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9.5 Month Update

MarkRMMarkR Posts: 172
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I saw the surgeon today to go over the results from my recent myelogram/CT scan. The tests were done because I continue to have constant discomfort and pain has gradually gotten worse since January.

The good and bad news is that the tests came back looking great. The only issue is that the fusion is not complete. It actually looks like bone has grown from the top and bottom, but have yet to meet and connect in the middle.

A fascinating visual is seeing bone growth along the length of the facet bolts. My surgeon said he has always suspected this happens with facet bolts, but I am his first patient whose radiographs actually show this to be true.

The bad news is no evidence exists to explain why I still have all this pain and discomfort. My surgeon suspects the low back pain is due to fatigued muscles, but has no clue why I am getting tingling down both legs. He did say I may be experiencing some micro movement since the fusion is not yet complete.

He suggested to continue working with weights and start riding a bike and swimming as additional exercises to help with the muscles. He also told me to remain careful about bending and twisting because I am "taller" (6 foot even). Apparently, tall people have a tendency to have more problems from bending and twisting.

Two other interesting notes ... first, he said that even 3-5 years post-op, most fusion patients still experience some tightness and stiffness when sitting for long periods of time, such as on long car rides. He suggested in these situations, after standing up, do a few stretches before walking away.

Second, he said when doing "strenuous" housework/yard work (being careful, of course), it is a good idea to wear a soft brace for support and protection. So, don't get rid of your braces right away ... they may still be useful on occasion.

I don't see him again until November. Hopefully things will start getting better soon.


  • The last post I read from you, you weren't as upbeat. Glad to hear that you are healing and in better spirits. Hope your pain finally goes away!
  • Mark,

    I always appreciate your comments. This seems to be a long haul surgery (understatement). I'm sorry you are still in pain. To go through what we went through, and then to have these kind of results is tough to swallow. I have heard so many different theories on fusions--all the way from "you should feel better right out of surgery" to "it could take up to 2 years." Sometimes it is good to get an opinion from someone who isn't so close to the back surgery scene--so I'll share with you what my PT shared with me. I asked her why I am still in pain--she said simply that the muscles are regrouping, relearning their functions--it's as simple as that and that once they are built back up--I'll be fine. I, like you, hope she is right...I hope it just takes muscle building. The problem I am facing is the increased pain associated with "getting back in shape." It doesn't matter what I do--if I sit too long after I do the activity, I'm going to hurt.

    That is really great news that you are fusing. Did the doctor give you any tips on vitamins to take to complete the fusion?

    What about injections?

    Keep going, man.

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  • buckeyeback, thanks for your thoughts.

    Hi Chuck,

    It's nice to hear that your PT says basically the same thing as my surgeon. At least its confirmation that working on the muscles is the right thing to do.

    No tips about vitamins or doing anything to complete the fusion. My surgeon felt it will just take more time.

    He also said nothing about injections. Having just had a lumbar puncture for a myelogram and a blood patch 3 days later due to the spinal headaches, I'm not too big on injections right now. :-)

    Thanks. I hope your pain also gets better soon.

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