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post op back fusion pain

paininbackppaininback Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Lower Back Pain
I'm hoping someone can at least verify that I'm not crazy. Fractured my L1 in car accident, was braced for 3 months then Dr (orthopedic) said he had to fuse T12, L1,and L2. So that was done Dec 9, 2009. Recovered pretty well. He didn't order Physical therapy and returned me to work with no restriction at 6 weeks. About 2 weeks after working I had increased pain. Did MRI = bulging L5 disc so he ordered Physical therapy and gives me nerve root injection and Celebrex. Nothing helped. Physical therapy seemed to make it worse. Then I started having weakness and numbness in my left arm and leg. cervial MRI = minimum bulge and spur at C4 and C5. And minimum bulge at T2. So now I'm back to physical therapy and he started Lyrica. So I'm taking Lyrica, Norco and Valium and I'm still in pain. Is my orthopedic dragging his feet? should I be having more diagnostic tests? I can barely make it thru the work day. Once I do, I just go home and get on hot pad and take meds. Housework is a rarity. any one have experience with this? I feel like I'm going to "blow" a disc in the thoracic area next....


  • I also am wondering if I should just not work for awhile and focus on getting better. Auto insurance will pay for partial wages lost. Thanks in advance!
  • My first thought in reading this is that you might try a second opinion with a board-certified physiatrist.

    Based on what your orthopedist is doing and the multiple areas involved I'm assuming that you are currently not a surgical candidate, and your orthopedist is doing the only non-surgical treatment that he has at his disposal (PT, and more PT). A physiatrist on the other hand can offer you various injections that can be both diagnostic (ie- which of the above listed problems are actually causing pain versus being perhaps incidental findings) as well as therapeutic. Epidurals are one thing that come to mind that can help with discogenic and nerve root pain. A physiatrist can also help with pain management which it sounds like you might need additional measures to get the pain better controlled.

    My experience has been that orthopedist are very good at zeroing in on a single problem and fixing it, while physiatrist tend to be better at seeing the big picture and overseeing whole body rehab versus just focusing on one disc or one bone spur or whatever. I think particularly if you are not a surgical candidate a physiatrist may have more to offer you since orthopedist tend to primarily be interested in surgical cases.

    Hang in there. I am so sorry you're having all these issues. It's terrible to feel like you're just waiting for the next body part to blow out (I can relate). Welcome to the boards!
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  • I would try a neurologist - not a neurosurgeon. You need to get a complete eval top to bottom. Then you can put together a plan of action. If you insurance is like mine you have 3 years from the accident. Seems like alot but it goes fast. Also you have to watch your total benefit $. Those tests and visits add up fast.

    I'm probably looking at a second surgery from my accident. Surgeon wants to try ESI both to get some time and to see if that is where all pain is coming from.

    As LALA said not all things on the MRI are causing pain. That's why I like the neurologist because they can evaluate you and do some nerve tests to trace back to the source.

    Most important is to keep accurate log of what you feel and ask lots of questions. Don't be afraid to ask the doc why he wants to wait. I told mine outright that he has less than 2 years to make me right.

    I hear you about wanting to take some time off. I feel the same way. Just remember this comes out of your no-fault benefit so you might want to save it if more surgery is in your future.
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