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Leg Pain after XLIF

Hi. I am a 37 yr old female and just had an XLIF 2 weeks ago at HSS to repair a failed fusion st L3-L5 (pseudo arthrosis - literally no bone growth). My surgeon told me there was a 30% chance I would have burning in my thigh because he would need to cut through the psoas muscle and might irritate the nerve. 
I am experiencing horrible muscle pain and spasms in my right leg (cut through right side) with nerve pain to my knee cap and foot. The muscle is so tight I can not straighten my leg. I am still using a cane to walk, and feel my left hip is now rotated out and burisitis in the left hip is becoming an issue. 
My doctor has me on Oxy 5mg every 4 hours, plus 800mg Skelaxin 3x day, and 100mg Gabipentin 3x day. They are telling me I am still considered post op and will wait till 6 weeks to evaluate. The problem is only getting worse. Has anyone experienced anything like this?  Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?  He doesn't want me to start PT until 3 months post surgery. 
Thanks in advance for any help!


  • Hello. I'm same age and one week ago had DLIF L4L5 (same as xlif) with posterior instrumentation L4-S1 (I'm already fused L5S1). I was told to be prepared for leg symptoms due to the Psoas being moved around (not cut) and angry nerves. I have numbness from hip down to knee including into the groin. Some numb and tingling down to foot. The leg is harder to raise but I can walk unaided. I practice bringing knee into bent position while laying in bed and lifting leg up in bent and straight positions. When I find a movements that feels weak I make a note to add it to the list of things to practice. I had a great Surgeon. I do believe the surgeon's skills play a role in the outcomes of a DLIF. Mine also told me the leg / thigh can be weak and numb for several months so it was not so shocking. I thought it would be worse actually. 

    I can truly empathise with you. 

  • Additionally I'm finding good pressure type relief in that whole area by squeezing glutes and transverse abb muscles.  Just 5 or 10 times when I remember or feel pain in the hip groin area.  I also make sure to relax into a neutral stretched position when lying down so not shortening psoas all the time otherwise when more intense PT can start restretching psoas is going to be a *****. 

    I can truly empathise with you. 

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  • Hi mteach325. 

    I just had the xlif procedure at HSS fusion from L2-L5, 4 days ago. I too am experiencIng your post op “complications” and I am wondering how you have been in the last several months since your surgery and whether your leg pain has improved.  I am a 55 y.o. Female. 

    I think the response to your post are good advice from a functional perspective and in my plan as well. 

  • Like most of you here, i just had xlif done on my L3-L4. Since my surgery this past Thursday, i feel like my knee cap constantly needs to be popped. 

    I have tried doing so but to no avail, it hurts 4 times worst than the incision or where my surgeon put the screws into my back combined, which says a lot about the surgeon i had. 

    I found out that if i used a gel ice pack that has the velcro straps to hold the ice pack in place, and a pillow between the knees, it seems to keep any knee cap pain at bay as long as I'm off of it. 

    Standing up and applying pressure on the knee, or trying to pop the knee is one of the worst things you can do as it does more harm than good.

    I have 4 gel ice packs, and while 3 are in the freezer getting cold, use the 4th one is on the legs that's giving me the issue I usually just swap them out as needed. I also found out that icy hot cream or the icy hot no ness applicator does a great job on keeping the pain out as well. 

    For every 3 ice packs, i use 1 icy hot cream application to the leg giving me the issue. It does sting a little at first application, but the relief outweighs the pain any day.  

    I hope this brings some of you relief for some of you going through this. I also found out that if you will lay on your side opposite of the incision, the pain is more tolerable.

    My left leg is numb and there isnt much you can do about it as they probably cut the muscle for the leg. This numbing feeling should come back gradually as the muscles rebuild.

    Anyway i hope this helps guys. 

  • LizLiz Posts: 9,755

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I have to close it. If they return we can reopen the discussion.


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

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