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14 weeks after PLIF and still have leg pain

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everybody,

It has been a while since I last posted. I am wondering if this leg pain WILL EVER go away? I keep trying to remember "it is a process" but at 14 weeks I would think that the leg pain would be subsiding a bit more. I had my PLIF on June 9, 2008. The pain was horrendous. Lots of problems controlling my pain. PCA was worthless. I couldn't tell if I was getting anything or not. I never felt the relief I had when I used a PCA for other surgeries.

Anyway, I had a CT done at my 3 month follow up. My surgeon said I shouldn't have leg pain. He was pleased that the rods and screws weren't loose or leaning on a nerve. He thought that might be causing the leg pain. He was very pleased that I was growing bone as if I was 6 months out. Okay, I guess I am glad that all the work he did is considered successful but I still can't sand this dng leg pain. I am still on Norco and Kadian from my pain mgt doc. I ran out of my COBRA coverage so am now buying my own qt $484.00 month ith a $3,000.00/yr cap on pharmacy. The Kadian is 1009.00. My insurance pays 800.00. The Norco (hydrocodone) is cheap. I am just bout at the end of my rope. I applied for SSI and received my denial letter a few days ago. I guess I expected that from all that I have read. I don't know how I would be able to work FT even if I could find a job. That left leg really hates life if I stand up too long.

Anyway, have any of you been told or read in your MRI reports that you have arachnoiditis? A few of my MRI (after I had 3 steroid injections the 2nd of which leaked CSF causing the arach) showed that I have arach from L5 all the way into the caudal equina - no man's land! Arach, from what I have read, is extremely painful and it can "creep" up or dwn your spine. But all I know is that my leg hates life.

ER Nurse - I was sorry to read that you still aren't growing bone. That sucks! Are you still in any pain in your back or leg? That has just got to be a real pain when you're trying to moe those pts in the ER! Hopefully your peers are pitching in and helping you out.

Look forward to hearing from some oldies and newbies. I am trying to get used to the new format. I will cntinue to read and pick my way through and see if I can find some cases similar to mine.



  • I'm sorry you're not well after you're surgery. Can you find a lawyer to help with your claim and a new Dr. if this one isn't helping. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • 14 weeks is quite early in the wder scheme of things.

    You never said why you had the surgery? Did the surgery correct the original pain trigger?
    My surgeon said leg pain was difficult to treat and the web site below discusses research looking at the duration of damage and then subsequent healing. The main thing bveing, the longer you suffer th poorer your chances of success.


    I also have read arachnoiditis is a painful condition. y basic undertsnaing is that the nerve tissue grows fine sensory fibres thus pain.

    You also need to perhaps pull out the positives...can you do anything now you couldn't before? I can lie on my back now which I couldn't do before. :)))

    remember, they tell us 12-24 month recovery for a reason. It is one of the reasons they don't rush in with the surgery.
    Hope you feel better soon and try not to worry.

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  • Im sorry your still having pain to. ;)
    It does happen. Like asked before is your orginal pain gone??
    Did you have leg pain before surgery?
    Those are huge questions.
    Sometimes (not always) when leg pain is let go and then surgery is decided. Nerves as you have read can be perm damaged. That why I did not wait on surgery to let my legs get to that point. But that is my personal opinion. Everyone else has there own.

    A good friend of mine from last yrs site was in your same position. She of course is now on the morphine/vicodin combo and has found the right dose to put hers at some type of ease. Depending on what pharmacutical company supplies your kadian there are many programs that help with the cost or sometimes even no cost to you for the meds. Something to check in to.

    14 wks out is still early. It can take up to a full year to feel better. I know not what you want to hear.
    SSI is a joke sometimes depending on your state. Sometimes you have to be on your death bed before they even let you have your 'MONEY'. That irrates me to no end.

    I so wish I had some better answers for you. I know how terrible the leg pain can be and it sucks the life out of ya especially if you do have the arachnoidtis.
    Have they started you on PT yet? Mabye they can help with relaxation and stretches for that leg.

    Anways Im rambling I think I will change my name to ramblingterri =)) =)) =))
    But that is me!!!

    I want to send you out cyber huggssss hoping that the leg pain subsides soon and you can get on with recovery. Hard to get out walking when your leg hurts so much. ~X( >:D< >:D< >:D< >:D< >:D< >:D< >:D< >:D< >:D<
  • So sorry you are going through such pain. The med costs make everything more stressful. It may help to try Neurontin not sure of the cost but it's way cheaper than Lyrica.

    Frankly your story and description of that leg jumps out at me, I have not been diagnosed with arachnoiditis but have suspect scar tissue in the central epidural space which mimics arachnoiditis. So my surgery was sucessful in that the stability was fixed etc but the scar tissue sometimes just happens.

    I also was one of those that Terri talks about and waited much much too long. Which really was bad and also have nerve damage as a result. Anyway what type of leg pain do you have? like where, how does it feel? etc..

    I ask because it may be arach type pain and if so a nerve pain med will help you keep your sanity! Terri has a great idea with med assist programs, pls look into that =D>

    A good strech and strenghening therapy will help as well. Even if you don't go to therapy maybe ask your doc about a plan you can do at home, walking,stretching etc

    Good luck >:D<
    Take care!!!
  • Out of interest Pettynme, what is "too long?"?

    I know what I have read but am curious??

    I urge caution around the stretching - make sure you do this with PT or at least in aqua therapy to help reduce the wrong moves.
    I know from my own experience an overkeen stretch can do you in for days! :))(
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  • i am sorry you are having such a difficult time..i had a thought about paying for the medicine though. Some of the drug companies offer free or reduced prices for those persons who meet their requirements. My son was on an expensive medication when he had no insurance. He contacted the company directly and they sent him a form that the doctor filled out. He received the meds for $30 instead of $300 for the month. These options are out there, people just do not know about them. It is worth a try; hopefully one less stress in your life will help.
  • Hey TerriJV,

    Thanks for the response from one old spiney to another. I am stil getting used to the new format. I couldn't figure out how to respnd to all the responses I got unless I just drop to the bottom of the last response and post it in there. Guess I should have tried that first!

    But I want to thank all who replied.

    I wsaw my pain mgt doc this week and told him I couldn't afford the Kadian (even tho I had a $50.00 off coupon from the maker). He switched me to MS Contin which was only $10.00. That helped alot.

    I can handle the Lyrica. It seems to help. I take it at night (One 150mg capsule) before I go to bed. I probably should get the 75mg so I could take -4 a day and see if that helps calm the nerve.

    I don't even want to talk about the weight gain due to going back on my Lexipro (anti-depressant) and the Lyrica. Up two jean sizes. The cutting of more of my back muscle seems to have affected my once fat free stomach. I couldn't figure out why I could pinch more than an inch! Someone else told me that was due to the muscles being cut back there. I guess that could be true but...

    I should be doing the stretching exercises my PT gave me and also get into the pool. I am worried about being unemployed right now so I spend most of my day job searching. Then I wonder if I got one how will I deal with the leg pain at work?? So I am hoping the SSI comes through. I have also filed with the VA as my spondy is documented in my active duty (Navy) chart.

    I see alot of new names here now and I hope everyone is finding the info here as helpful as I did when I first joined over a year ago. But I did have to stop reading for awhile since I was spending hours reading when I needed to be taking care of other business.

    I plan on writing my story and filling in my profile soon. I am one of the ones that went to the Laser Spine Institute in Aug 07. It helped but not enough. I had a laminectomy in Jan 07 prior to going to LSI. It has been a long road since my first attack of sciatica in Mar 06. Funny thing is I never, never, never had back pain and still don't. My CT last month showed that I am growing bone faster than my surgeon expected (smoker) and my rods and screws are stil placed correctly.

    It is raining like he-- here in WA State. We have flood alerts - esp where I live on the Olympic Peninsula. My home is up on a slight hill so I am okay but I feel for the folks that have to dal with 3-4 of our major rivers overflowing their banks. Last year we had places that werwe declared disaster areas and those poor are still trying to recover.

    Thanks again to all. Terri you are auch a big help to so many people here. You should get a salary!


  • Sorry for the delay I haven't checked my posted threads in a bit...

    In answer to your question as far as how long... in my exprience the answer is there is NO right answer, because everyone is different. Our medical books, what we read online or are told all discuss a median. No matter what the topic there is always an average based on studies. For me all was NOT APPLICAPLE.

    Now that isn't to freak people out because there are reasons for the process we go through for any diagnosis and that is because people like me are a minority. My L4-5 disc was shredding, my L5-S1 was gone and my back was unstable thus crushing nerves and exposing disc material quickly in my spine in a very unheard of amt of time. Although I read a poster on our old boards who sounded like the same thing for her only 1 level thankfully for her and she did well if I remember right.

    As said many times on our boards there are alot of great successful surgeries and treatments for folks who then move on, some are gracious enough to come back and share their stories and some stay regularly to help those of us still in need of support.

    I suggested the doc for stretching guidence to help with proper technique etc. because dakmba stated her COBRA ran out & if it is arachnoiditis related some simple stretching may help it from worsening or help the pain and PT may not be an optional expense, this early post-op though you are so right proper technique is critical. Also hopefully the doc has given her the ok to walk,walk,walk....that is the best rehab sometimes and according to one of the pain docs I saw that is the best rehab so everyone is different there too I guess :<

    You know what they say if it causes pain don't do it or a PT or hopefully a doc can adjust whatever they recommended so it does not cause pain and still serve its purpose. I've learned there are alot of things I have to do differently now and it's not easy.

    My whole point really though was this type of pain is indescribable and I wanted to suggest the nerve pain med because it truelly helped me personally alot!

    In retrospect it's easy now to say I waited too long but who knew???? Listen to your body is all I know :D

    Have a great weekend & as always
    Take care!

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