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Can't sit or stand for long after DIAM fusion

Hello!! I am new to this forum and would like to ask some questions.

Other than my back problem which worsen this year, I am a healthy 58 yr old woman and just did a L5-S1 DIAM spinal fusion. 2 metals, 4 screws.

Prior to fusion, I am unable to sit or stand for a long time. After the surgery, Dr asked me to wear a back brace. But I am unable still to sit and stand for more than 10 minutes at a time. More than 10 minutes, I will feel pain at my back. My surgery was approx 1 month ago. I am worried that the surgery was unsuccessful or the problem is actually not at the fusion area.

Is it normal to still feel the same pain or should it go away?

any suggestions, experience, opinions, advice would be much appreciated.


  • Fusions are done to stabilize the spine and not to get rid of the pain. If you are one that has gotten rid od the pain then you are fortunate or your surgeon did other work along with the fusion. Each reason for doing a fusion is all about what is happening to you spine.

    You are still way early in your healing process to be thinking your surgery may be unsuccessful. Any of hese type of thought needs to be addressed with the surgeon that did your work. Was he a spine only specialist? If you had anu kind of nerve damage prior to a fusion the nerves can take a long, long tie to heal to where you would notice the difference.

    Hope you start feeling better.
  • Thanks for your support. I do not have any nerve damage and dr confirmed that. I had the surgery overseas so it is not possible to see the surgeon now. The surgeon is a spine specialist.
    Until now, I am still do not understand what causes the pain. Before and now. since there is no difference. :(
    And its very frustrating to have
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  • Correction...... the spinal fusion IS to correct the pain and defect in the spine. It stabilizes the area that is causing pressure on the sciatic nerve, muscles and tissues.If it doesn't move anymore and not irritating anything , then it doesn't hurt!
    I've been dealing with back and sciatic nerve pain issues for about 20 years. (I'm 44) I just recently had a spinal fusion of my L5 S1 area on July 13th this year. Even in the hospital information booklet "when recovering from surgery" it talks about "you should have little or no more sciatic nerve pain after surgery" , that is exactly what the surgery is for. If it weren't for pain and or mobility, why would anyone have surgery??
    I'm still in a fair amout of nerve pain. When I started physio, it got worse, normal I'm told. I've gone to physio for about 8 visits and don't notice any help yet. I am mobile, flexible , I can do all the excercises they ask me but then suffer afterwards. I can walk all day long but can't sit or stand for more than 5 minutes without a lot of discomfort and it gets worse as I try to stay in those postions.
    I have graduated off of oxycodone for about 15 days now. I just take gabapentin and tylenol. So just being off the major narcotics is improvement I guess. I'm hearing it takes easily 6 to 8 months before your fully healed and the pain is nearly gone.I'm still hoping.....
    I'm like you trying to figure out where the pain comes from. Even now after surgery , why is there still pressure on that nerve? Hopefully it's just swelling and irritation from surgery. I keep hearing nerves take a long time to heal.......it's taking too long for me!
    Hope you're feeling better soon Roz....

    Different degrees of back pain since 1994
    Cortisone shots Jan/09
    Discectomy and lamenectomy April/09
    L5 - S1 spinal fusion July.13th/12
  • I had neck surgery in Jan. 2012 to release pressure from a pinch nerve, then I had surgery L5 S1 to release pressure from a pinch nerve on May 22 2012. I have too take pain mess daily because of the pain in my legs and feet. Sometimes I have weakness in legs then burning then pins and needles very painful. My toes are numb, and the bottom and side of my feet hurt real bad just like my legs. I had these problems before the surgery but I feel like the pain is worse now. My surgeon says I might have to live with the pain. I don't understand if the nerves are not pinch no more why have I not gotten better also my doctor said there's no way that the pain is worse after the surgery. Can somebody give me some answers and tell me what I need to do. The situation plays with my mind, I need some help Jerry
    Jerry ford
  • Kevcules said:
    Correction...... the spinal fusion IS to correct the pain and defect in the spine.

    I stand by what I said. A fusion is to stabilize the spine and not done for pain relief as a first issue. It is done to correct a defect in the spine. Never heard of a surgeon that will say a fusion itself will alleviate your pain. It just won't. Usually when a fusion is done other things are also done such as releasing the nerves that are trapped which may or may not give pain relief. You will almost never see someone that just has a fusion with no other work. Look at your operating report to see what else was done or better yet just take a look at the bills for services rendered. Sorry if you went into a fusion thinking it was going to provide all your pain relief. As you are seeing it didn't work that way.
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  • Bkins....You have your own opinion....like we all do , and I respect that.

    I live in Canada and don't see "services rendered" as they are paid for by Medicare and are no charge for me. But......I know exactly what was done to my spine as was discussed with me ,by my surgeon in great detail, months before the surgery. The one and only reason I had to have my back operated on was "PAIN" I had a ruptured disc but was mobile, flexible and fully functional for years except for the "PAIN" Surgeons won't operate unless absolutely necessary here in Canada , so when you go through the banquet of physio,chiro, ostheopath, acu-punture, massage therapy, cortisone shots and anything else they want you to try , then surgery is the next step. Again , it's only for "PAIN" not specifically functionality but that probably comes with it. If the surgery wasn't to decrease the pain , then there is no reason to do it on thousands of people including me! No doctor I've talked to in the last 20 years has told me that it won't cure the pain. Some have said that they have seen it get worse, I believe that because every surgery carries risks, but the goal is to relieve or eliminate the "PAIN"
    That's my story , thanks for telling yours also.

    Different degrees of back pain since 1994
    Cortisone shots Jan/09
    Discectomy and lamenectomy April/09
    L5 - S1 spinal fusion July.13th/12
  • Roz5382RRoz5382 Posts: 46
    edited 09/30/2012 - 6:29 AM
    Thank you all for replying and give your opinions.
    22/8/12 surgery with pedicle screws and rods.
    Update: until now I still feel the same amount of discomfort when sitting and wondering when it could end so I could return to work. Thousands of questions floating in my mind with "when" and "what if".

    @Kevcules : have you gotten better? I have tried all the accupuncture, traditional, alternative, physio, etc etc epidural before and it didn't get better. And I can't stand that I am unable to do the most easiest things and at the end of the day, dr opt for surgery.

    I am still wearing my braces and still have not gone downstairs since dr didn't recommend pressure due to climbing stairs. Too scared to take off braces now even for few steps. I am scared if I take it off, it won't support my back. I still haven't seen any light at the end of the tunnel and the bad days are driving me crazy.

    Thanks for 'listening'.
  • I had similar surgery to correct anklylosingspondelitis last December and had lots of pain sitting standing and walking and had to have a second surgery in May to correct a defect from the first surgery. Now I an walking with a cane and have minimal pain. I do have more discomfort when the weather changes butI think thios is a marathon not a sprint.
  • Hey Roz.... I have goten a little better but still not back to work. I can sit a little longer but standing in one spot is a killer. I walk a mile a day and it doesn't bother me a bit..... The doctor took off my brace at 5 weeks and said "no restrictions" so i can lift or move however I wanted according to him, I'll still take it easy though. I just finished 8 visits of physio and the sciatic pain always gets worse the next day after physio......normal I hear. Now I see my surgeon in December ....... I am better, but still need gabapentin and tylenol to get through the day.... How are things with you??

    Different degrees of back pain since 1994
    Cortisone shots Jan/09
    Discectomy and lamenectomy April/09
    L5 - S1 spinal fusion July.13th/12
  • Hi kev, thanks fr replying. Before fusion and after fusion, do you notice any difference at all? Do you still feel the pain before fusion or its all gone now? Congratulations on being able to walk a mile a day. After I found internet research stating its better to stand and walk than sitting down. I read that sitting down would increase the pressure on the spine by 30%. so these few days i have started walking a bit more. Of course, according to my ability.
    I can only sit for 15 mins. 20 mins would feel dreadful. I heard about orthopedic seat cushion that was recommended by MBallard on the forum. It is suppose to help with sitting. I would want to try that.
    How long can you sit in a go? I am dreadding to go back to work.
    I learned to put on and take off my braces 2 days ago. And will soon take it off for shower.
    I will have an x-ray in 3 weeks time so dr would know if the fuse has started.
    I also take extra magnesium, zinc and vit D + calcium everyday.
    Keep us updated.
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