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post op spasms after TLIF at bedtime

DianeLDDianeL Posts: 22
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I am hoping I can get some support/advise or suggestions. I had a TLIF L4-L5 fusion with hardware, pedicle screws, peek cage on Feb 4th this year. This fusion was extended from previous L5-S1 done on May 2009. My surgery was six hours and I also had a synovial cyst removed from my spinal cord (L4-L5 area).
I went home with a walker and then graduated to a cane after about one week. I had a questionable infection/drainage and was treated with antibiotics which stopped the drainage. Doctor thinks I had a seroma? Now to my point. For the last three weeks, I have had horrible back spasms/pain on my right side ONLY at night/sleeping. It will wake me up and I am unable to move. I spoke with NS and PM and they thought I was overdoing it. I am still home, no PT yet, using bone stimulator and brace when needed. Valium, flexeral, Norco 10mg and neurontin help during the day but I still wake up every night with this horrific pain/spasms despite medicating prior to bed.

I dont know where to turn. Maybe there is fluid or screw moving? I will be seeing my NS this week. Can anyone share their similar stories or talk with me about what this can be?

Sorry for the long post, but I would really like to hear anyone.


  • I had the same thing start about two months after my thoracic corpectomy, muscle spasms and an occasional arm or leg twitch that causes the whole limb to move uncontrollably. I still have them just as I am falling asleep. My doctor put me on Desipramine (a tricyclic antidepressant) that has a beneficial side effect of calming the spinal nerves. My doctor explained the reason for the twitches and spasms were caused by over sensitive nerves getting impulses from the relaxing muscles and being overwhelmed triggering a sudden release of energy manifesting as a spasm or having the whole limb pick up and move around uncontrollably. The medication has reduced the occurrences greatly but didn't stop them completely
    Hope this helps give you a place to start a conversation with your doctor
  • Indeed it is a process of two steps forward, one step back. I am now out 5 weeks from an L5-S1 TLIF. I had been suffering unilateral leg and foot pain for years from a long-standing spondylolisthesis which was caused by a pars fracture when I was a teenager. I did absolutely great weeks 1-3 and went back to my desk job a week early against my doctor's orders. Big mistake. The reason I had been doing so well was that I was able to rest, and even lay down, when I became fatigued during the day at home. At work I couldn't do that. Additionally, my walking routine was disrupted. Now at week 5, the muscle spasms have begun and these have been the most painful events I've ever experienced. They come during the evening when I recline or at night in bed. I feel fine until I try to get back up or roll over. Four nights in a row now, I was unable to move without help from a family member and of course I'm now back on pain pills and muscle relaxers. Plus, the intense spasms have aggravated the soft tissues around my incisions. Advise: listen to your doctor and don't get cocky when you feel good; take multiple short walks instead of long walks (even if they feel good), don't lift, bend or twist, listen to your body...if it says 'rest' stop and take it easy for awhile (you may even need to sleep more while you're healing). I am personally going to cut back on caffeine and start drinking more water. I hope to get past this point in the next week or so. I appreciate that others were willing to share their stories too because it is scarey when you have never been through this and don't know what to expect. Good luck to all.
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