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1 year post fusion; Does the pain EVER go away?

maryscoffinsmmaryscoffins Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello everyone!

I had my first laminectomy in May 2009, my second laminectomy in July 2009, and my L4-L5 PLIF May 3, 2010. I was able to go off pain medicine for a few months, but am now finding pain to be almost as bad as it was before my first surgery. I went from taking 1 Norco every week or 2 to now taking about 5 per week, so I am getting worried about it. The low back pain is worse, and I find that whenever I do any housework (mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms) I end up in pretty bad pain. When I try to get on the elliptical, take the dogs for a walk, try to make whoopie with the hubs, garden, the pain is almost unbearable. I had my 5th MRI a few weeks ago. When the nurse called she could only say that there was no significent change, but I have an appointment with the dr. tomorrow and she will go over everthing in detail with me. I do know that I have some permanent damage in my left leg, but feeling that I've had an electrical shock from my butt down to the tips of my toes is NOT fun! I am just wondering if this is just something that I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life, or if there is something that can be done. Thanks for all your help!


  • Yes get a second opinion. Go the the doctor with a list of questions.

    I have had 3 fusions and there is always some kind of pain you live with but I don't think it should be as much as you are experiencing. However we are all different and react differently. In my experiences the pain down the leg (and weakness that went with it) was caused by a vertebrae that had slipped forward. Hence the fusions (I started with a laminectomy). The fusions were very successful and I am glad I had them.

    Good luck and please let us know how it goes.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • I feel your pain, literally, we all do I suppose. For me, the answer is no, it never goes away. I first hurt myself doing PT (physical training) in the Marine Corps in the mid 1980's and I had a lower back fusion from the back in Dec 2005, felt better for about 6 mos but the pain gradually returned. I went to a couple of pain management docs (and every other treatment available on the planet earth before going to them). I just had an ALIFT (SP?) in May this year to redo the fusion as it had failed. I'm still in pain, I still see my pain management doc too. Everyone says be patient but come on, after over 25 years of pain and multiple operations, I have no more patience. I just returned to work last week but my old boss got a promotion and now I have a new boss who is a major @#$% and doesn't get it. My suggestion is to find the best pain management doc in your area and see if they can help. If they can't they should refer you to a neurosurgeon for surgery options (I prefer a neuro to an ortho as I think a neuro uses better tools) - and, this is really important, make sure you get a CT SCAN so they get good images as X-Rays and MRIs don't show everything. I know you don't want to be on meds but for right now at least, they are your best friends. AND, you need to stop doing the darn mopping and your yardwork. I love working in my yard but I finally gave in and hired someone to do most of it. I wish I could offer you more but...
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  • Fusions are over-prescribed in the United States, I believe, and you may have joined the growing club of fusion patients who don't really get any better. In my case, I'm worse off than before I had my first fusion (I've had three levels fused).
    The retort is that you may have been just as bad off without a fusion. Of course, you can't prove a negative, so there's no way of knowing.
    Keep your hopes up. Get a second opinion, as the others have suggested, and please see a pain management specialist if you haven't already. The good ones understand. My pain management doctor says he has treated 5,000 fusion patients in a lengthy career.
    Good luck.
  • the first year of any fusion is hard work and it will take up to 3 years to settle down ./.as for pain i am sorry but you may never be out of pain .. a fusion {ALIF/PLIF} tend to be done to prevent any m ore deterioration rather than for pain relief .many people make the mistake that a fusion is primarily done for pain relief ..according to my consultant {one o the best in the uk} has told me ..when i asked ..so i will be free from pain ..when ??} he said maybe never .i am doing this to save your back getting any worse ..sorry the news is not brighter .but i would also get a second opinion .also you could try an acticare its a very high end TENS
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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