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Leg Pain after Spine Fusion - Please reply, new to forum.

spatel1224sspatel1224 Posts: 7
Hello Everybody,

I am writing on behalf of my husband and hoping people on this forum can give us any insight. Appreciate any and all replys.

On 12/29/14 my husband had a spine fusion and had screw, rods and sacks of bone graft placed. About 2 weeks do after his surgery he starting getting severe leg pain in his left leg only ( NOTE: he has never had any kind of leg pain before the surgery only back pain) The pain was numbness, tingling and and stabbing pains from his shin to his foot. Our surgeon had him to do a Cat Scan. The scan showed that one of the sacks of bone graft had leaked and some of the bone graft was sitting on his L4 nerve and hardened. He undergo another surgery (decompression) on 12/29/14 so that they can remove the bone graft off of that nerve. He felt good for the first 1 1/2 week after the surgery then the leg pain came back particulary in his ankle. Our surgeon says there is nothing on his nerve anymore and there is no kind of damage to the nerve. He says the nerve is probably inflammed and just needs time to heal. He is on pain meds, gabbapentin and a steriod pack. But nothing helps. My question is has anyone experienced this before after a surgery like this? Did the pain eventually go away? Do inflammed nerves really take this long to settle down? The paste was only on the nerve for two weeks its like it was decompressed for months or anything. We are just so lost with all of this. Its been several weeks and he is constantly at a level 8 in pain. Its so hard to watch him go through this.

Any help or personal experiences you all can share would be greatly appreicated.

Thank you.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Welcome to Spine-Health

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    If there are any questions, you can always post them here, send Liz or myself a private message or contact Ron rdilauro@veritashealth.com


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • A year ago, I was involved in a serious car accident and had a 4 level posterior instrumented fusion... I was writhing in pain for many weeks after the accident due to nerve pain. Things got worse before they got better for me, but they did get much better as time progressed.

    Is your Hubby on any nerve pain meds? If so, unfortunately, it takes time to take effect and if nerves are damaged, bruised, etc.. for any reason, they absolutely take a great deal of time to regenerate/heal.

    I just recently posted a response to someone going through something similar. Please feel free to read y response here:

    In the meantime, I wish you well on his recovery. Time and patience is key here.

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • Thank you Doug! He is on gabbapentin. Dr. just upped him to (3) 100mg x 3 times. Hoping that helps him because the lower dosages have not. The last three days he is getting stabbing and stiffness in his back which causes him to scream in pain. He really didnt have this directly after the surgery. So this is new pain. Dr. said MRI looks find and didnt have much of an explaintion in it . So now his back and and ankle are in severe pain. Thanks so much for your reply and will check out that post!
  • I can relate to your pain and I don't have an easy answer but will tell you my experience. Ten months ago I had a 5 level fusion of L1-S-1 with a tremendous amount of post surgery pain which I was not prepared for. The day I came home from the hospital I started running a high fever and had to go back to Hospit. for MRI and other tests. I had a deep staph infection and went back into surgery to have all the titanium hardware scrubbed and infection drained. The pain was worse after second surgery. I wore a turtle shell brace for 3 months and didn't start Pt until 4th month. The pain was in back and left leg. Slowly I began getting better but at 6 months I developed nerve pain in my right leg which set me back. I take Lyrica, and flexeril as well as 5 mg hydrocodon 3 times per day. II had to drastically cut back on exercises and walking and last week I was feeling better about the nerve pain in my right leg. Night before last the severe right leg pain hit me again and I know that I will have to take it very easy for awhile to get thru this episode. I may decide to try Sacro iliac injections if it lasts too many weeks. I am due to get X-rays again of L-spine to check progress and I may do them sooner than scheduled. I know the nerves have taken a beating and it can take a long time for them to heal. My right buttocks has been numb since surgery. Please let me know if I can be of any help. Vicki
    1977 L2-L3 Laminectomy
    Degenerative Disc Disease
    2013. Sudden Degenerative adult Scoliosis
    3/26/14 L1-S-1 Fusions and instrumentation
    4/10/14 surgery to scrub staph infection off hardware & drain tissue
  • I wanted to add a couple things. My husband was my main caregiver and he told me how stressful it was for him seeing me in so much pain for such a long time. He kept telling me I would get better and I slowly am getting better. The 2 neuro surgeons that did my surgery responded to my nerve pain the same as your surgeon......not saying much. I was really frustrated and finally when I started PT I got some answers that made sense. She said it was going to be a long rehab. and explained how the nerves were impacted in order to do the surgery even when the docs are being very careful. She showed me on a Skelton with nerves and muscles why the nerves and muscles were moved around to get to the area for surgery. In my case the docs also had to straighten the spine and rotated vertebra. It was a relief that someone would finally talk to me about my pain and gave me a heads up that it was not going to be a quick recovery. She said that the nerves could take 2 years or more for full recovery. The neurosurgeon told me that the pelvis anchor screws may become loose and cause problems and that they would like them to stay in my pelvis for at least 2 years if possible. Then they would probably remove them.
    I hope the increased nerve meds will help your husband's pain. He must be very discouraged to have done so well right after surgery and now have this intense pain. I understand your feeling of being lost and not getting definitive answers. No 2 surgeries are alike but by reading this forum I realize I have not been alone. I told my surgeon that the surgery was H___ and he said if was difficult to prepare patients for the kind of surgery I had.
    Have you been using Ice packs in the painful area several times a day? Icing has helped me with the pain. Hang in there....the pain should get better. Vicki
    1977 L2-L3 Laminectomy
    Degenerative Disc Disease
    2013. Sudden Degenerative adult Scoliosis
    3/26/14 L1-S-1 Fusions and instrumentation
    4/10/14 surgery to scrub staph infection off hardware & drain tissue
  • Thanks Vicki for taking the time to respond. Your words are so kind. Its helps to see others experiences and that he is not alone. We ice the ankle alot and it helps. It hasnt helped his back much though. We are starting water therapy this week. I hope that helps his back become looser. I guess this is going to be a long road ( our surgeon did not prepare us for this at all). I hope you feel better soon!
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