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Lower Back Pain following Fusion and Laminectomy
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miketeacher posted:
Hi...

I am new to this site, and haven't seen an answer to my specific question. I had anterior/posterior fusion on L4-L5-S1 and laminectomy on December 22, 2011. Prior to the surgery my lower back was in a lot of pain, and it seemed that the worse my pain got, the tighter my back would become, and the weaker my legs would get as well. It has been nearly 7 months, and when I stand or walk, I still have considerable lower back pain, with the associated tightness and leg weakness. I have been told this is likely related to the healing of the fused disks, in fact several people who have had similar surgery have said I just need more time for the fusion to heal. Does anyone have a similar situation to what I have described?

Thanks Very Much!!
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bj1208 responded:
hi and welcome to the support group -

I had a single fusion (L5-S1) Anterior approach back in 2008 and by my 8th month post op my surgeon released me from his care and had me do physical therapy and also pain management saying he had done all he could - I had fused 100% by my 6th week post op but my pains were worse than before the surgery and I had developed nerve issues in both my legs (permanent nerve damage).

I do know that with a single fusion most surgeons can give you a guideline of healing time as being 6 months to a year and can imagine that with a360 flip and 2 levels that the healing process could take longer -

have you discussed these issues with your surgeon? if not then suggest that you do. Ur surgeon may want to order some testing to see how the fusions are healing and to see if anything else may be gong on.

Hope this helps - keep us posted - take care - Joy
 
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miketeacher replied to bj1208's response:
Thanks for your reply! I'm probably just being impatient, but I thought the pain would be mostly gone by now. I have my next follow-up appointment with my surgeon in a couple of weeks, the last time I was there I saw the Physician's Asst, He said the best way to look at my situation is that there are a couple of broken bones in my back that need to heal, and that the bone growth needs to take place at the site of the two fusions, where there previously was no bone at all. In adddition, it seems that everyone I talk to has either had the same surgery as I did, or knows someone who did, and the recovery times are VERY different. I'll just try to stay as active as I can, we just replaced the pool in my yard, hopefully I can do some exercises in there as well....if not at least I'll stat cool!

Thanks again for your information, I really appreciate it...take care...

Mike
 
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bj1208 replied to miketeacher's response:
hi mike -

yes healing times are different with everyone. when I was recovering I was able to with 2 other patients- both had exact same surgery as mine. the first was a female about 5 yrs younger than me and by her 3rd month post op she was pain free and not taking any pain meds. the other patient I spoke with was 7 yrs older than me and by his 5th post op he was out on the golf course playing 18 holes!!

I was hoping that I would be in the same guidelines but by my 3rd month post op my pains came back worse than before.

if you can try to research your type of surgery on the internet - just google.com and you can learn from the sites.

at least this will give you some info as to healing times. take care - Joy
 
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dianer01 responded:
Hi Mike!

Sorry, I didn't see your original post.

Joy is totally right, everyone heals differently. About 5 years ago I had a 2 level laminectomy and diskectomy. Later that same year I had L3-S1 fused. I did great for about the first 3 months and overdid everything. I ended up with a lot of pain for about 3 more months, had to slow things down. I started feeling better and by the 1 year mark, I was feeling like myself again.

By all means, bring this to your surgeons attention. But take the time you need to rest and heal. Listen to your body. Some times still I will take 10 or 15 minutes and stretch out after work. Those few minutes make a world of difference some days. As far as the leg weakness, this may be something you have to build back up depending upon nerve damage done.

Good luck!

di
 
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miketeacher replied to dianer01's response:
Well I went for my regular follow-up appointment with the surgeon's office this week. I saw one of the physician's asst's, she was VERY patient with me, and took x-rays to look at the surgery site, as well as the posts and screws to make sure nothing had loosened or shifted. She said the fusion appears to be healing well, and that even though the bone growth looks good, the bones aren't really considered to be fully "mature" until about a year after the surgery. She said the pain that I continue to feel is muscular/skeletal (if I said that correctly) in nature, and is part of the recovery process from the very invasive nature of the surgery, and will gradually subside. She also mentioned that a lot of patients are still taking oxycodone or similar painkillers after 7 months, fortunately I'm just using ibuprofen of aleve when I need to for the pain. I'm hoping I'm able to go back to teaching in September when school re-opens, I've been out since December, I'm going crazy being at home every day!!

Thanks again for your advice!!

Mike
 
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dianer01 replied to miketeacher's response:
I will look forward to September with you. You may want to work with a physical therapist so you will be ready to be on your feet for several hours at a stretch.

My neurosurgeon was big on walking.

just a few thoughts.

di
 
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Babes55557 responded:
I had a 3 disc fused in 2008 and its been nothing but worse since my legs are really weak when i walk and my groin area hurts so bad i have to sit where i am because I can't walk any farther. If I was you I would start some kinda of physical therapy right away, of course my doctor didn't recommend anything so of course I never did anything to strengthen my back or legs so now i'm suffering demand you get therapy. I had a jerk of a surgeon so if you have one like that get a referral from your Family doctor. This is serious or you will feel like me all the time worthless and defeated.
 
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Babes55557 responded:
Its funny because I have been told that the weakness in my legs isn't due to my back pain. Well it has to be what else could cause the weakness in my legs. I do have blockages in my legs but there not signifcant enough to cause my problems thats what the doctor told me today for my blockages. I really feel bad for all of us on here sounds like where pretty much in the same boat. Well I do see a new doctor on the 15th of this month I'm hoping he won't be like my last I will lose it then for sure this pain is so unbearable. I'm not given pain meds by my oown Family doctor because shes afraid I will try killing myself that is so rediculous I have plenty of other meds that will work for that reason. They worry about addiction well who cares at this point are pain is so bad let us have some type of a life. I am going to ask the doctor on the 14 about that stimilation device they stick in your back and it sends signals to the brain I heard its been pretty successful. My life depends on this last doctor if he can't do anything i am done. Well God bless you all I will let you know after the 14 how it went. I really feel guilty at times because of all the soldiers that are crippled from explosions that have cause them to lose a body part or more. They have been through allot but I feel so lost not knowing anymore on what to do to get rid of this pain once and for all.
 
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bj1208 replied to Babes55557's response:
babes5557 -

I think you have a lot more going on and really need to see a professional physician that can help you with your depression. your primary physician can refer you to one.

there are a lot of us here that have chronic pains and we take our meds as directed not taking more than prescribed and that's what your post seems to represent.

you had another post where you recently had a disco gram done. not sure if you realize that when this procedure is done then the doctor is looking at doing surgery especially with the results as what you have.

I'm not sure when you had your fusion but these can take up to a year to heal from and sometimes longer. I had mine back in 2/08 and I have worse pains now than before. I fused 100% and have healed perfectly, but with fusions the main focus is to establish spine stability by removing the disc and placing hardware in. the success rate for fusions is pretty high but there is no guarantee that a fusion surgery, or for the most part any back surgery that it will reduce or eliminate the pains - a surgeon can only be hopeful this can be done. here is site regarding what is referred to a Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery/failed-back-surgery-syndrome-fbss-what-it-and-how-avoid-pain-after-surgery

I suffer from chronic low back pain and also nerve damage in both legs. there is a test (2 part test) called EMG and Nerve Conduction Test that can let them know if you have nerve damage and which disc(s) are causing it. I think you may want to have this done. I have been from one doctor to another regarding my pains and finally have found a great pain doc - a PHYSIATRIST PAIN CLINIC

http://www.spineuniverse.com/treatments/what-physiatrist

they go to great links to treat the underlying pan rather than the symptoms and they have a wide variety of treatment plans.

Also, who told you that the blockage in your legs is not causing the pains? was this a heart doctor or a pain doc? I think I would have this checked out by a heart doctor to be sure.

I hope you can find the right doctors for treatment. take care - Joy
 
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Babes55557 replied to bj1208's response:
Your right there is more going on right now I'm really depressed and angry that no one will listen. If you could of experience this doctor you would totally understand. I had three disc fused in 2008 and tools removed in 2009, the doctor at the time didn't even recommend physical therapy for me I had to go to my regular Physician for her to refer me to physical therapy and to a pain clinic which I did both for almost a year and also seen a Phyciatrist which because of insurance changes I couldn't see the same Phyciatrist anymore. I've tried calling all over for a phyciatrist and I can never find anyone either they don't take my insurance or there not taking anymore patients always some reason so I just gave up.

I've had this wonderful Medical doctor for 27 years and i'm totally driving her crazy but she hangs in there with me because she knows i'm desperate and she cares about me.

All I want is to beable to enjoy my grandchildren again and go for walks without crying because the pain is so bad.

In the last 6 months I've had severe back and neck pain sometimes my neck hurts so bad I can't even turn my head. My lower back I can't stand for more that 5 mins and then the pain begins. My legs swell up they hurt and get very weak when i try to walk my left groin area hurts and I have to sit like now. My upper stomach is extended so bad after i eat anything i can't even breath I have to lay down. My stomach is even bruising from stretching so much. Now in the last year underneath my left breast is hurting so bad its starting to hurt me when I sit so I have to lay down. Well this is why i'm so depressed I know by reading here i'm not the only one but I just can't take much more maybe i'm weak but i think I put up with a hell of allot. So please forgive me if I sound crazy but i'm not i'm tired of being tired in pain. Thank you everyone for your comments they have helped me through some of my depression but yet i still have that anger and i'm trying to deal with that.

Also I have a appointment with Physicians Neck and Back Clinics I only got in there so fast because i was in the emergency room and the doctor said I shouldn't have to be going through this much pain. By the way if you think I take medications I don't because i get sick to my stomach on them the emergency room doctor send i should really take them to ease the pain. I've tried when really needed to take them but when i'm home I just try to put heat and ice and do what i can with out pills. But maybe I am going to just have to be one of those people that need to take them. I have 5 stents in my arteries to my heart so i'm kinda of leary to take anything. Thank you all !!
 
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bj1208 replied to Babes55557's response:
Hi Dianne -

Please click on my name or pic and read my story - it is so similar to yours -

Before my surgery I was a Manager of Accounting working over 60 hours a week. Now, I am 100% disabled - it was a hard fact to grasp but I did. Even with the great doctors I see now there is no way I can do any of my old life - can't stand/walk/sit etc for long periods as the pain is horrible. I can't vacuum/clean house/do laundry etc without causing extreme pains and if I do any of these I'm in bed for couple days recovering from the pains.

I wish I could play with my grandkids/go for walks/go to their games etc., but I can't.

What I do have is a wonderful husband/family and friends that fully understand my limitations. with that it makes it easier to get up out of bed each day even if I just sit around on my heating pad. it's hard but it's my new life and I have accepted it.

I think you should look into either the Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant or the Pain Pump Implant (pain pump implant injects the med directly into the pain site in the spine etc) and usually the Physiatrist Pain Clinic can help you with this.

Hope you can find one that can help. Keep us posted - Joy


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