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Introduction, post fusion Neuropathic pain.. where do I go now?

Started by vr92708 on 05/05/2011 4:50pm

Hi everyone,

I'm 38 years old and my ordeal with back pain/spine problems began about 2 years ago.

Before all of this, I was relatively active with a normal BMI and no medical problems to speak of.

It all started with a dull lower back pain on and off for a few years when I would have to fly for work.

About two years ago, the pain spread to my leg and I felt pins and needles that didn't go away.

Diagnosis, a herniated L5S1, most likely the result of DDD.

Over the past 2 years I have gone through:

1. Pre-Surgical Epidural Injections (3 rounds)
2.. L5S1 MicroDiscectomy - Failed and resulted in my disc completely collapsing.
3. Physical therapy and post surgical epidural injections (2 rounds)
4. L5S1 Fusion (8 months later) with complications requiring a repeat surgery shortly after my original surgery due to an oversight on the surgeon's part.
5. One round of epidural injections and 2 rounds of oral steroids (no improvement)
6. No PT- Surgeon said it won't really help post surgically because I had hardware to hold everything together and because I was fused by 8 weeks.

My recovery has been slow and I continued to have pain in my back and radiculopathy in my legs for a few months.

About 6 months later, my left side felt much better, but my right side has been the same or worse.

My hardware caused mechanical pain and I had it taken out about 8 weeks ago, in the hope it would resolve the neuropathic pain as well.

The surgery resolved my mechanical pain and the neuropathic pain in my leg(s) improved for about 3-4 weeks. However, at about 6 weeks, I began quickly sliding in the wrong direction.

Over the last couple of weeks, my pain level on the right leg has gone up 3 fold.

The intense burning/tingling in both my right lower back and leg has changed in character as well. In addition to the burning, I now feel tingling on the top of my right foot, big toe and my inside right shin.

When I stand the pain is tolerable, when I sit.. the pain starts in about 5 minutes and then increases in intensity to about an 8 at about 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure my surgeon has given up on me.

I haven't seen my surgeon since pre-op for my hardware removal surgery. I wasnt seen during hospital rounds, instead, a prescription for painkillers was dropped off at the nurses station.

I did have a follow-up visit with their PA at about 6 weeks and didn't get any answers there.

I've been taking Neurontin, Oxycontin, and a muscle relaxant. They only seem to knock the pain down for 4 hours or so and are definitely losing their effectiveness.

My condition is deteriorating and I have no support network at home. After 4 surgeries in 2 years, my wife doesn't want to even discuss this issue any longer.

I'm the sole provider for our family (2+1 baby) and I'm terrified I won't be able to work if this keeps getting worse.

Any suggestions/input or advice would be really appreciated.

I'm in a pretty dark and lonely place right now.

Thank you.


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2 Responses


dear nicholas -

i sympathize with you greatly . i've lived with *chronic pain since 2001 and 2003 fusion / hardware
surgeries , and still can't find any relief . much less a reasonable answer from the specialists that will
help to understand why the pain just never goes away ? *additional surgeries often prove out to be
no help . and taking pain reducing drugs recommended by doctor as a standby , is no answer .

good luck , we all need it .



Hi Nicholas!

I'm so sorry to hear you're feeling so blue. Your post is very touching and it saddens me to know what you're going through. 4 surgeries in 2 years is awful and bear in mind that depression is very common with chronic pain. The stress of being a man (I would think) may be felt more strongly because of the stigma of having to be the "bread winner" for the family. You mention that your wife doesn't even want to discuss it anymore is certainly disheartening. She may feel helpless and depressed about it too and maybe that's why she doesn't want to talk about it.

I would suggest calling the doc, but if you feel he has given up on you, then maybe it's better that you go to a new doctor. You have to have ultimate faith and trust with your doc and if you're not feeling that anymore, I'd say it's time to move on.

So, if it were me, I'd go to a new doc, tell him everything. He or she :) may want to get a new exray or MRI to see if something has happened. I know that's the last thing in the world you want to think about, but your spine is too important to just hope it will go away or try to ignore it. You deserve to have a better quality of life and if one of your surgeries was due to "oversight" on the doc's part - I'd certainly want a new opinion and a new surgeon in my corner.

Maybe look into a few counseling sessions as well. Talking to someone who can listen and teach you coping skills is invaluable. Nothin' beats a good head shrinkin' now and then! :)
They may want to even put you on a short course of anti-depressants as well, just to help you through this rough patch.

So, I guess my rambling comes down to 1) call a new doc for a look over on what's going on and 2) maybe make an appt for a couple of counseling sessions to unload a bit off your mind.

Please hang in there and keep us posted, kay?