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    L5-S1 Spinal Fusion/Laminectomy 3 years of Pain and still counting.
    broken47 posted:
    I had fusion surgery on L5-S1 in Jan '11, a disc was also replaced. I recovered fairly well and went back to work after 6 weeks. I am 47 now, and my right leg sciatica pain has started all over, my right foot tingles a lot like it's "asleep". My back has never really been pain free, but in the last few weeks the pain in my lower back and right leg has returned to a "8-9" level. After an MRI, I have found out that my fusion only grew half way. They used a manufactured bone. On any given day, at any time, I can hear and feel popping and movement in my spine, in the surgical area. The doctor says nothing has moved or broken. My neurosurgeon says the only way to fix this is to go in from the front, remove all of the screws and pins, and start over. A second opinion has confirmed this. Has anyone had this popping and movement? If so, did you have another surgery and did it help? Unless there is a compelling reason to have surgery (i.e., paralysis, floppy foot) I really don't feel comfortable with another surgery. I do suffer on a daily basis, I take 10mg of Vicodin three times a day with about 2500 mg of Tylenol added to really get about 10 mins of relief each time. Sleeping is very difficult and requires Trazadone to help me stay asleep. I simply don't want to waste all of the time away from family fun (what little I can have) and work if the surgery is going to be a futile effort.
    bj1208 responded:
    HI and welcome to the support group -

    to answer your questions - Yes and No - LOL ok let me explain and I'll ask some questions too - maybe questions first!!

    did they indicate from the MRI report if you have any bone spurs or arthritis? Even scar tissue?

    I had L5-S1 fusion 2/08 Anterior approach plate, 4 screws and cage - injected med into cage to help grow bone.. failed as I had continued pain - pain was worse than before surgery. Permanent nerve damage in both legs with majority in the left leg. About 2 1/2 yrs ago I would feel a crunching/popping sound just to the right of my surgery site. Had several opinions done showing that my L4-5 disc was showing signs of stress. I could stand in one position and just move my back slightly - anyone standing next to me could hear the sound - and would freak out when I told them what it was as they thought it was the floor creaking - Even one spine specialist I was standing by looking at my CT Scan heard the sound and he shuddered at the sound. So finally went in and had L4-5 fusion (entry from back) had plate, 2 screws, cage and 2 rods put in. my disc was taken out, crushed and put back into cage for bone growth. 2 months after surgery I kept telling surgeon that if I move just a slight bit there is a loud popping sound, takes my breath away and causes instant pain for about a good couple minutes. Surgeon seems to think I think something is wrong with the fusion part and has had me in for CT Scan, x-rays (to check reocvery etc) and that nothing shows up - I think surgeons take it personally when you tell them something is not right - So in March I had a Myelogram done - surgeon says nothing on report shows where pain is coming from, however the written report shows lots. shows for one that I have bone spur right in the area that I have the popping/chruncing - and this is the same area.

    I just saw my pain doc (usually see nurse practitioner) so I could get him up to speed on what's going on - he looked at written report of Myelogram and was amazed the surgeon said there was nothing there to cause pains as he saw a number of items - I had already decided to get another opinion and am going to the university hospital here in town to see one of the spine specialist there. I have a follow up appt on 23rd so am looking forward to that.

    Before I had my 2nd surgery I had asked about what would happen if I needed to have a multi level fusion - and several surgeons I saw said the same - they would have to take the original fusion out - and I got a detailed explanation of what that entails - and it's yucky - they all said that over time scar tissue and body stuff grows around it so doing so would only add to the pains - not make them better - and I think that's why I have the 2 rods to connect it to the first fusion.

    Sleeping - boy this is a biggie - I can only sleep on my left side - and have been like that for a couple of years. If I accidentally roll onto my back I wake up screaming and crying - first time this happened it scared the daylights of me and my hubby - he always has to come around and help me up and thats horrible. So I sleep with lots of pillows - between my knees sleeping on my left side. I have my cell phone right next to me and have an alarm set to wake me up at 1am - means I only sleep for about 3-4 hours each nite. If I sleep more than that chances are I will roll on my back or my left side gets too numb being in same position. So yes I can sympathize with you on that too.

    One thing I would suggest instead of taking tylenol is to take ibuprofen, if at all possible - ibuprofen is 200mg each tablet and I have been told to take 4 at a time not to exceed 4000mg daily. It helps more with pains and any inflammation - just be sure to take count of the tylenol in your vicodin and the ibuprofen together to not exceed daily amount allowed.

    I'm at max characters so will continue this in another posting~~
    ~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~
    ~~ Joy ~~
    bj1208 replied to bj1208's response:
    continued posting~~

    Here are some more questions for you - what other tests have they done? CT Scan? Myelogram? EMG and Nerve Conduction Test?

    Think I would ask for some more tests to be done - reason I am saying this is once you start doing surgery on the spine, especially fusion surgeries these can cause stress on other discs above and below the surgery sites. So have them check into this too. Sometimes CT scans can pick up items not found in MRI's and since MRI's use a magnetic imaging fusion hardware can hide things.

    A Myelogram can also show more since a dye injection directly into the spine is used to help show items too and a CT Scan is done afterwards so you are getting double pics of everything.

    I'm not sure what type of spine specialist you are seeing or that did your surgery but my preference is a Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist - Ironic though both my surgeons were Neurosurgeons and the doc I'm seeing for second opinion is a Neurosurgeon - both Orthopedic and Neurosurgeons are board certified for spines etc it's just my preference -

    Anyway - hope this has helped - I really think you should get more testing done before deciding on whether to have surgery or not. And this can only really be decided on the results of all testing results and what you and your surgeon decide would be best.

    Oh also what type of pain management are you seeing. I see a PHYSIATRIST Pain Management Specialist as they go deeper into pain management control based on patients' needs.

    Hopefully this helps - keep us posted~~
    ~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~
    ~~ Joy ~~

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