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post spinal fusion surgery pain
I had spinal fusion on my L5 5 weeks ago, and i am now hurting now more then i ever did before surgery. My Doc said he had the surgery and was back to work in 2 weeks. At 2weeks for me i was hurting so bad i thought i had messed up my fusion. So i went to see my my doc and had an xray and was told it was fine. He gave me a RX and said it was my last one. So i have had nothing for pain since 3 weeks after surgery. Right after surgery in a drugged state I told him my leg hurts worse (I don't remember saying it) and his answer was " Then we shouldn't have done surgery"
I had no problem with my right leg priop to surgery, but now at 5 weeks i have to drag my leg, and it hurts unbelievably, i can't even lay on my right side. Sometimes it feels like ants are crawling under my skin. I can't sleep, 3 times now my leg hurt me so bad i got physically sick.
Also my Doc's nurse says pain is just a state of mind..........My pain is very REAL!!
Is this normal?
How long should i be on pain meds?
Thanks Dawn
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Ihad a disc replaced and spinal fusion six months ago. The pain started shooting down my left leg two months after.  My dr. told me to expect some nerve damage since this was the fourth spine surgery in two years.  Just had an MRI and they told me that there is scar tissue surrounding the nerve root.  They have offered Lyrica to help with the nerve.  But I am going to start physical therapy next week, and I have found that the less movement the less pain. Ask for Ct scan and an MRI, maybe that will tell them more.  By  the way tell that nurse she is nuts, the pain isn't in your head, obviously she is not dealing with your pain.
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Your doctor is a jerk. How dare him say that to you. I had l5-s1 done 8 years ago. 80% of the time I feel good. I walk on the treadmill or use elliptical and feel really good. Cold damp weather or moving wrong will trigger sciatica pain and low back pain. Thank god for muscle relaxers and occasional pain Med for those days to get me over the hump. If the doctor says you shouldn't of had it done then shame on him bc he should have been realistic w you. This isn't elective surgery. I would see another specialist w old MRI and see if they would have recommended surgery. If they don't and you feel mislead it's necessary to file lawsuit to protect others from this quack.
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On 12/07 2005 had a back & front spinal fusion with a chip from my right hip and a cadavor bone too and have been in pain ever since.  About a week after I was sent home, I ended up back in the hospital in extreme pain in my back and legs.  They fed me morphine (which was fine...lol....at the time) but then nothing else was done.  The tests showed nothing and they sent me home a few days after Christmas 2005.  Well, I've continued to experience pain in my lower back, buttocks and of course the nerve damage on my left, outer thigh. My pain just feels like they tightened those screws to tight and radiates to my pelvis area too. My Dr. would only take front and side view X-rays when I would see him monthly and tell me he was stumped because the X-rays looked good.  But he never ordered any other tests or send me to therapy.  He just kept prescribing Vicodin and Lyrica and eventually Naproxen.  So, finally, in November 2006 he referred me to a Pain Management Dr. who tried the Sacroiliac Steroid Injection.  It helped my right side for 1 week, my left side for 2 weeks.  He has now asked me to think about an implant of the spinal cord stimulator.  I've heard good and bad things about this implant and it frightens me.  I think I may try to get a 3rd opinion, actually a 2nd opinion from a Dr. at the University of Chicago.  My niece will graduate Indiana University in May with a Masters in Physical Therapy and she did a 2 hour review with me the other day.  She thinks I may have more nerve damage than anyone has thought of.  She is going to submit my info. to her professor and get back to me.  I'll keep you informed when I know something.  One of my biggest fears....getting off all these meds.  I've already had to kick another really strong pain killer since all of this happened and it is NOT a good experience.  My prayers are with you all.  Take care.
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I had the spinal fusion done about 11 months ago. Big mistake.I too experience more pain (even now ) than what I did before surgery. My feet and hand also go to sleep all the time. Dr said  X-rays were fine. I got tired of the run around and the disbeliefs from the Dr. I just stopped going. I will find a 2nd opinion. I wish I had left well enough alone!!
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m1223456789 or what ever your name is. YOU are******* up and need severe help. This is not in our heads guys. I had lumbar spine fusion surgery in May 2006 and I am worse off and in chronic pain. My surgeon told me to bite the bullet and deal with the pain. I would like to get him on the table and cut his back open and see if he sings a different tune. I was very outgoing, played sports, had a professional career. Now I am in constant pain, I walk with a cane and cannot work anymore. We just have to take one day at a time. God Bless you guys, you are not alone!!!!!!!!!!!!
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The last advice i received from my ortho-surgeon was to think seriously about  lumbar fusions.He said I would most likely end up in more pain after healing.
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176803 tn?1198543198
  I wish you well and good luck. I know how you feel having a doctor like you do.  My surgeon wouldn't give me anything more than vicodin 500 after surgery and I was complaining of the pain from the moment I awoke from surgery.  While in the hospital, I got demoral AND 1 Vike every 4 hours. I was in extreme pain and went home in worse condition with pains now down both legs.  Still, my surgeon refused to give me pills that worked. I had to have my surgeon release my meds to my family doc. so I could function.  My back just got worse and worse and the trips to ER I was treated like I was there just to get pills. Sounds crazy, but I had to go to ER and threaten suicide eventually just to get something to help. Pain level 9-10 constant will drive anyone crazy.
  As for the butt head above that says surgery works.  For most people it does, but there is a reason our surgeons make us sign all those papers before surgery releasing libility incase it does not.  Thats one thing that frustrated me. My surgeon treating me that way (and it got worse) as if all surgerys are sucessfull and it was in my head. Well, I wanted to shove knives in his back and twist them for a few days and tell him "its not that bad".  Then, I finally got another MRI 6 weeks post op. Guess what? Another herniated disk and I need a 2 level fusion now. In my head?
    Also, advice that has seemed to help a few.  Sometimes being totaly honest with your FAMILY doctor helps.  My doc. knows my addictive past and I told him I don't care if I get addicted to the pills because I had no quality of life and was miserable.  Our bodys can build a tollerance to the drugs where we need more or something new.  I am finally up to 8mg of dilaudid every 6 hours and am able to function finally.  Just tell your doc. you know the possible consequences of the narcotics, your NOT taking them to the streets, and your not getting them from the streets and you have no quality of life. Maybe your doc. will listen and give you something that works. If not, find another doc and tell him/her the truth of why you are looking for a new doctor, because you need more help than your current doctor will give. I have been through it and have seen docs. that were not comfortable with it, but once I started being completely honest to them, have found docs with compassion.  Good luck.
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Very cruel comment to make about someones pain problem!! have you had spinal fusion surgery??? I expect not! I am 6 weeks post fusion L4 L5 and it is a long and painful road to recovery and everyone has different pain tolerence levels. I find the bone graft site is the most painful and having to sleep flat on my back every night. The pain is like a burning hot knife passing through the hip muscles and it is just horrible. I see my specialist in a couple of weeks and fingers crossed the fusion has taken as I wouldnt want to go through all this again. Good to find a site with others in the same situation, have any of you had the bone graft pain and how long did it last, Im told it can be anything from 6mths to 1 year. Good luck to all who are about to have the surgery or are like me and recovering from it.
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I had my spinal fusion way back in 1986.  I originally hurt it in '81 but not all of my tests were conclusive.  It took 5 years for them to do the surgery.  In the meantime I was begging my doctor just to cut me open and take a look.  Of course he wouldn't do that.  Unfortunately the surgery was a bust.  I still have pain in my back and leg (numbness too).  My doctor has been great though.  He thinks that because it took so long to do the surgery that there was irreversible nerve damage.  Plus, he warned me before hand that the surgery may not be successful.  (You have to remember that this was way back when they first really got into doing the spinal fusions).  
So now I live on Darvocet.  I have been for years.  What I'm afraid of is that I'm building a tolerance to them and my doctor probably won't give me anything stronger.
To all of you that have had this surgery, I know your pain is real.  You need to find a doctor that will listen to you.  If it takes doctor shopping, do it!  Your physical and mental health depend on it!
To the person up above that stated all surgeries are successful...you don't know what you're talking about.  Everyone is different with different pain levels.  Maybe yours is set to high.  I know mine is and I still feel the pain quite a bit even on the pain meds.  Think before you criticize!!!
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I went to the pain doc today for my month check up. He said some thing interesting. I thought all this time the reason i couldn't urinate properly was from the meds. It turns out its from the nerve damage. does any one else have this problem?
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176803 tn?1198543198
  Posting that is hi-jacking this persons forum and would get more replies under your own posted topic.  But to answer your question....YES. And there is more too it.
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I have also had a fusion done on L5 5 weeks ago. I am only 31 and have been suffering with my back for 8 years!! I had a microdiscectomy last year due to severe weakness in my left leg. After this it all went down hill and i still had the weakness and pins and needles in my leg but my consultant said he'd done his job as the pain had gone!!! A couple of weeks later the pain returned and i saw my Doc he prescribed me tablets (Lyrica, Tramadol, etc....) and for the last 12 months have lived on them. My Doc arranged for me to have a MRI scan which revealed there was still some of the disc pressing on the nerve. I had another microdiscectomy 6 weeks ago this was not successful as i was unable to move and the pain was unbearable! Another MRI scan was done and yet again there was still some disc there! So the day after my first operation i was having another for the same thing! Yet again it didn't work so 6 days later i was told that a spinal fusion would be the only thing to help me and that the operation would be done that day! I was also told that the damage done to my left leg was permanent. The fusion was done and after this i started to have symptoms in my right leg. I was told that because i had had 3 operations in a week there was a lot of swelling and it could take up to 4 weeks to go down. Now 5 weeks on i still have the pain in my right leg, my left leg constantly aches, i have a burning sensation in my lower back and still suffer considerable pain!!! I feel for you and i think i know what you are going through, i hope that everything works out for you, good luck and god bless xx          
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I also have had a spinal fusion of L3-4, 5, S-1, back in 2001. I still cont to have back pain. I work as a nurse and everyday I am in pain. My surgeon took a MRI and that now says that the disc above the fusion has gone bad and that this is "normal" because it is taking all of the pressure of the disc's above it. So now I am looking at another fusion. I understand all of you that are saying you have pain and that nothing takes it away. I am taking Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet everyday. Everyday I get out of bed and can barely walk until I take a handful of meds to kick start the pain mangement. I keep telling myself that one of these days the pain is going to get better and go away but everyday the pain continues and some days is unbearable to the point that all i can do is lay in my bed and hope that the meds i am taking will just put me to sleep forever. So to all of you that think "it is in our heads" PLEASE STOP and walk a day in our shoes before you judge us by saying we are drug seeking or that we have no pain. Our pain is real and it is unfair that we have had a surgery to fix our back pain and now it is worse or as bad as prior to surgery. So to all of us suffering...Pray to God that they will find something to help us. Good luck and God Bless you all
TLnurse
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I have had spinal fusion to correct spondylothesis about 11years ago. I felt great about 7 months later, along with the burning skin sensations, crawling ants, and constant lower back pain. Now 11 years later I have been experiencing a very sharp really pain stabbing pain in my tailbone! It is horrible!  I too have had X-rays (all looks good) and regular steroid injections, however this "new" pain is bad. I do not want another surgery....and I am sick of pills. what about alternative therapy like acupuncture? Any ideas? Good luck and best wishes to you all
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probably muscular
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I am also a nurse.  I had a full fusion on S1 and a stablity system place at L3-L5.  My surgery was 7/17/07.  I had a failed discetomy at S1 on 6/06.  That one put me out of work.  I have not worked since.  I am 33 and have 3 kids.  My hubby is in Iraq as a cilivian contractor so I can "get better & back to work.  I have intense pains vertically across the upper buttock, bilaterally, and down to the sacral bone.  Some leg & hip pain.  I am trying very hard.  I have been suffering with this chronic pain since 2004.  I have been taking a wide range of meds since 2004: percocet, lorect, tried lyrica, tried cymbalta, flexiril & soma.  As well as ativain 3 tabs 0.5mg w/ restoril @ hs.  Currently I am taking oxycotin 20mg bid, percocet 10/650mg q4-6 hrs, soma 350mg q 8hrs.  Sometimes tramadol if all else fails.  The ativian & restoril just help me sleep.  I need help, I need guidance.  I am afraid of the work/ narcotic/ board of nursing ****.  Nursing is all I have.  I have chosen not to work or even try becasue no pain meds are impossible for me right now.  I am scared..am I ever going to get better.  Everyone PT, MD friends & family say I take too much.  I have a physical tolerance to these meds after taking them for so many years.  The oxycotins I have reduced from three tabs tid to two a day.  Do you have any advise?  NC nurse?
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I had a two level fusion done 8/22/06 on the l4-l5 and had my hard ware removed 7/17/07. Im just on vicodin and some muscle relaxers. The pain continues down my left leg and lower back. Not all surgeries work and at times I wish i didnt have the surgery done at all. I hurt worse now than I did a year ago. Ive been dealing with this pain since 2004 and things dont seem to be getting better. Hopefully pt will give some relief in the near future. For that fella that say all surgires work must be on some good drugs. I know the feeling of pain you all write about.
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268575 tn?1242906671
hi,im facing the same surgury as you had l4 -l5 not sure what to do,im in pain everyday,some days better then others....only way i get relief is to totally get off my feet,if i dont get the surgury they will send me to a pain clinic,not sure what they do  there.im on oxycodone 10mg and 5mg breakthrus.im afraid of making a mistake.are there any success storys,will i get worse from not getting the nerve released.i have no pressure in my bladder.thank god im emtying.i go to pool pt and land.what kind of pain was you in before the surgury
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I had a l4-l5 fusion 7-03-07 and it really has been hard.  I wanted to feel better right away but did not.  I am still on pain meds but are gradually coming down from them.  The big problem that I have had is the muscle spasms.  On the bright side I have no "old" pain that I had before surgery...so I am hoping that I am a sucess story that is just being impatient.
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Just had L5/S1 fusion done on 07/05/07.  Before the surgery had terrible sciatica in my left leg.  I am much better off than beforehand.  It will never be perfect but if I can maintain the way I am right now, I can live with it.

To everyone here, I understand the pain too.  I was a semi-pro cyclist and mixed martial arts fighter.  It would hurt less to take 10 punches a day from Mike Tyson in his prime that to deal with the pain a lot of you deal with.  Do what you can, and hang in there.  

This was a life changing experience for me.  I cannot do any of the stuff I did before, I spend a lot more time at home 'taking it easy' and have become closer to my children than I ever imagined possible.  If this is what it took for me to do this, then the sacrifice is worthwhile.  Always try and look for a light in the darkest of situations.  
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I had L5-S1 anterior spinal fusion with cages on 6/19/07.  I have good weeks & bad weeks. I have a lot of irritation right now in my lower back with some tingling/numbness in my lower leg & foot. Walking is my best position. Sleeping is very difficult 3-4 hours per night at best. The Dr. says my x-rays look fine. I've talked to people who've had similar surgery. Some recover much quicker than others. I talked to a 23 year old who experienced pain for 4-5 months & recovered well after that. I'm trying not to rely on pain medication but sometimes it is unavoidable. It was better a couple of weeks ago, but now it is tough to deal with. I know this has worked for many people. Of course I would not expect too many success stories on a site like this. It is tough to read some of these stories & not get discouraged. Good luck to all..............
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