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2.5 months post-fusion. New severe pain, need help.

BrihtwulfBBrihtwulf Posts: 69
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
So, it's been about 2.5 months since my L5-S1 TLIF lumbar fusion surgery. This seemed to be progressing fairly well. The pain that went down my tailbone has gone. The pain that went down the back of my bottocks and right leg has also all but disappeared. However, somewhat as expected, the pain located directly at the spot of the surgery has not gone away. I believe it has gotten better since the surgery, but feels like it has plateaued. I was told and understood prior to the surgery that was a possibility and not to expect all the pain to be gone. So, I've been realistic in my expectations.

However, there has been a recent development in about the last week or so that has me concerned. I've been having a pretty severe amount of localized pain directly on the left side of my incision area, about where the hardware is located. It's worse when lying down (which makes sleeping/resting difficult), and this has not been the case with the rest of my recovery. For the most part, lying down was the most comfortable of positions. It also hurts sharply and severely when I move while lying on my back. I suppose I could compare it to a really bad muscle cramp?

Now, I had been on a moderate regiment of pain meds (10/325MG Hydrocodone and 2x750MG Robaxin). About 3-4 weeks ago, they dropped that down to 1/2 the amount. After reporting my sharp increase in pain last week, I was instructed to reduce activity and my pain meds were put back to the previous level. However, this doesn't seem to be fixing the problem.

I did call my surgeon's office again today to figure out my next step, but didn't hear back. So, I thought I would see what everyone here thought and if anyone had something similar happen to them. I'm concerned that perhaps I pulled something loose with my hardware or damaged the surrounding bone/tissues somehow. I will contact my surgeon again tomorrow, but I really think that if I don't hear anything back by the afternoon I may need a trip to the E.R. for an x-ray. Sleeping has been very difficult the last week, which only makes things worse.

Any thoughts...?



  • I'm glad you've called your doc. Hopefully(just my personal opinion) he will do some sort of imaging study(xray, ct) to see what's going on or to just make sure everything is OK. Keep pestering them if you don't hear from them, you've paid big bucks for this and they are supposed to help you.

    If everything is OK, some folks find Lidoderm patches helpful with incisional pain. It won't penetrate deeply into the spine, but if it is just localized muscle irritation, it might help. I have heard the patches can be pricey if your insurance doesn't cover them, but the doc's office might have samples.

    Maybe he can even prescribe you a stronger muscle relaxer to sleep at night, like Zanaflex. Some folks can take it during the daytime, but I can't, it knocks me out.

    If films are OK, maybe some gentle scar tissue massage by an experienced physical therapist can help free up the skin layer from the fascia. Biofreeze(like Icy Hot, no prescription) is awesome with localized pain. Physical therapy can be prescribed just for pain relief-massage, heat treatments, ultrasound, tens unit, etc.

    These are just a couple of thoughts, but the most important is that you've called your doc. I hope he does a CT or Xray, even if he thinks everything is perfectly normal, piece of mind is very important. Please post an update on what you hear and good luck.
  • Thanks so much for the reply! I did get a call back this morning and will be going in a couple hours to see the surgeon and find out what he wants to do. I'll definitely ask about the imageing, and hopefully he has some thoughts on what to do about the pain. Thanks again!

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