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Should I walk?

I am 42 yr old woman who has had 3 back surgeries within 1 1/2 yrs. The first one (April 2011) was due to a very large bulging disc in the L4-L5 area. Continued to have major pain but Neuro doc said I needed to learn to live with it and that there weren't any other surgeries that would help. Went to a spine clinic April 2012 and that Orthopedic doc said I had the L4 slipping so he did a posterior fusion on L4-L5. Don't care to repeat that surgery any time soon. Stayed 5 days and then made the 400 mi trip home. Next was an anterior fusion of L5-S1 by a local Orthopedic doc in Dec. I am on 1800mg on Neurotin (which I know I need as I went off for 2 wks and major issues). That doesn't seem to cut it. I have been walking (wear orthodics) to lose weight and strengthen core but that seems to be aggravating the radiculopathy. The furthest I've walked is 1 mi. I also continue to feel like someone has punched me in the back where I am fused. This is a dull, aching pain. I had a CT with contrast in March but it showed everything looked good. Should I not walk? Should I just push through? What do I do?
600 mg Neurotin, Celebrex, Norflex


  • LizLiz Posts: 8,913
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery

  • I am sorry to hear that you have needed to have 3 spinal surgeries in 1 and 1/2 years.

    Have you been in touch with your surgeon to let him know about this pain that you are still in?
    Generally walking is encouraged after back surgery.
    My spinal specialist physiotherapist told me, after my lumbar fusion, that it was the best thing that I could do to aid my recovery.

    Perhaps you could take shorter walks and try taking two shorter walks each day. Then very slowly build up to a longer distance.

    Have you tried icing your lower back to see if that helps the pain?
    I think you need to get advice from your surgeon about how you should deal with this pain and whether you should just push through it.
    I hope that you will find a way to improve your pain levels.
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  • Lakesuperior:

    I was 59 when I had a two level posterior fusion (TLIF) of L4-S1 in January 2011. For the two years since I have walked and ALWAYS had that punched in the back / bad tooth ache feeling in my lumbar area. We searched high and low for a reason. Finally, I submitted to a revision surgery in June 2013 - same procedure, same level, same hospital and same surgeon. Still, when I walk I have the same feeling in my lumbar spine. The longest distance I walk is one mile. Sometimes I will attempt to do so twice in a day, but the pain is still there.

    Fusions are more successful in relieving leg pain than they are in relieving back pain. Also, they are performed to stabilize the spine. I had a grade 1 spondylolithesis. From what you described I think you may have also had some slippage (indication of spinal instability) and that justified the fusion.

    My fingers are crossed that this surgery will provide me some relief. All things considered, I will not undergo another surgery. It's just too much. Instead, I will accept the recommendation from a neurosurgeon (second opinion) to enroll in pain management to seek relief through that protocol.

    It is so difficult to "accept" this condition. I am a stubborn and determine person. That is why I underwent a revision surgery, hoping that a "saw, screw driver, a few screws and two rods" would ease the pain. I am still thinking happy thoughts as I walk and endure THAT pain in my lower spine.

    Wish you luck. Don't give up.

  • lakesuperiorllakesuperior Posts: 4
    edited 08/07/2013 - 6:43 PM
    Thanks for the replies. I had the surgeries to relieve left leg and foot pain. It seems to be returning. I think it would be a good idea to confer with latest surgeon. I won't give up. I have so much left to do :) Yes, Jim, I had slippage. I don't want any more surgeries either. I don't know that any would help at this point. I am starting to wonder about scar tissue. I did walk a mile today and that seemed to be ok. Jellyhall, I do use heat often and not so often I use ice. I think I need to use ice more often. Oh yeah, I'm 46. I have no idea why I typed 42 :P wishful thinking, I guess. I also continue to have foot drop. How long before you know these things are permanent?
    600 mg Neurotin, Celebrex, Norflex
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 08/08/2013 - 9:40 AM
    Well, how long is a piece of string? Lol!

    My surgeon told me that I could continue to improve up until about the 12 month mark. He said that by then I will probably be as good as I will get. Nerves are renouned to be slow healers. I still have 3 months until I am 12 months post surgery.
    I am still hoping!

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  • It is hard to not get frustrated and give up but then what would giving up mean? Can't change what is happening so I guess it is important to focus on the positive. I am better than I was 1yr ago. I saw my GP who told me it was important for me to try substitute teaching 1/2 days as it would get my mind off my pain. I am trying hard not to doubt this idea as the more active I am the more pain I have. I am continuing to walk but I am really irritating the sciatic nerve. I can visually see my muscles in my calf moving and jumping. Now it seems I am starting to have it a little bit in the right leg. I go to see my surgeon Thurs. I'm sure I won't know anything soon as I'm sure he'll want a CT. Jellyhall, we all can't give up. We have to hang in there and continue talking about what we are going through so we know we aren't alone or crazy!
    600 mg Neurotin, Celebrex, Norflex

  • It is nice to know that there are others out there also fighting back. :-)

    Perhaps you could take shorter but more frequent walks to see if that causes less irritation.
    Take care and don't give up hope :-)
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