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L5/S1 lumbar fusion w/ cage

I had this spinal surgery 10 months ago and I am still in so much pain. I have to alternate sitting and standing and sitting in a car too long is unbearable. I am only 18 and a college athlete and I want nothing more than to return to play again. I have been doing rehab for the last 8 months and feel like I have made no progress as the nerve pain still runs down my leg and my lumbar spine aches and throbs all of the time. The only thing that helps is laying down. I need to know if this is normal or what experiences others have had with this. Thank you!



  • L4_L5LL4_L5 Posts: 1,469
    edited 06/18/2019 - 12:37 PM

    I would get a second opinion from a new neurosurgeon. Nerves can take a long time to wake up but it sounds like you had surgery not too long (maybe 5-7 months) after your injury.

    Based on how soon you had your surgery after your injury (months and not years) and also the fact you’re only 18, I would personally have expected better progress by now.

    Don’t be bashful about taking a post-op MRI to a new surgeon and explaining your medical history and current complaints and ongoing struggles. 

    Someone out there can help. 

    Good luck and please keep us updated,

  • You are very young so you may not know this saying, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, what that means is you need to keep telling your surgeon or another surgeon what is going on, L5-S1 is a tough one to start with, but as L4-L5 said 10 months is a long time to basically not see ant progress, you didn't mention if you were on any medications for nerve pain, if not there are several that could be beneficial to you, but you still need to find the cause, you are too young to need nerve medication for the rest of your life, there are times when doctor's don't seem to take you seriously, this seems to be especially prevelant in young spinal patients, so as I said you need to become the squeaky wheel.

    Good luck and keep us posted.


    Veritas-Health Moderator

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  • I had ALIF/PLIF spinal fusion 3 months ago...I still experience a constant throbbing/achy feeling in my abdomen and back which my physical therapist said is normal and cant last up to a year as everything start to build up again on my back.  While I have made progress, recovery has been a challenge. Even at 3 months post op Laying down feels more comfortable than sitting up.  Driving/being in a car is still not comfortable. I am 33 years old. Have you tried swimming? 

  • L4_L5LL4_L5 Posts: 1,469
    edited 06/18/2019 - 12:38 PM

    To have little to no improvement in 10 months post-op would not be acceptable to me. Being 3 months post-op versus being 10 months post-op is a huge difference. 

    I know a woman in her 40s who had an L5/S1 fusion and she was back to doing any and all activities she did pre-op within 6 to 9 months.

    Understand that everyone is different but 10 months is a long time for little to no improvement. Something seems amiss but that’s just my opinion.

  • I have not been on any medication for the nerve pain, I have done the sciatica stretches and nothing helps. It is a burning pain with pins and needles sensation from my back all the way into my toes in my left leg. I have done swim workouts but even after that my back aches from all of the movement. I have my next CT scan with my surgeon in June to follow up. That is my one year mark since surgery. I haven’t done much rehab in the past two weeks to try and let my muscles and bones relax but everything is still spasmed and my lumbar spine hurts so bad. Not sure why it’s not feeling better.

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  • It would be a good idea to talk with them about something to help with the nerve pain, there are several medications out there, at least it would allow you to be more comfortable until they figure out the cause.


    Veritas-Health Moderator

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,479

    I agree with Chip. It's Hard to recover when you are in pain. I know you know about ice packs, they help for some relief.
    Good luck and call your doctor.

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • trixttrix LiverpoolPosts: 35

    I had L5/S1 fusion by a neurosurgeon in sept 17 after two failed disectomies the previous year under an orthopedic surgeon.

    I am in pain 24/7and whilst laying down provides some relief it never fully subsides. 

    The pain at times is debilitating.  I generally just get up and get on with it but being unable to take meds my body/mind just breakdown and gives up. If this was new pain I wouldn't get out of bed but sadly it's the norm so learnt to bite down and suck it up.

    I'm 100% certain it's the metal causing my issues but been told it's not however not provided with a alternative explanation.

    Personally I've given up on recovery as I just cannot get anyone to really take on what I'm dealing with. 

  • trix

    You can't give up, you didn't mention what doctor's you are seeing now, Are you in pain management?

    I see you are in Liverpool, and I admit that I know nothing about the medical system there, but as I said you can't just give up, there is somebody out there that can help, if your surgeon is not helping pain management would be a very good place to start.


    Veritas-Health Moderator

  • I just had x-rays done to see if the hardware in my spine is malfunctioning or what the deal is. The surgeon said I should not be having this much pain this far after surgery. Could this be a sign of failed back surgery syndrome? I am worried that I will not be able to live a normal life again let alone ever play volleyball again, thank you.

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