can be done. He has said awhile back that my condition might not have a cure an I might not be able to return to the same type of work. He did suggest a spinal stimulator, but have been told by two other doctors it wouldn't be beneficial to me because I don't get pain in my legs. Its all in my lower back an top of my left buttock. Although recently it seems like I have had wierd pains in my legs for no reason, its not steady maybe like 3 times in the past month or longer. It seems the back is a very tricky thing. I'm not sure if this a normal thing, with back surgeries. In the past 6 months I have had to deal with pain in my hips but more so in my left and my left arm going numb. The surgeon won't speculate nor even comment on these things. My pain management dr has stated the hips is from the lower section of the thoratic where as the numbness is caused by a disc in the cervicle. Really wishing I would have called in sick that day at work cause it just seems like this wil be a battle for the rest of my life. I do appreciate all your replies. I'm just trying to make sense out of all this since the surgeon has been no help
  • It really might make more sense to go to the largest major medical center as close to your home as you can find, and see a surgeon or two there. That's what I did, when I developed a second onset of Cauda Equina Syndrome......I made appointments with two surgeons, one ortho, one neuro, for the same day, and saw them both.
    They deal with far more complex cases, than most of the surgeons in my area, trauma, and tend to take cases that are less likely to be successful according to other surgeons.
    It sounds like you are not getting the information or feeling of concern and caring from the surgeon, so maybe it is time to investigate others before making a decision one way or another.
    The good thing about going to a major medical center, is that they were able to get me in for a MRI that day, and it was by far the most detailed one that I have ever had....
  • That is great info but the thing is with out insurance, I can only go to the drs that I have gone to. In work comp you get two choices of dr's. I've used up my two, the ortho surgeon I seen for the second opinion was only allowed because the surgeon which did the surgery had said I should get a second opinion to see if he was missing something. Thankfully from the research I have done about him. He is one of the top in the nation. I've only seen him for the second opinion, hopefully soon I can go in for another visit with him and bring my notebook full of questions. Hopefully it will be a very informative visit
  • It was just a suggestion, I think that I missed that this was a WC case somehow.......if you can get in to see that second guy again, or even the first, having a list of questions is a great idea.......hopefully one or both can give you the answers you need to make a decision.
  • Yeah work comp is crazy and seems to work to their benifit not the injured. Pretty much I'm done with the surgeon that did the surgery. He is a decent surgeon, but he's also an insurance dr. The work comp insurance that is paying for me, sends him a lot of work. So me not having a positive outcome doesn't look good for him. I do believe they will allow me to see the second opinion surgeon, or atleast I'm hoping. Yeah I always try to bring a notebook with my concerns and questions, much easier to write them down then try to remember :-)
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 06/22/2014 - 6:09 AM
    and will hope for a great outcome with another surgeon. WC definately has issues, I can see wanting employees to return to work , but at the same time, discounting real injury and preventing or throwing up roadblocks to getting the right treatment is self defeating if their purpose is to get employees back to work, healthy and able to do their jobs.
  • They need to go through the system an fix it. I know of a casewhere the person got arachnoiditis (typo?) From back surgery an the insurance doesn't want to cover some of the bills that came up because of it. Its crazy. Thank you for your well wishes I'm hoping for a quick approval, quick recovery an praying I can get back to work.
Sign In or Register to comment.