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Severe low back pain/sciatica/pain in both legs 10 months post fusion (L5-S1)

Started by Krash4882 on 10/26/2011 10:11pm

I suffered ruptured discs at C4-C5, C5-C6, a bulged disc at T8-T9, and a ruptured disc at L5-S1 during a car accident in the summer of 2008. I had a double anterior cervical fusion done in December 2009 and although it's been nearly 2 years, I'm finally feeling somewhat back to normal.

I had a lumbar laminectomy in March of 2010. The disc ruptured again in August during physical therapy and I had to wait until January to get in for surgery. By then, I was in nearly unbearable pain in my legs, and my right leg had mostly gone numb and started collapsIng under me whenever I put my weight on it. My surgeon told me when he got on there, my sciatic nerves on both sides were wrapped in scar tissue and pressured by fluid from the ruptured disc.

After my surgery, I rested and used the brace for the full 3 months. I went through physical therapy pain free and was cleared to exercise on my own. Within a week or two, pain started slowly coming back on the bottom left corner of my surgical site. I was told to stop all activity. My surgeon sent me for a CT Myelogram which ce back clean.

All summer the pain has continued to get worse. It has spread down my butt, into my hip, and into my calf/ankle/foot and can leave me with tears in my eyes. Now it's happening on the eight side too.

I just went for another myelogram (clear results) and a bone scan. The bone scan showed the left side of my fusion hasn't healed yet, so there's still swelling, but I'm not sure that's what would cause all this pain on my waist and legs. I've had 2 caudal steroid injections with 0 relief.

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3 Responses


welcome Krash
sorry to hear of ur issues,( join the crowd) we all have similiar cases. my surgery was in march of this year and 3 mos after surgery I started w the same issues ur feeling. I am an orthopedic nurse,had a 465lb patient fall on me causing T5-S1,some bulging discs 3 discs herniated spinal stenosis,and L3n4 torn.All the pain ur feeling is coming from inflammation of the nerve root endings and once inflammed it takes me usually 5 days for inflammation to subside..Ur doc should have u on an anti inflammatory taken daily these meds take about 10 days to hit a therapeutic level in ur body to keep inflammation under control,Its a med u cant take once when ur not feeling good, u have to continue daily..also if u dont get positive results from med sometimes it takes a few different tries w different anti-inflammatories because evryone rsponds differently to meds so it might take a while to find the one that works for u, so dont find it unusual that the doctor keeps switchhing to differnet ones, u have to tell neuro if they r working or not.Im sure ( I hope) ur on pain meds and rest is very important too, r u working? and what meds r u already on?..u can also write to me on my blogs too. feel better...oh and one more thing ice packs r good for inflammation,,heat feels nice BUT HEAT increases the inflammation,keep me informed n I will try to help w all ur questions.. have a goodnight,, RENE :) :)


Hi Krash, and welcome to the group,
Ur case sounds very similiar to mine only mine was due to a 465lb patient falling on me, Im a nurse,but out of work since DEC. my surgery was in march.T5-S1 r my problems, b r bulging and 2 were herniated and torn so I had a laminectomy. My symptoms the same as urs didnt start till 3 mos after surgery and im still dealing w them. The pain is caused by inflammation of ur nerve root endings, which is controlled by an anti-inflammatory,these meds take about 10 days to see some results and they must b taken daily not just when ur not feeling good.dont b surprised if it takes a few changes in those meds till u find the one that works for u. everyones body responds differently to meds. I also hope ur on pain meds,these no reason for anyone to be in pain, thats what the meds r for..Rest and ice packs r immportant also. heat will increase the inflammation (even though it feels good).I had to stop physical therapy because the movements were increasing the inflammation, And if u feel like ur lost or falling into depression (which comes along w spinal issues) I highly recommend psychotherapy if ur insurance allows it. the psychiatrist will peobably recommend valium or xanax and an anti-depresent,,those meds also help w inflammation,and keeping the will to fight these issues plays a big role on recovery.U can write to me on my blog and I will check in daily to see how all my friends r doingIts a pleasure meeting u,n never an inconvenece to try n help w any questions. Good luck on your journey to getting better. RENE :) :)


Hello Rene -

Thanks for sharing your story although I'm very sorry to hear you're suffering.

I got occipital nerve blocks last week and it seems like that's going to be the solution to the muscle spasms in my neck triggering migraines. I'll probably try a couple more while I figure out who performs the surgery of cutting the nerves at the base of the skull. I'll deal with some scalp numbness over neck spasms that have choked those nerves so bad I thought I was having an anuerysm and went to the hospital. I've probably been treated in the ER 15 times for migraines that my medication (Imitrex) couldn't handle.

This morning I woke up in as much or more pain than when I went to the hospital 10 days early for my lumbar fusion. I had my adjustable bed in the up position both feet and head and accidentally fell asleep on my side. I've had unbearable pain from the ribcage down to my feet all day. I also get trochanteric bursitis in my hips and it's as bad as it's ever been on both sides. The pain on the outside of my left calf makes me feel like I broke my fibula. I've spent all day/night on heat/ice and I still can't even mildly stretch my left piriformis muscle, which I usually do 4-5 times a day. Everything hurts like I remember before the fusion, and now I've got most of the top of my left thigh that's almost completely numb. Sometimes it burns pretty bad and sometimes it itches. Still waiting to hear back from the doc about that.

I'm going to call my surgeons office Monday morning, let them know how I'm feeling and put it in my chart, and find out if any more damage has been done. I've also got a great shoulder specialist who also does hips and knees so I'm gonna have him look into my recurring hip nightmare because the occasional round of prednisone and an injection every 3 months isn't putting a dent into it.

My pain management doc is awesome, but he's worried about keeping me on a high level of narcotics while my surgeon waits 4 months or so before he decides if the left half is going to heal or if I'll need another surgery. Right now I'm on Percocet 10/325 4/day, Motrin 600 3/day, Valium 5mg 2/day, celexa 50mg 1/day, Robaxin 750 3/day, and I just started Lyrica 75mg 2/day after switching from Neurontin.

The Percocet isn't even taking the edge off barely ever at this point and I'm definitely scared to go down a notch when there may be more wrong with me that needs fixing.

Thanks for reading. Happy Holidays!