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Pain getting worse 4 weeks post-fusion

HopeforChuckHHopeforChuck Posts: 166
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello Everyone,

I am 4 weeks post ALIF. I felt like I was doing better last week. The past few days I feel like I am back to square one. I can barely move my back without feeling like something is going to pop. Also, I have had constipation issues. Let me ask a question--how is it possible to keep the fusion hardware in tact when you are basically giving birth to a baby every day whenever you sit on the toilet? I'm not trying to be gross (or minimize childbirth--I am sure it is much worse then severe constipation)--but I am concerned that I may have done some damage with all the pushing through the constipation. I'm not talking little pushes--I'm talking about using every muscle in my body to get it out. Will broken screws and such show on a simple X-Ray? I have an appt. next week and they will X-Ray me--but I'm starting to wonder about this pain--it just feels that the back is unstable and has gotten worse. I can't live like this the rest of my life. I saw one guy on here who is on Oxycontin 80mg 2 times a day plus break through pain meds and he had the same operation I did (maybe it was worse I don't know). Maybe my meds aren't strong enough--I'm "only" on Oxy 20 mg twice a day and baby Dilaudid pills. Should I try to become even more of a drug addict and up the pain pills? This is no win situation. I am usually a positive person--but I relate so well to so many others on this board who find themselves in tears all the time, feeling sorry for yourself, struggling not to always talk about your pain, worrying too much. Any of the rest of you have no zero tolerance for noise? That doesn't help when I'm trying to be a loving father of four.

My doc didn't use a brace--I think that was a huge mistake--I have bent too much--I know it.

Why would the pain get so much worse over the past few days? I did start walking more then I had been--when I walk I feel pretty good--but then right after it is hard. All the doc will say is that I had major surgery, I'm healing, etc. Maybe he's right. This is a challenge.



  • You are still early in your recovery process and will have your ups and downs. Being constipated after this kind of surgery is no fun. I can remember the first time I went after surgery and it was horrible. I take stool softeners everyday, try to eat high fiber diet and take laxatives every 1-2 weeks. I was given a brace but didn't wear it because it seemed to make it hurt worse and was uncomfortable. I just wore the brace I was given in the hospital for my incision because it seemed like my guts were going to fall out of my incision if I didn't have it on. Don't over do it and just continue to follow your dr's orders and express any concerns with your surgeon. Make sure you get lots of rest. Do you live in an area where it is really cold? I live in sourtherntier New York so I have been in agony the last couple of weeks as the highs have been in the 30's. Yesterday was 10 degrees when I went to my son's school.

  • I'm dealing with constipation too, because of the morphine. I really feel bad for you. Drink lots of water and juices, and someone recommended the kellogs fiber yogurt bites with yogurt.

    I notice that I am extrememly sensitive to noise at the end of the day, and I think it's an effect of all the drugs. A white noise machine in my bedroom works well at the end of the day when I can get help from my husband with the kids.

    Hope your healing continues to improve
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  • Ming,
    Do you think I could break a screw or cause the hardware to move by "pushing" so hard when going during constipation? Also, I was taking laxatives DAILY for the first couple weeks after surgery. Also stool softeners. To be honest, I'd rather just take the laxative every day then be constipated--and I think it would be better for my back. I know I can't take laxatives every day. My wife wants me off the pain meds--says it contributes to the constipation--but I just don't think I can take the back pain off the meds. Can barely tolerate it on the pain meds.

  • Ming,
    Yes, I live in Delaware--it is very cold here the past few days.

  • We have all been there and there's nothing to feel ashamed for. When your pain escalates, it does not mean you're an addict if you are just trying to think of ways to control the pain. Constipation is horrible the first weeks post op. What saved me at the pinnacle of my misery was Fleet suppositories. They work in a couple of minutes, so stay near the toilet. It is good for when you just can't handle waiting hours for the pills to work. Senokot is really good, and I would take them on a regular basis until you get regular during this early stage of recovery. The last thing you want to do is strain or get severely constipated. Drink plenty of liquids, and prune juice is good although yucky. I like eating those Sunsweet prunes because they are sweet and healthy snack. Well, I hope you get to feeling better.

    PS When it gets cold, the screws can cause additional pain. Brace yourself when cold fronts arrive.
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  • Prune juice. I was on all types of stool softeners that did nothing if I didn't also drink half a cup of prune juice at lunch (make sure it's 100% juice- it tastes disgusting, but it works)- most all the time by bedtime I could go and feel better. I'm vegan so I eat a high fiber diet naturally, but that wasn't enough without the prune juice.

    On the pain end of things, I am almost 9 weeks post op now... literally over the course of a few days in week eight things started changing all of the sudden. I could sit longer, move better, take less meds... I know I have a long way left in my recovery but as someone who just a few weeks ago was feeling similar to how you are now, I just thought that might be encouraging.

    Good luck with your recovery.
  • You can buy generic Senna at Walmart very cheaply. Senna naturally counteracts narcotic effect of constipation. Like the others have stated, water, juice, etc. helps too.

    I don't know about constipation and straining moving screws around. I have no scientific evidence, but I firmly believe that constipation contributes to back pain. How can it not? If you are full of it, it HAS to be putting pressure on your nerves. Right now for me, if I attempt to have a BM, I scream(worse than childbirth) because it reproduces my nerve pain in my legs. But, I've got definite hardware issues on what's left in my back and awaiting surgery.

    Get your bowels straightened out before you freak out about loose hardware. Then you can rule that out. Keep in contact with your doctor. If necessary, drink a half a bottle of Magnesium Citrate(cheap) or drink Fleets phospha soda. Those are one time things to clean you out. Keep in contact with your doctor but if you get your bowels regular, you might find the pain gets better.
  • Chuck,
    I had same issues. When I Came off the OXY it all returned to normal.
    Ive never had anything so awfull in my life. It was worse than the surgery. If you had ALIF your bowels may have been moved/shoved to one side, which could possibly worsen your case.
    I came of the OXY as soon as I could becuse I could not stand the constipation.
    After four weeks or so I reduced the dose and replaced it with Tramadol and copadene forte. They still slow everything down but OXY is pure evil.

    All the best
  • None of the stool softners did it for me...4 ounce of prune juice cleared the problem within the day. This much juice is mighty powerfull...be cautious.

    I started eating 2-3 prunes per day and all seems to be working well now.

    I'm on Vicodin...perhaps this is not as harsh as oxy.

    I too thought I busted a nut when I pulled myself out of the bed. What a pop. I thought I blew another disc. Doc said it is normal and its the muscles settling back in. At 3 weeks the irritation went away.

    I remember before the surgery how my vertibre moved during my bowel movements...and how I had loss of sensation and was always surprised. :& It all came back to normal post surgery...what a treat it is! <:P <br />
    I'm post 4 weeks myself.
    I know its hard, I'm in north/west nj and feel the same bone chilling cold.
    Keep excercising even on days off from PT. It keeps many of the aches under control.

    If your like me, my strength from my legs/back was pretty sad from having a bad back for many years. I've developed some good muscle back again...and feeling stronger everyday.
  • Hey Everyone,

    Thanks for the responses. I got through the constipation--I'm just trying to stay ahead of it this time. I got my prune juice all ready--mmmmm. I really hope I didn't do any damage to the implant through all the straining. Back doesn't feel too stable lately.

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