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What could be causing this?

immyaliimmyali Posts: 399
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:42 AM in Chronic Pain
Hi all,

I had anterior fusion L5/S1 August last year. Initially my back pain improved for about 6 weeks. But since then it has gradually been getting worse.
My symptoms were predominantly in my lower back and down right leg, but I have started getting symptoms down my left leg as well.
My NS ordered MRI w/contrast which I has last Friday. It didn't show any nerve compromised etc. Just endplate oedema and xray showed spondylosis throughout lumbar area.
On Saturday (day after MRI) hubby smacked me on the butt which made me arch my back, the pain was so severe and I just collapsed in a heap.
Since then I have had constant pain down my right leg (like severe toothache), some weakness right leg, both feet feel like they are frost bitten, but they also feel numb, pins and needles etc. I have had to use a walking stick to get around and very few positions relieve the pain.
Any ideas on what this could be or what to do to relieve it?
I've just about run out of my breakthrough meds and don't have an appt with my gp until next week so I need to come up with some alternative treatments to get me through.
Any and all suggestions gratefully appreciated as I have two small kids and can't really lie around doing nothing.


  • Are you icing and using an anti-inflammatory? I would guess there is some inflammation that is aggravating and irritating a nerve. Go back to no bending, twisting, reaching up overhead or to the side, watch any lifting (like kids!). Try to take it easy and try to ice twenty minutes at a time, several times each day...or alternate ice and heat.

    Would they give you a medrol dose pack or you may need to get a steroid injection?

    I just read your medical history. Am I correct that your fusion at L5-S1 did not resolve your problems? Did you fuse? I wonder if when your husband swatted you and you arched your back a piece of hardware came loose or moved? The pain you describe sounds like nerve pain from the L5-S1.... If you are not fused and there is some instability created by the fusion surgery, it is not unusual to have the pain move back and forth between legs.

    Did you call your doctor? Sounds like that may be the next step.

  • Thanks for your response. The xray last week showed that I have fused.
    When I got swatted and arched something in my back twanged because I got instant sharp pain and just collapsed like a sack.
    I'm not familiar with a medrol dose pack.
    My surgeon is in another city and is near on impossible to get a hold of, but i'll give it a go if it's not better by Monday.
    I guess i'm concerned that i've done something, but having just had an MRI the day before, I doubt another one would be ordered.
    I've got the nerve stimulator on now, i'll try icing.
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  • Unfortunately when there is an initial pain improvement and then a gradual increase weeks down the line it can be because of the formation of scar tissue. It could also be that the nerves are just not healed yet and it is going to take longer. It could also be just a down time that will improve.

    I would take an anti-inflammatory, medrol is good if you got it but if not id take advil or aleve. Are you on neurontin? I never had any help from neurontin until after my fusion. I used it 2 seperate times for a few months before my fusion at very high doses and got no help from it. But my surgeon wanted me to try it again after surgery and it helped, and it helped greatly, especially the burning in my feet. You may need to tell your doctor you need more breakthrough or stronger if its not lasting and you are still in pain. But I would for sure get started on neurontin. I take 900mg three times a day and in combo with my opioids I have been controlling my pain the majority of the time since surgery.
  • Oh Kylie, I am so sorry this happened :(

    I recently read a article about when something happens to raise our pain level. It was saying not to forgot our other back ups, like Tylenol PM, etc. After doing big gun meds such as many of us have we do often forget that these OTC meds. can be of help to us.

    Are you started on the F patch yet? I know you are going to, but is it on yet - if so how many days? When you got the F patch were any other meds. for pain removed?

    I am just going around the full circle here trying to think of things that may be behind this pain and ideas to help with it :)

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • I have been taking mersyndol and ibuprofen (OTC meds), i've been applying heat and just tried ice, i've been using the nerve stimulator and doing stretches etc.
    Was supposed to go to the physio today but I couldn't walk well enough to go.
    Beth, I see gp next week about meds recommendation from pain clinic and going on fentanyl etc.
    In the meantime, i'm still on old meds.
    The gp always gives me endone for breakthrough and his instructions are 1-2 tablets 4 times a day but he only gives me enough for 1 tablet 4 times a day, so if I get a flare up, I come up short.
    I'm sure it's fine, i'll just rest up and see what happens.
    thanks for your help
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  • A medrol pack is an oral steroid that is taken for (I think) six days. You take the most the first day and then the number of pills tapers down until you are finished.

    From what you said though, you have continued to have pain all along? Pre and post surgery pain is similar?
  • the first 6 weeks were great, then the back pain gradually got worse and worse, to the point that it's the same if not worse than pre-surgery.
    The constant sciatic is new though and the feet thingy is new too. I've had those symptoms from time to time but never constant like this, my right leg feels week too, like I can't trust it to hold me up.
    The problem is I don't know what's back related and what's from my neurological issues that I have had since pre-accident that no-one has managed to figure out what's causing it.
    My muscle jerks are very severe today, they are random and can affect any muscle in the body.
    One day, some how, someone is going to figure out what is causing these neuro symptoms and they're going to say, how could it have been missed for so long!
  • The smack on butt Sound like nerve pain.
    My wife smack me a few weeks ago on butt a (light smack)Which took me to my knees.And pain felt like I been hit by a bus. Its lasted about week.

  • Can you get in to see your gp sooner? Like today??? :) Wishful thinking maybe... Maybe if you lett him what happened he could get something for the time being.

    My doc did the same with my meds, which is the reason I ran out a little while back. He instructed 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours but did not give me enough for that. Ugh!

    I hope you get to feeling a little better Kylie, especially with two little ones, whew. take care :)
  • I had the same issue, but mine is cervical. I seemed to get better after surgery and then all of the sudden 6-8 weeks or so after surgery I went totally downhill. The pain prior to surgery is still gone but now it is a different pain(s) and worse. I know now why I went downhill, stress from the fusion on upper levels and DDD just keeps getting worse.

    I am waiting for the figure it out miracle too :) Hang in there!

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