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post op from second spinal fusion

Two weeks ago I had my second fusion in two years. The first fusion was for the L4-L5-S1. My whole back is in horrible shape, so the stress from this fusion quickly took toll on the next level. My surgeon was going to do a "soft" fusion, doing a laminectomy on L3-L4 and using the bone along with bone compound to form the fusion. His fear was that another instrumentation would put greater stress on the rest of the back. It would be a longer recovery period because it would be less stable without the hardware. However, when he got in there and starting removing bone, there were fractures in the area and thus he had to use the hardware as a result. This recovery sucks more as the pain is an all over back ache, I can't find a decent sitting position as the pressure on the spine is very uncomfortable. Another thing freaking me out is that the area where the hardware went in is swollen into a knob. My back is still swollen as there is fluid that eventually will drain. The knob looks different though and I did not experience this on my first surgery. Has anyone experienced this kind of issue? I go in for my first followup this Thursday so I will have X-rays and be able to ask questions. Just kind of freaking me out right now.


  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 719
    I've also had 2 spinal fusion surgeries in 2 years. The first was exactly like yours PLIF L4-L5-S1. The second was a redo of L5-S1 along with a discectomy/decompression of L3-L4 as that joint was badly herniated and crushing my spinal nerve column. The recovery from the second surgery which is now exactly one year ago (Jan 19, 2015) has been a LOT more difficult versus the first. I was on pain meds for 4 months versus zero pain meds the first time around due to continued nerve pain after surgery... and it has taken a long long time to find any strength and stability in my back despite a steady PT program. In fact... I'm still not 100% but I think I'm finally nearing the end of the tunnel... I hope. I never had any particularly swelling or problems with the incision site like you... but I sure had ALL of the body discomfort and pains and sitting was totally impossible for the longest time due to the pressure and pain. Every time I express my doubts to my doctor he would just keep telling me to "hang in there... it's normal". So hopefully this Thursday when you go to your first follow-up you get the same "...it's normal".
    Harry - 62 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • I had my session with surgeon on 1/21. He says surgery looks great and knob on back is scar tissue. He says that if it still there in 6 months he will surgically remove it. Back still hurts now after 2 weeks. Lower back still inflamed. Hopefully will report back with better news in 2 weeks.
  • i had a slight knob like swelling for 2 months at the top of he incision. Went away after that.

    Same as hvillls. still recovering. 3 months out. Sitting is uncomfortable. No real pain. An all over back discomfort
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