Welcome, Friend!

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


Quick Start Forum Video Tutorial

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.

Severe leg pain after lumbar fusion - damage to nerve from screw?

ClioCClio Posts: 11
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hi everyone
I wonder if anyone out there has had the type of problem post lumbar fusion that I am having.
I am 38 and had an anterior L4/5 lumbar fusion in Oct 09. I had back pain only and no nerve pain in my legs. After the operation I had new severe right leg shooting nerve pains. After 6 weeks they realised from an MRI and CT that one of the fixation screws had been placed into my nerve root by about 10-15mm, instead of into the bone of the vertebral pedicle. The screw had effectiely gone out the back of my vertebral bone and right into the nerve space. They took it out Dec 16 09 and replaced it with a shorter screw.
I was doing ok until about 3 weeks ago and now I have SEVERE and constant shooting pains in my right leg - across the thigh and into the lateral calf and foot. Lyrica and steroid injections haven.t helped. I cant sit or stand for long and I cant sleep on my right side.
I had a CT myelogram last week and they cant find anything.
My neurologist wonders if the screw that was at the nerve or even in it, has damaged it and they dont know how long it will take or even if it will ever recover. I might end up with chronic pain. I am devastated as I was a healthy young woman (im actually a dr) before all this and now I feel my life is ruined.
If anyone else out there has had problems with hardware/screws upsetting or damaging their nerves I would really like to know how you did in the long term.
Thanks for reading this. Good luck to all of you !


  • Being a doctor, I'm sure you can guess at this better than any of us on the board. But I would think that if the nerve was damaged at the time of the original surgery, wouldn't the pain have been continuous rather than being gone for awhile after surgery # 2 and then returning three weeks later?

    The fact that you were more or less free of leg pain for a three week period after surgery makes me think that it might be scar tissue attaching to the nerve.

    Try not to be devastated. You are very early in your recovery. I imagine the nerve was very traumatized, even if it has not been permanently damaged. As you know, it can take forever for a nerve to calm down or recover. Most spine surgeons will say it can take up to a year, but I have had other professionals tell me they can still recover after that point.

    Can you take Lyrica or Neurontin for the nerve pain?

    I'm sorry this happened to you. It would seem this is an "accident" that should not have happened. Try to be patient and have faith that the nerve will heal and the pain will resolve.

    You might want to ask your surgeon if it could be scar tissue, and you might want to pursue a hands-on treatment that might aid in trying to break it up while it is still "new."

    Good luck.
  • OH MY Gosh... You are an answer to my prayers... The same exact thing just happened to me... I went in on Dec 2, 2011 for L5/S1 Discectomy with fusion and instrumentation. Prior to surgery I had minimal leg pain from the disc on the left side, somewhat of a "shooting" pain, but the majority of it was on the right. I also have RSD in my left foot. So, when I awoke from surgery, I was in excruciating pain - screaming bloody murder - not from the pain in my lower back, but from a "charley horse" type pain that was in the bend of my leg between my thigh and calf. This pain shot all the way up and down... This went on for 3 days before the doctor decided to do an MRI.. The MRI revealed that there was a loose screw - obviously that had fallen during surgery, b/c I woke up with this pain, and like I said, I had NO pain like this prior to surgery!!! Therefore, they went BACK in on December 10, 2011 and did another surgery to locate and reposition the screw. When I woke up from that surgery, the pain was 100x worse than before!!!! However this time, it went all the way up into my left buttocks, where there was a severe burning sensation, covering the entire buttocks, and in the middle, a major stabbing feeling as if someone was literally driving a knife into my buttocks.. 3 days later, they did another MRI and found NOTHING!!!!! The doctor sent me home on December 14, and here I am! I am already on 320mg of Oxycontin 3 times a day, which I was on prior to the surgery, due to the severity of my pain. The doctor put me on Robaxin and Neurontin in the hospital and sent me home with it. I stay at about a pain level of 7-8!!! I am 34 years old!!! I feel like my life is over!!! I dont understand any of this!!! I know I signed a release in the hospital, so I screwed myself. I see that your surgery was about a year ago.. Can you PLEASE tell me how you are doing now???? Thank you so much!!!

    Yours Truly,

  • advertisement
  • Hello my name is Tiffaney, I am 38. I just recently had a lumbar fusion L4/5-S1 on 10/29/2013. I also only had back pain, never leg pain. After surgery, I have had severe left leg pain. The pain in my back was nowhere near the pain in I'm having in my leg. I have already had an ultrasound of my leg, a CT scan, an MRI & X-rays. They say everything looks perfect. This is just possible nerve damage that will eventually heal itself & should demenish once fusion starts to take place??!!?? Was just wondering if u were still dealing with leg pain & what have u done to get relief? I have been on lyrica & it doesn't do a thing!
    Thanks for ur feedback.
  • MarieCMMarieC Posts: 1
    edited 01/09/2014 - 6:26 PM
    I had a S1-L5 fusion at age 15, and all was well until age 49.
    I then had my 2nd fusion (S1-L3) age 50 for pain on the left side of my lower back. That pain is gone. The pain that I have now-is a new, extreme version of what I had as a teenager. Severe pain in the buttocks, wrapping around the front of my leg encompassing my groin, top of leg, knee, calve, back of leg, intermittent pain in toes,and pain on the sides of my leg. I was told that the pain in the bottom of my foot were from the needles inserted into my feet during the surgery to measure nerve pain. If this is the case, then why does this pain in that spot only occur on the right side?
    It's bad-I can't walk without extreme pain, so I walk in small steps and I take frequent breaks. I cannot be on my feet or sit in a chair for too long, sleep on my side or get in and out of a car swinging my hips from side to side without alot of pain. Involuntary movements grip-like a stabbing knife.
    My pain started in the recovery room and has progressively gotten worse. It started out as popping on the hip joint, then it moved to the side of the leg and knee, and would be intense and then subside a bit, and then get worse and not subsiding at all now with any type of stretching, pain meds or manipulation.
    The C Clinic has nothing to offer but drugs and for two years I tried to tell them this pain was getting worse and they alluded to the fact that it was nerve damage but would not say or admit this. They would not order an MRI and told me that nothing could be done unless I came in with a new back issue involving a need for surgery. This was the ultimate rejection and lack of professional medicine I've ever experienced and I am at a loss at this point.

  • Hi people, I just read your posts, very sad to hear, your not alone, I have had 10 "count them 10" surgerys and revision operations to try and fix my back, Original problem was compressed L3-L4, Kaiser implanted Advanced Bionics Duel Column Stim in my back, It malfunctioned within 6 months and I had it removed, then new Neuro Surgen implanted 2 rods, screws and "Medtronic Infuse Cages" and locked up L2-L3, had revisions etc etc then revision #7 he fused L4-L5 revision #8 he replaced all the hdwr he could and locked up L2 to L4 and L5-S1, scrapped cleaned over growth, still having problems pain level a constant 7-9, then revision #9 he put in a "Medtronic stim" (it helped for a while till I had trouble walking again, then #10 he adjusted and scrapped and also did a 4 point radio-opathy to east pain "temporarily" and that's all it did and LORD it hurt get that done!, now both my feet and both legs from upper thighs to my knees and calves right to my feet hurt with every step, medication, Oxy 30's 4 times a day with Nuycanta 200mg ER 2 tikes a day everyday, I can only feel for you all as I do know what your going through, and wish I had a response or some helpful remedy, but I don't, do any of you maybe have an idea for me?, doc says all he can do is keep me on meds, walking is hard, sitting sleeping too oh and driving? ha ha ha can't do that either. oh I'm 48 years but feel like I'm 90! God bless you all and I hope so you will get some help.
    Sincerely, Benjamin.
  • advertisement
  • Really feeling for everyone who has commented above. Spinal problems are life ruining and cause so much distress to those of us suffering them and to our families. I have had problems since 2008 when my first disc bulged at L4-L5. Had discectomy in 2009.... It re bulged within 3 months. Had to resign from work a year later as had spent most of that time on leave, hospitalised a further three times. Finally had spinal fusion in July 2012 L4-L5 and L5-S1. This appeared to have worked until recently when my back has started to hurt again, and then this weekend my right leg developed severe sciatica and weakness and back pain increased. I am back in hospital, scans show nothing.... Have had MRI and CT but I'm wondering how much they can see over all the plates and screws? Also if this pain has occurred so suddenly surely something is wrong that has triggered it? To top it off my bladder is now not functioning and I have had to be catheterised. I am only 39 years old. This condition is so debilitating. Wishing everyone all the best for a pain free future. Fiona :)
  • i am nowhere near a bad as any of you - i have thoracic damage above t5 so they will not operate but i do know intense 24/7 spinal pain.

    i can't see if any of you are on muscle relaxants as well as strong painkillers but i hardly had any relief until they combined the two. i think the muscles spasm so much - especially when something is wrong, that is the only thing that gave me some form of pain relief was when i took both. it took 8 years to work out.

    i know you guys have nerve damage but:

    i am on rivotril as a muscle relaxant which is non addictive and i also take amitryptaline for sleep( i take it four hours before i want to crash). i worked through the intense pain for years and it did wreck my life. car rides ha ha, every bump is a nightmare.

    my pain was much better when they combined a pain killer with a muscle relaxant, and i get some sleep due to the amitryptaline - it takes a while to work.

    i have not slept on my right side in 8 years. i really hope things work out for you guys - playing with our central nervous system has no guarantees. i also found i had to research so much myself so now i know a lot more than when i started 8 years ago. now my gp lets me choose my own specialists. at least most doctors are starting to understand how painful spinal conditions are but thats cold comfort. here's a link to a manual i wish i had read at the start as i honestly had no idea what i was in for. in fact i didn't believe spine pain myself until i had my accident and was misdiagnosed by a myriad of specialists and every possible person i could go to. i wish i had done a mind map of what happened and probably could have worked it out myself but when you are in that type of pain it's just about impossible to think straight. my mind was taken up with combatting the pain.

  • I had L4/S1 fusion December 2012 having re-slipped the disc following discetomy. The symptoms pre-op were in the back and hip, immediately after surgery I could not feel my toes and had awful leg pain. Despite being reassured it would return - 16 months on and I am in constant pain, I still cant feel my foot and sometimes want to saw my foot off it is so painful. I fought to return to work a year ago and now wish I had taken it as the pain and the exhaustion from working have left me fit for nothing. I can walk very short distances with a crutch and live off of pain killers. I, like others, feel my life as I knew it, is over. Don't know where to go from her its too depressing for words.
  • sueshessueshe Posts: 4
    edited 04/07/2014 - 5:18 AM
    I have had 4 back surgeries in 5 years, 2005-2010. Started out with a fusion at L4-5, then fusion at L3-4, revision at 4-5, fusion at T-10 -L5...then after discovering a lose screw at T-10, I also fractured L5, S1....so surgery to add my total fusion from T10-L5,S1. Pattelofemoral replacement surgery in both knees, 2 plates in my right foot...total of 25 orthopedic surgeries.
    The nerve pain that I suffered in my back is gone. As the docs explained to me, that was their goal... any other pain, they can't guarantee a fix...in fact most likely there won't be one.
    I have some nerve pain in the buttocks, and some nerve pain in my legs, feet. Not all the time. My problem is in severe leg weakness, pain walking, standing. Now I know I'm a complicated case. The flat foot that developed after my last foot surgery is not helping with my leg issues. Walking has become more then difficult, can not stand in one place, climbing stairs is painful, I used to workout 6 days/week 1+ hrs. Now the pain dictates whether or not I can get on my equipment (walking on treadmill, workouts on Total Gym), most days are missed. I have gained a lot of weight from being so inactive. Cleaning the house, ironing, outside work, just can't be done because I can't tolerate the pain or weakness. Today I look at in amazement people scurrying around getting things done. Walking has become so challenging, it's hard to think others can do it without even a thought crossing their minds. I also have nerve pain and numbness in my hands, thumbs. They say carpal tunnel, I totally disagree. I'm not having anymore surgeries. I never thought I would end up like this and would hate to end up even worse then where I'm at presently.
    They say and I believe that I have Ligament Laxity. It makes sense with what has happened with my back and joints. My toes literally started to move east and west. After correction surgery, 6 week checkup, even though the toes were corrected, they moved back to east west....Bunion surgery that was done on both feet and was successful for 10 years, came back with vengeance. Today after the 3rd correction surgery, I believe the one plate in my foot created the "flat" foot, and the toes are straight when I stand, but when I lay or sit, they point to the east. My one foot is so wide now, that I can't get a shoe on. I have to wear runners or sandals, which is hard on my legs. But I have no other options. I literally can't find a shoe to fit this now deformed foot.
    I also suffered a DVT and PE after my 4th back surgery. So lucky to be alive. My leg was so swollen, they had to insert needles (with out numbing the area) in my legs to find out how much room was left in my leg....they feared the leg could of burst at any moment.
    I also blew off the knee cap on the replacement. My left leg shifted right and locked. After painfully working to bring it back in, I forced the back of the knee cap off.....That was incredible painful. And after having surgery to correct it, (which was in 2012), the elderly roommate who just had a knee replacement, was getting up for the first time collapsed and died from a PE right in front of me....Now how many would see that and just after having a Pulmonary Embolism themselves??? It reinforces how lucky I am to be alive and how quick a PE can kill!!!
    So, I have a complicated case....and I have complicated pain. I haven't been to the drs (except pain mgmt) in a few years. I got so tired of so many docs, visits and diagnosis that I don't agree with...and financial/no insurance issues. I'm going back Thursday to see the spine specialist and take a look at the fusion in my back. I'm expecting to hear that I need to go the therapy again (I don't have the money to go right now), that it's everything but my back that's causing my issues, and that all is fabulous.....RIGHT. I hope i'm wrong but I been through this too many times that I know better. Who knows better then the person that suffers......
    I am looking forward to seeing the xrays and to see where I'm at today. But boy is the dr. going to be shocked to see what once was a tall, slim person, now walking in bent forward, walking with a limp, and now "fat". I can't wait to see his expression........
    Well off to another visit, back to the specialist and I hope some kind of answers to "what the hell happened to me".........
  • I had the terrible pain before the surgery at L5/S1. I was told I needed a fusion because the disc was gone and my Sciatic nerve was trapped between my vertebrae. So I opted for the surgery to save my mind and my life. The pain was so intense that I couldn't even stand to be around my family, it was killing me. So I had the surgery. The surgeon was to use the bone marrow from my hip for the fusion, he did not. He use Medtronic's BMP. Six months lasted I was in the same horrible pain to find out the BMP the doctor used was still growing inside of me which out grew the cage it also wrapped itself around the sciatic nerve and turn to bone which was cutting off my nerve. The doctors had to go in and remove the bone. Six months later the BMP was still growing with the same end results, surgery. Six-eight months later the pain was back but this time would not be so easy. The fusion has held at L5 but is not connected at S1, and the piece of bone that broke off of S1 is now embedded in my sciatic nerve along with a none spur which is non-operative because of all the scar tissue. The surgeons are afraid if they going and fix the problem the nerve will be damaged worse than what it is, so no one will operate. To top all of this off I have found I'm allergic to every pain medication out there but Vicodin and Demerol. Vicodin helps on those 6-7 days but when it's a 12 on a scale from 1-10. Nothing helps it. I've been dealing with this for 10 years now not counting I've had fibromyalgia for 2? Years now. I'm surprised I'm not in a nut house. I feel so sorry that there are so many who feel my pain every day, I hope a miracle happens for all of you . No one or thing should have to live this way .
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.