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pain at 5week post op spine fusion

edited 06/11/2012 - 8:01 AM in Lower Back Pain
L4/5 and L5/S1 decompression, interbody fusion, bone graft, degen disc disease.surgery 13/2/12.

6 screws and 2 60mmrods

OK post op , am i expecting too much ?? its 5 weeks and i am doing my walks BUT i do find discomfort and at surgery sight its like a brick. Any sudden movement hurts , stepping up and down a gutter etc. I sleep on my side with a pillow BUT any turning is painful as is laying flat on my back. I had radiculopathy prior to surgery and now i have feeling but the muscle is way sore my toes feel weird and whole leg feels weak and i get spasms/cramps. I still cant dry myself after a shower and manage a few things dressing IF sitting.
I am still on oxycontin twice a day and have tried to skip day tab but regret it and cant cope.
A day out is going for a coffee then helping my partner with grocery shop , after this i am exhausted.
I get a lot of strain along the right side of scar , the GP says its muscle. Also whilst i sit here my leg has pins and needles.
Think it will be all worth it long term but have anxiety and depression by feeling useless.
Work is also hanging over my head it workers comp and i work in a shoe store where i have to bend , lift ,push compactus, fit shoes etc , i cant put my own shoes on so how does one fullfill there job??


  • It's only been 5 weeks!!! You just had major back surgery with foreign bodies put it so discomfort is normal... They say it can take up to 3-6 months for the fusion to set and until then you need to rest and let your body heal. I can definitely understand the frustration of not being able to do normal things like dry yourself off after a shower but letting your body heal is so important so that your spine can fuse correctly :)
    I am facing a fusion in the next month and I've been told that it will take time. As long as your pain is at the surgical site it's normal. The nerve was compressed and needs time to heal, my doc said that the nerve heals very little day by day.
    Keep your chin up!
  • Oh yes, I think you are expecting too much. I had a huge fusion, interior and posterior 3 years ago, I have 20 screws. For me, it was the internal pain, where they had cut muscles & nerves that hurt for a long time. When I realized one day that my internal pain was getting better, that was when I began to feel less serious pain.

    I still lay down in the afternoon for a little while & have to get to bed early, my back just insists on it.

    You will feel better but of course you need to walk & get up but I gave my back plenty of rest & eased into everything.

    Feel better !
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  • I had my spinal fusion 6 months ago..I have to say for the first 2 months I was in misery, worse pain than I had before the surgery. At 6 months I am doing better and so far happy that I had it done. Sleeping is still an issue as I still struggle to roll over and sleeping on your stomach, forget it! I can tie my shoes, dress myself most days, etc. I still have alot of nerve pain(didn't have before surgery), pins and needles and feels like bugs crawling under my legs, but I stopped all meds 2 months ago so I expected this. I was on neurontin for the nerve pain, but couldn't take the side effects anymore. Lets see, I can walk 5 miles at a time, but still can't sit longer than 20 minutes. By 4pm my back is so sore and if I sit down forget it, Im not getting back up due to pain and stiffness. The surgeon tells me this is all normal and to expect a full year before I feel 100%..hang in there, the depression is miserable, I went thru it as well. It is a horrible surgery and the recovery isn't easy. The best thing you can do is walk, walk and walk! That helped me. good luck it will get better.

  • Had my review and as far as surgery went it was positive and no complications.

    I am now dealing with the stress of being pushed into return to work , i am anxious about it as i still hurt and dont feel ready physically or emotionally . my job totally involves bending lifting push pull and fitting of shoes . i just dont get it i cannot put my own shoes on LOL
    The pain and spasms in my left leg will last up to 12mnths or more and await physio

    Thanks for feedback its good to vent to others that understand
  • Thanks heaps , good to see someone who understands . I have a supportive family but it really does effect relationships as im sure they get over it and think are you better yet...

    At bottom left of spine is soooo stiff it hurts with every step when walking and the other restriction is this gummy leg that never seems to stop aching with spasms all the time.
    Cut back meds which is a struggle and even with valium to sleep i am awake for hours a nite.

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    #at 6 weeks i could just about shower {with help][ the lay on my recliner ..don't even try to do anything .just REST its now 3 months and i have only just started to do the most basic of things like going a bit of shopping or walking the dog a very short walk on the flat ..a fusion is a massive operation and requires a lot of rest .baby steps .it will take you a very long time to recover .all the things that you have mentioned are normal {the pain at night etc][ just take your time and roll with it ..forget going out for coffee,!!and then shopping ..its too much ,,i went shopping this saturday and helped my wife carry some light bags in to the house but had to stop as i wasn't able to move my back had locked up and i was in agony ..even when i dropped the bags tears were rolling down my face ..with pain and it took about 20 mins for the spasm to go away ..be very careful fusions take a lot longer than you think ,,,,,
    tony {UK 45 years old male}
    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
  • I had my back operation the day before Thanksgiving 2010. I just looked at the card they give I think for the metal detectors at airports and guess what? It says: L4-5 and L5-S1! Same as you. I agree with what these others are saying-please take it as easy as you can-it definately will get better. My Dr. said a year and it was-but it gets better maybe not daily but weekly or monthly for sure. I feel for you having people pushing you to go back to work. You are not ready-at lease I wasn't for a lot longer than where you are now. I tried to force things-and the pain made me say things I didn't mean. I finally did what my Dr. said and let my body tell me what I could and couldn't do. Hang in there. A lot of us out here are pulling for you-we've been there-we care.
  • Wow. I learned a lot reading this post.

    I had multi-level fusion L4-S1 and all sorts of other stuff including "dural repair" done two weeks ago.

    Pain is a strange thing. I'm taking the pill form of Dilaudid, usually 4mg every 3 hours but sometimes I take 6mg or even 8mg when it gets really bad. I also have valium for spasms, and Xanax to help me sleep.

    I've had a couple nights which have been wonderful. Didn't need any meds at all. But moving during the day is just awful sometimes. I feel like my whole back locks up like I'm being electrocuted for 2-3 seconds before it stops. Walking ANYWHERE, even to the mailbox, is exhausting, like I'm running a marathon every time.

    Like you all, sitting is a weird experience (sometimes ok, mostly it just hurts). Walking is better, at least I feel like I un-kink, but my back feels like it has a brick in it and it does strange, strange things.

    Hopefully over the next few months I will be able to get off the pain meds and back to normal. The advice I hear from all of you is, REST!

    - Xena
  • I can empathize with the frustration and feeling as if it will never get better. I originally injured my back at L4-L5&L5-S1 in 1998 and after several procedures including microdiscectomies, i agreed to a fusion in july 2010. A staph infection followed and after almost 4 months of trying to get rid of it and going from 170lbs to 140lbs, i found a surgeon i was confident in who removed everything. Once the infection was gone and i was back to 165lbs, he performed another fusion in March 2011. I was still in tremendous pain in my back, hips, legs, and feet. Once he was sure it had fused, he removed the hardware on monday because everytime my lower back muscles flexed, they were hitting the hardware and killing me. I have been home 2 days now and feel horrible. I only hope and pray it will start to feel better now.
  • It’s so refreshing hearing your stories,
    I am from England and found myself buying a house in Spain, just Before Xmas I hurt my back so after X-rays, CAT, and MIR scan they discovered I had degenerative disc 3 of them, at that point I was in severe pain lost the use of my right foot and numbness all down my right thigh, I would scream in agony just to sit get into bed ECT. I was not able to get back to England so they decided to give me a spine Fusion in Spain you can imagine my anxiousness, not being able to speak the language fully and not quite knowing the outcome as you hear so many different stories.
    I had the operation 3 weeks and immediately the pain and numbness in my right leg has gone and I can walk on it. I still have pain if I sit for too long and at night I tend to wake up with a dull like throbbing pain in uppermost part of my buttocks and right calf, the doctors have said this is normal and will subside in time, but when you are lying in bed at night in pain, your mind wanders and you wonder is all ok and will I get back to normal?
    I hope so
    So when all read all your stories it helps me and I don’t feel alone with this.
    Thank you all and all the best for the future
    Love David

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