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Failed Back Surgery and Chronic Pain

Started by 1647862141@facebook on 01/22/2013 9:25am

I had a laminectomy 2.5 months ago for spinal stenosis in L3 and L4 with no fusion. At first I had high hopes but at time has gone on I am in constant, unrelenting, neuropathic pain. If you've never had this kind of pain before, you have no idea what it feels like. It is constant burning in my abdomen, legs, calves and super stiff knees. In addition, my right leg is so weak that I have to walk with a cane. I take Gabapentin which take s some of the pain away but makes me woozy and wobbly. I have not been able to work. The NS and her PA have literally dismissed me to a pain management doctor who says he can't help me either except to put me on Lyrica (same problems as Gabapentin). Every day I wake up feeling horrible and somehow try to live some kind of life. I can't help but think that something went wrong. They did a FU MRI which showed nothing but an EMG said that there is some problem with L5 and S1 which may be causing these symptoms. But the NS and her PA say that this is just due to an old injury, which I don't believe. Any suggestions on what to do now or what treatment to use?

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8 Responses


I had the same surgery 3 months ago...except I got a fusion..and a discectomy..I am still having problems....not much relief at all and alot of nerve issues...I can't walk either..I am going for an EMG in The unrelenting neuropathic pain is what I live with every day...I am hoping when the doc puts me in physical therapy...a miracle happens...but I doubt it...Gabepentin didn't help me..so no we are trying topomax....I have my fingers crossed....Hang in there...!


I've had a cervical fusion from C5-C7 back in 2003 because I was unable to lift or use my left arm. When I awoke I had such severe pain in my right arm/ hand that I thought they broke it while I was sedated . Of course the Neuro who did the surgery couldn't determine the etiology as to why this happened. An M.R.I. later showed pinched nerves due to disc bulge at C7 where the plate was screwed in. Another Dr. says it is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy? I have rehabbed my arm back to function although it is still painfully hyper -sensitive even to lightly touch the skin and at times feels like I just pulled it out of the freezer! So cold it just aches! Then in 2007 I had more bone spurs that were causing such pain and dysfunction, that I underwent another cervical decompressive surgery. This time they went into the back of my neck from C2-C7. That surgery was successful..Now I have been researching/contemplating whether lumbar surgery is an option for me. Statistically it seems to be a 50/50 chance of coming out of it without some other issues/nerve damage, and from what I'm finding out from most of the posts here, hardly anyone has come out of surgery without further complications and/or pain. Thank -you for sharing your experiences everyone!


Are you taking the Lyrica or still on Gabapentin? I only ask because Neurontin (Gabapentin) made me sicker than anything and I had been on it for years for epilepsy but that was 10 years before they tried it for nerve pain. I have insurance that wanted me to try Neurontin for the pain to make sure it would work so they wouldn't have to pay for the Lyrica, but after 2 weeks I couldn't take it anymore! My stomach was upset, I was nauseas, lightheaded, and tired all the time. They finally caved and put me back on Lyrica and have been back on it for a few years now. I don't get the side effects that they say Lyrica can cause...sure, I was a little more tired but that only lasted for a few weeks. I take 100mg twice a day and the nerve pain has gone down dramatically. Of course there was pain, but I was able to get up out of bed in the morning without having to crawl to the bathroom...I was able to roll out and walk upright once again.
PM also had gotten me hooked on morphine for 7 years and I took that with the Lyrica. But I can honestly say that I've been morphine free since August 12, 2012...but that's because I'm now the proud implantee of a spinal cord stimulator. It won't do anything for the weakness but does a great job with the pain...my pain level used to be at a 9 all the time, but after surgery my highest has been only at a 5 and that's when I know I need to be re-programmed. My every day pain level is at a 3 and that's with the Lyrica helping with the arthritis and break thru pain.

I hope you have better luck on the Lyrica than the Gabapentin...it sure worked for me! But I'm also the "bionic woman" (friends term) now and the scs is awesome and I'd rather die than go thru the pain again...I'd fight for this stimulator...but that's me.


ii had a failed L4-L5 micro disc surgery in 8/11. since that time, i have been disabled with chronic pain and never worked again. i was managed well by a physiatrist who did my pain control, but things have gone down hill and my mobility is severely impaired.

on 1/26 i visited a new neurosurgeon after moving last month to phoenix. he showed me my flexion/ extension films and i could clearly see the L4 disc slip down onto the L5 disc. he terms it "L4-L5 instability" and said the only option is surgery.

my suggestion would be to find a good physiatrist. mine was the only doc that helped since my fall in 1998.

i am scheduled for a spinal fusion w/ pedicle on march 4th. i wish us both luck!!


hello marilyn I had spine surgery a year and 2 months ago, after they did a open back surgery they fixed where I had broke my back and fused my lumbar area all together screws and rods. after I got out of surgery I thought I was going to die I was in pain unbelievable. I spent a week in the hospital and my wife got a ambulance hauled me to a rehab I stayed at for 3weeks . and I was in pain there also. They got me started back to walking and that really helped and hot showers running water over my back as hot as I could stand and that slowed my pain down lots. they made me ride the bick that sets close to the floor and other exercises. and the pain started to go away. I was on a pain reliever. standing or walking you had to put your brace on. the only probs I have now is the weather changes makes my hips ack. I feel great when the weather gets betr. One thing that I was doing was bending causing pain so if you are bending try not to see if it helps just squat or do the one knee. also get a grabber. saves on bending. good luck and I hope maybe somthing may help. ps I use to take vicodin and I dont anymore,



just a suggestion. after years of "inconclusive" MRI's... i finally had a "flexion/ extension Xray Series" by my neurosurgeon. as you are flat during the mri, these films are taken while bending.

in my case, you could clearly see the L4- drop down onto the L5. my surgery in 3/4.

why don't you inquire about this relatively basic and simple diagnostic? perhaps it will help you?


My wife underwent laminectomy surgery on L1 &2 in march 2008. In may the same year she underwent laminectomy surgery on L4 & 5.
Both operations failed miserably and she is now disabled for life.
She is on Gabapentin twice a day. Oramorph x 4 hourly as required for pain and slow realease MST morning and evening.
The doctors say this situation is so rare they don't know what to do(in other words they don't know what they're doing anyway).
They close ranks when you try to find out why they've all said things that contradict each other and they even tell untruths just to get you out of the way.
In the meantime I've got a permanently disabled wife because of the doctors incompetencies and inefficiencies.
Pain management consultants and physiotherapists are a waste of time too, in fact they've washed their hands of my wife's case.