Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

Post op lumbar fusion "nerve pain"

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I've read a couple of posts of individuals experiencing the same type of "nerve pain" that I have in my leg. I had a TLIFT (fusion) of L5-S1 and stabilization of L4-L5 on Dec 16th. I am out of my mind with burning, stabbing pain in my calf, top of foot and toes. The nurse said "hang in there" and my Lyrica was increased to 150 mg 3 times a day. It helps a little. If I really knew this was temporary I think I could tolerate it better. This pain is worse than what I had pre-op. Can anyone out there give any reassurance that this post op nerve pain, aka nerve root irritation, gets better? Thanks.


  • Hi Lisa,

    I had a L4-S1 TLIF 18 months ago. Nerves can be very irritated from being manipulated, can even feel initially worse than before surgery. For many people, this does get better.

    My questions for you are-did this pain show up immediately postop or did it take a week or so to show up? What are you doing activity-wise? You should not be bending, lifting, twisting. The first 3 weeks are for healing only. Don't get on an elliptical! I'm sure you don't feel up to that right now, but just covering the bases. There's probably hundreds of horror stories about complications here, but us difficult patients are really not the norm. Most people get the nerves to settle down.

    Have you had a postop appointment? I would like to have xrays done at that appointment just to make sure hardware looks good.

    You said this pain is worse than preop. Is it in the same pattern, tho? Check out www.chirogeek.com and click on dermatones and it shows you what nerve root is involved with the pattern of pain you have.

    But again, did you have this degree of pain in the hospital or did it come back after some time?
  • From one nurse to another - In the hospital I was on a MS pca pump. What I felt was more of a numbness, once weaned, then discharged the burning, searing pain started. Pre-op my only pain was a stabbing sciatic pain that traveled down to my foot. That is completely gone. In the hospital they did a CAT scan and said everything looked great, all the hardware was in perfect position. Right now I have alternated rest with activity. I will walk slowly on the treadmill for up to a mile if I feel well, and I do keep my brace on. I was told my rehab for the first month was to just walk. Truly, I was a very active nurse prior to this surgery, which I really needed as my spine was very unstable from a b/l pars defect and then subsequent spondylolithesis. I plan on going back to my job on Jan 5th, I have to do 2, 3 hour lecures that week and then clinical instruction. I will have additional help with that for 2 weeks then I'm on my own. If it wasn't for the severe burning pain in my leg I'd feel great!
  • advertisement
  • Lisa,

    I experienced an increase in leg pain/tingling after my lumbar fusion surgery at L5/S1. For me, this discomfort did not go away until roughly week 10. Over the past 6 weeks, I have had this happen only 2 or 3 times, and very briefly at that.

    I was told this happens because inflammation around the surgery site can put pressure on the nerves. As the inflammation decreases, you should get relief. Unfortunately, that just takes time.

    Hang in there. I'm sure it will get better. :-))
  • I know I'm not your spine surgeon, but I think you're nuts to be walking a mile at a time so soon preop, especially with nerve pain flare-up. I kind of think you might be overdoing it, but just my opinion.

    Nurses are the worst patients. Some people think that doctors are the worst patients because they think they know everything, but nurses KNOW they know everything! :) I applaud you for setting goals, but it sounds like your nerve pain could be from just being too active.

    This whole thing(18 months since fusion surgery and getting ready for my 2nd repair job since surgery) has given me a new appreciation for my patients. Not only pain, but how in the heck does a regular, non-medical person navigate our healthcare system?????
  • I walked around a mile at Lisa's point of recovery and it did not cause my nerve pain. I definitely had pain, but listened to my body and slowed down when it told me to. Actually, by 5 weeks post-op I was walking up to 6 miles/day.

    The key is to pay attention to your body and understand your limitations. It is possible that Lisa's flare-ups are from walking so much. Lisa, as a test, you should walk less one day and see if that makes a difference.
  • advertisement
  • Mark, thank you for your post, you have given me some reassurance that the future will be brighter. I'm still early in recovery so I am trying to be patient. I'm so glad for you that your recovery is going well. I am going to hang in there and hope that this pain will subside. Lisa
  • I asked the neurosurgeon's specialty RN about too much walking and she said what I was doing was ok. I have experimented with days of less activity and have found that the pain is actually worse on those days. My mile at this point is pretty slow, about 30 minutes. On my post op recovery papers from the doctor it says to work up to 5-6 miles a day. I gasped when I saw that and thought surely it must be a typo but it wasnt'. Walking or not I just want the nerve pain to subside!!! :)
  • I just had fusion of L4-5, L5-S1 on Dec 4 (3 1/2 wks ago). After a setback due to a bladder infection, I still can't sleep anywhere but in my recliner. Low back and butt spasms still have me living from pain pill to pain pill Soma q 8 hrs. Percocet and Vicoden alternating q 2 hrs. Is this a normal amount of pain after 3 wks? I'm trying to walk the length of the house every time I get up to the BR -- still need the walker to take some of the weight off my legs.
    I started reading your forum a couple days ago -- got some good info out of it already. Thanks
  • Dear ERW, My neurosurgeon sent me home on a muscle relaxer, Robaxin, to take every 6 hours as needed for 4 weeks. At the hospital the special neuro nurse said to take it around the clock for a couple of weeks because the spasms are to be expected. Maybe you need to be switched to a different medication or the frequency needs changed. Soma is going to make you drowsy, hence keep you in the chair more. My pain is less when I'm up, but the key is to alternate rest with activity. Keep up your walks and each time try to make them longer. Keep positive, I'm trying to despite the nerve pain I have - just hoping with time it will subside as will your muscle spasms.
  • Lisa, such leg nerve pain and/or sensation appears quite common particularly after L5_S1 surgery. I had such sensations far worse in my first 2-3 weeks post op than prior to surgery. The sensations will subside but it could take many weeks before they disappear - you need to find a way to hang in there. Lyrica helped me.

    As ernurse recommends, I would be considering stopping any significant exercises, such as walking 1 mile or more, for a while and see if that helps. There is plenty of time for exercise later on - in my first few weeks I was resting mainly and doing some basic simple stretches only (that's what my surgeon recommended for me).
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.