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Posted in: Back pain, and Chronic pain.

Severe pain after Surgery

Started by hravitysucks on 03/09/2017 1:00pm

My name is John, I have just hit my 3 months post op from multiple fusions, cages, and rods inserted.
I am experiencing pain like I have never experienced before. I have had 16 "major" surgeries,
I thought I knew what post-op pain was. This is off-the- charts. Has anyone else gone through
this pain before; more importantly, how long did it last or at least minimize? Any input is greatly

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2 Responses


Hello, and thanks for taking the time to post. We're so sorry to hear about the postoperative pain you're experiencing. We've heard from a lot of people in your shoes who have also dealt with severe pain after surgery. You're not alone in what you're going through.

Did your surgeon help set your expectations in terms of what your recovery would look like (how long it would take to see reduction in pain, what to do if you start feeling new pain or excruciating pain)? Even if your surgeon said that pain after surgery is to be expected, sometimes it's best to go with your gut and reach out to your doctor about your pain. Explaining the severity of your postoperative pain to your surgeon may tip your surgeon off to an underlying issue that needs addressed--or it might be completely within the boundaries of a healthy recovery and it could simply give you peace of mind.

Recovering from spine surgery is just plain tough. It takes a lot of time, and there are often a few bumps in the road. We hope this is a short-lived bump for you and that things get better soon!


John-i'm so sorry to hear about your pain. It's hard to find people who actually understand and can sympathize with back pain. I can tell you that I had an L5-S1 fusion several years ago and my pain was much worse (and different) after surgery. I saw my dr many many times and he ordered CT scans and Xrays (no MRI because it was too soon after surgery and the metal in my spine causes "artifact"). Finally my family convinced me to get a 2nd opinion. I saw a wonderful neurosurgeon who treated the Broncos and he ordered one simple test: a Bone Scan. It shows new bone growth and for a fusion to be successful or "solid" there needs to be new bone formation around the hardware (this helps solidfy the "fusion"). In my case he said there was ZERO new bone growth at the site of my fusion and thus basically rendering the surgery useless. So, 364 days after the first fusion, I had this new dr go in through my abdomen to redo the L5/S1 fusion and he had done some other studies and determined that I needed to add L4/5 as well. When they started the redo portion, they found 4 loose screws that were actually boring bigger holes in the bone and the metal "cage" they put in the disc space was just hanging in by a piece of scar tissue! 10 hour later they had fixed the previous fusion but it had been so long of a surgery that they had to postpone adding the second level until the next day. It was a really hard 10 days (6 days in ICU, 9 units of blood, a central line, NG tube, strep throat) but once I got through that initial "hump" it was ok. That was 12 years ago and unfortunately, I am still on pretty stiff doses of Oxycontin and Oxycodone daily and I know that I am most likely looking at more surgery in the future but for now, things are stable (painful but stable). However, after that first fusion I had so much pain! I regretted having the surgery altogether. I strongly suggest that you have a second opinion and, if the dr is willing, have a bone scan. You could even have an infection in the bone or a reaction to the hardware. Sometimes having a new set of eyes on the problem is helpful. Ask for blood tests to rule out infection. It is certainly unusual to have pain that bad for that long after surgery unless there is some other underlying problem. I know now that the pain I felt during that year between my fusions was most likely caused by those screws being loose and if I hadn't gotten that scan, who knows how long it would have taken to diagnose the problem? I wish you luck and hope that you are able to find a reason and a treatment! I am not just a patient, I am also a nurse so I have a pretty good idea at what the normal results are.