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Post-fusion symptoms

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello to everyone,

I had fusion and laminectomy at 3 levels (L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1) in mid-June. Still healing (I've learned patience), and I think that all is going well except for a couple of issues that I hope folks who are at least 2 months + post-surgery can advise me on:

1) Tightness in right leg - I have a tightness in my right leg, as well as soreness. Feels as if I pulled a hamstring, and I am not able to fully extend my leg without discomfort. Anyone had this?

2) Restless legs - creepy, crawly, itching feelings - at times, I get up in the middle of the night and walk. Is this common (I recall having this when I had a diskectomy in 2002).

3) Still have variable difficulty sitting for lengthy periods of time. This gets in the way of my work - what have others experienced with this - in terms of return to work (timeframes), limitations, etc?

Thanks to all, and I wish you all the best of health!



  • ...for the multiple issues here, but the aftermath of surgery can be awfully complex and confusing.

    Thanks for your insights!

  • Hello Mike
    in my experience, certainly your points 1 and 3 are really quite normal. The tightness in the hamstring is probably as a result of inactivity since your surgery. I had this in both legs and found massage and stretching very helpful in restoring some mobility and flexibility in conjunction with plenty of walking.
    Sitting for long periods will definitely cause you some discomfort after the surgery you have had. You need to pace yourself during your revovery. I think you have done remarkably well getting back to work already. I had multi level surgery on April 22nd and did not get back to work until 1st July and still only able to work from 9.00 am to about 3.30pm before going home to lie down.
    One other thing I do that may help with your legs is walking in the water at about chest height. I was told to do this every day for about half an hour. I am now into my 4th week - it's pretty boring but it has helped in working core muscles and with some scar tissue (I had surgery from the front - ALIF and two ADR's)
    Not sure what to say about itchy legs but am sure someone else will post a reply.
    Hope this is of some help. Feel free to pm with any more questions.
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  • Hi Brian,

    Sincere thanks for your response. Your insights and recommendations are all very helpful.

    I hope you are continuing to do well!

  • Welcome back Mike! I am glad your surgery went well. You amaze me, as you are already back to work. Brian already answered your first two questions, but I can add to the last one, regarding sitting. At first, after my surgery (exactly the same fusion as yours), the PT told me no more than max 30 minutes sitting at any one time. So I set my egg timer, but actually after about 25 minutes or so I had the need to stand up and walk around a bit. I also found that it was hard to find a comfortable chair, not too hard, not too soft, and with a straight enough back, and armrests. One of our computer chairs felt the best, and when I visited friends I also asked to use their computer chair. I don't know what type of work you do, but most likely they can provide you with a good ergonomic computer chair. But make sure, you get up and walk around every once in a while.

    Wishing you continuing good progress,

  • Hi

    The restless legs pnenomoem you describe - I had that after both my surgeries. It settles down after a while. Not sure what caused it. A nice massage upward towards your thorax helps - anti gravity - again not sure why but who cares.

    Sitting - yes I guess this is our biggest challenge. Listen to your body. I can only sit for 20 mins and then I have to stretch any longer is TROUBLE with a capital T.

    Your leg tightness...any swelling, inflammation or heat? If so get yourself checked, it could be a DVT. I had dead leg, numbness but not "tightness".

    Any worries get checked out, your still very esrly days really. Take Care
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  • Mike I had the same as you and about 4 weeks earlier.

    Yes I too have very tight hamstrings and one exercise that my physio has given me is to sit in a high backed chair and lift one leg forward at a time and hold it there. My legs shake like jelly to start with but now I use Theraband to make it harder.

    Restless legs - Yikes yep I have this too but usually only if I have sat for too long. Part of the penalty I think. Not much you can do about it but like you I get up and walk around and even gently stamp my feet.

    Sitting is getting a lot better for me now. I find that I can sit for an hour if I have to but I often pay for it later. So I try to keep to 30-40 mins then have a walk around.

    I must say you are doing really well as I am not ready to return to work (OK I dont have a job but if I did!)
    Is there any way that you can have a lie down half way through the day. That would be your best bet. If you could recover from the morning before starting the afternoon you might be able to stay all day.

    Hope things improve
    Blessings Sara
  • Hello Sara,

    Thanks so much for the kind words and encouragement. I've been stretching (it's actually something I've been doing subconsciously - :))...I do appreciate the response! Will see what I can do about lying flat from time to time.

    Best wishes,

  • Many thanks for the reply, and for the reminder that it is STILL early on in my recovery (all things considered). I tend to be impatient (not the best characteristic for a spiney), and so need to learn to "go with the flow".

    No, I've not had any inflammation, etc., and my surgeon has advised me that he views the tightness as "normal" (OK!)...I'll keep the faith - I had severe right ankle pain after my surgery (horrible pain), but it went away. I am hopeful that this, too, shall pass! :)

    Kindest regards,

  • I know I am only 4 weeks post op, but the leg ache, restless feeling is very much my biggest issue right now.

    It's the worst at night as I try to go to bed and nothing gets rid of it except the Roxicodone. I tried Valium and I have also tried Robaxin and neither of them work for this nervy ache I get in my legs. Currently I have no pain meds and I seem to wake up every few hours in the night with the ache that never goes away.

    II keep trying to convince myself that it HAS to go away sometime. So, I have been trying something different lately. My NS advised me to walk LESS. Now I don't walk to exhaustion. But I do walk more often now. Shorter walks more often. I have definitely felt a difference in the leg ache. It's there, but I can tell it's not as bad.

    I am also now working on getting up at night when I wake up and just taking a little walk around the house. I'm not sure yet if it's making a difference, but I did sleep almost 5 hours last night.

    p.s. I also started taking 5mg of melatonin at bedtime.
  • Hello Kin, I think you're absolutely right that a change to a "real" computer chair may do me well. I do office work - sit and stare at a computer most of the day - so sitting is my M.O. :)

    I think I'll buy one of those egg timers (or steal my wife's!)...

    Kindest regards, and best wishes to you for continued recovery, Kin!

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