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Early Leg Fatigue after Lumbar Surgery and yrs of pain management meds

armelindarmelind South TexasPosts: 131
edited 12/20/2015 - 1:32 PM in Pain Management
I hate starting a new post. I feel that if I dont give a full history, and I ask a question, there will be non-stop people trying to give me advice when i am actually 6 yrs into this post surgery and My health is still declining and pain levels not helped by any type of meds so far.


All with little to no relief of chonic pain. I wish there was a way to be able to ask my DR these questions, but there isnt.

Ever since I hurt my back, my pain never went away. Today I feel that I am in about as much pain as I was to get me put in surgery. The Drs say I have EPIPURAL FIBROSIS. Generally there is no treatment for it. And as days go by, I am given higher and higher doses of pain and there is nothin to make me feel better.

The latest and greatest news is that, I cant walik for 5 minutes without my legs screaming that they have had enough walking. It feel is tightening in my hips and thighs as if I just walked uphill in low oxygen environment. My legs are telling me to stop. Is this part of what the is telling me how whem I start losing mobility in my legs that I may need to come in for other options. My Dr is saying last option is Pain Stimulator machine that will be in my body for life. Its for when I am in the wheel chair or bedridden. Oh joy I cant wait. I wish there was better news,

Thanks to you all
for your help



  • Same pain in my upper hips if I walk too much. It's troubling and stressful. Not sure what to expect. The spine after surgery is different mechanically and probably lost abilities to move legs as efficiently. Keep up with physical therapy and activity. Avoid further surgery if you can. I wonder if I would have been better doing no surgery. I'm a mess now.
  • JAM661JJAM661 Posts: 140
    edited 12/28/2015 - 8:30 PM
    Have you done anything to keep moving. I have found myself with the same issue. Basically the more I sit around the harder and more painful to walk. I have done a couple of thing to help with this. I joined a gym with a pool and 3 days a week I go into the deep end and move my arms and legs as if I am running. They make vest so you stay afloat and is a great workout without the stress on your body's joints. The other thing I have done was buy myself a total gym (like on TV) which allows me to use light weights without the risk of dropping the weight. Doing both of these exercises has really strengthen my back and legs. Another thing I do is use hiking poles if I am walking more then a block. I have gotten past the strange looks when in the mall. (or maybe they are looking at me because my posture is so bad I look like a 100 year old woman) This again helps the stress on my back and legs. Its hard to get started to do this stuff but by dealing with the short term pain of exercise has helped me decrease my pain level greatly ( using 1/3 less meds before I started exercising) drop 20 pounds and I am lot more flexible. You need to check with your doctor first but then find someone who will help you get started on a long term exercise program that is tailored for you and( not just a few exercises for your back) that will help your health overall. You may want to call around some rehab centers to see if they know any personal fitness trainers who specialize working with the disabled and injured. Good luck.
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  • armelindarmelind South TexasPosts: 131
    I have specifically asked my DR about this issue. I specifically asked him if my weight has anything to do with my pain issues or my leg fatigue. I figured since I am fatter and all the pressure inside my "bag of skin" is increasing I am probably adding pressure to my nerves. He said that is not a factor. WIth all the treatments I have tried and all that have failed, it is likely that the pain is solely from my nerves. I try to stay busy and I try to walk or stay active and what results is more pain. I can always add more pain but I have no control on reducing pain I already am experiencing. When I am active and I start trembling from pain and muscle fatigue I sit down and relax only to give my muscles a break but the pain doesnt necessarily go away. Sometimes it has lasted intensly for 2 days after doing 15 minutes of moderate activity. And other times I have had no increase of pain in fairly rigorous activity. And other times, I have done some tasks and thought I got away with it only to barely get out of bed for next 2 or 3 days. I never knew the results of anything I do.

    But in all situations, it "feels" like my muscles are not getting enough oxygen...but I know I am. I am not wheezing or out of breath, but my lower limbs feel like they are going to give out. Today I went to several stores to get various tasks done and each time I had to walk to my car or around to the other side of the store, I felt a burning like I was running on full speed but I was only walking at a fairly brisk rate. Its as if I am walking the wrong way up an escalator. However my breathing is normal, I am not sweating. Its not like I am winded because I am fat. But my legs are giving me less mileage for the same effort. But the rest of my body is unaffected.

    I think I am slowly losing my legs. And when I bring that up to my Pain Specialist, he says that its normal. Not normal for me. But normal for my issue. I guess my nerves are so busy saying I am in pain, there is little pathway left for making them move.
  • Hello. I haven't posted here in a couple of years but I do lurk once in a while. Your post got me to react and log in to reply after all of this time. I realize you posted a couple weeks ago so you may not even see this, but I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't reply.

    I'm not saying that this is the answer, but your description sounds so much like the problem my dad had. My dad started with some leg pain/fatigue and eventually it got to the point that he couldn't walk more than a few minutes before feeling extreme leg fatigue and having to sit down for a good 20-30 minutes before continuing. Going on a walk with him was an exercise in patience, but he is my dad so I was always there resting with him, smile on my face.

    Anyway, he went to several doctors and they all said everything looked fine and they didn't know what the problem could be. Finally a doctor sent him to do, and I wish I remembered the proper term, but it was basically a blood flow analysis for his leg. And sure enough, it came back with the fact that the "problem leg" was not getting enough blood flow.

    He had stent put in the veins (arteries?) and like magic, the leg fatigue went away almost immediately. He is now able to walk all day long again.

    I repeat, I'm not saying that this is the answer to your problem, but perhaps you should look into it and insist on getting this type of test performed.

    I hope you that find an answer soon; what you are describing is not quality of life. Best of luck to you.
  • Experiences with walking.... there were points during my recoveries that walking , even a few steps was almost impossible and so extremely painful. My legs were shaky, weak, felt as if I had run several marathons with 1000 lb. Lead weights attached to them.
    The only thing that helped, was continuing to walk, resting in between and very, very slowly increasing the distance and time. It was not easy, I won't lie, and it was downright painful to the point that tears flowed more often than not.
    Scar tissue forms after surgery, and movement helps to release its hold, and it takes hard work and time.
    Maybe if you start slow and short distances, and work in smaller time frames, you might find that over time things improve.

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  • armelindarmelind South TexasPosts: 131
    I understand your reasoning but it isn't like that. I haven't changed my walking habits much. On different days I walk longer than others and its never the same week to week. However, I am noticing the longer walks are fatiguing my legs sooner. Remember when you could go up and down a flight of steps several times before your muscles burned and legs started getting shaky? Well, I feel that same feeling more lately. I purposely park at the rear half of parking lots so I am forced to walk more but I haven't noticed an increase of stamina, but more of the opposite. My legs get tired quicker. I some people that will understand it with this example...when you live near sea-level and you take a good long walk, you really have no issues. But when you visit Colorado or some other higher altitude area, your ability to hike/walk is limited because of the lack of oxygen you are getting. Your muscles burn and you seem fatigued faster. That's the type of feeling I am experiencing in my legs; and no I am not saying I have issues taking in oxygen or any other cardio vascular or bronchial issue, I am speaking solely about muscles. I can see how some one could be distracted by that kind of issue (lung or heart problems) to explain my fatigue, but all of my physicals and tests say I am in fairly good health considering my weight issues.

    I dont favor one leg, I am not limping and since limping doesnt help my issue, I try to walk with good posture any ways. My lower half seems to have a smaller "current" flowing to it.
  • waltfwaltf Austin, TXPosts: 19
    Ever since I herniated my  L5/S1 disc in 2005 (and later L4/L5) I have had a similar issue.  It started as a feeling of great fatigue in both my thigh muscles when I walked up a few flights of stairs.  Back then, when I had just L5/S1 herniation (managed by PT, pain meds and some Epidural Lumbar Steroid injections) I was still very active and even trained for and  rode my bicycle in the Livestrong Challenge (89 miles in the Hill Country with 600 ft. of elevation change over the course).
    I was in great shape, particularly my legs from all that cycling, and my legs would not get that thigh fatigue when riding, walking or jogging BUT walking up a few flights of stairs would cause this fatigue.

    Since the fatigue was not caused by blood flow issues or leg/muscle conditioning I concluded that it must have to due with the herniation pressing on the nerves causing my brain to 'feel' my legs where fatigued even though the muscles where probably fine.

    Now, after an additional herniation at L4/L5 (actually herniated same disk 3 times), 3 discectomies at L4/L5, 1 discectomy at L5/S1 and a fusion at L4/L5 I am also in worse pain than when the whole thing began.

    I had the L5/S1 & L4/L5 discectomy on a Monday and then re-herniated L4/L5 on Tuesday evening (plus an epidural hematoma, i.e. bleeding from 1st surgery) and ended up with another L4/L5 discectomy on Thursday. Then 3 weeks later I was back in for another L4/L5 discectomy due to another re-herniation.  I ended up re-herniating L4/L5 AGAIN a few weeks later and then had a fusion of L4/L5 with rods and screws.

    I have also been diagnosed with 'Failed Back Surgery Syndrome' and, like you, 
    Epidural Fibrosis / Epidural Arachnoiditis due to all the scarring from
    the repeat surgeries and  I had a Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted a year after my fusion.
    The SCS does help some with the pain (I reduced pain medication about 50% initially, now pain meds back up a little).  I am coming up on three years with the SCS and I would say now it reduces the pain by about 40% (I really notice a big increase in pain on days when I accidentally hit the 'Stimulation Off' button on my remote).

    I still get that fatigue in my thighs when I climb stairs even though I work on the 4th floor and use the stairs multiple times a day - I can barely make it up the four flights with my thighs burning...

    I am trying to stay as active as possible (it is tough as the more activity -> the more pain) and would recommend that you keep trying to exercise (as you are doing) even though the burning / fatigue doesn't get any better (and only gets worse).
    I think (my opinion) is that we would both be even worse if we didn't push through the pain and get as much exercise as we can!

    Good luck and keep fighting!

    -Walt (also from TX, near Austin)
    L5-S1 Discectomy
    L4-L5 Discectomy (four times)
    L4-L5 TLIF Fusion
    L3-L4 Posterolateral Fusion
    Revision L4-L5 Posterolateral Fusion
  • Would like to follow this post.. I had an l4-5s1 surgery 5 weeks ago and have similiar symptoms where I cannot walk after 80m until the pain kicks in and radiates around my ankles.. Pain medication helps me get up to be able to walk the 80m.. I'm hoping it's just nerve damage that takes awhile to heal. 

    hope you find answers soon like the rest of us 
  • armelindarmelind South TexasPosts: 131
    In case you don't know, I am going on 4 yrs since my last surgery and I have just recently noticed intense and sometimes severe pain in my hips that i never had prior to this. Its getting more intense daily. I am beginning to see what the DR meant by "When you start losing mobility from the pain". Before i didn't understand it but now I am noticing that my pain now is interfering with movement and how I bear my weight on my bones. I can easily see me riding in the buggies at Walmart soon. Before this, i never thought about it.
  • armelindarmelind South TexasPosts: 131
     Floridaguy, my Dad just had that same surgery last fall. As for me, mine is strictly back pain, nerve related. I am still in same condition, however I do now have the SCS. It seemed to help with about 25% or more of the pain but shortly after getting it I herniated another disc at L3-L4 level. So I guess I had about  7 months of good pain relief and now it seems the SCS isnt helping much at all. I use it as a distraction of my attention now. I guess thats what it always was but I felt relief before, now I get no pain lessening when I use it.

    I am only on here reading these old discussions because I am home from work. Today I had some "clicking" in my back as I walked. It had a sharp pain with it, but now the clicking stopped but the pain has not subsided from it. This is the additional pain on top of the nerve pain damage.

    I also found out that I have pain due to "arthritis". The pain dr said it was the most accurate term, so i am guessing arthritis is a general term for a set of conditions.

    As for xxjrhxx, I hope you have recovered from your surgery with no further complications. With you being 5 weeks in, you really hadnt even healed from your surgery yet so you had fatigue that may have gone away by now. Lets hope you dont need this forum any more.

    Thanks for all the insight.
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