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Lower back pain two years after spinal fusion



  • VlascheVVlasche Posts: 2
    edited 05/03/2014 - 6:39 PM
    I had a microdiscectomy in '11, an ALIF in '12, and a PLIF in '13. I have been to physical therapy 3 times and I still have massive lower back pain and pain down my right leg. I am currently taking gabapentin, indocin, and vicoden without any relief. My biggest problem is that my pain get worse the more that I walk. I am sad to see this many people having complications with their fusions as well. My doctor does not seem to know what to do. He told me that this last fusion did not take, so I do not know what the next step will be. I am in too much pain to work, so I am now a stay at home dad. The biggest thing that worries me is that I am only 29 and that I will have to file for disability at such a young age. I am also worried that if I file that I will be denied. This is not the first time that a fusion on my body has failed, I have had 4 different surgeries on my right wrist due to a work related injury. That wrist is fully fused. Does anyone have any suggestions that would make walking a little bit easier on myself. This way I could try to lose a few pounds by taking my one year old on walks with me. We shouldn't have to live with pain everyday or take the amount of medications that we do. Good luck to everyone else with these complications.
  • I had a ALIF at L4/5/S1 this was my third spinal surgery over 17 years .NOW the fusion had been a technical success but this has done nothing for the pain and has caused more problems{more on that later] first I don't know if you all know but any fusion is done to stabilise the spine and NOT for pain relief ..if there is any pain relief then that's a bonus and not the primary reason that your operation was done [words from one of the uks top spinal consultants] .he told me that many of his patients come back to him complaining that they are still in pain and his answer is ..you will, be I have done nothing to ;;remove;;your pain .by the time you need a fusion the damage is done ,the nerves running up and down your pain have normally been damaged beyond help ..hence the pain .its unusual for a fusion to fail but they do .and that's a different story the problems associated with fusion are .on going pain ..sometimes worse that before the fusion .leg and feet problems and bladder and bowel problems ..since my ALIF I have suffered with intractable pain and reduced mobility and the inability to sleep but I have new problems {that I was not told about } and they are leg and foot problems and I have also had bladder and bowel problems again not present before the ALIF in fact I am in hospital in a few days for bladder surgery .I see the consultant soon for my spin and I want to ask about my legs and feet as they are going me hell ever since the ALIF I have keep a record every month I write to my doctor with my problems and copy myself in as a record .when I was looking through my records the other night I noticed that I have had leg and foot problems from day one post ALIF and its just got worse over the years ..I will be asking why ?? why I see him ..I have never had bladder problems in my life {not even a urine infection !} ,but now I get the feeling that I need to go then I carnt then as soon as I sit down I need the loo ! and when sleep wakes me in the early hours I need the loo right then but I struggle getting from my bed I have had some near misses .as for bowel again no problems but since the ALIF when all my guts was lay outside my body whilst they did the fusion when it was all put back my body did not like it and I have had problems ever since ...what I am trying to say is fusions are the consultants last ditch attempt at helping the patient with their back ..it is far from curative and not without considerable risk ..short and long term ..and this should be mentioned to the patient well before the procedure .I did not realise just how ill I would be post op and just how much the fusion has dramatically affected my life ..not just the obvious like walking with a limp and using a stick but unbelievable pain and constant tiredness the problems regarding sex I am no longer able to have it .not just because I could not stand anyone on me or me on someone but because I feel ill all the time the last thing I want is to be messed about with !! and something for us men ALIF can make you unable to obtain an erection {something to do with the nerves ..its a male only thing} but I can't imagine many women wanting sex if they feel the same way as I do {pain wise } ..just leave me alone ! .ALIF has left me isolated unable to interact with society unable to have sex unable to even wear normal clothing as I can't wear anything on my lower legs due to nerve damage .so as life goes on I am still on massive amounts of oxycontin and oxynorm {the instant version[ they are the only thing that helps with the pain ..its not the life I wanted but its the only one I have ..I get tired fast and there is no working through the pain PAIN will stop me and it will stop you if you have it bad ..anyone that can work through the pain is not suffering as much as they think they are .and you are the lucky ones !!.when your life is spent on a recliner in baggy shorts with a box of pain killers you know you have problems .I have lost so many things due to operations and the consequences thereof..if you are offered a fusion please read up on what you can expect and only have it if you MUST ,your life will change post op ..beware of statements like ..I was back horse riding 6 weeks after my fusion or I was back to work 2 weeks after my fusion ,I would take things like this with a pinch of salt ! ..recovery {just to get over the operation} can be very lengthy and I my case I am 2 and a half years post op and I am not the same person as I was 3 years ago I have lost a lot of my strength and resolve I just get by with the help of my wife and household conversions .the 3rd operation took so much from me and has weakened me big time I am B12 deficient and I need regular shots I can't eat much and I struggle with simple things like loading the washer even showering ..life has changed and I am still relatively young at just 47 ..I have been suffering since I was 30 .its been a long battle and I can not see it getting any better as everyone is out of ideas ...don't have a fusion thinking that you will be pain free ..its very unlikely that you wont ...good luck to anyone going through or recovering from any fusion ,my advice is do stuff at you own pace and rest when you can and don't over tax your self ..if you are feeling well one day don't over do it ..or you will be bitten on the behind the following day and unlike other things it will last weeks ..you may also find yourself coming down with things more often than you one did ..again ..good luck
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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  • dfhughes57ddfhughes57 Posts: 32
    edited 05/10/2014 - 4:55 PM
    100% agree. although I am not in as much pain as you I still have pain a year after my surgery L5-S1 fusion, I was told by my surgeon all the pain would be gone as I was the perfect candidate for a fusion. Well guess what my pain is considerably worse than before the Fusion although I am still able to work with a lot of help from Tramadol by the end of the day I am exhausted and in a lot of pain. If I knew then what I know now there is no way in hell I would have went ahead with the L5-S1 Fusion the worst decision of my life, to add insult to the injury the surgeon that talked me into and performed the surgery said oh well it must be your age (56) that is causing your problem and decided to sign me off of his care as their is no more he can do for me. The biggest misinformation is when people make statements that they were a 100% after 4 to 8 weeks, I find that very hard to believe and if it is true this would not be the norm but rather an exception to the rule.
  • If your surgeon in fact told you that you would have pain relief, then he is wrong.......surgery in the spine is done to relieve compression of a nerve/nerves or to correct an anatomical issue.......not for pain relief. If the patient gets pain relief, that is considered a bonus, but to give a patient the impression that surgery is going to relieve their pain is a mis-statement, and erroneous.
    Surgery changes the natural movement of the spine, so there is going to be some lingering pain, and in some cases, it can be significantly more post op than it was previously.
    Things may improve over time for you yet, as more time passes.
  • I completely agree but let me offer another story. My friend had fusion surgery due to fractures. They had trouble controlling her pain after & rehab was very hard. Eventually she had tremendous relief. Years later the area above her fusion started to cause crippling pain & she was told more surgery was needed. Fear stopped her following this advise & she has nerve damage & finds walking increasingly difficult. She now needs an emergency fusion anyway & it's unlikely the nerves will recover. I don't know what the answer is but 'avoiding surgery' can be a huge permanently life altering decision also. ;-(
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
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  • PinkellaPPinkella Posts: 211
    edited 05/13/2014 - 12:48 PM
    A friend of mine sees a top spinal surgeon in the UK same one I use.
    She had a spinal fusion she has osteoarthrtits in the lumbar spine..The op was done to relieve the pain she was suffering 24/7 and the op was a total success! six months later zero pain from the osteoarthritis!and two years on shes still doing well!
    Top surgeons who know what their doing, do offer the spinal fusion for pain relief in the UK, pain relief cant be guaranteed. but a lot of times its worth the risk for people living with chronic pain.
    Facet joint Arthritis L3,L4,L5,DDD.
  • dfhughes57ddfhughes57 Posts: 32
    edited 05/11/2014 - 4:08 PM
    sandi said:
    If your surgeon in fact told you that you would have pain relief, then he is wrong.......surgery in the spine is done to relieve compression of a nerve/nerves or to correct an anatomical issue.......not for pain relief. If the patient gets pain relief, that is considered a bonus, but to give a patient the impression that surgery is going to relieve their pain is a mis-statement, and erroneous.
    Surgery changes the natural movement of the spine, so there is going to be some lingering pain, and in some cases, it can be significantly more post op than it was previously. Things may improve over time for you yet, as more time passes.
    Yes I realised all what you said after finding this site, and that's one of the problems I have with the whole experience and with this surgeon, he misinformed me and never took the time to clearly explain anything and at no time did he say the surgery was needed for a structural problem with the spine. He had no limitations on me before the surgery I was riding motorcycles, scuba diving etc. The whole reason for the surgery from what he said was to alleviate the pain so I could sleep at night as the pain became almost unbearable when I would lie down. And yes that is my hope things will continue to improve as more time passes you have no idea how happy that statement from you makes me feel gives me hope.

    I also agree there have been many success stories with this surgery, but there seems to be many not so successful stories as well, for me I was taking no meds for the pain before the surgery now I am on Lyrica and Tramadol and still have problems sleeping at night!

  • I was on the maximum dosage of Lyrica for neuropathic pain ( mostly on for the last 8 years post op from my first and second surgery)......I am off it now ( went off it to assess where the neurological pain was at once about 3 years after my first surgery, then went back on a few months later, stayed on it, and went off again a little over a year ago) and now have found that I don't need that particular medication for neuropathic pain any longer.
    My pain levels prior to surgery were intense, I couldn't sit, stand or lay down for any length of time , and post op , well due to some complications, the pain was off the charts for many years, but I have found that as time passes, things improved, and my overall pain levels are substantially better than they have ever been......and I have extensive nerve damage....so don't give up hope.....you may be like me, where you find that one day, the pain levels change, with no real rhyme or reason to it, they just do.
  • dfhughes57ddfhughes57 Posts: 32
    edited 05/12/2014 - 11:18 AM
    Thanks Sandi much appreciated and yes that's what I am hoping for now, the pain will one day reduce for no apparent reason.
  • I was fused from L2-S1. Anterior approach, 3 surgeries in one week. I had severe pain that started 8 weeks after surgery that presented as thoracic pain in the middle of the spine (bottom of shoulder blades). My wife and I read this forum and identified it as hardware pain.i also had pain in two places in the spine. It did not immediately present as sensitive to touch until 6 months. I was bed ridden for 10 months because my surgeon continually shrugged his shoulders and said that it was nerve related because the CT scans showed a successful fusion and no loose or migrating hardware. Then 6 months into it, I asked for him to remove the hardware but he refused, stating that I had been through enough. He suggested it was arachnoiditis (it was not). Anytime I would move, I would experience a delayed intensified pain. If I went for a ride in a car for 30 minutes, I would spend 2-3 days in bed, in pain as a result. Everything had a consequence. I hounded my surgeon and he finally agreed that I should have a hardware block. My pain specialist did the procedure. He injected at the top two pedicle screws and viola! The weight of the world can off and intense pain stopped almost immediately. My wife and I went out to lunch! By the time I got home I was in pain again as the lidocaine wore off in 2 hours. I immediately scheduled surgery to remove the hardware. I'm now 9 weeks out of surgery. It was about 1/3rd the fusion recovery. Don't think it's like a discectomy surgery, hardware removal is still a bit more of a recovery. The pain that left me bed-ridden is gone and I'm slowly getting my life back. I still experience chronic left leg pain which is intense in my knee. I also have low back pain that I will likely have for the remainder of my life. I was an athlete and entrepreneur. I lost everything. I wake up in pain in the middle of the night. I limp due to left leg permanent nerve damage. I use MS Contin, delaudid (12 mgs), tizanidine and lyrica to keep from going over the edge. I'm 42 years old.
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