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L5 S1 ALIF 7 weeks post op

ninja650nninja650 Posts: 6
edited 10/14/2014 - 5:45 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Age 29 and started having severe sciatica about a year ago and had a MRI and found out I had Spondylolisthesis at L5-S1 grade 2 when bending. Lots of movement. My left leg, especially on inner thigh and butt would be on fire, then extending down to my foot. I have a desk job and sitting all day was killing me. I'd have to get up and walk around constantly, soon as I stand up it would go away. Then standing to long would cause my feet to burn and tingle. I didn't have too much back pain unless I did something strenuous or lifting. I will say that I think some of my sensations might have been from stress not knowing what was wrong. After I found out a reason for all this, the pain subsided some.

Went to a well known Neurosurgeon that a lot of my coworkers had good success with. We first tried epidural shot and didn't notice much change. Over time the sciatica was less noticeable and manageable, but still was a limiting factor in my life. I couldn't enjoy the things I like to do. Surgery was recommended and so I went ahead. My father has same issue and has been dealing with it for years so I decided to get it fixed now before it gets worse.

Had surgery 8/26, in hospital 4 days. First week at home was slow, needed help doing simple tasks, but quickly able to get up and walk around with no problems. After about 3-4 weeks was feeling pretty good other than a dull pain in my back if bending over. I was scheduled to go back to work after 6 weeks. The weekend before this I think I was a little too active. I was on a bumpy mountain road for about 45min each way. I could tell my sciatica coming back, mind you I hadn't noticed too much until now. I did have some the first week after surgery which doctor said was expected. My back was feeling sore after the weekend and was feeling pain from heel of my left foot up into my lower back where I always experienced pain. I had appointment with doctor the day before going back to work and expressed my concerns. I was worried I messed something up with screws and he said possibly but not likely, probably just inflammation and I just aggravated it some. I go back to work the next day and sitting for 8 hours was killing me. Within about 15 min of sitting my left leg and butt is on fire.

I'm fine if I'm in a recliner or laying in bed. I was even fine riding in the car up until now and now my leg is burning again in car.

My question is.. am I just tense and stressed out from going back to work and this is causing this? I've read anxiety and stress can cause similar symptoms.I think I was worried about going back to work and how I was going to be and also whether or not I did any damage. My xray was taken prior to the weekends activities. Now I am just left wondering could I have broken a screw or did it come loose? Doctor said it is in there tight and would be hard for it to come out. Would I really know it if this was the case? Would I be in a lot of pain all the time?

If I can get my mind off work my pain it isn't too bad. I think maybe I'm just worried too much. Maybe that was part of my issues before the surgery too. While I was off work it was a stress free time and was doing well I thought.

Muscle relaxers and pain meds do help some. I sleep fine and always have.
Doctor was a little concerned that I was feeling burning/tingling now and that I could feel pain when bending. He said I may be of the few that can feel hardware because I'm so thin and may have to have it taken out after it is fused.
He gave me an anti-inflammatory but that didn't seem to help any and I was worried about taking that as I've read not to take these until it is starting to fuse. He said it was ok to take now.

Anyway I am just looking for guidance, I hope I didn't do anything to mess it up. Is it normal to go backwards and what could be causing sciatica to come back. I'm just hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel, because at this point I'm worse now than before the surgery.


  • pinkfloydpinkfloyd Posts: 70
    edited 10/14/2014 - 11:32 PM
    may I ask was this your first spinal surgery or have you already had spinal surgeries because there is a big difference in how things can work out .personally I have had 4 spinal surgeries and my pain is so bad I have had to take early retirement .its been 3 years since my ALIF and I am now housebound due to intractable pain even on large amounts of narcotics .I remember at the 8 weeks stage I was unable to even shower myself and the simplest of tasks would wipe me out and I mean totally wipe me out ..close to total collapse ...prior to the ALIF apart from back pain with only slight leg pain I was a strong fit person .the ALIF has done my body in !! .I too can only just get comfy on a recliner a normal chair will cause total numbness to both legs so much so both my legs will be useless for about half an hour .also bending down will make my legs and feet swell for weeks ..all this has happened since the ALIF the consultant tells me its to do with the nerves and I will just have to live with it .work is out of the question for me as is a social and sex life all due to intractable pain ,,I hope that you fair a lot better than I do ..I have been reading a lot of posts on here and there are many post op fusion patients with similar problems to myself .I have tried all sorts including everything from ice/heat to high end TENS but now nothing works only pain meds take the pain down just under the threshold of me loosing my mind through pain they never take the pain away just make it bearable but any activity will wipe me out and make the pain a lot worse so I avoid anything I can as I know that I am now not able to work through the pain my body wont let me pain will stop me .I have spent 20 years gradually going downhill but the fusion three years ago has finished me off ..you have a long time to recover just take it easy and take things at your own pace don't be dictated to or feel that you're not doing things as you should be ie ..by 6 weeks you should be driving by 3 months you should be back at work by 12 months you should be totally recovery !!! it doesn't work that way we are all different .good luck
  • This is my first surgery and hope to never go through it again. I'm sorry to hear you have been in so much pain. I feel pretty good in the morning but then get worn out through the day. I need to try and keep my head high and hope for the best. I was hoping to hear some experiences of others experiencing same nerve issues after feeling better. Hopefully it is just temporary. I also have some minor pain in my low back and butt at times when walking or getting up. Usually just when I'm stiff. I'm just curious as to what would be causing sciatica to come back and if that this is fairly common and how long I should expect it to last. Also possibly anything I can do to relieve it.
  • if you do a search on nerve pain post op, you would pull up hundreds of threads relating to that .
    Why are you bending after fusion surgery? Most surgeons have a NO bending, lifting or twisting restriction in place for at least the first three months post op fusion......Did your surgeon clear you to bend?
    Nerves can become inflammed post op , due to the trauma of the surgery, and if there was nerve compression prior to surgery, it can flare up post op, especially when you are doing things that you shouldn't be doing.
    It may settle down again, but it can take some weeks or even months, depending on any compression prior to surgery for them to settle back down again.
    In the meantime, I would strongly suggest that you stop doing the bending, or anything else you weren't cleared to do medically until you have discussed it with your surgeon.


  • ninja650nninja650 Posts: 6
    edited 10/15/2014 - 2:01 PM
    I'm not doing much bending, I always use my knees as much as I can. I'm not touching my toes or anything. I just asked my doctor what my restrictions were and he said not to lift more than 20 pounds and just use common sense if it doesn't feel right or causing pain don't do it. I obviously can't stay perfectly straight all day to perform certain required daily activities. Sitting is bothering me the most. I'm still having some pain in my butt in certain positions and when sitting. Doesn't take much of doing something to make it flare up. Hopefully time will tell. I guess it is a roller coaster ride. Thought I was doing well but maybe the progress slows down now and can be up and down.

    The nerve was compressed before surgery and it is same symptoms and location as before so I guess it is just flaring up from being aggravated.
  • It's been over 3 months now and still have sharp pain in low back and butt when bending over. Sitting for more than 20 min in most chairs causes my butt and leg to be on fire (nerve pain). Luckily I discovered sitting in a patio chair I had at home causes me little to no problems sitting it in all day. I took that to work to sit in and it's been a savior. It's just a cheap mesh type patio chair, but something about the recline angle and not putting pressure on a certain place on my butt doesn't cause my nerve to fire up.

    My question is:
    Is it normal to still be having the sharp pain in my back/butt when bending over to pick something up or put your shoes on, etc. at this point. Bear in mind I never had this pain before surgery.
    It is starting to feel like I'm not making any progress now. Only change is I don't have the pain shoot all the way down my leg, it is just in butt/back.

    I had a MRI last week, but still haven't heard back from doctor about results, so anxious about that and we will see what it says.

    Any encouragement that what I am experiencing at this point is normal and will get better would be appreciated.

  • I had axialif almost 6 months ago and still have issues sitting and still get nerve pain in my hip and calf. That is to be expected. Your nerves take time to heal. It's just apart of the whole healing process. You may always have pain as the procedure is to stabilize your spine and decompress nerves if you had disc or material pressing on to them.
  • Smiles1 said:
    I had axialif almost 6 months ago and still have issues sitting and still get nerve pain in my hip and calf. That is to be expected. Your nerves take time to heal. It's just apart of the whole healing process. You may always have pain as the procedure is to stabilize your spine and decompress nerves if you had disc or material pressing on to them.
    Has your nerve pain gotten better over time?

    The doc said the pain I'm feeling may be due to hardware and might have to take it out if I still have pain after the fusion.
    I'm just worried because I never had this pain before and I'm worse off now than I was and can't do hardly anything physical at all now.
  • My nerve pain in my leg has changed. Its not as active as it once was before the surgery. I would say its more bothersome then painful. The pain from sitting though is new and I'm not sure if that will resolve on its owe. Does you doc think you might have a failed fusion? Is that why you might have your hardware out? I actually plan on asking my surgeon at my next appointment when I can get scheduled to have my screws removed because the one side causes pain, but since I didn't have a traditional fusion thats the only hardware they can take out because my rod is fused into the disc space.
  • Doc doesn't think it's a failed fusion, but said people that are thin as me may be feeling the hardware.
    I recently had a MRI done and it's been 3 weeks and haven't got a call back yet with results. I've called 5 times now and I'm getting frustrated.

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