I'm 2.5 yrs post S4-S1 fusion, 4.5 yrs post L4-S1 discectomy for right-side sciatica. I haven't been able to walk pain free since the fusion, it is worsening and I now use a wheelchair for any trips where I'll be standing/walking more than 5 minutes. Turns out when I google that there are lots of post fusion patients with similar pain and disabilities and lives that have been disrupted.
I'm currently pursuing answers to this, so I thought I'd document my progress on this thread in case it'll help anyone else with similar frustrations.
TEST RESULTS TO DATE:
Initial xrays showed I had fused.
Recent emg showed "left medial plantar sensory nerve is delayed with positive Tinel's, positive Tinel's on right side without a delay: tarsal tunnel syndrome. Muscle testing showed ongoing denervation in right gastroc."
Recent CT scan showed "curvilinear calcifications in right paracentral epidural location at L5-S1 may indicate calcified annualar disc protrusion." There was too much artifact from the hardware for the radiologist to see much and an MRI was suggested, which I am pursuing this month.
First surgery wasn't performed until my entire right leg lost feeling and didn't function. Surgery left me with nerve damage and a knotted calf muscle in the affected leg, but I got back to walking and then running again with PT. Was walking up to 10 miles a day before second surgery.
Second surgery was an emergency when the disk collapsed to bone on bone and all I could do was crawl. After this surgery I experienced burning feet upon standing, which resolved, but ankle pain when walking continues to cripple me 2.5 yrs and 4 rounds of PT later. If I continue to walk despite the ankle pain, I get pain in my feet, up the outer sides of both legs, serious tenderness on outer knees, deep thigh pain, sacral pain. There is pain at night that prevents sleep - stretching the glutes, hamstrings and calves helps a bit with this. There is cramping of the right leg after overuse. Gentle Yoga helped a lot one year ago, then I relocated and cannot find a yoga teacher with good anatomy knowledge.
Had a sacral injection to rule out SI joint inflammation, results were unusable because the drugs made me high.
Saw a podiatrist last year who had no answers.
Saw a different podiatrist this year who sent me for nerve conduction testing to rule out peripheral neuropathy.
Saw a neurologist for the nerve testing. He found tarsal tunnel syndrome and gastroc denervation. He sent me to a physiatrist.
Forgot to check the physiatrist online reviews before going to the appointment and wasted $500 because he was a used car salesman with a therapy clinic.
Second podiatrist wanted to perform tarsal tunnel release on both legs with no assurance that it would work. I haven't decided yet as it appears to be a symptom rather than a cause.
I avoid pain meds based on my previous neurosurgeon's research and advice. I had developed stomach erosions from NSAIDs before the second surgery, now healed. Recently I've taken a few Lortab to cope with the pain and stomach erosion is returning.
I am 47, female, 125lbs and don't need to lose weight or learn to eat a healthy diet. I have never smoked. Used to be very active.
I currently do no exercise - first time in my life. Doing my old PT exercises exacerbates the pain. Standing up long enough to cook my husband his dinner exacerbates the pain. I now cannot even stroll around the block with him on a summer evening.
I'll update this thread as I spend all of my husband's income on possibly fruitless medical appointments. I feel sure there is a mechanical failure somewhere in my back that is causing both the pain and damage in my lower legs/feet.
Thursday I return to my primary care doctor to see if he has any bright ideas on what to do next.
(ETA update title)