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3 weeks post ALIF/PLIF S1, L5, L4 and having EXTREME burning in left shin and calf

edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey all. I know what I am experiencing is nerve related pain. I was on tramadol after surgery, but was such a low dose compared to the 6 months prior to surgery, didn't seem to be doing much so Dr. switched me to Valtran (tilidin) and the nerve related pain i was having, which originally started as itching, then went to a feeling of bugs crawling and has not gone to a burning sensation became intolerable and i spent most of the night last night in tears because of the pain. I took 10Mg valium just to get me through the night, but that barely worked either.

I'm just wondering of anyone has experienced this sort of pain in the same area and what seemed to work for them? I've read that anti-depressants sometimes work for this type of pain.

The pain itself, seems to be expanding in area. Originally it was just a small spot, now it's going all the way from the top of my foot and heading up towards my knee and now on both sides of my leg.

Anyway - thanks in advance for anyone who can provide any insight to their similar experiences and what helped.



  • I did have pain similiar to yours! I described it as feeling like hot acid had been poured on me. It left me in tears and I would just pace and sob!

    I started neurotin and cymbalta which I was taking before surgery and was mistakenly stopped while I was in the hospital for a week.

    It really helped. I take 600 mg/day of neurontin which is a relatively low dose and 60mg of Cymbalta. Cymbalta is said to help relieve nerve pain. Neurontin can cause weight gain which is why I haven't wanted to increase my doseage, but I may need to anyway. I have an appointment with my PM doc on 6/14 to discuss....

    I had credited my pain relief to neurontin until I read your post. Maybe it was the combination....

    I am 12 weeks post op today and I do get some flare up with nerve pain due to PT. Last week I had a rough week with nerve pain in my right leg and then numbness.

    I am told to not worry, (ha!) that it is part of the process of reactivating the muscles/nerves.

    Are you going to PT? All surgeons seems to have very different opinions of if and when to go.

    I started early at just 2 weeks. Do you have any issues with the ilio inguinal nerve that runs from your hip to your groin?

    I have a lot of issues with it flaring up on my left side under my abdominal incision. My PM doc was going to do a nerve block, but the surgeon says there is too big of a risk of infection...so I have to just suck it up! :)

    Thinking of you and wishing you the best! Hang in there! I really feel for you! It does get better! Shari
  • OMG - What a great description of the pain - hot acid being poured onto your skin. that is EXACTLY what it feels like.

    I am grateful to you for responding - as I head read that epilepsy medications and anti-depressants work for this type of pain. I have another appointment with my surgeon on Monday so will have to ask him about trying this otherwise will ask my GP.

    I do have some nerve issues in my right leg also, since surgery from my groin to my knee, my whole leg is numb, almost like that Novocain feeling. As for around my stomach incision, i've had a strange feeling when i touch i since surgery, so i can definitely live with that. The surgeon said that was from the nerve endings to the skin being severed during surgery and will go away eventually, but as we know, nerves heal differently for everyone. I wish you luck with that.

    As for the PT -No I'm not doing any PT right now. I had PT in hospital, but that was just a few ankle exercises and how to bend properly and sit properly - and they helped me with walking a bit. My surgeon firmly believes that for at least the first 3 - 4 months that and walking is all that I should be doing. He's not a big believer in PT anyway and says walking is the most important thing.

    I had a nerve block before surgery which did nothing for me, so I probably won't be looking at having any of those again anytime soon. My body seems not to respond to cortisone, except for making me irritable.

    I also want to thank you for posting in your "signature" about the delay due to the psyche eval for insurance. I just wrote a blog yesterday about how I think that anyone going through this type of chronic pain and then this surgery, especially the 360 needs to be on anti-depressants and have some sort of therapy.

    Thanks again and I wish you the best. Let me know how things are going with you - as maybe you can give me some hope on those days when I feel like putting my head through a wall.

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  • How many times I have felt "like putting my head through the wall"! I think having a 360 is a very unique situation. I have total trust in my surgeon, but there have been many times as I read others posts (that weren't 360's) that I feel a ding of sadness when I see how well they are doing.

    When my fusion was put on hold for the psych eval, I was livid! I was angry, horrified and didn't understand!

    My eyes are open wide now! There have been many times that I have reflected back on that experience and utilized information that I gained from that oppportunity. Boy, do I get it now!

    My surgeon is a firm believer in PT and rehabilitation. I have to say, I am too, I am a therapist (OT) and rehabilitation is the core of my belief system. Having said that, I will tell you that the process is very difficult.

    I am getting stronger. When I started, I couldn't left my left leg again gravity without significant tremors and I couldn't hold it against gravity.

    Because of the inbalance of muscles, the guarding of some muscles and the spasms, my musculo/skelatal system gets pulled out of aleigance. One side of my pelvis gets "stuck" in posterior or anterior tilt. My PT is invaluable for "putting be back". I can't do it myself. If it isn't fixed, I get alot of pain in my knee and ankle as I walk by 2+ miles per day!

    I noticed getting out of the pool yesterday, that it is so much easier for me. Initally, I felt the force of gravity as I got out of the water. Now, it is fine.

    I am now beginning to use the Swiss ball with exercises! Yeah! :)

    But, in the process, I have had many steps backwards. Usually one per week. I am still on pain meds, which my team of doc are fine with. I don't have to ask, it is expected. I can't get through the PT process without them, and the process does cause flair ups! There have been times that I read how well others are doing, no real pain, etc and I momentarily feel sad....but I do believe in the process.

    I was so deconditioned before my surgery! I wasn't able to walk far, I wasn't able to work at the job I love (working with special needs babies), I had given up all activites.

    This week, on Wed., I showered, fixed breakfast, went to PT, went shopping, came home and made dinner. WoW!!! Until this point, I would have been able to do 2 of those activities! Mind you, I did go to bed at 8 that night!

    I hate that you have to experience that pain for 3 more days! Could you call you surgeon and let him know how bad it is? I have called mine before and they are very responsive.

    My big challenge will be endurance this weekend as it is a holiday weekend in the US with Memorial day on Monday. I am going to the capital city of TX, Austin to visit friends for an annual summer party!

    I tried this a month ago and I slept for 2+ straight days! :)

    Hang in there! I will be happy to stay in touch as this is a journey! Take care!
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    The only way I got through the post op pain and nerve pain was regularly taking the pain meds, muscle relaxants and neurontin (gabapentin). I wasn't on the neurontin prior to surgery, I requesting it as I was expecting to have enhanced nerve pain and sure enough I did.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I had surgery 5 weeks ago.I am having that same type of pain. I did not begin PT yet ,I am starting Wednesday .I refuse to take pain meds because of side effects .I'm only using extra strength tylenol .
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  • was a Godsend to me when I had bad nerve pain after surgery. It was about the only thing that really helped that burning, horrible pain in my legs. I'm so glad those days are behind me now (at least I hope they stay behind me!). Best wishes to you.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks for your post and congratulations on your recovery going so well.

    Can I ask, was your fusion a lumbar multi level and 360 degrees as well?

    I too don't really like being on the pain meds, but when I have pain that keeps me in tears all the time, I think that I need something.

    I'm very happy for you that you are able to get by on just extra strength tylenol. Either you don't have the same nerve issues that I am having or you are a much stronger person than I am.

    Either way - congrats and wishing you continued success.

  • Thanks so much for the post Linda. I'm off to the doctor again today and will be asking about all these various medications. I put myself back on the tramadol and the pain is less than it was previously, but as the days go by it seems to be creeping back up in strength. As long as it stays where it is, it's tolerable, but I can't take any more of that pain that keeps me in tears constantly.

    Thanks again and best of luck with your recovery.

  • Thinking about you and wondering how your doctor's appointment went and if he was willing to add new medication for your nerve pain.

    Hoping that your days are getting easier!

    Hang in there!
  • Hi there. thanks much for checkin in. My appointment went well, but he wasn't into prescribing anything new. I did have some rivotril (clonazepam) from last year that I started using in conjunction with the tramadol, voltaren and tylenol which does seem to help the nerve pain a bit. It's still there, but tolerable.

    The past few days I've been a bit down and quiet because it's been cold and rainy here which really is effecting my back and I've not been feeling great - stomach issues in addition to the back and leg stuff. Oh the joys of recovery huh?

    The good news is that the doc said I don't have any screws loose, so to speak. They are all in the right place and have not moved, that is great news to me. I have started wearing my brace again now (which is a pain) and am now allowed to go out on small trips to the store and such.

    How are things with you? Hope you are doing well.

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