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Heeellllllllp!!! I Am In Pain!!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am Margaret. On Feb. 7, 2008 I had a Minimally Invasive Surgery. The reason for this is that my MRI indicated that I had bulge disc at L3-4 and a broadbased disc also at L4-5 and L5S1 (whatever those terminologies mean!)

Due to all of this, I was in a lot of pain. I tried every other option out there - from injections, physical therapy, acupuncture and decompression to no avail. Finally, I consulted a NS who suggested the only other alternative would be a Minimally Invasive surgery with Instrumentation.

After the surgery, he told me that screws (2 or 3, can't quite remember now...) were inserted, plus a metal plate and a "wedge" (since I was having pain down in my left leg, the ‘wedge’ would relieve the discs from pushing against the nerve.

I was in a lot of pain after the surgery and a lot of muscle spasms! I was given lot of narcotic medications and muscle spasms medications also.

I finally felt better after a month and returned to work.

Now, my lower back is free from pain but I am having severe pain around my hip girdle, under the lower part of my belly and down the base of my left leg. I can hardly turn in bed due to pain - every single day I am in pain.

Can anyone here say what is going on? I called the Dr. who told me to come in for another MRI, (did an x-ray after the surgery to see if everything was in place and everything was OK!) I cannot figure out what is causing the pain, but I feel that it's the 'wedge' that was inserted to relieve each disc from rubbing against each whereby causing the a sciatica pain (sp). I cannot go back right now to see the doctor since my med. Ins. was interrupted and this needs to be restored before I cannot even think of going to see him.

I read here about fusion and I am curious about that this is? What actually is a fusion as it relates to the spine/vertebrate?

Also I read that the Hardware can be removed! Does that mean that those screws, metal plates and wedges that were placed in the spine during surgery can be removed? I am really really scared about this! Will my vertebrate/skeleton still be able to stand upright even after removing those pieces of hardware? ( :jawdrop:) Will I still be free from back pain after the hardware removal? :?

Can anyone shed some light on this for me? :sick:



  • Welcome Meg,

    I am so sorry to hear about your pain. Are you on any pain medications?

    Do you know what kind of fusion you have? Is it possible that your follow up exams were included in your surgery fees? You might have a free exam - at least get some new pain med prescriptions.

    Hang in there,


  • Hi Meg,

    I'm so sorry to hear that you are having such a tough time. There are a number of reasons that may be to blame for your pain so I guess you're gonna have to sit it out until you get your MRI results. Meanwhile try keep the pain under control as much as possible with pain meds.

    You asked about hardware removal, well if your surgeon thinks that you have fused well enough and he thinks the pain is being caused by the hardware, then he may decide to remove it. There are several people here who have had their hardware removed so it that turns out to be on the cards you will have a lot of help and advice!

    I wish I had some answers for you honey, but hang in there for now and if you get any numbness around your gential areas or you have any problems with incontinence - then make sure you seek urgent medical advice. Take care and good luck. Hugs, Spicey :)
  • Hi there!

    So sorry to hear of your pain, but wanted to tell you my mom, who just had a lumbar fusion of L5-S1 with instrumentation on June 10th, is having almost the identical symptoms as you describe in her hips! They go into her lower belly like yours does, but not so much into her legs, though the legs are weak. She is relatively pain free except when this pain surfaces when rolling from side-to-side or getting out of bed. It brings her to tears nearly every time.

    I don't know if they're spasms, or what, but it tears me up every time I have to help her out of bed. It's no fun watching a once productive, active 77 year old turned into an invalid.

    The pain meds and muscle relaxers may dull the pain (not sure), but they certainly don't rid her of it. The doc just says "pain is normal". The problem with this surgery is that everybody responds DIFFERENTLY... there are no hard and set rules for recovery, so it makes comparing how one is recovering difficult.

    I hope you'll find some relief soon. Stay positive... I believe attitude is half the battle. I'm trying to keep my mom in positive spirits, but I know it's hard when you're dealing with chronic pain. I have herniated disks myself, so I think I can be sincerely empathetic.


  • Hi Tess:

    Thank you so much for your response. I felt a bit uplifted in my spirit now just to know that I am not the only person who had done this surgery that is having these pains.

    What your explained about your mom is the exact symptoms that I am having - except I have the cramps down into the left leg! I can hardly turn in bed too and the extreme pain around my hip girdle. When I sneeze or cough I am in extreme pain! To sit down say on the floor and to get up is a big challenge! I am still taking the narcotic medications, but they make me very disoriented and sleepy but it does ease the pain. My other concern is that I don't want to live my entire life on medications either. I don’t want to have to live on these heavy medications and I am hoping there is a way out of this and in the process I will feel better permanently. There is just so much going on right now and I don't want to panic. As you have indicated, attitude is key here. I am trying to be strong and each day I hope to wake up without pain.

    I have read here that there are others here who had their 'hardware' instrumentation taken out and they are doing fine. My concern is the 'wedge' that was placed to take the pressure off the sciatica nerve is causing all this kind of pain. Prior to surgery, the doctor told me that two discs (top and bottom where bearing pressure on the sciatica nerve) and causing it to send the pain and cramps down the left leg. He told me that by putting that 'wedge' this would alleviate the pain but instead, it makes it worse (in my opinion!)

    I hope I can have this wedge removed and after that I will feel much better. If you or anyone else can shed any light on this then I would be very grateful since I am at a cross road as to what to do at this time.

    Please let me know how mom is doing. My prayers are with her.

    Thanks to you and all who have given an input here. I am eternally grateful to you all.

    Best Regards,

    P.S. I am 48 yrs. old and just cannot see myself living this way... Any other suggestions will be welcome too.

    Thanks all!

  • Hi there,
    I am having the same symptoms as you...terrible hip pain, and into my hamstrings. It hurts to move around, and getting up and down off the floor...forget it! I can't even get my dog's harness on to take him for a walk...the little guy is too low to the ground.

    Anyway.... I may be able to shed some light on your situation..keep in mind everyone is different, but here's what my doc and PT said:
    1. it is not the hardware causing the pain. And the only reason to get hardware removed is if it is causing you problems...i was worried about that too. it is very rare to get hardware removed.
    2. with this type of sugery, they stabilize your spine in the areas where the nerves were being squashed. i have a wedge too. it allows for your nerves to have more room. so, what happens is, your spine cannot move or flex anymore where the hardware is, so our flexion has to come from above or below that area. Especially in the hip/sacrum area. our nerves are flared and our body has to mechanically learn to move in ways that it has never done before.
    3. so, there are a lot of things happeneing at once. nerves are finally free to move in a normal fashion and they are flared and swollen and basically relearning how to function. This takes sometimes 1+ years to heal..it's a long process. And...our bodies after 40 years, have to learn how to move in ways we never have. Especially in the hip flexor area. If you are in Physical therapy....ask your PT to check your SI joints to see if they are moving. Mine are locked up and this specifically causes hip pain. Eventually when your body feels like releasing you from protective mode, they will loosen up.

    Hope this was helpful....i am 4 months out and have asked a million and one questions of my surgeon and PT....this is the conclusion that they came to in my situation. you may be different, but it seems to be a common problem.

    one more thing, I asked for my surgeon's email address. And he gave it to me. So instead of making a doc appt everytime I feel something strange or a new pain that freaks me out, I email him. he usually answers me w/in 24 hours. May be a good way for you to keep in touch with your doc and let him know what is going on w/out the trip to the office.

    Good luck to you!!!!
  • Had 2 fusions, I was "minamally invasive"
    no help whatsoever, screws were all messed up I never fused and was bone on bone, just had another fusion in April and I still have the exact pain you are describing!!!!!!!!! to turn in bed at night is so painful I sometimes cry :(
  • Hi Meg,

    You had surg the same day as I. Mine was a disc replacement. I can say that I am not experiencing the menacing discomfort you are but mine is aggravated by too much activity. I am also your age and want my life back as do you. Give it some time to adjust to your new body. The term "minimally invasive" to me means from a surgery standpoint the incision area is small. Surgery is a major invasion of your body get some rest and hang in there.
  • Hi Cherry:

    How are you? Hoping you are well today.

    Just want to say thanks for your input here. I am sorry to hear about your problems but it appears we are all in it together (lol)! When it's not one thing, then it's another.

    What I don't understand though, is what is 'fused?' I saw people wrote about fused here and I am trying to figure out what that is really.

    I don't think I have that fused thingy though. I just had the Minimally Invasion with Instrumentation surgery - with metal plates and screws and wedge or wedges (not so sure how many were put in my back).

    Another person who had similar sugery as I had gave a good insight above (see that document above.) It sheds some good light on basically what is happening and now I have a better understanding of this.

    I am just so thankful to you guys... you are gems!

    My prayers are with you that you will soon feel better. I am praying for everyone here who is having problem/s in one way or the other.

    I am planning on printing some of the responses here and then take them with me when I go to see my doctor.

    All the best.

    Take care and if you know what is 'fused' then please let me know.

    Love and blessings.

  • Hi Steel:

    Good day to you! How are you? Hoping you are doing well today.

    Thank you for taking the time out to respond to my post.

    Yes, I had sugery on Feb. 7, 2008 to be exact! You know what, I was fooled by the head nurse! She told me at the screening that I would wake up with practically no pain at all! :jawdrop: I was happy to hear that and that even prompted me to move forward with the sugery. I was quite surprised when the morning after the surgery I could not even sit up in bed and since that time, I am in nothing but pain! :(

    Anyway, I am feeling much better in my mind now since I saw the response from one other person here who told me that she had similar sugery and having the same situations like I am having.

    One thing though, I am still having cramps in my left leg and that sounds more like the sciatica nerve is still being pressured... I am not sure but that is just my perception.

    Anything light on this anyone?

    Thanks for all your encouragements.

    All the best and I am praying for you.

    You are beautiful!

    Blessings and have a great day.

  • Hi Everyone:

    I was confused about 'fused!' LOL. I though the term 'fused' means the discs in the back were being joined together and therefore would stop mobility! Well, this frightened me. I remembered that the guy who used to do my decompression sessions told me that when two discs meet and start to put pressure on each then the sap between the discs could be squeezed out and the two discs could fused and stop mobility! I was wondering if this was happening to me since I am in so much pain - lol!!!

    Anyway, I think just found out what 'fused' means and I hope I am right. However, the term here reads "fusion" and I think it might be one and the same with fused the short for fusion!

    If I am wrong, please let me know also. lol! Thanks!

    Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery

    A spinal fusion surgery is designed to stop the motion at a painful vertebral segment, which in turn should decrease pain generated from the joint. All lumbar spinal fusion surgery involves adding bone graft to an area of the spine to set up a biological response that causes the bone graft to grow between the two vertebral elements and thereby stop the motion at that segment.

    For patients with the following conditions, abnormal and excessive motion at a vertebral segment may result in pain:

    Degenerative disc disease

    Isthmic, degenerative or postlaminectomy spondylolisthesis.

    Other conditions that may be treated by a spinal fusion surgery include a weak or unstable spine (caused by infections or tumors), fractures, scoliosis or deformity.

    How spine fusion surgery works

    At each level in the spine, there is a disc space in the front and paired facet joints in the back. Working together, these structures define a motion segment and permit multiple degrees of motion. Two vertebral segments need to be fused together to stop the motion at one segment, so that an L4-L5 (lumbar segment 4 and lumbar segment 5) spinal fusion is actually a one-level spinal fusion.
    A spine fusion surgery involves using bone graft to cause two vertebral bodies to grow together into one long bone. Bone graft can be taken from the patient's hip (autograft bone) during the spine fusion surgery, harvested from cadaver bone (allograft bone). or manufactured (synthetic bone graft substitute).

  • Hi Julie:

    How are you today? Hoping you are well.

    Yes, I am still on a number of medications namely: Oxycodone, Cyclobenzaprine and Diazepam. Most of these are heavy medications and they make me very disoriented and sleepy! I am totally disfunctional when I take them so I am trying to avoid taking them. I tried to bear the pain most times.

    Yes, I had gone for a post-surgery check-up and the Dr. did x-ray only to figure out if all hardware was in place and he said they were. He also told me that I would be in pain for up to a year but did not quite explain everything to me.
    He himself also looked worried when he was talking to me and that made me worroried too!

    I am hanging on in there. Keep me in prayers!

    Blessings and much love.

    You take care and feel better.

    Thanks again...

    PS: I don't have fusion or fused whichever terminology is right. I just had the Invasive surgery with hardware and a wedge!
  • Hi Spicey:

    How are you? Hoping all is going well for you in the UK! How is the weather there? It's kinda warm here in the US -- the summer is here and the humidity is kinda rough also. Otherwise, and other than the high gas prices etc., we are doing well.

    I don't think I have that fused thingy. I was just trying to figure out what it is but I think I have an idea now...

    LilyVamp - #6 below shed some great light on what is happening to me. She has had similar sugery and having the same situation. I am just so happy that she as able to give me a better idea regarding what is happening to me. I wish my doctor had done that same (or may be does not know either) oops! :P (smiles)

    I am hoping I will start feeling better soon since I sneeze a lot sometimes and girly... FORGET IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS!!! Most times if I am on the street I had to bend all the way down to the ground before I sneeze else I am not able to stand after sneezing! :jawdrop: !!!!!!!
    Even sitting down is a problem now and I kinda walk a bit limp now! I have a cane but I don't feel comfortabel with it.

    I cannot even pick up my pet rabbit. The last time I picked her up and was in so much pain picking her up that when I was to put her back, I was so scared that I bent half-way down and threw her down. She fell and hurt herself on her litter box! That was really really sad for me -- I just cannot stand this anymore!

    I do take the medications but they make me kinda sick and disoriented when I take them, plus I have to go to work, etc.

    Please pray for me... if you can. I do believe in prayer and think God can heal me soon.

    Blessings and much love.

    All the best for now...

    Best Regards,

  • Meg, I am so sorry to hear of the painful recovery that you are having. I think that I have heard that the pain from the SI joint can mimic sciatica. The other member that suggested you go to PT and find out if your SI joint is locked up may be on to something. When I was in PT I was shown how to unlock my SI joint. You must lay flat on the bed or floor with legs straight and flat to the floor. take your ankle and rest it on your other knee. The knee to the ankle that is resting on the other knee will know be somewhat in the air. You have to throw your knee that is in the air as HARD as you can to the floor or bed. Do this 3 times but no more. You must throw that knee EXTREMELY HARD like you are trying to break it. You should hear a pop each time you throw it. Then do the same thing to the other leg. You must not do this any more than 3 times on each side. I always got immediate relief by doing this. It may be worth a try. If it was hard to follow my directions, let me know. It is hard to explain without showing someone in person. It was a lifesaver for me. I would call your docs office and make sure that it is OK to try since you have just had surgery. I got these instructions before I had surgery. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • Hi Lily:

    It will be hard to express how grateful I am to you for helping me to understand what is happening to my body!! (Thank You God!!!)

    I was worried sick :sick: I could not understand why all this pain and the doctor asked that I come in to see him but my Med. Ins. is temporarily out right now so I am waiting for it to be restored so I can go in to see him. In the meantime, I was here suffering both physically and mentally (since I did not know if what was happening to me was normal.) Oh I am thankful!!

    I remembered that once when I went in for my final post-sugery examination, the doctor told me that I would feel pain for a year and a little more - give and take! However, he did not describe in detail why all this was taking place. He seemed a bit hesitant then and I was worried that maybe he made a mistake and messed up things and did not want to tell me - so now my mind was working 'overtime' trying to figure out what went wrong. I was afraid to even ask just in case the news would be a bad one!

    What I don't understand though is why the shooting pain and cramps down my left leg? That sounds more like the siatica nerve is involved? NO?? What makes the nerves flaring? Was it due to the prior pressing of the two discs or is it because of the wedge?

    If you might have an idea why, then please share - I will be very happy to hear.

    Thanks a million for sheding such great light on the matter - I am thankful.

    All the best and feel better soon. I am hoping that next year this time we will all be feeling better! Until then, be strong and keep the faith.

    All the best and I am praying for you and every person here who is not feeling well.

    Best Regards and thanks again.


    ps:I will see if I can get the e-mail from my Dr. However, I don't think he know all of what you just told me or the reason for the pain either! The last time I was with him (post-sugery checkup...) he asked where I was feeling the pain and I told him. He only said I will feel all those pains for a year or so... he said nothing else. Maybe he does not know.
  • Hi Painintheback:

    You are wonderful! Thanks for taking the time out to share your exercise with me. I will write this down step by step and will start the routine as soon as I talk with my doctor and if he says it is OK to do.

    I will keep you posted.

    Now that you had done your surgery, are you pain free?

    Let us know.

    You are beautiful!

    Blessings and much love...

    Best Regards,

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