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Chronic pain and permanent nerve pain after L4-S1 Fusion surgery
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tweetielvr7911 posted:
Hello there! I am new to this community and have been searching for some answers that I am just not getting from my drs. I had a lumbar fusion on Sept 24, 2013 and have been experiencing continued lumbar and nerve pain. My left side has permanent nerve damage, leaving me numb from the buttocks down to my foot, and my right side is starting to have numbness as well. I have had a recent MRI showing that the three discs i had surgery on are herniated again. The surgeon's assistant explained to my husband and I that it is because of degenerative discs, and when my husband asked how that was possible after surgery, she replied that the dr may not have gotten all of the old disc out!! I am on several medications for my pain: Percocet, Neurotin, Amytriptyline, and Flexeril, and am on a depression medicine as well. I have filed for Disability and am waiting on first time thru...I am wanting to get on some pain meds that aren't narcotics, but am having a hard time finding any. I have been on the flexeril for almost a year, and i feel like it doesn't work for my back spasms. The surgeon has ordered a cat scan to see if fusion took, and if not they are wanting to do surgery again...my first surgery was thru the front and they said that next time it would have to be thru the back. I am not so sure if I should do this and am thinking of having a second opinion. I am worn out, frustrated, depressed and at wits end!! HELP!!
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trs1960 responded:
Definitely need a second opinion. Did they use hardware for te first fusion? You definitely need to see a spine doc and get that stable before it causes more permanent damage
 
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aprilrose9 responded:
Hello!--I agree with Tim(TRS1960) about getting a second opinion. A second opinion may shed some light on the surgery you had, your progress and another course of treatment with your medications.

I get the feeling you may be a little skeptical of your current surgeon. You refered to someone as an "assistant". I recommend patients ask staff members what their title is and there roll at the office. Someone has frightened you and they may have limited or no medical training.

Maybe, a change of medication or an increase may help at this time. You do not say how much neurontin you are taking and an increase may bring you some relief while you heal post op. Bone growth occurs slowly. You listed 9.24.13 as your surgery date. Do you mean last September? You are only six months out.

I say the same thing to everyone due to my own poor experience with surgical intervention. Having more surgery does not always make you better. In my case, it made me much worse and cannot be undone. Try to get as many answers as possible. Seek a physician from the largest teaching hospital in your area. Try consevative measures while you are waiting for union of the fusion. Despite the MRI report, you may not be having pain from all or non of the discs discussed in the radiology report. Besides, a radiologist, spine surgeon and neurologist will all read your MRI differently. The fifty shades of grey--medicine style. Discography could possibly answer the question about the source of your pain.

If you have just filed for disability, make sure you appeal if you are turned down for benefits. You do not give your age, or the level of your anterior fusion. It is difficult to comment without having the complete picture.

Emotional support is so important when you are facing surgery, recovery from surgery, chronic pain, legal issues with disability, financial stress and the isolation and depression which comes with the whole mess. This site can be invaluable to people seeking information and emotional support.

Good luck, I hope you get some answers and some relief very soon.
April-Rose9
 
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jared2779 responded:
  1. Hi! I'm going thru the same thing. I have had three surgeries on L4-S1 in less than 2 years. The first in June 2011 I had a double microdiscectomy. Please forgive my spelling! It lasted about 6 months and then completely failed as I was getting into a car!! I then had a fusion on L5-S1 and a disc replacement on L4-L5 on August 30th 2012. Of course they spent months giving me shots and doing different test. About 5 days after surgery I was in extreme pain in both legs they felt like they were on fire my wife put ice packs on my legs and feet it felt like sitting in warm sand. After 17 trips to the ER they put me on a combination of dilaudid and oxycodon and lyrica. Which seemed to make me not care as much, didn't really help the pain. My dr just kept teeling me everything he did was PERFECT. And he told me this for months. He finally did a ct scan which showed a fracture on L5 and bone spurs protruding out into the spinal canal. We did nerve root blocker shots twice with no help. And then he wanted to put in a spinal cord stimulator. At which point I got a second opinion. The new dr imediat
 
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jared2779 replied to jared2779's response:
Sorry I got cut off. Anyway the new dr immediately ordered a CT mylogram. And found that a piece of disc material was left inbetween L5-S1 and that it was calsafied and had bone spurs growing off of it and that the disc replacement was sitting at an angle closing the space where the nerves passed through and pinching the nerves. He told me I needed surgery immediately or it could cause more permanent damage to the nerves. So I had surgery on April 10th this year. By the way first surgery was through the back, second surgery was through the front(nice scar from belly button down), and third through my back. The third surgery was a total fusion from S1 to L4 with a lot of clean up and removal of bone to allow more spacing for the nerves. I woke up with a lot of numbness and still had the same pain in my lower legs. Three and a half weeks later and the numbness is gone but now the pain in my right leg is getting worse. My left leg is about the same as before surgery. And my right has spread from my foot through the bottom of my right butt check. It is a burning sensation and extreme sensitivity. My right foot is really sore all the time so walking is a real challenge and just about everything else. All I want is off sll the meds. They have completely stolen my memory. You can ask me to do something at lunch and I forgot by 2pm. My life is completely ruined. I have three beautiful children and can not play with any of them. I would definitely recomen
 
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undefined responded:
I had l4-s1 surgery in april 2014 found out last week that i will never drive again nor will the nerve damage going down my leg ever leave me.The Docter also told me only to walk as much as possible becouse both of my feet swell so badly. So like you i dont have any idea what to do with myself becouse i am use to working 6 day's a week now i have a very hard time just walking 50yrds.Going to see a docter for depression next week to see if he can help me get the angrer and deep depression under control.Also i tryed to get disability social security and was turned down but trying it again hopefully this time i will get it.
 
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bj1208 replied to 34677922's response:
Hi Undefined - welcome to the support group

I'm just wondering why they told you that you could never drive again?!! It seems this is too sudden especially since recovery times for most back surgeries are 6 months to a year and sometimes longer. Also what type of surgery did you have? Fusion? It would help us to help you if we knew a little more about your surgery and how or what happened to cause this?!! What is your diagnosis both before and after your surgery? what tests have been done since your surgery? Have they done the EMG and NERVE CONDUCTION TEST to check extent of nerve damage? Please let us know more so we can help you.

this is a great support group - we let each other know how we are doing, what's new going on, vent in anger at just life etc., so we do rely and help each other. Plus there are several members (myself included) that have had just about everything done so between all of us we offer great support and research items too.

I've had 2 failed fusion surgeries and permanent nerve damage down both legs. My legs are numb from the knee down. My first surgery was in 2/08 L5-S1 and my most recent one Dec 2013 L4-5

After my first surgery it was determine I had drop foot in my left foot/leg (drops doing up stairs and drag it while walking) so I was fitted with a leg brace and still wear it to this day. I also walk with a cane for extra support (fear of falling). My nerve damage was mainly in my left leg at this time with minimal amount in my right. Since my last surgery, I woke from recovery and my doc asked how I felt - I told him my right leg was completely numb. As time went by the majority of the numbness went away except in both legs I have permanent numbness below the knees.

I still drive - not very far, walking more than around a grocery store etc is out of the question - I usually will use an electric cart to get thru stores otherwise I will lean on a shopping cart and put most weight on it while I walk.

I too was used to working 6 days a week as I used to be Manager of Accounting (AP/AR, Billing, Collections etc) so to go from a full time work related history to being permanently disabled was a shock.

Sure those of us here on the support group have anger - what life we used to have is gone and we have made the most of it with our new lives. Depressing does follow failed surgeries where the outcome is not what we expected but looking at the brighter side helps - children, grandchildren, family, friends etc make these as your goal and adjust to this as they will and can help thru the rougher times.

Please let us know more about yourself - take care~~
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~
~~ Joy ~~
 
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trs1960 replied to aprilrose9's response:
Hi Aprilrose, my doc won't do discograms anymore. He went to a training seminar and they discussed that the contemporary findings are sticking a syringe in the disc annolus tends to cause herniations . As I'm sure you know, the annolus is a coarse woven fiber. It gas very little blood flow and dose not heal. The small hole from the syringe tends to cause herniations on discs that were normal.

I know some docs still do them, but that's what I like about mines he's always learning everything he can to stay in front of the learning curve.

It's great the hear from you!

As for advice, I'm with you. Too soon to do anything invasive. My last fusion took 18 months to heal. When it finally did it felt pretty good 80%-90% pain reduction in that area.

Tim"
 
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bj1208 replied to trs1960's response:
Lol Hey Tim ~~

when you responded to the post from Aprilrise her post was from a year ago.

mainly I was responding the post from Undifined.

anyway good to hear from you~~
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~
~~ Joy ~~
 
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trs1960 replied to bj1208's response:
I miss her...I hope she's ok
 
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bj1208 replied to trs1960's response:
Same here haven't seen any recent posts from her
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~
~~ Joy ~~


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