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Pain after back surgery decompression, stenosis and fusion

Hi there
I am new to this but would really appreciate some advice. Three months ago I had a spinal stenosis, decompression and spinal fusion of L4/5. Prior to the surgery I had severe pain down through my hip, calf and foot so surgery was suggested to fix it. I am 50 and was fit and active prior to this.
After the surgery I was completely pain free and felt great and took no pain relief after 7days. I was walking, attending hydro therapy and was managing all basic activities by 7-8 weeks but then I developed a pain in my hip again which over time extended back down into my leg and almost identical to my original pain (Aching hip, shooting cramp like pains in my leg.)
I went back to the surgeon who thought that I may have overdone things and to take it easy and it would get better but now at 3months (5 weeks later) it seems worse and more consistent. He also took an X-ray that showed everything to be in place.
I am back on pain relief (nortriptyline) but it hasn't kicked in yet as it is only been two days. I canttKe tramadol as it makes me vomit and gabapenton doesn't work.
I am really worried that the surgery hasn't worked but wonder why I had such a great start with 7 weeks pain free if this was so. Has anyone experienced the same thing - had no pain then developing pain but made a full recovery. Is this really just temporary pain? I read that after 3 months what you are feeling is pretty much what you are left with. Do any of you know? How long long can I expect to be in pain like this?

Thanks so much


  • What specific type of fusion was it? What kind of instrumentation / hardware is in there?

    I'm not sure what hardware does to MRI imaging. Did they do a new one?
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Hi there! Thanks for responding.
    It was a spinal fusion. I'm not sure of the names of the hardware...bolts and spacers...things to separate joints.
    I went back to my doctor(not the surgeon) today and he has requested an MRI and agrees it is strange after several weeks pain free to be deteriorating now. I have got codeine plus nortriptoline to take but guess what...pain still there especially in my hip. I'm so scared this is my life now.
  • post op.........in fact, it is relatively common for it to occur. What dosage of gabapentin were you taking before that didn't work? The dosage range is quite large for that medication, 100 mg -3600 mg per day, and the dosage needs to be tapered up to reach an effective dose with minimal side effects. This can take some time to reach that dose. If gabapentin after reaching a certain dose doesn't work, another medication such as Lyrica or Cymbalta may be a better option.
    Nerve related pain usually does settle down in most instances, but it can take some time before it does.
  • This is my 1st post to the site, bear with me. 10 days ago I got mri results c2-c7 damaged (bulging/herniated) c6 radiculopthy, spinal stenosis with cord compression. I had just switched primary care doctors on 9/5 because for the past 2 1/2 years had been being treated for a torn rotator cuff (cortisone shots, PT, pain meds; oxy 60 mg, gabapentine 4800, naproxen 1125mg. I couldn't stand the nerve pain
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Thank you so much Sandi for your very practical advice.Stupidly i never thought about having the dose of gabapentin increased. I dont know what dose i was on but only had it once a day. I asked the surgeon who gave it to me what i would do if it didnt work and he just said id have to sit it out so i thought there was nothing else i could do. Luckily my doctor (GP)took pity and has changed it to nortriptylinr(Norpress) and codiene and it has really helped. I have also found now i dont even need the codiene...perhaps pain killers that work are enough to settle everything down again .i feel so much better. Thanks again.

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