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Nerve Pain Is Back after 2-level TLIF

kevn1115kkevn1115 Posts: 20
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:48 AM in Recovering from Surgery
As some of you know, I had a two-level TLIF at L4/L5 and L5/S1 on 10/1. After the first week post-surgery, my recovery seemed to be going very smoothly - all previous nerve pain I had in my upper thighs and down into my calves was gone. I did experience some new numbness in my left upper leg, but it was intermittent.

At the 1-month mark, I had X-rays done and went back to my surgeon. He said it looked as though fusion was already beginning and at that point, wearing my brace was no longer needed. He also said that he didn't feel I needed any PT, as I am relatively thin and in good health. He then told me to bend over and touch my toes. I almost bust out laughing! I gave him a blank stare and said "Huh?"...I hadn't done any bending since wearing the brace, so it was difficult to say the least. I tried bending, but only got about a quarter of the way; he reassured me that I wouldn't break the instrumentation inside of me, and that I should begin trying to get some flexibility back. I am still on my 10-lb lifting restriction (although I have violated that a couple of times). I have to remember not to go over that 10-lbs, no matter whether I *think* I can lift the object or not.

I'm currently at almost the 6-week mark, and my previous nerve symptoms have returned. They occur typically after periods of sitting. I am pretty freaked out at this point...I know nerves take time to heal, but when initially the pain was gone and now has returned, that concerns me.

Has anyone else run into this same issue? I am trying to stay optimistic but am very afraid that perhaps the nerve damage is permanent? I am scheduled to return to work on 11/15, and now I'm a bit concerned with the return of the nerve symptoms.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks - Kevin


  • Good to hear that you are mostly recovering well.

    I notice that you say that the nerve symptoms occur after periods of sitting. Are you sitting for too long? 6 weeks is still very early in your recovery of fusion surgery. I read on here of lots of people who can't sit for very long without pain for a long time after a fusion. Everyone is different, but I think that most of us at 6 weeks, couldn't sit for very long. Hard to remember, but I would think about 40 minutes would have been my absolute maximum for sitting at that stage.

    If you are not sitting for too long, perhaps a phone call to your surgeon to reassure yourself might be in order.

    Keep up the good healing and good luck with your return to work. Be warned, that can be another hard adjustment to make. :-)
  • Thanks. I recently started working from home the last few weeks and have been sitting 3-5 hours a day. My doctor said sitting should be fine, but I do hear others saying to limit to 30 mins, maybe 4 times a day. I am scheduled to go back to work full time on Monday, but luckily I have a sit/stand workstation. I can raise my desk whenever I want and stand while I work. It's a really cool thing to have and I know I will be using it quite a bit. I used it before surgery and would stand when the pain would start creeping in. But I think I will likely try to increase my time standing. I actually stood most of the day yesterday here at home - it does take some getting used to!

    I'm also wondering if perhaps I stopped using my brace too soon. I put it back on today to see if it does anything with my nerve pain. Once the nerve pain returned, it seems now it doesn't take much for it to kick back in. Sitting even for 15 minutes now results in that all too familiar burning pain.

    It's all so baffling.
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  • Hi, just wanted to check in to see if anyone had any thoughts on what might be causing my radiculopathy to return. It is the same burning nerve pain I had in both legs prior to the surgery. It's frustrating that for the first month after surgery, the pain was completely gone, and then wham, it's suddenly back!

    It seems as though increased sitting *may* have triggered the return, but I am not sure. It may just be coincidence with being at the 5-week mark in my recovery. Sitting is what exacerbated my leg symptoms pre-op.

    Does this sound like possible scar tissue forming to anyone? I have an appointment with my NS on Thursday, but I'm trying to gather info in advance of my visit.

    Any help would be most appreciated. Thanks!
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