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Nerve pain after surgery, how long?

thenadetthenade Posts: 137
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Can members and readers please comment on how long their nerve pain went on after there fusions. Mine started about 3 weeks after surgery. It could have been there all along but the surgical pain was greater than the nerve pain at that time. I have just started gabapentin and I am at 10 weeks out of surgery. I have read nerves regenerate for up to a year, but have also read on this site I believe that if sciatica does not resolve by 3 months its likely to stay. Anyone keep having improvement after 3 months? My surgeon didn't use BMP.


  • I have to say that most of my nerve pain went straight away. Having said that I still get the odd bit when I am tired or have just overdone it. I have just gone back to work and am having a bit more in the evenings.
    I am 12 weeks out of PLIF L5S1.
  • I had a laminotomy L5-S1, and I am at 5 weeks post-op. I am still experiencing nerve pain along my leg. It is nothing compared to what I was experiencing before surgery though. I was wondering if this is normal, and how long I might expect it? Anyone had any experience with it?
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  • I'm a little over 8 weeks from surgery and the nerve pain in my leg is still there. It's getting a little bit better though. Mine appeared immediately after surgery, I never had any leg or sciatic pain before surgery. I'm hoping mine will go away asap, I hate it!
  • For some reason I think I remember having nerve pain - weird sensation, little weird twitches and such for at least the first 3 mo. My NS put me on valium. One rx worked great and I didn't need anything in the months after the 4-5 mo. mark.

    I did get rid of the full-on left leg sciatica almost immediately and I was immediately cured of the CES symptoms post-op.

  • Did you not have nerve pain prior to surgery in that location, or did this really begin three weeks after surgery?

    Nerves can continue to regenerate past the one year date...although it is a less common experience.

    Regarding sciatica after three months:

    There are two types of pain. There is leg pain that is a result of the compression of a spinal nerve root and there is pain caused by the compression or other damage to the actual sciatic nerve. These two symptoms can feel almost identical, and can cause the type of pain that runs down the back of the leg that many people call "sciatica."

    I do not believe there is a magical number, such as three months, beyond which the nerve damage would be considered permanent.

    I think most people continue to have improvement for at least the first year.
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  • I had my ALIF Surgery 11/6/09 so thats 9 weeks ago. I still have major back pain (but on the other side of what it used to be prior the surgery - how weird it that?!) and also started to have leg pain 3 weeks after surgery. My dr. seemed to be puzzled by my pain and it is VERY frustrating to me. I am a new mom and have 5 months baby - and I was hoping that by now I will be pain free - Instead I am in just as much pain as before the surgery. The leg pain seems to have gotten better this week but I do have a EMS (?) test tomorrow to check my nerves and see where the source of my pain is. I really hope this would help to get me into recovery and fast. I refuse to believe that I have done this surgery for nothing. I also started Physiotherapy this week, so I am hoping that within the next few weeks my situation will improve. I hope thats your will improve as well.
  • I really would not become the least bit concerned until you are at least three months out from surgery. Fusion is a BIG surgery and it takes longer than any of us thinks it should take to heal and recover. For many, there is a big change that occurs between eight weeks and twelve weeks. Many issues start to resolve at that three-month mark.

    Try to be patient and maintain a positive attitude. Progress will come in baby steps. The most important thing you can do is to take it slow. Don't be in a hurry to do more than your body can comfortably handle. ..and walk and rest, and walk and rest.
  • Thanks all for posting replies. Gwennie,I had right leg pain before surgery and very little on the left. About 3 weeks after surgery my leg pain started to return and has become constant. Strange sensations like my feet feel like they are on fire, tingling and pins and needles, burning around the ankles and over the top of the foot, the feeling of a pulled muscle in my calf etc. At my 7 week checkup my neuro ordered a CT scan. I had it last week when I unfortunately had to pay a visit to the ER.. Not much showed up per the ER doctors. They said you have so much metal in there it's hard to see anything and told me to contact my surgeon which I have been trying to do all week. I am concerned that this could be scar tissue.
  • you describe could have come from my own mouth. I have been repeating a similar description, the only things missing are numbness and sharp pains when walking more than 10 minutes.

    I am 7 1/2 months post surgery and woke up with the pain. It got worse a bit less than a week out. I was given a steroid dose pack that did not help but left me with some nasty side effects. From there I was given gabapentin which definitely helped (except for numbness) but I did not tolerate the side effects from this and after 6 months had to wean myself off for good (I had weaned a few times to see if the issue was resolving).

    Pre-surgery the main source of my pain was my low back, SI joints, and hips. The mechanics of walking were becoming difficult and my spine was deforming at an alarming rate. I had lived with this pain in varying degrees for decades, since childhood. It was constant and varying, but predictable. This pain is different, it can't be ignored, and is much more disruptive of my life.

    I have gauged the level of concern that I should have with the pain, etc. by my surgeon's level of concern, who initially said it would probably go away in time.

    I left my mid October checkup a bit wary, he expressed concern that the issues had not resolved themselves and reminded me that I had severe stenosis and my nerves were adjusting after years of trauma (l5 spondy diagnosed in 1990 - slipped +50% at time of surgery; +25% in the year prior to surgery which is odd at my age but attributed to that good ol' EDS) and that it could take longer. He also reminded me that my EDS could very well be complicating matters (this I know, well established and should be considered at all times).

    I saw him again on Monday and he had ordered an MRI with contrast the week prior. This last appointment has me reeling and scared. He did not see anything on the MRI that explains anything. He was much more concerned and again reminded me that there could be EDS related, albeit unknown, contributing factors. Bottom line is that my nerves are taking a long time to calm down, heal, etc. or it is permanent.

    From here his next suggestion is another anti-seizure class drug that he has had luck with for those who do not tolerate the gabapentin. It required pre-auth by my insurance company, so I had some time to do some research and am not hopeful, it has all of the same side-effects and then some. Just learned today that my insurance company won't auth it unless I try A, B, C for 4 weeks each first.

    I am not too keen on trying more meds, I do my best to help manage pain with acupuncture, nutrition, pt. It helps some - not enough, but I cannot see meds that alter my being drastically being any kind of long term solution. Yes it is painful without the gabapentin, but I am myself again, my headaches and body aches and lethargy are gone, basically I am not a complete pile, just a partial one :). I have had a long run with pain management and drugs, and have gotten through 38 years with Ehlers Danlos syndrome with relatively few longterm meds.

    Thing is from here I just don't know where to go or what to do. We are talking on Monday about this rx circus so I will express my concerns again. The neurologist is my next stop, anxious to see what his take is.

    I am anxious to hear how you are doing and what your experiences are, what has helped.

    I have done a lot of research this week and am finding that the outlook is not great if the pain persists, the root cause quite elusive. Hopefully through sharing we may all learn a bit more.

    I have fought hard to live a normal life with EDS and am floored that this surgery which has done miracles for my back and mobility - could alter it completely.

  • I'm 14 months post-op and I still have nerve pain and nerve damage in my right leg. You never know how long it's going to last. I will say it has diminished month by month, but it's still there. My right foot is still numb too.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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