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Calf pain after fusion

ChopperCChopper Posts: 7
My husband had a disc removal and fusion (L4/L5) one month ago. The sciatic pain has reduced considerably and the area of the operation is good. The problem is that he has a new pain which is worse than the original pain. He gets horrible cramps and spasms in the calf muscles of both legs. It is especially bad at night. Some days it will go away completely but other days it lingers.
Does anyone else know what causes this and/or how to get rid of it?? The surgeon and rehab staff all said it is unusual and they don't know what it is and that the scans look fine. We thought it might be getting better at one stage but it's back with a vengeance. We know it is early in recovery but this doesn't seem right. It feels as though we have tradded in for a pain worse than what we started with. Help!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi there, I am really sorry to hear your husband is having problems. You are right it is very early after surgery.
    I found that after my surgery, pain that I had not felt before appeared. I found out that there is a hierarchy of pain and that we feel the worst one above all other even to the extent that we don't feel the others.
    I am not saying this is what is wrong, just something that happened to me.
    When I was having awful night cramps in my calf muscles I started to take calcium and magnesium before bed, it seemed to help quite a bit with the cramps.
    also when our electrolytes get imbalance this can cause cramps. So...I started taking calcium magnesium, potassium and zinc. I ate a banana every day to help with the potassium.
    Is your husband able to take a bath? I have found soaking in epsom salts can help with cramps as our body can absorb the magnesium that way as well.
    Another thing to try is to sleep on his side with a pillow between his legs.
    I hope he can find some relief.
    Take Care
    8/31/15 microdiscetomy laminotomy
    8/15 reruptured l5
    12/24/13 laminotomy/discetomy of L5
    9/98 laminectomy l4/l5
  • Thank you so much for your feedback..
    We have started in magnesium and calcium and eat loads of bananas. Too early for baths but will add those in when he can.
    Can I ask how long ago your surgery was and how long you had cramps for and how you are now??
    What worried us most was being told they didn't know a reason for the pain and that is was unusual but looking on forums it does seem quite a few people have had this pain after surgery. Just hoping it Is temporary.
    I hope you are doing well
  • The calf pain is GONE!
    Patience and perseverance has paid off. It was a truly hard and horrible road for a good few weeks. The surgeon couldn't explain the cause of the pain BUT physios, our local GP and an Osteo all said its normal and that its circularion based and the nerves are just sending more signals down and everything needs time to adjust

    I hope anyone else who is in pain and scared whether it will go away can see this. It does go away. It's 6 weeks since the operation now and my husbands calf pain at night has disappeared . Happy happy days here. I wish everyone the same success
  • FritzcrackerzFFritzcrackerz Posts: 246
    edited 03/20/2015 - 1:27 PM
    I've just started having the same pain at 5 weeks post op same operation, same disc.. I spoke to th physio this morning who said almost the same as you. I was a little sceptical but having read your post I'm so relieved its temporary and confirmed by somebody with first hand experience.

    Feeling good now :)

    L5-S1 herniation. Both knee meniscus tear. L4-5 herniation - 2 x nerve block injections. L4-5 discectomy. L1-2 nerve block injection. L4-5 reherniation - TLIF fusion. 2016: L1-2 and L5-S1 retrolistheses and multiple facet joint degeneration.
  • Update (things still good) however as is murphys law, shortly after I post to say life is all rosy things took a downward turn.
    Hubby went back to work last week and we had a couple BBQs at friends which involved standing around longer than he normally would. Wow, talk about taking it out of him. He gets home before me and every day I would arrive home to find him lying on his stomach asleep with an ice back on the area of the op and he was ZONKED!

    And pains came back. Not so much the calf pain (although sometimes) but the original sciatic nerve pain. This scared him A LOT that the op might not have worked after all. Positive outcome from this rough week is he has a great rehab place with fabulous physios and they have reminded him just how slowly he needs to take things and that nerve inflammation is not the same as failed op and it is still very early days in recovery.
    So we have culled social engagements for a while ahead and he has taken some afternoons off work so his body can rest more and we have put a far better pacing to his return to work and only once he can work full weeks will he slowly add social stuff again.

    And the paced approach is having great results. Pain is gone again and sleep is back and the optimism for the future returned.

    My GP did warn us he will get pain and inflammed nerves when he starts moving more. So lesson for us, that I hope can help others, is that pain will flare up as you heal but pacing works wonders and just cause you feel ok doesn't mean you should rush into too much. Make a paced plan and stick to it and trust the results will come.

    I trust all will go well with your recovery too

  • Much to my wife's displeasure, I'm not doing anything unless the physio says I can. All I'm allowed at the moment is walking. I've had good days and bad. Bad days are usually followed by a day of doing nothing at all!
    L5-S1 herniation. Both knee meniscus tear. L4-5 herniation - 2 x nerve block injections. L4-5 discectomy. L1-2 nerve block injection. L4-5 reherniation - TLIF fusion. 2016: L1-2 and L5-S1 retrolistheses and multiple facet joint degeneration.
  • Hello, I'm new to this forum. I was diagnosed with a bulge disc in my lower back, was having extreme pain down my right buttock all the way to my foot. The beginning of February I had my first injection, well it didn't help it made my pain worse then before I walked in. I'm getting my 2nd injection this Friday March 27, 2015 I'm praying this will work. I have my pain now in my calf, Thigh and buttock so bad in my thigh and calf especially at nighttime when I'm sleeping. Will this pain ever go away? does anyone else have or had this problem and if it doesn't go away whats the next step? I can't do anything I can't walk hardly I do my grocery shopping as fast as I can and its hard to stand, I'm so depressed cause I use to work out now I can't do anything. Can someone please let me know if the surgery part helps I'm trying not to go that path.

  • Hi Daizeegirl, I'm so sorry to hear you are in so much pain. I know the injections didn't help my husband but the surgery seems to have done wonders for him. The idea of spinal surgery is scary so I don't know anyone who rushes there until it's their last option.

    I can't say what will or won't work for your specific scenario other than to visit some surgeons and see what options they offer. You could also talk to doctors who specialise in pain management and pain psychologists to see what other options they can suggest.

    My only advice from watching my husband is to follow through on understanding all your options so you can at least make an informed decision and feel like you have some control.

    I wish you all the best.

  • How did the second injection go?

    L5-S1 herniation. Both knee meniscus tear. L4-5 herniation - 2 x nerve block injections. L4-5 discectomy. L1-2 nerve block injection. L4-5 reherniation - TLIF fusion. 2016: L1-2 and L5-S1 retrolistheses and multiple facet joint degeneration.
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