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s1 l5l4 fusion was operated on july 12 2011

Started by 100001591238909... on 07/22/2011 6:41pm

My post op is going great i fell great i cant believe i feel this great all ready .i have been walking about 300 yards in the morning and about the same in the evening . i get tiered after word but I take a good nap I this a good sighn for a good recovery.

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My doctor would not let me do anything for 2 months. She told me my bones needed to heal. I had my spinal fusion on L3, L4 april 26, 2011. Still in pain at the hip level, because they used the bone and bone marrow from the hip (iliac).....i start physical therapy this coming week...i cant wait.

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I am glad you are both recovering well. Can I ask you both what your diagnosis was to require the surgeries? Herniated discs or something more complicated? Thanks so much.

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Good for you! I had an anterior lumbar fusion L,4-5 last Oct. Still can not bend too much.My life has changed drastically,because I was very active,now I am being very careful NOT to do something that might agrivate the back. It is a whole new way of living,but deffinately better with out the pain. This was my 3rd back surgery. Hope to have it be my last!Just behavior modification is not easy!

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I want to respond to all of you. I am a veteran of 5 back surgeries over 5 years and I now am feeling very good. I still get lower back pain if I stand too long or do too much but it takes me four months to go through a bottle of pain pills. Ralph, take it easy and don't push it as you are still recovering. It is great that you are up and waliking but don't overdue it. To all of you, keep up with physical therapy and if you are not in physical therapy then ask for it because it is essential to your recovery. They will give you exercises you can do at home that really help. Hang in there everyone, it really does get better.

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Thank you for the positive comment. I think it depends on the type of surgery,and all that is involved in each individual case. My MD doesn't want me to attempt physical therapy,for the fact that the last P.T.worsened my condition.Will see what he says in Oct.

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Debblue: That really makes me nervous to hear that you've had no physical therapy and your last surgery was nine months ago. If the last therapist hurt you then do some research and see if there is another one in your town, use the internet, talk to people. I was in physical therapy within two months of each surgery and it really helps with ease of movement. If you find another PT and you really want this, don't be afraid to get into your doctor's face and tell him what you want. Sometime people are afraid to stand up to their doctors because they have all the degrees and the knowledge but you have to remember, IT'S YOUR BODY, YOUR PAIN AND YOUR LIFE, NOT HIS/HERS. Fortunately, I don't have to do that because I got lucky and I have the best Neurosurgeon and Primary Care Physican in my county. Good luck to you and remember, only you are in charge of your body.

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Sounds like you're doing very well. I had an L5/S1 titanium cage fusion in February of '11, ALIF, through the front after a failed discectomy and laminectomy in 7/08 for a large herniated disc which had my S1 nerve root pinned. That surgery I've found had ruptured within at least 14 days and very possibly never was closed. I got no relief, just more pain from the initial surgery. Long story, but ended up out of town finding a different pain management, m.d./surgeon and neurosurgeon. I've been down for 3 years as of 2/26/08 so I've had a lot of atrophy in my leg, abdominal, and back muscles, and oh yes my heart muscle too. My recovery has been drawn out and difficult due to SVT and diabetic blood sugar issues that had been under control. I believe the stress of the surgery and infection of my intestines after the ALIF caused. Aquatic therapy was causing SVT, hbp., migraines. Finally have that controlled. I originally did walk 500 feet to 1000 feet every other day about 60 days after surgey but had tremendous pain the following day in the heels and calves. The lower back/sacral pain is gone. I'm still on 40mg of percocet and 600mg of lyrica a day for pain. Had to cancel several aqua therapy visits. Now all rescheduled and looking forward to them. Getting stronger. So mine has been much longer and seems to be more difficult. You sound to be doing great. Don't get disappointed if some problems pop up hear and their. Just keep focused on getting those back and abdominal muscles strengthened as well as the legs and don't twist! You don't say anything about pain, or whether you have any ghost like pain. I from time to time have pain that I feel is truly learned by my nerves in my heels and calves..(bilateral radicultopathy). Not as nasty as they used to be but more of an ache. Getting tired to me sounds like something simply related to inactivity from the time it takes to get from point a to the fusion surgery. Good luck.

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Clewarss: It sounds like you've had a rough time with your surgeries and unfortunately that all boils down to a poor surgeon because you should not still be having all of this pain. The only time I had pain going down my leg was prior to the first surgery and the last and after surgery it was gone. The pain down your leg is nerve pain and it is an indication that something is wrong, that a nerve is being pinched or something of that nature. I am not having any lower back pain at all now except if I stand too long like going to a mall or if I do too much bending as in cleaning house. Then I simply take a pill and sit down and it stops. In the last six months I have lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers and I can walk 1.25 miles on a treadmill without any pain. And, speaking of medication, I urge you to get off the Lyrica as soon as possible. I took it for the back spasms just as you are and it ruined my short term memory. It's really frustrating having to write down every single thing because you can't remember what you did last or what someone just told you and the sad part is that once you get off the Lyrica, your memory doesn't come back. I seriously hope you start to feel better and if not, you may want to get a second opinion from another neurosurgeon depending on your insurance. Good Luck and God Bless.

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Great to hear you are doing so well. I had the same operation on July 18th. Along with your surgery did you also have nerve decompression? It will be three weeks on Monday and during the day I am mostly pain free. I also have been walking, trying to work up to one half hour day. The question I have for you is do you have pain after you take a nap or go to bed at night? I am waking in the middle of the night with pain and also upon arising. The pain settles mostly around the ankles, shin bone and top of the foot and occurs only after lying down. I am amazed you are back to work already. That is wonderful you had such a successful surgery.

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Has anyone noticed that we have not heard from Ralph since his first posting? Hey Ralph are you still out there somewhere?

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Roxanne: I wanted to respond to you and ask you if you have contacted your surgeon about this pain in your ankle, shin bone and the top of your foot because I do not believe that is normal. Unless there is a problem with the surgery, you should not have any pain in your legs. It is normal to wake up to pain in your lower back which is generally caused by the fact that you most likely slept in the same position for most of the night. In all five of my surgeries, my leg pain stopped after surgery. Good Luck.

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Thanks for the response Betty. I have also noticed no reply from Ralph. Hope he is doing well. You indicated Lyrica gave you short-term memory problems. That I have not noticed. What I have noticed is that percocet 10's creat short-term memory loss for me and I mean tremendous. I am allergic to Vicodin/Norco so I have to stay in the Codeine, Oxy area. The memory loss issue, searching for words is major and it is amazing. I can forget something in 20 seconds, lose an important prescription, which I just did today but then relocated it after a 20 minutes search which wore me out after I'd returned from Aqua rehab. I have used Lyrica with and without Percocet and without it do not have memory problems. Lyrica is a dangerous drug. When I first took it I was given 100mg capsules so I could try 400 to 600mg per day. After a couple of months my pain mgt m.d. and I agreed on 600mg. That prescription however got filled over the telephone by a nurse who wasn't paying attention nor the pharmacy. I took 6 of my pills in a 24 hour period only to find myself laying on the floor partly on the couch where I'd been trying to get to the telephone to call for help. I had bitten my tongue 6 or 7 times, mouth foaming, mentally lost. The nurse had faxed in a request for 6 200mg capsules a day rather than 6 100mg. They appear the same. I didn't pay attention. It took me threatening a lawsuit to my pharmacy before I got out of them the written fax changing the does. I complained to the doctors office by phone and surprise it didn't appear that way two days later when I spoke to the office manager. So I put it in writing. I'm not interested in getting people fired, but this person nearly killed me. I've not seen her around anymore but have no idea whether thats related to me or not. Again my point, Lyrica can be dangerous if overdosed. As to the nerve pain. What I hadn't said previously is that as time was moving on prior to my neurosurgeon performing surgery, my back was so weak and hurt so bad when I stood or sat, that when I walked and turned a corner I often lost my balance. I fell a couple of times and once was right into the left hip on a broom handle that I had knocked down trying to keep myself up. That was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. My pain management m.d. believes I have bursitis in my left hip affecting the sciatic nerve but will not give me any kind of shot until my neuro approves it. I have my 6 month checkup this week with the neurosurgeon. He is a brilliant man that I believe did a fantastic job. I am making progress but it has not been easy. I am getting testosterone supplement shots for extremely low T, they were every 3 wks until I saw a urologist specialist who handles problems related to nerves and blood supply damaged due to back problems, surgery incisions, etc. and he moved the shots to every 2 weeks advising me he specializes in this field and for the last 3 months I've been wasting my time with the shots because I am completely worn out in week 3. He was right. Overall, it has been a fight. But I'm making progress. I have a world of information and knowledge regarding back issues, nerve entrapment, differing types of sciatica, referred disc pain, on and on. Thank you Betty for your advice. Feel free to give more.

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Betty P.
You said in one of the above articles that you just pop a pill and sit down and relax to relive your pain. What is the pill you pop? And what is Lyrica? And after 5 years why do you need to pop a pill when you are feeling so good?

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Betty P.
You said in one of the above articles that you just pop a pill and sit down and relax to relive your pain. What is the pill you pop? And what is Lyrica? And after 5 years why do you need to pop a pill when you are feeling so good?

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Debbie,

I'll answer part of this. Lyrica is a medication which is used to treat many different types of pain. It helps with fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, legs/calves burning, tingling, from sciatica. It is non-narcotic but does have a side effect of possible weight gain, blurred vision and perhaps some edema. It takes some time to get used to. Personally for me it felt like I was at the end of a bad drunk when I initially took it. Being a guy that hasn't drank for quite sometime that bothered me. But that high feeling eventually subsided. I am type 2 diabetic, and have had surgeries for lumbar sacral disc, vertebrae, and nerve problems. I am borderline diabetic. I keep it under control by eating very selectively and now again exercising through aqua rehab. Personally, I have gained some weight but being disabled during the last 3 years its hard to tie that straight to lyrica, being unable to exercise and basically bed-ridden. I've currently use Lyrica with Percocet for pain. Prior to my major surgery in 2/11 I was on 120mg of Avinza/Morphine as a base med, 4 tylenol 4's w/ codeine per day 240mg of codeine, and 25-35mg of Roxycodone which is concentrated slow release oxycontin each day. I was taking Lyrica with it and did not have a problem with it. So I have combined it with major narcotics and now simply the percocet. I have never drank alcohol with it. If I back off of Lyrica, I find that I get a lot of leg burning and tingling in my calves. It is an expensive medication if you do not have insurance or have limited insurance. Aztra-Zeneca however has subsidized plans for people experiencing financial hardships that have insurance and other plans for the unisured. To me it is a worthwhile medication. Hope that helps.

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clerawss: I am so sorry to hear you've had so many problems and I am so glad to hear you did not die from that overdose due to that nurse's error. The more of these posting I read the more I think either everyone out there is scared to death to have back sugery or I was just incredibly lucky. You mentioned bursitis in your hips, well, here is something for you to think about. I went to my husband's orthopaedic surgeon because my hips were bothering me and he told me I would probably need a hip replacement within the next three years. Well, I had gotten such wonderful treatment at U.C. San Francisco here in California where I had my last surgery so I decided to go get a second opinion. That specialist told me there was nothing wrong with my hips and sent me to physical therapy. The keen eye of the physical therapist noticed that because of my surgeries I was walking in such a way that I was throwing my hip out of wack and that is what was causing the bursitis pain. I'm telling you this so you will be absolutely sure to have yourself checked before you decide to have a hip replacement because you may not need one. As for balance, I too have been losing my balance and walking into walls but so far the doctors's don't know what it is. They want me to see an ear specialist which I think is a waste of time so we'll see.

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debblue: The only medication I take is called Endocet 10/650 which is a generic form of percocet. The only time I take it is if I have back pain from doing too much bending or too much housework. I think the residual pain is coming from the hardware at the base of my spine and the rods going up my back. Even though I am walking unassisted, I still need my cane if I go into a mall because too much walking of that nature causes my back to hurt. Yet on the other hand I can walk a mile on the treadmill in 20 minutes and not have any back pain at all. This is something I am going to talk to my doctor about next month, why I can do one but have problems with the other. The last time I had any medication was about 6 days ago and it takes me about four months to go through a bottle of pills. As for the Lyrica, I took that during my first and second surgeries and it really helped for the back spasms until I noticed I could not remember things so I got off it. It ruined my short term memory. I have been off it for several years now and I still have trouble remembering things.

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Betty P: I am sorry to hear that you still have to take pain medication,but I understand that about back surgery.It all depends on what you "do" in a day,that effects how you feel. I have alot of hardwear in my back to, as matter of fact,my second surgery I had to have the screws(rods) removed,as they were loose,and not attached to anything,The first surgery fusion L3,4,5 simply did not work! That surgeon got me into P.T. and back to work (I am an R.N.) way too soon. I new it,but he kept saying he did a "Perfect" job,and that I shouldn't have any pain!!!Needless to say I went to a different surgeon,who could immeditely (after a MRI) tell me that my screws were loose!(I was beginning to feel like the screws were loose in my head!!)
My job was at risk,I could hardly make it through an 8 hour shift, So I resigned.I could not be taking care of people when I could hardly take care of myself!? Managers didn't understand anyway. (And they are nurses too?!>)
I tried every alternative therapy I could think of,to no avail. So after 5 months of terrible pain,I finally decided to have the AILF. It was going to be difficult,as the area my first MD went into,eliminated any bone to really attach the hardwear to. So the anterior method was all that was available. And yes I did have an ilieus like they warned could happen,and C-diff,pneumonia,low hemaglobin,needed a transfusion.NOT your typical post-op period.It took about 2 months to recover from all the extra complications. Now I am doing pretty good,but still have times when I need to take a Vicodin.You have to somethings in life,I just need to be very careful what I do. No more vacuuming,gardening,mowing the lawn,all the fun stuff I like to do. But at least its better than a year ago.! I don't think I will ever go back to nursing.

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Betty...thanks for the info on the hip. I haven't even considered a hip replacement at this time. Simply shots into area on the hip where the bursitis is at needs a shot of steroids/anesthetic. Concerns me about raising diabetic blood sugar and setting off SVT in my heart. Back in 5/08, before I had my 1st surgery I got a couple of lumbar/sacral epidural injections, the 2nd of which set off 220 bpm SVT that I ended up in the ER to get back to normal with a shot of adenosine. The 2nd time was w/ oral steroids given to me by a neurologist whom I had told the SVT problem w/ the shot. He gave them to me anyway and 2 days later I was in the ER again. There's risk to everything. I'm treated for SVT with digoxin & diltazem, I'm on metformin right now for blood sugar maintenance so I think I can handle the bursitis shot(s). Without that I don't think I'm going to be able to determine whether or not the remaining sciatica I feel in my left ankle, hip, are remnants from the prior surgery or truly from bursitis of the hip.

For Betty & Deb..Six months after my ALIF L5/S1 fusion L4/L5 art disc, titanium, I am still using up to 4, 10 mg percocets-oxycodone 10/350's per day. I was and still am atrophied and weak. Aqua rehab wears me down. Travel in a car wears me out. For example Monday I had 1 hour of aquatic rehab where I worked out hard, & today I road from Spfld, Il to Peoria, IL and back 2 1/2 hours plus being bent back & forth at neurosurgeons office. I spent about 10 mins outside w/ my labs tossing a toy into the lake, sat up for about 20 minutes to watch a ball game & that was all I could take. I'm in bed. I've got 3 oxycodones in me today & will have another before I go to sleep due to leg pain at night if I don't take one. Neurosurgeon thinks that as I get stronger and build my calf muscles up that pain will go away. I certainly hope so. We all rely on medication from time to time. I would like to get cut down to 1 or 2 a day; however with another 3-5 months of rehab sitting in front of me and being determined to fight through the workouts, increasing as directed by the PT I imagine I'm going to continue to need some help from those pills for awhile. Thanks for the advice.

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To all my my "suffering-new-friends";
My name is Caryl. I am 57 years,(I once thot--YOUNG--buttt--seeming to be getting OLDER as each NEW pain suddenly APPEARS!!!) In 2008--just before the 'stock-market CRASHED!!--- my left arm CRASHED--in agonizing pain!! After several un-necessary 'XRAYs' & nerve tests---I was FINALLY given the MRI--I kept asking for. And sure enough... it WASNT my arm---(as my Pain Mangmt. kept telling me) --instead it was the 'crushed--discs in my neck that were 'crushing nerves running down that left arm. Long story short---after PT (which WORSENED the pain) & meds.. I finally could NOT stand the Pain--& went in for a 'foraminotomy' in my neck. That was in JUNE 2008- In sept of that same year the pain was even WORSE--so I was given the 'dreaded' "3 level cervical C3-C-6 Fusion ACDF". I was told, "when you awaken --All pain will disappear!" Its 3 years later.. and the pain is LESS, butttt STILL there. I take the pill Lyrica---but not the 600mg that Clewarss takes---only 300mg. Yes it does alter my memory for words, every once in awhile--but when I do NOT take it, the pain in the arm 'returns with a Vengeance,' Recently I noticed a 'bulge in my left thigh/hip area. (my husband just thot that I had 'gained weight in that particular area----because I am on the sort of SKINNNY side---being 5'6" weighing--on a GOOD DAY--only 91 pounds!) NO! I am NOT anorexic nor Bulimic---I have been this skinny since I was 5 years old. For Clewarss--I think, maybe taking 400mg of Lyrica mite NOT be the BEST thing! I am suffering from Bursitis, 4-5 crushed discs in my lower spine from L-4-SI--have 'bulges' & scholiosis. In essence... I'm a mess! The lower back pain is TERRIBLE---but the left leg pain is WORSE! I'm about to have a "Sacro-Joint" Injection on thursday of this week to help with the pain. I am scared to DEATH to begin having 'back surgery'. After reading most of these blogs... it seems that once you start with ONE back surgery... it leads to another & then another & then another. (being sooo very skinny---I think Id run out of good VEINS --to put the IV's into) :) :( I exercise EVERYDAY---& do Yoga, in my house) & I take pain meds--such as Percocet 10mg & Tramadol & Lyrica.---I DONT like the PAIN--& I DONT like feeling LOOOOPY from taking the Meds & Im scared of starting to have many back surgeries!! Like I said, IM a MESS. A mess with a sense of HUMOR. I wish ALL of you --to get healthy---to be PAINFREE---or at least to suffer with LESSSS pain. Sorry for this LONG blog. Its just nice to know that I am NOT alone out here. Very Fondly, Caryl.

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Something strange happened to me on Wed. 8/17/11. I woke up with a terrible back pain. Different from before. It is so bad it hurts to take a deep breathe. Its across my back,from hip to hip.I am trying to get ahold of my ortho.MD.but has not called back. This is so strange. What could be causing such excruciating pain, that I hurt every time I move?
I hope it is not degeneration of the upper spine. Above the L3,4,5 fusion? Will keep you informed.

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Hello Betty, Yes I did contact my Doc. He was not concerned and it has improved. It seems to happen at night when I become tired or after a long walk. It is not nerve pain, but seems like muscles. Happens only when I lay down for several hours and it is no longer waking me at night. I am so thankful that this is the only leftover pain that I have. I will be seeing my Doc again in Novemeber and if by that time this is going on I will most definitly bring it up. I start PT in November. I can't believe how many times you have surgery on your back. Bless your heart and I hope that your ALL your pain will subside in time.

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Carylyle, It sounds like you definitely are dealing with some major issues. Cervical surgery for arm pain and possible surgery in front of you for lumbar disorders. I appreciate the information on Lyrica. I've noticed if I try to cut back I simply get burning in my calves and aches in my joints. I had my 6 month after L5/S1 fusion L4/L5 artificial disc with my neurosurgeon and they've recommended me for 10 to 12 weeks 3x a week of aqua therapy again. Also advised me that there is a degenerative change at T12/L1, the disc wearing out. So that concerns me. What's really been a problem is the left hip pain. The neuro also cleared me for my pain management md to give me trigger point injections again or whatever he feels is necessary. Well I met with him Thursday and I got a good 10 second injection(s) of anesthetic around the hip socket where bursae sacs are swollen (also right on top of sciatic nerve area). When he gave me that anesthetic I could feel a lot of tugging, discomfort, at that point a large guide needle is hanging from my hip and then he went in with a steroid/anesthetic injection and it hurt, he injected the medication all over around the area in a circle at my hip socket. I could feel the tugging, grimacing, holding my breath, grunting. The person with me told me they couldn't believe I wasn't screaming as they watched the injections going on. I couldn't see it. Well, I got home a couple of hours later, and had to really work on controlling diabetic sugar levels and as the anesthetic wore off about 8pm, I could hardly take a step. Today, 2 days later, I'm still struggling with the sugar levels but haven't had an SVT event and most of the sciatic pain on the left side is gone. Perhaps some heal pain in the left side. It usually takes 3 to 4 days for these shots I understand to get at full benefit. I was scared to death to have this due to diabetes control and previous SVT history being set off by steroids. I am not afraid of back surgery. I'm getting bi-weekly testosterone shots for extremely low T, taking Vitamin D and C as directed on top of my normal meds, eating carefully and exercising when able to through aqua rehab. It bothers me that none of this seems to be halting the degenerative process. I'm struggling to get back on my feet for the first time in 3 1/2 years and don't want to get interrupted again. I've had SVT issues, horrible sleep disorder resulting from pain, diabetic sugar control problems, migraines, hi triglycerirides, edema in my feet, ankles, calves, all of these things got out of control while attempting my first round of aqua rehab made about 14/24 appointments.. All of these things seem to be under much better control now but its been a fight. I'd prefer to be off the meds too, but the pain levels so far aren't permitting it. Just thought I'd update, share info on the hip injection and check in on everyone elses status.

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So glad you are recovering great from your fusions! I also cannot believe that you walk that far and so quickly after surgery, try not to over due it and so fast. My surgeon said I could not do anything for three months so it could fused together properly.

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