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Six weeks post-PLIF

mellynn36mmellynn36 Posts: 24
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Lower Back Pain
I was on here some last year under the name mellymelmel. At that time, I had been struggling with severe back pain since September 2008 (I had a discectomy on L4-L5 in January 2002). The area below my discectomy had blown, meaning I was in pain from my L5-S1. It was horrible, sharp, radiating pain down both legs, but much worse in my left. We tried neurotin, Lyrica, and three injections, with no relief. On June 22--6 weeks ago--I had a bi-level fusion done.

While my spine feels "stronger"-like it's more durable, if that makes sense--and the pain in my left leg is much better, I am in tremendous pain in my lower back, my hips, and ironically, the right leg. I've been walking as much as I can, and even walk in the pool to alleviate the pounding on the joints, and the pain is still there. By nightfall, I just rotate the ice packs and pray. I just finished my last Lortab prescription left from the pain doctor (who managed my injections, same office as my ortho).

Is it normal to be in this much pain six weeks out? I have two pre-teen sons and a toddler daughter, and need to heal already, and most of all, I don't know how much more pain I can take. Pain before surgery, pain immediately following surgery...I don't know if I can handle this forever. Help!?!



  • Welcome (back) to Spine-Health!

    Sorry to hear of this level of post-op pain. I take it your doctor isn't giving you any answers to why you might be experiencing such pain at 6 weeks? I do hope they don't expect you to just grin and bear it. Do you have adequate pain medication available to you?

    I'm particularly interested in how you're doing because I'm going to be having a 2-level lumbar fusion in September and am trying to get a broad perspective on how other people do with this surgery. No doubt, a lot depends on what a person's basic problem was going into the surgery and what remaining problems are still there. Most of us have multiple problems with our spines and surgery can only fix some of them.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Welcome back to Spine-Health.

    You are still so early in your recovery at six weeks that it's understandable that you're still in pain. I suspect, but obviously am not sure, that you may be doing too much because of your children. If that's the case, you really need to reevaluate your restrictions and adhere to them to heal properly.

    With that said, even if you're following your restrictions exactly, like I said, you're still very early in recovery. I had a 1-lvl TLIF in early January and still have back pain and still take pain medications and muscle relaxers.

    It's been said that you start feeling better at six months and won't really feel better until one year post-op. I can certainly believe that, being where I am in recovery. I do feel better and am able to do some of the things I used to do, but I'm by no means back to "normal."

    Please be patient, recovery is a long road. Your surgery was a very serious and invasive one and it will take quite a while for your body to heal. So take it one step at a time and try to measure your recovery in weeks, not days.

    You'll get there, but to wish for recovery this soon is not realistic. Take care of yourself. Maybe it would be good to see if your doctor will continue to prescribe pain and muscle relaxant meds on an as-needed basis so that you can keep walking to help your healing.

    If there's anything I can do to help, don't hesitate to contact me via PM. We're all here for you and understand how frustrating the long recovery of surgery can be.

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  • very true what cathy said your still very early in recovery...
    What meds does surgeon have you on? I did ok on some pain killers and combo of musle relaxer (slept alot)...
    I fused good and spine doc said due to I really was focused on just me and my recovery..
    It's extremely hard to do with kids..
    back them mine were d in h.s. and son 6
    I sat them all (hubby and older outta house 2boys)
    down and said i'm sorry but for the next months after gonna be me me me and then more me..
    It worked...try get some teenager in neighborhood pay them few bucks take kids to park or show or just to come in help with chores...
    You gotta get some rest and call your surgeon today...if meds not helping you then they need get something for you that will....
    you gotta stay ahead of pain...
    I'm sorry your going thru rough time in recovery but Cathy's right it's a long road..
    And with kids its Alot tougher for sure...
    get someone take the kids if you can so you get focused on yourself..
    here anytime
    neck,bone spurs pain started 04, back issues and fusion l4,l5 06~hardware removed.
    good few yrs. 09 pain sharp, numbness feet,legs, diagnosed fibro, neurop. legs.lung issues.
    daily goal do good thing for someone.
  • Hi there,

    What jumped out at me was "toddler daughter". Youv'e got your hands full. Think about the constant strain on your body: how often are you picking her up? Getting her in/out of the tub/carseat etc. I had a 2 level PLIF in 2003 and at the time had my daughter, 1 1/2 years old. I was not allowed to even pick her up for THREE MONTHS! At 6 weeks post-op I was still in considerable pain.

    I understand you want to get better fast, but please don't rush things. You had a major surgery that can take a very long time to heal. If possible, are your boys able to help you with some of the physical aspects related to caring for a toddler?

    This past Nov. I had another 2 level fusion (ALIF) and my girls are 5 and 8. The 8 year old was very helpful with making snacks, feeding the dog, etc. Although it was an easier recovery due to them being "older", I still saw myself pushing it and doing too much (all that PIA driving to pre-k/karate/dance, etc!)

    Its hard to be patient, but very necessary. Take care and keep us posted on your recovery.

  • Thanks so much for your kind words. My husband is currently unemployed, which obviously is a mixed blessing in this situation. I don't lift the toddler from anything but a sitting position, which my surgeon said I could do. My boys are old enough to be self-entertaining, although I do take them to the pool three or so times a week, but I alternate being in the pool and sitting on a lounger, so I'm not overdoing there.

    I'm a teacher, so that means back to work in three weeks. Given our current financial situation, I have to be back at work. Luckily, it's a high school I teach at--if it were elementary kids, I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it. But I am terrified of being in this much pain and discomfort and trying to work on top of it.

    I have a call into my surgeon's office. We'll see what they have to say about the radiculopathy and back pain.

    Thanks again for your support...I am more than a little overwhelmed, and knowing people have "been there, done that" is truly a great comfort.
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  • I just spoke to the ortho's nurse-she's a peach-and I am seeing the ortho tomorrow morning. I just told her that I should probably be able to feel the razor going across my thigh as I shave, right? That seemed to work. They are faxing in a script for pain meds, too, thank God.

    I'll update more tomorrow. Thanks again for listening!
  • Glad to hear you have plenty of help with your daughter!

    Hopefully you will get some help from your surgeon. Do you wear a brace at all? As much as I hated mine, it did tell me when I was doing a move that was a "no no" (almost all the time, lol).

    Recovering from a fusion and having young kids is incredibly hard, the more help you can get, the better. Good luck with going back to work. Keep us posted,

  • Yay, Mellynn. I'm glad you're getting in to see your surgeon and getting some pain meds. I'm also glad to hear that you're taking it easier than we thought with a toddler.

    As you've found out, that's one of the best things about these forums - knowing that others have been in your shoes is very comforting. We'll always be here when you need us.

    And don't forget to check out the rest of the site regarding recovery, the surgery you had, using pain meds, etc. It's very informative.

    Take care and please do keep us posted.
  • The doctor seems perplexed by my leg issues. When I woke from surgery, I was unable to feel my right buttock and thigh and was told that this was because of how I was placed on the surgical table. They did check me for cauda equina syndrome my second night at the hospital, just to make sure. While I've regained some sensation in the right leg, it's not the same as it was before surgery.

    Today, he did a couple of x-rays today and checked my hip to make sure the problem wasn't in there, and is setting me up for nerve testing to determine a cause for the tingling/numbness. Otherwise, he said I was healing well. Anyone had nerve testing? I was waiting to ask the nurse about it when she calls to set up the appointment, but if any of you have experience, I'd love to hear it!
  • After my 2 level posterior lumbar fusion I had quite severe nerve pain in my left calf and foot..which I did not have preoperatively. It took about 2 months to go away. It was quite painful and annoying but it finally cleared up. The DR said it from the nerve being irritated during surgery.

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