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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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I can understand where you're all coming from. I had a bad car wreck in April of 03 and shattered my femur and had some other injuries as well. I actually did not find out until about a year and a half later that I also had two fractures, spondilolithesis, and pars defects of my L5-S1. There went my dreams of playing D1 soccer!

So they said fusion was the only option as my back was far from in alignment and I was having quite a bit of pain. I had the surgery and the recovery was very long and hard. I was 19 at the time. I am 22 now and live in constant pain. After everything with my accident I had been on pain killers so long that I have at this point discontinued them. I feel that they are too easy to become dependant upon and that I cannot function as well mentally with the narcotic fog over me. That said I'm on flexoral and naproxin for inflammation and muscle relaxation.

Lately things have just been too much to handle with pain in my low back and hips, pelvis, and radiating tingling sensations down my legs. I also have a mild incontinence issue which presents it's self when I have overexerted my back. My last set of X-rays showed that I now have some disc narrowing and compression going on in the L4-L5 space. Physical Therapy has proven pointless and I'm not willing to fall even further behind in school by undergoing another fusion at this point.

I did however go in today to begin a series of steroid injections. I have a very high pain threshold and thought this would be easy but I guess I have a lot of scar tissue and the Dr. had to manuver around my existing instrumentation to locate the disc space. Needless to say I nearly passed out, which is very uncharacteristic. I'm hoping this helps ease the pain and that maybe I can get through things a little easier. I take sleeping meds so that I manage to get a little sleep at night. I wish you all luck and encourage anyone considering spinal fusion to look into the many varieties available at this time. Some are better than others and new techniques are evolving everday, including a new one which involves flexible instrumentation which reduces some of the stress placed on above fusion vertebrae. If only we'd all held out a little longer!

I'm 22 now and I'm holding out hope that I can get all this taken care of before I have kids. Wish me luck!
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268575 tn?1242906671
im seeing my doctor tomorrow,nerosurgen....still dont know what to do
everytime i think i dont need surgury i start in pain again,i feel like im a whimp compared to some of the storys on here.but my family needs me,we cant live on what i get from ssi.i cant leave it all on my wife.afraid of losing home,im in aqua therapy,i do stretches that ive been taught from pt.im on 10mg oxycodone and 5mg breakthru.i need a l4 l5 surgury and im afraid ill be worse then i am.....i just dont see how i can help my family if i cant stay on my feet long...
i feel i should just leave it in gods hands and get it
signed
dont know what to do in R.I.
alinpain
p.s. if anyone can help me in my decision,or any good storys about l4 l5 fusion
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I had L5-S1 fusion on August 24.  Had failed micro disc in Dec 06 and failed diskectomy in Jan 07.  Pain down my left leg has been severe throughout the last couple of years.  It is still early, but so far my leg pain has definitely diminished.  I continue to have some leg discomfort.  Dr said he couldn't get all of the disc fragments due to their close proximity to the root nerve but that my body will absorb these fragements over time (has anyone else heard anything similar to this?).  He said if pain continues he will prescribe steriods -- he's very reluctant to do so since the vertbre has not fused yet.  I am quite nervous that the residual pain is from scarring and nerve damage.  I take vicodine as needed.  I have MS contin, Bacfilen, Lyrica but often do not take anything.  I still have a popping (like knuckles cracking) sound in my lower back.  I have virtually no core strength given the duration of my condition, but I do walk a lot now.  X-rays now show everything as normal.  

It so easy to allow expectations to exceed what's really possible with this procedure.  Given the amount of pain I was in prior to the procedure, I too had significant hope that a fusion would take away the pain.  The fact is my back have been permanently altered.  The leg pain may or may not go away, and if it does, recovery is sure to be slow.  I am trying to simply take one day at a time, do the things I'm supposed to do, and try not to get discouraged if I have a bad day.  God bless each of you.  You're in my prayers.    

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268575 tn?1242906671
thank you,for your imput on these fusion operations.and my prayers are with you to and every one out there who has to go thru such hell...........well,today is the day,ill see how it goes with the doc.at this point i still dont know what to do.all i can say  on the last two operations to avoid a fusion,i didnt do what i was supposed to do,i felt good and started almost right away doing stuff around the house and riding my motorcycle.lot of pounding on my back,if only i can get one more chance i swear ill listen to everything my doc tells me.......by the way he is from what i understand one of the best and i trust him,he is the one who did all four of my surgurys,by the way i also had two surgurys in my neck,one in the front and one in the back,which resulted in a titanium plate and bolts in my neck,first op was the plate second op had extreme pain like i never felt before 24/7.pain would not stop til he did surgury.........pain is gone,thank god............left with my hand sort of crippled got atrophy in it,which my muscles are like going away..can make a fist,but extremly weak to open.but i tell you it beats the pain i was in.iwas crying it was so bad.....i never wanted surgury so bad as i did on that day,sorry for bending your ear but i hope to be able to give some people some insight on what im going thru and hope my info helps others like all of your storys helped me
wish me luck and continue to pray as i wil for all of you
alinpain
ps.please keep the storys coming on l4 l5 fusion hopefully good storys,but ill read the bad also
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Be careful to walk as much as your body allows. After my L5-S1 surgery on 6/19/07 I was probably walking(or at least pacing) most of the day since sitting was my least comfortable position(and still is). I also have that "popping" & cracking at my lower back. I hoped it would diminish with the surgery but it hasn't seemed to. All of the Dr.'s I saw seemd to downplay any significance of the popping/cracking, but I really wonder about it's role in my condition. I was also told to avoid the steroids if possible as it will slow the healing process. It will reduce the pain in the short term however. Be very careful with every move during the daytime. There are so many movements in a day that any misstep could be a setback. I know, I've had a few. I really am in bad shape for the past 10 days since  my 5 year old ran into me from behind while I was walking & didn't see him coming. I hope the effects from that are temporary diminish. So far they haven't.

What type of fusion did you opt for on your L5-S1?

Can anyone tell me what medication they have had the best results for sleeping? Vicoden & Percocet only seem to numb or mellow me out. I had earlier success with Ambien, but I have had to take it 4 of the last 6 nights, and have only gotten 3-4 hours of sleep each time. Can't stand those long overnights wide awake, nor the long "foggy" days, like I'll have today. I have to work through this to support the family. I hope everyone sees improvement shortly/
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Thanks for your response.  I work with nurses who specialize in back surgeries, and they told me the same thing -- walk as much as possible -- listen to your body and don't over do it.  Apparently walking strengthens the core while increasing blood flow which helps healing.  Interestingly, the more I walk, the less popping -- which again may speak to the fact that my core is very weak and needs significant rehab.  I also know what you're talking about regarding the "many movements."  I've been careful there too; although, the thing that's hurt the most is the occasional and unpredictable sneeze or cough.  I had a posterior with instrumentation.  

I've had some sleep issues.  Interestingly, it seems I've only had problems at night when I've napped during the day.  Some of the daytime naps have been completely unavoidable, but I've found when I force myself to stay up, I sleep better at night.  Vicoden in the evening has also helped diminish any discomfort that may awaken me.  It's definitely a good day/bad day deal for me.  

Again, I appreciate your posting.  I too pray for everyone's recovery.  
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268575 tn?1242906671
have any of you guys tried a natural substance called................MELATONIN
its what we all have in our body that puts us to sleep
babys have a lot thats why they sleep so much,but as you get older you produce less and less
hope this info helps those who are trying to get a good nights sleep.......let me know how anyone makes out
god bless all and you all are in my prayers
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i have had two surgerys in two years. was told x-ray looked good and pain meds were the reason i hurt. have more pain and other things are happening now but the dr. will not even return calls Dont really know whats next
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L5-S1 Spinal Fushion on 8-31-07, week 3 of recovery.  Age 32, with 2 kids.
Before surgery, I had minor back pain, but severe right leg nerve pain, standing more than 5 minutes caused weakness and limping on top of sever pain. When I would lie down the pain would almost disappear. I was afraid to get up. I had been dealing with this pain for about 8 years, every doc. I went to told me it was muscle, (take drugs and rest) bull ****.  no one believed me that there was a real problem. 2 years ago it got real bad, and 6 months ago I almost needed a wheelchair. I told my doc. that she had to order a MRI. The next day she called me in and had me go to a surgeon in Boston MA. right away, We did 3 injections, with in 5 months and I had very little luck. As of this time my only med. has been Motrin. I did not like the feeling of pain killers. My Surgeon told me my only choice was a Fushion. With in 6 months of my MRI I was going in for surgery.

The pain I have now is unreal, the nerve pain in my leg is horrible, the front of my lower right leg, foot and big toe are untouchable. If a sheet passes over my leg I have to hold my breath to stop from screaming. I have thought about self amputation for my big toe. I thought the pain was bad before, well I was way wrong. I saw the surgeon yesterday, 9-17-07, he has ordered me a cat scan said better than MRI for checking the nerve, to see if a bolt is touching my nerve, if so I may need another surgery to fix it, he also is sending me to the pain doc, to see if there is something better for me. As we all know pain meds do nothing for the nerve, and my back does not really even bother me that much. (My med as of today are, methylprednisolone (steroid for 1 week for nerve), Neurontin for the nerve 300 mg 3X a day, Vicodin 750 1 tab every 4-6 hrs., of course a multi vitimin,  and I got ambien yesterday to help me sleep but I was afraid to take it. Maybe tonight. I only sleep about 3-4 hrs a night, my husband sleeps in the spare room because I toss and turn with little sleep alllllllll night. If I knew it was going to feel worse after surgery I may have choose the wheelchair.  When do I get my life back, I miss my daily routine.
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268575 tn?1242906671
im so sorry to hear what your going through,hopefully it is the bolt or something they can fix,
you will be in my prayers
godbless...al
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i had a spinal fusion done on L5 S1 on 8/14/07, and a microdisectomy on 7/27/06.  I am still recovering and I am still in pain.  I have leg pain in my right leg in my thig and around my knee.  Can hardly lift it.  I didn't have this pain before surgery.  It seems as if you get a new pain after the surgery.  My doc says that my surgery was a success and that I should have little to no restrictions.  I don't know what planet he just came from.  I still hurt.  I am 31 yrs old, no kids, want them though.  It seems as if my life will never be the same prior to the car accident 3/14/06.  I am on oxycodon 350 mg, Zanaflex 4 mg, and Lyrica 150 mg.  I feel everyones pain.  I am glad I found this site seems that I am not alone.  God Bless everyone.....EH
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you say your pain is different,are you more functionable then before the op.
im facing l4 l5 fusion next month and very worried about it.but you know there has got to be a lot of success storys out there,we just happen to be on a site where the majority of people are hurt and failed op.post op.
if anyone out there is a success story please start writing in so people like ericaj2007,giveitback,and i can have better hope on our future.by the way you say your taking 350mg. of oxycodone.that seems like a awful lot,im on 10mg and 5mg. breakthrough
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I am a 39 yr old, professional children's photographer and a mother of 4 children.  I have been dealing with back problems since I was a teenager.  I first had a car accident in 93 that really started the major problems of a herniated disk at one level, then a fall I had in 95 that ruptured that disk and herniated 2 others and I spent 6 days in the hospital in major pain before having a cortisone inj.  In May of 96 I had a Lamenecomy (sp) at L4/L5.  It was a huge success for me till 2004.  I then had another cortisone injection and it helped me out a lot till now.  

The doctors I was seeing in Seattle, before we moved to Austin in 04, told me that the only option for me was fusion surgery.  When we moved down here, I started having major pain again so I found the Dr I am seeing now, and he told me that I need "Disk Replacement" surgery.  I was sooooo happy and felt such relief that there was another option, cuz I knew I did not want anything to do with fusion!  The only problem was that I needed the replacements done at 3 levels, and his "Disk Replacement" was only approved for 1 level.  So what we decided to do was do the Cortisone Inj to hopefully get me by till he got the approval for multiple levels.  

I did that injection in 10/2004 and for the most part it helped.  I still had pain EVERYDAY, but it would be worse some days than others.  I was still having a very hard time sleeping, and would have to take a vicodin to be able to have a decent nights rest and was able to get by on Tylenol and Motrin during the days for the most part.

It is now September 07 and I am in MAJOR pain again.  I went through all of last week being hardly able to walk, much less take care of my kids or run my business!  I have had small episodes like this over the last 3 years, but they would only last for a day or 2 and get better... this one has been going on now for 2 weeks.  

So I went and saw my Dr again, that I had not seen since my inj in 10/04 when he told me I could do the disk replacement surgery.  He took one look at the SAME MRI he was looking at back in 10/04 and actually looked shocked at what he saw, and said... "oh.. there is NO WAY you could do the disk replacement... your only option is to fuse all three lower levels of your spine!"  He sent me for a new MRI.  I am noticing the popping and grinding in my back as has been mentioned by others here.  My new MRI shows that i have really bad "Degenerative Disk Disease"  and at L4/L5 I am bone on bone... there is no space at all and not much at all on the levels above and below.  

So now I am all upset, scared and confused as to what to do.  After reading the posts on this thread, I am SCARED to DEATH to have the fusion done, but I don't think I can just live with this kind of pain!  So I have gotten on the internet looking for help and answers!

I have a question to each and everyone of you... and please answer honestly and openly, as I am sure nobody will judge you (or at least I sure hope they won't)... I just want to see if I can see a trend/pattern here.  My Dr told me that my weight is an issue with my back.  I know I am over weight, but I am not morbidly obese by any means!  I am 5'4 and weigh 196.  I carry my weight all over my body, very proportioned.   Are the rest of you on here that are having this chronic pain and problems with your low back also heavy?  I am wanting to know that if I do get down to the nity gritty with myself and do my very best to lose 50 pounds is it really going to help, or am I going to still have these problems to this extent??  

I have about decided to have another cortisone injection and put off the fusion as long as I possibly can... I have just heard that over time the cortisone is not good on your hips.  I am hoping that is more so for the people that need it every few weeks, not once a year or so.

Please help me out with my decisions!   I wish each and every one of you on here, and the ones reading that are not making any comments, just trying to get info as I was.... all the luck in the world in getting your pain under control.  God Bless you!
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I had L4-L5 fusion 3 weeks ago and I have to say that for the most part, my back feels great-I suffered for 1 1/2 years before making this decision. My problem is that I did not have leg pain before the surgery, maybe weakness sometimes but not pain. I awoke from surgery with my left leg almost completely numb. I was told there was some nerve issue there and that some work had been done on the nerve during surgery. No big deal, could still move leg/feet/toes, could walk, did not hurt. Well...now that numbness has turned to PAIN!! Someone else mentioned that the skin of her foot and toe hurt so badly that a sheet could sound the pain. YES!!! It is my lower leg, foot, toes. My toes feels huge, my calf is half the size of my other, but the worst is that I can't sleep. I have tried everything...ice, pain meds (which I didn't know do not work for nerves) I am also on nerve meds 3 pills 3X daily that if these are helping, I would be very scared to stop. I complained to the Dr. today and he started me on sterroids. I am hopeful, but I also know the relief of sterroids that is often quickly followed by the same pain. Would love to hear from someone similar, also keep thinking about those dreaded blood clots, really don't think this is what I have, anyone???
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Multi level ADR much more progressive and advanced in Europe. Three excellent sites located below. This may really help you out. Cost means little when you consider your health for the rest of your life, even if you have to take out a loan or second mortgage. I hope you get this message.

Take care,

Geoff


www.getadr.com

www.globalpatientnetwork.com

www.alphaklinik.com
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Everyone on here, understandably we are here for answers and support, as spinal fusion surgery is such a vague medical area. Why are there so few guarantees on outcomes? There is a space station orbiting our planet that humans travel back and forth between, yet spinal surgery cannot be perfected!?

I am 5 weeks post fusion L4-S1, and honestly, the constant misery of pain and an unstable back has gone. I should have done this 2 years ago!

My back pain was at least 5 years. It 'clunked' constantly. The sensory loss spread upwards as the pain spread downwards. Sleep was disturbed everytime I tried to shift I would awaken in pain. Sitting was the only relief I got. Standing was limited to a couple of minutes at a time. The wave of exhastion and pain that comes over you when you suffer from this is something only we know ;)

So I couldnt do much in the house. Shopping, cooking, washing dishes, decorating, just waiting in a queue, waiting to get served at a bar.  Stopped clothes shopping as couldnt cope with standing up. Getting ready to go out would bring the pain on from just trying on outfits.
No-one asks about sex, no one seems to discuss it, but that was affected too, and I had to develop coping strategies.  Anyone who has an unstable back will relate !

Everything I did was overshadowed by this pain. I did pilates, swam and kept my core rock hard.
I maintained a physically demanding job thinking I could manage.There was NO way I was having fusion with all the miserable stories you read on the net. Uh-uh.

But in the end I couldnt take it anymore. The pain spread to the fronts of my thighs. I knew I was a ticking clock before it spread up further and we look at the cauda equina scenario. I cried for days at a time making my decision to have the fusion. I was absolutely terrified of what I may (or may not)feel when I awoke.

Immediately afterwards my feet were warm, I could feel my legs again. empty my bladder normally. The twitching has stopped. My posture is realigned, I am mobile, capable, permitted to walk, can stand for half an hour! Yet still not permitted to drive or lift. I take painkillers to be comfortable rather than be a martyr. Now though, I have a numb right lower leg that is since the operation. Not yet sure why, but I am only slightly concerned at this point. I cant say it is easy, and I am not through recovering yet.  

Last week I lay crying for 3 days as laying was the only position that was bearable.The back pain has gone. The left leg pain has gone. The right leg gets tired when walking and aches. The pain is now localised to the operation site.

Get a good Dr but understand that sometimes - permanant nerve damage can occur BEFORE your op by whatever condition you may have. Empower yourself by learning and understand what your body is going through.

For me, I have had to learn managing it all myself. Be patient - recuperation is slow, go easy on yourself and REST AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! If you overdo it - you WILL know about it for the next few days, and that core pain is not nice.

If anyone wants to chat further (UK perspective)  want tips on how I coped pre-op and post-op then
get in touch.
It isnt all negative :)
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I understand where your coming from... I had my L4, L5 S1 fusion with a cage in May 07, still @ 5 months out I have pain, when the weather changes is the worst.... Now that winter is coming I think I'm screwed. No pun intended....

Before surgery I was in unbearable pain and my feet and toes where cold/blue.. I would fall/trip because I had no feeling in my feet. When I woke from my 8hrs of surgery they were nice and pink and warm...I had forgot what my sock felt like!... I was up walking the halls of the Medical Center the next day without a back brace...home 4 days later and able to drive 8wks later... Still no long distance trips. I was back @ work 7wks out, desk job only.

My only major problem NOW is I have a pressure in my lower back that is unbearable...it is like a something is push my spine and then the pain and weakness in my leg is better as long as the WEATHER IS NICE AND WARM.. then I popping those meds, just to move out of the bed.


Good luck on your recovery.....If you like keep me informed on you recovery...
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I had an L4-L5 fusion 8/9/04.  I can say for those of you with hip bone graft surgeries I can sympathize.  I was in pain for about 6 months after surgery.  I use pain as a relative term for hell considering I am one of those rare people whom traditional narcotics have no effect on.  After this hell, I had about 4-5 months gloriously pain free.  Since then I have daily right sided weakness and shooting pain from the nerve damage, my lower back continually throbs and while some days are better than others it never goes away.  For those of you who are recently post op, have faith, everyone heals at a different rate.  Not everyone who has spinal fusions shares these experiences, it is a cure for some people.  I just know that I am now nearly 22, I had this condition present symptoms for the last 11 years, and yet was misdiagnosised for 7 of them(dumb rural doc said I had two fused discs, ortho surgeon said that was a lie.)  I just wish that there were some better alternatives out there for those of us with this horrid never ending pain.  I survive only through very supportive friends and family.  I can only hope that the medical techniques and research may give some of us hope soon :I
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I had L4, L5, and S1 fusion. A neurosurgine diagnosed my condition and performed the surgery. This was in April 06. Things went perfectly, started PT a month later, lost 50 lbs (down from 340), felt great. After about 6-7 weeks I started feeling a new pinch, by mid July I was back in the hospital. Long story short, a pedicle screw had broken, caused all sorts of trouble, had second surgery in Dec. 06 to fix some of the problems (bone spur, blood clot, etc.). By mid Jan. 07, having serious pain again. Pictures showed movement around hardware. March 07, a third surgery, Dr. removed all hardware except ends of two pedicle screws which had broken off in verts. Nerve pain is now gone, now have bad scaring and muscle trouble, plus gained the 50 lbs back. Been a night mare! My Neuro. Dr. was great!! The hardware failed, anyone ever heard of that? I have the hardware, would like to find out if it was defected, can anyone help? Anyway, for all those still in pain... see a Neuro. Dr., and go to PT, it works!! I'll pray for you, even though I don't know you, GOD does!!
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I am a "retired" Medical Assistant and my story is a lot like yours.  I am experiencing "new pain" in the tail bone, rectal and vaginal area not to mention both my feet hurt like crazy!  It hurts so bad to come up from a sitting position and I can't sit for more than 30 minutes without hurting so bad I can't stand it.  My Doc says I need a fusion on the L4 thru S1.  Says he won't do surgery unless I am off my narcotics.  I tried to ween myself off but I couldn't stand the pain from my back, legs, feet, etc.  I don't know what to do from here.  I would love to be off the meds but I can't handle the pain until surgery.  Plus, I doubt he will use any strong meds after surgery if I detox off my meds.  Mind you, I ALWAYS take them as directed, and my primary care phys. prescribes these meds to me.  I am careful, but am made to feel like an addict and I know otherwise.  I know how these people feel in this forum, pain is real!  I have had one family member commit suicide from the results of back pain and know of another man that did the same.  

As for my weight, I lost 20 pounds and it didn't help me a bit.  I am 5'6" and now weigh 155-160 pounds.  Loosing weight may help others but didn't do much for me but boost my self confidence.

Hope all goes well with you and everyone else in this forum.
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I am glad and saddened to see these posts. Glad because I know I am not the only one, sad because we are suffering. I had a fusion at my L4/L5 in Feb 2007. I did this for lower back pain only. I had NO issues in my legs. I was told I also needed it at my L5/S1, but the surgeon didn't want to stretch me that much.

Immediately after having the surgery, when I woke up I knew something was wrong. My lower legs and feet had the same sensations as the lady above that thought of self amputating. It is ashame that really no one can believe this unless they have lived it. I had no balance and my feet felt like over inflated balloons. It is still like this.

As for pain meds, I have been on them since the surgery. I have developed a resistance so I have to take alot and they hardly work.  Just yesterday my surgeon, without calling me and telling me why or offering other alternatives decided to deny any more. I took the Lyrica mentioned above, thank God for insurance as a month supply is about 700.00. But, ended being allergic to it. Don't be surprised if you take this and then stop if you have a reaction while your body adjusts. I did.

I hope the best for all you sufferers out there. If you find relief I hope that you can share with the group where you got it at.

As for the so called surgeon, and I would post his name except I don't think we can :-(, he didn't care. After running many tests because I nagged him to death, some of which were horribly painful, all he could say is I had nerve issues that will heal themselves. Yeah RIGHT!

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I just had anterior L5/S1 fusion 2 weeks ago and since I woke up, I have had severe pain down both legs.  I had a bilateral lamy/diskectomy in 3/06 and Cauda Equina Syndrome from a massive central herniation.  I have been in pain and numb ever since.  I have been taking Lyrica for over a year and have been taking Morphine and Percoset for several months to help manage the pain.  Now, after the fusion, my legs are so weak and heavy, I can barely walk 10 feet.  I had an MRI today because neuro doesn't think that is right.  I see now that severe leg pain is pretty common.  I was never told about this.  I was told that it is not a perfect fix and I may have some residual pain but he never said it would be worse!  If I had thought that it would be worse, I would have never done this.  This was my last resort.  I had tried facet injections, ESI's, meds, PT, you name it.  I put this fusion off for almost a year.  Now I hope that I don't regret having it done.  Will this ever go away?  I am afraid that I am going to need to be in a wheelchair if this continues.  

Valerie
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Your muscle spasms may be related to a magnesium or calcium deficiency somewhat. check with your doctor for advice.
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I had C-4 through C-7 spinal fusion in 2001. While awaiting approval from my Insurance my transverse and ascending colon died from a vulvus. They were removed and a month later they did the spinal fusion. The partial colectomy cause a graet deal of vomiting and susequently my fusion never fused quite tight enough. Then one thing lead to another...the colectomy cause a prolapsed uterus.( needed a Hysterectomy)  then 2 rectocel repairs surgeries...which cause a torturous urethra which needed a stent. Then the remaining colon never regained any function so they did a Total open colectomy in 2005. Which left my abdominal wall so boggie that I couldn't expel gas so they tighten the wall 2006...then the skin on my neck had never adhered after my original spinal fusion so I had that repaired in 2006. Somewhere in the midst of another surgery I also had a hernia repair which meant reopening a small potion of my abdominal tightening. Anyway I am no stranger to surgery :)  Recently my forearms have had periods of weakness. All the pain comes from the top of my forearms just before the bend in my arm. Both sides. I can feel the pull of the tendon there and the nerve pain. In addition the "pins and needles" feeling across my shoulders have increased to "always" from occasionally. I am scheduled to see a new Primary next month. My insurance was changed through work recently.  I am 49 years old and was just wondering if it might just be an age thing or related to my previous surgeries. I am average weight (135) and 5'8 and walk daily for exercise. I'm sure my exercise could stand to be increased but with the pain I get distracted and irritated and seem to end my walks earlier than I would like. Has anyone ever experienced this type of progressive deterioration following a cervical spinal fusion?
Thank you for any feed back
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Almost 24 months beyond my L5-S1 fusion(12/05) and 18 months of pain management.  I found the source of my pain...the posterior hardware (pedicle screws and rods).  Surgical removal (09/07) of the hardware released that Lumbar triangle of pain.  I still have some hip and knee pain which is a result of L4 and L3 bulging in reaction to the hardware and associated muscle tightness, but hope that over time it resolves itself.  

I took a risk, my Neurosurgeon gave me a 50/50 chance that my condition would improve or remain the same. The 2nd surgery moved my poor outcome to a good outcome in surgery.  So, in some cases its not always about scar tissue, but it is about getting the posterior hardware out... You have the right to have your hardware removed after 12 months post-op.  

Wishing you all well and happy holidays.  
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I had spinal fusion L4 L5, 5/2007after severe pain started in my right leg and continued to my back.  Tried shots and also had a microdisectomy  11/2006.  

I am still in pain but was sent to a pain doctor.  I was taking hydrocodone and the pain Dr. moved me to 4 pills after I had been taking 6  pills for months.  I am about to die from the change of meds and pain.   He charged $500 to see me for 15 minutes and now it is Christmas and all are gone.  Called by back Dr. and left a message to change pain drs. I would have thought he would have slowly taken me off of the meds.........................................................................
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I'm 48 and was always in great health. I injured my neck and both shoulders, all requiring surgery on all three. I had C-4 thru C-7 fused and a plate and six screws. My left shoulder had two screws put in and all my ligs taken out. My right shoulder had 20% of the bone shaved off. Its been a little over two years now and I'm in pain everyday. I'm on Baclofen to help with spasms but, I have them at some level all the time. I can't get any relief.
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I was born with Hydrocephalus and two spinal fusions.  C 2,3 &4 and L 4 & 5.  I have been  in constant pain for over 30 yrs. and especially when it's damp out.  I also have tendonitis in my rotator cuffs in both shoulders from stretching to reach things that are up too high, and from caring for my 55 yr. old husband who has had Parkinson's since he was 44.  The only advice I can offer all of you is to try to pace yourselves and not to lift more than 20 pounds at a time if possible.  I know my case is different from all of you because I have never had " normal" mobility.  The pain didn't start until after my first child was born.  She compressed my sciatic nerve in my right hip by pinching it between her head and my hipbone as did her brother almost 4 yrs. later.  They are happy , healthy adults now.  Just try to eat well, rest when you can and find a hobby that makes you focus on it and not on the pain , even for just an hour a day , it does help !  Try to stay strong, it's difficult , but try !
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What bugs me is that the surgeons seem to go by some protocol that says after x surgery, you should be better by x time. To look at himself as an example is terrible. What applies to him does not apply to every patient, especially since each surgeon himself/herself is different...and then to have a nurse make such an uninformed statement tops it off.

I have had to deal with similar issues with my surgeon and his fellow colleges who seem to be more concerned about protecting one another than dealing with a patients problems after surgery.

My condition is be far worse that before the surgery and the only answer that I get is that the x-rays show everything is healing and that I can't expect things to be better is such a short period of time, totally ignoring the fact that the symptoms not only have not improved but have actually gotten worse.

I have never felt so helpless in all of my adult life. I usually know who to turn to...what to do to get answers. In this case, it all seems to be a cover up....a CYA type situation for the surgeons that I have seen.
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I had a l4l5 spinal fusion with hardware screws and rods.  I have had a hard time recoperating.  I am 59 old and have been in menopause for 8 years.  I started spotting after surgery.  I find this mind blowing since be before surgery I had no problems.  I do take femhrt for hormone replacement.  It has been  2 months since my surgery I have started having very painful muscle spams in my spine.  My doctor cut my pain pills back.  It is very hard some days to move.  I have tried going walking but pain stops this.I am so relieved to know other people have had problems too.  I pray for all of your pain in hopes for full recovery. I am hanging on.
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I had an L5S1 Pliff and plate done in 2001.They put a metal cage and screws in and packed bone from my hip around it. I was good for a year after my surgery. The past five years I've barley been able to walk or do normal daily activities. I've have been to two different surgeons, and pt. I don't take meds because i have four children to take care of. I would just like to know if anyone who has had this surgery if it has actually worked. I know I'm just so tired of the pain.I"m only 29 and really don't know what else to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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One of the pitfalls of any fusion is that when a segment of the body that used to move is locked the sheer physical force is transferred to another segment of the body.  For example fusing L5-S1 puts stress below in the SI joints and knees.  The fusion process can stress the joint above or L4-L5.  Stress and pain can equal shortened and weakened  muscles and ligaments.

I would start with Physical Therapy trying to "stretch and strengthen" the muscles and ligaments around the fusion area.  Exercise gently and use ice to end your workout.  Topical ointments such as menthol and aspirin are excellent too.  Walk regularly even if it is just a short distance a block or more.  It strengthens the kinetic chains of interlaced muscle groups in your lower back.

Easy to say but, difficult to do: Avoid bending or stooping to lift anything over 25 lbs.  Get someone else to do that for you if you can.  I don't know how you can do this with small children.  Just keep in mind your L4-L5, and even the L3 may require conscious choices on your part to keep healthy and strong.

Pain sucks!  I have multiple routines that I do everyday in order to minimize and make it manageable.  Bottom line, I commit daily to make the effort to manage my pain so, that pain does not dominate my life.
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In 5 weeks I have opted for L5S1 surgery.  I cannot walk...numbness and pain of course.  However..only 2 bouts of unbearable pain so far.  The pills are managing the pain and I am bed ridden.  Start of all this was Dec 3, 2007  I get the feeling from most that surgery does not work for most.  I guess we don't get to read about successes as they are not on the internet looking for answers.  Do I get the surgery????
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Do you have spondylothesis?  Because if you do there may not be many choices if your disc space has slipped forward and disc space is compromised and has become v-shaped.  

If you do not have this condition and your disc height is not compromised you might look into other alternatives:

1) Look at http://www.aans.org/education/journal/neurosurgical/Jan07/22-1-11-1087.pdf.  This is another promising medical procedure to aid disc healing while preserving motion.  While the FDA has not approved this yet it may one day a viable alternative to fusion.

2) Assuming you don't have spondylothesis, disc height in good shape, and your L5-S1 facet joints are in good shape you may be viable candidate for Charite Disc Replacement.
See http://www.spine-health.com/research/discupdate/discupdate01.html.

Fusion surgeries are a mixed blessing.  Truthfully a impinged lumbar nerve can lead to the numbness, muscle atrophy, limping, and sometimes paralysis of the affected limb.

A word for the wise:  If this is workman's comp related issue beware of any hack and chop-ready surgeon.  There is big money involved in this business and everyone, but the back-pain sufferer wins.  Lawyers and Doctors aided by willing victims get swindled into this deluge.  The longer you are disabled and the more surgeries they do the greater the $ settlement especially if you are permanently disabled.   But if may not be much of life after it is all said and done.

It is your life, and most likely if you do need the surgery you will benefit in the long run from it.  However, almost every person I have met including myself that had the sugery did end up with a permanent 24/7 back-ache which at time can aggravate to chronic states time to time.    


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Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.  I am retired so compensation is not the issue.  This will be a discotomy, and clean out only.  The surgeon claims a 90% success rate!  What about decompression traction alternatives.  It looks interesting but many more questions come up.  Your input is appreciated.
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I haven't been here in this forum for quite a while, but when I read the comment from m1223456789, I could not believe what how cruel and cold-hearted their comment was. Sit in judgment now, pay for it later.. Karma, will bite  you in the butt one day, you idiot. How dare you paint any and all of us who must take pain meds on a regular basis with a wide brush, including addicts.. You are in here only to instigate and irritate..well you've achieved your goal, now leave!!!  God forbid anything like this ever happens to you.. You will be crying and pulling out your hair like a little girl..

People should not make comments if they've never experienced the levels of pain  many of us here have experienced..Mine, as many of you have stated is debilitating pain.  My physician told me after the surgery that due to the nerve damage, I would have to be on pain meds the rest of my life.  Every day I must take 130 mg of Kadian (morphine) in an extended release form.  He writes me hydrocodone 10/650 for break through pain, but only 40 a month.  I do not take even one, every day... the pain has to be excruciating for me to take one at all.

I try to do many different things to relieve the pain that breaks through.. My son purchased a sleep number bed for me and it has helped a great deal.. I adjust the number each night according to my level of pain and it's been a God send for me.. I have a great son!
I'm terribly worried about the effects these medications are having on my liver. I'm not worried about addiction, since I have no problems with that sort of thing. ..
When all of us take these meds for pain, we do not get HIGH from them or a buzz as this idiot was alluding to, we get a minimal amount of relief so we don't do something drastic.
My doctor was unaware before my surgery that along with spondylolethesis, scoliosis and the ruptured disks, my back was also broken and some of the bones were cutting into my spinal cord.. This didn't even show up on the MRI.. Had I not had the surgery, the surgeon said I would have become paralyzed.. so I'm thankful for him finding and fixing that and for the surgeon trying to help, but this pain is something I have to try to adjust to every day of my life. I'm thankful to have a family physician that knows I'm not a "pill head" as m11223456789 was insinuating about all of us.  He knows my pain is real and in the extreme category.
I had spinal fusion of the L5, L6, S1, with titanium pedicle screws and rods attached, after they had done a discectomy and a laminectomy and placed allograft (donor bone) in my back in January 2005..
The pain has intensified as time goes by and has moved up my back.  In the past couple of weeks, I've had two episodes where my legs give out completely from under me.  The last one was last night.  I got our of my car after riding approximately 45 minutes and walked about 15 feet and my legs gave out.  I do believe it's time for more testing to be done to find out what is wrong now.  Has anyone here heard of the leg and lower back weakness that causes such an episode?  If you have any knowledge about it and can pass it along to me, I would be very grateful.
I will be praying for all of you in hopes that one day we all may live pain free.
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WOW- i just stumbled upon this site and couldnt believe what i was reading!  my husband had a spinal fusion to L3-4 and L4-5  in 11-2005 and since then has been in incredible amts of pain. he ended up developing a massive clot to his left leg which then developed into compartment leg syndrome (the compartments in his leg were filling w fluid causing it to swell 2-3 times larger than normal) they had to make large incisions on both sides of his calf in order to relieve the pressure, then inserted vacuums in to suck the fluids out. he ended up in the hospital for a mth.  2.5 yrs later, he is still in pain - he describes it as ants and shocks all the time.  his nerves have been damaged so badly, that his leg is numb to the touch on the outside (but has ants on the inside and sceams if someone squeezes it) and feels like hes dragging a dead tree limb around. the pain meds have not worked - they just 'take the edge off' he says.  he has been through physical therapy, lydocyne injections, and most recently had a spinal cord stimulator put in.  all of these things have failed and he actually just had the stimulator taken out this past tues.  we/he is at his ropes end. everytime the doctors suggest something new to him, his hopes get up so high and then come crashing dwn around him when they fail.  the doctors have now suggested putting in a pain pump.  we just dont know what to do at this point. is he just be a human piece of swiss cheese w all these surgeries hes been through?  we are seriously considering amputation.  our thoughts are w the leg gone, he would not have any swelling (part of the residual side effects from the compartment leg syndrome) and thus decreased pain. and would be able to walk better w a prostetic thus helping his back pain - he currently tippy toes on his left leg and hasnt been able to stand firmly on that foot since the surgery.  he also thinks that he would be able to tolerate phantom pains (if there are any) more that the pain hes in right now.
has anyone taken this step? or does anyone have any advice or have tried something that he havent done yet?  i cant stand to watch him be in pain anymore. he is only 38 yrs old and has a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old and all he can do is sit on the couch most days.
this is no way for anyone to live.
please contact me if you have anything encouraging!

thanks -- faith hope and love
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I just found this site also. I had a failed laminectomy/disccectomy in 12/06. Since my neurosurgeon couldn't stand my complaints of pain he dismissed me from his practice. I found a highly recommended orthopaedic surgeon and in 10/07 I had a fusion of  L3,4,5,S1 due to DDD and other issues. I have been on Vicodin 10 mg. Soma and Lyrica ever since but the pain down my right leg won't go away.  My left leg feels 90% better but there are times despite the meds that I think I will go insane from the pain in the right leg.   I also have suicidal thoughts but would not actively do anything to act on them, just wish sometimes that taking all these pills would put an end to the pain for good.

My right thigh is so tight you can actually feel what feels like a rock inside. Is there anyone out there who has gone through this and has had eventual success and little to no pain after a while? Am I being premature. I dont have another appointment for a month. The nurses say just to be patient.  Should I be doing something else? They say it is normal for the pain to persist for up to a year. Somehow this just doesn's seem right.  Any help would be appreciated.
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When did this knot in your leg start? Is there any redness or heat in your thigh?  Was your thigh tight when you saw your Dr. at your last visit?  Did you tell your Dr. of your suicidal thoughts?  I wouldn't wait a month to see your Dr., despite what the nurses tell you.  Be demanding and ask to be seen this week.  Have you gotten another opinion?  I know I have a lot of questions, but I definitely would get an appointment this week with your surgeon.  If he/she won't get you in this week, call your family physician.  Tell them you are having suicidal thoughts - I promise you, they will get you in that day.  (Your surgeon should too, for that matter.)

Hang in there.  I had the laminectomy/discectomy (twice) and am headed for a fusion now.   The one thing I noticed was my medications were causing me to have weird thoughts, not quite suicidal, but weird thoughts that I never thought of before.  It wasn't until I cut back on my meds that I noticed a big difference.  Not telling you how to manage your medications, but maybe your Dr. can change meds or dosages.  It is just a thought.

Good luck and keep us posted.  
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The knot has been there since I woke up from the surgery.  The surgeon knows. When the pain eases I try not to take the narcotics as often, But if I wait too long the pain comes back with a vengeance! You are right. I will try to make an appointment this week. I am religious so would not kill myself on purpose, and my family is extremely supportive, but when the pain comes on so strong that nothing helps, that is where my thoughts turn. I am also afraid of becoming addicted. I have already built up a tolerance. My biggest fear is either that one day the docs will just stop giving me enough meds, or that nothing will work anymore.

Believe it or not I am still working in a very responsible position, so I have to go to work now. But thanks and good luck with your surgery.  You and all the others here will be in my prayers.
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I wanted to give you a snapshot of my experience the year before and the two years after my surgery.

Before Sugery:
Right leg 1 1/2 inch smaller than the left leg...24/7 sciatica and hardly any reflex in the ankle which burns all the time.  Bending and twisting is like a electrical pain storm. ...Can't sleep at night.  Dr. tells me my disc is wedge shaped with a huge herniation.  Walking makes the sciatica feel like a rubber band snaping of pain all the way through my hip, knee and ankle...My right big toe has no feeling and the joint next is twice the size painful red and ugly.  Unable to work, sit or walk...have resorted to dragging my right leg rather than to lift it.  ...L5-S1 fusion inevitable.

After Sugery:
3 months after sugery pain struck...I just writhe in existence as mindless pain zombie. It controlls my every thought and keeps me from doing anything. ...Sleep is intolerable toss and turn all night long. Stopped eating, food brings no comfort....I have lost 70 lbs life seems to be a pure hell....Have had many days not wanting to live.

...Oh yes, I've been there and back...it takes courage when my body and a surgical procedure has failed and robbed me of the quality of my life...it takes courage and determination to do something about it.

…Hardware removal 20 months after the L5-S1 fusion later was a piece of cake surgery and easy recovery (6 weeks latter back at work) Yes, it was a risk, but it gave me my life back.  

…The right sided pain in my hip was related to surgical process of burrowing through my iliacus muscle tissue to remove hip graft material from the illiac crest. The scar tissue has been very hard to break up has weakened the SI joint near by.  I still have difficulty sleeping on my right hip, over time it continues to slowly get better.

…Neurontin is not a narcotic it is an Amino Acid similar to GABA.  It is not addictive and will takes the edge off of my nerve pain.

…I am no not alone…others have passed this way and found that life does find a way to heal itself

After:
...Just how is life now? 2 years later...Pain is still part of my life, I recognize I have limitations now, but pain is only a small and manageable part of it. I can sleep through the night without pain medication. I can work 5 days a week. It has taken a year to build up to that level.

…I don't go home exhausted anymore with spasms anymore popping Skelaxin muscle relaxants to keep me from going into a mental meltdown. Sitting for more than an hour and a half is still a challenge, but I can always get up and walk around. Life is manageable and I'm optimistic it will continue to get better

…I may not ever be completely pain free, but I have made the best of my situation and pain has become a small managable part of my life.

You are in my prayers and there is hope for all those who suffer and look for answers.
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Thank you for your prayers and helpful comments. I wonder how soon they can tell if instrumentation is the problem.  Maybe it is pinching a nerve. Or maybe a nerve was damaged during the 3.5 hour procedure.  I was never aware of the variety of meds out there to help with the pain that are non-narcotic. Are they as effective as Percocet?
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Neurontin does not kill pain.  It relaxes the signals in irritated nerve roots so they don't bounce around causing that painful pins and needles or burning sensations that irritate the muscles related to your post surgical sciatica.

If it works for you...you will still have some pain, but the sharpest edge of it will be gone.  This may allow you to leave the pain relieving narcotics and give you some control back over the manageable part of your condition.
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I hope you have made your appointment by now!  I know exactly how you feel about becoming addicted to the pain meds, but living with horrible pain is just that...HORRIBLE!
You are right about waiting too long to take your pain meds and the pain getting out of hand.  I was taking 30mg of MSConting three times a day, with percocets as needed for breakthrough pain.  When I saw a new surgeon, he wanted me off all pain meds that were narcotics.  SOOOOO...I weened myself off of them very slowly.  I still have a lot of pain and still take MSContin, but ONLY when my pain gets out of hand.  I, too, take Neurontin, which has helped me greatly.

The only advise I can give is to see your Dr. about your medications and see if he has something else that can help with your discomfort.  To be honest with you, I would ask him/her for something for your suicidal thoughts that are caused by your extreme pain.  

Good Luck to you........
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I saw the doctor and he prescribed Neurontin.  I have been taking it for a few days but still have really bad pain. How long does it take to build up in your system to get relief?
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I have been battling severe chronic leg and back pain for some years now.  It has been a trip.  If i just wanted drugs, hell i could just go out and buy them off the streets.  All I have been wanting is for someone to actaully understand exactly what the pain is and how to end it.  This **** is kickin' my ***.  Sleepless nights painful days etc.  My wife is a registered nurse, but all I want her to do is be a wife sometimes. not try and FIX IT, cause it's just not that simple.  I pray for you all that have messed up backs, legs etc.  I'm going to have the surgery, wish me luck.  I think I have found a doctor that understands just what I'm going through, and has thus far no problem with the neccessary medications that enable me to function.  Good Luck.......
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Sometimes it takes neurontin up to 3 weeks to see a difference.  Don't get discouraged with it, take it a month and see if you see any improvement.  Good luck!!!!
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I am 4 weeks after L4-L5s1 disk fusion surgery. First 2 weeks felt like a bus hit me, I was in hospital for 4 days it was really hard to get through it. I think the fact that i couldn't breath fresh air made it worse I was having panic attacks at night and puffing on my asthma inhaler like crazy finally they would give me ambien to sleep .. so before surgery i was on 10mg lortab 5x a day for about the last 8 months and i am just starting to cut back to 5mg percocet but it is really hard to manage the pain. I take 2 in the morning, 1 in afternoon and 2 at night. I hope that it gets easier I dont want to cut it off completely because i know the back pain at the incision is still pretty bad and i will start therapy in a few weeks. How do you know when its time to cut it back and taper off. I am going to speak with my doc on wednesday about tapering not now but a few weeks.. i just hope he knows what to do. I have heard klonodine ?? or something like that helps when you taper.. anyone have any experience with this stuff or some advice. My body is hooked, my brain is somewhat because of the withdrawl but i know i can live without this **** as i refused to take it for years and then i just gave in last summer because it was unbearable pain.
ok bye everyrone.. sorry if i mispelled half the words im sitting back in my chair and its hard to see the screen so far away lol..
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OMG I am 28 and just scheduled a discectomy and spinal fusion on L5s1 and L4s1. Now after reading all of your horror stories im very scared! I hurt my back when i was 22 picking up my son's car seat and my back has never been the same. And recently I started having severe sciatica in my left leg. So I went in for another MRI and the doctor said my one disc has a piece poking out and pressing on my nerve. The disc below that is bone on bone and there is not enough room for a disc replacement. I said go ahead lets do it. That was before they told me how painful it is and how long the recovery is. I don't know if I want to do something so severe to my body that cant be reversed. To think that I may have new and worse pain after the surgery makes no sense to me. Why do they do this procedure to so many people if there are so many bad outcomes?? I don't know if I should just do the discectomy and leave well enough alone with the fusion or not????
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Pain Management is a complicated subject.  The first 4 weeks I needed the full prescribed dosage after surgery to manage the pain effectively.  I started at 4 weeks and tapered off completely by 8 weeks after surgery in preparation for physical therapy.

I believe what you are referring to is Klonepin it helps with the physiological withdrawl symptoms.  It a temporary medication and has a good track record for detox and pain management situations.

If the Neurosurgeon took a hip graft out of you it is going to ache probably more than the fusion itself.  Mine ached and throbbed for about 6 months.  It took round the clock Time-Release Tylenol to manage it.

Probably the worst pain I’ve ever experienced was related to "neuropathy" or nerve healing syndrome.  My L5 nerve root was smashed flat red and ugly according to my surgeon.  When it woke up it became pure hell.  If I had only known what Neruotonin could have done for me(took me a few months of no sleep, losing my mind, 70lbs, wishing I were dead, ect. to get some help).

According to Wikipedia this condition Neuropathic pain is related to related to repetitive motion, chronic trauma(aww...lumbar nerve compression),and possibly surgical trauma(Let's hope not).

"Neuropathic pain is usually perceived as a steady burning and/or "pins and needles" and/or "electric shock" sensations and/or tickling. The difference is due to the fact that "ordinary" pain stimulates only pain nerves, while a neuropathy often results in the firing of both pain and non-pain (touch, warm, cool) sensory nerves in the same area, producing signals that the spinal cord and brain do not normally expect to receive"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuropathy

If you develop this neuropathic sciatica after your surgery and the Doctor offers you neurotin...Take it...don't wait.
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Get a second opinion...it seems like the discectomy is not optional procedure.  But if your L5-S1 disc is thin, but not causing you major problems.  Put off the fusion for a decade or more or when the symptoms match and justify the time you will have to put into recovery.  Maybe technology will improve over the next decade and fusion surgeory will not be so invasively barbaric.
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I had my last back surgery which was my fourth in 1994 in Eau Claire Wisconsin. it was on L4-S1 and was a front and back fusion with hardware and it lasted nearly 10 hours and the most painful of all my previous surgeries. With everything they did to try to prepare me for this surgery mentally, I was not ready for what was waiting me on the other side of those operating room doors.
Never in my life had I ever experienced such pain! I was in critical care for several days following this surgery and had tubes going everywhere! My mother could only weep as she looked at what was left of me and I could only grit my teeth and pray someone would find some pain medication that would help me manage. I felt like I had been run over by a Mack Truck and that every bone in my body was mangled and broken. I honestly could not tell where my pain began and ended.
When they released me almost a week later I was still in unbearable pain and as the months went by the pain was still very present, although not nearly as intense as those first days. I questioned my doctors if I had made a horrible mistake I would pay for for the remainder of my life. They assured me that I had to get over the hump and that once I did I would find I would begin to improve.
I did find this hump and I am happy to say that I have been virtually pain free with my back ever since! Although it was a hard road in the beginning I am glad I had the surgery. That said, I truly feel badly for anyone going through it, but I have since heard that the procedure has improved since 1994.
My doctor is one that is part of the MAYO Health System and he is still with Luther where I was blessed to be able to go when I needed this last surgery. This will link you to his site for those who are close enough to seek him out. He truly is one who you can seek for that second opinion and I truly would trust him above all my other doctors to treat me again. he corrected what they could not and I am whole today.
His name is Dr. James Manz and you can connect here...http://www.mayohealthsystem.org/mhs/live/page.cfm?pp=locations/medstaffoutput.cfm&orgid=LM&nav=Med .
GOD bless and I pray you all a quick and total recovery.
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Hi.  I am so sorry for all on the site.  I am glad that I found you...someone going through what I am.  I am realizing that others questions themselves too.  I always feel relief when I get a test result (MRI, CT, Discogram, etc) and it shows my pain source and is proof that this pain is legitamate.  Because I feel that maybe this isn't really happening.  Maybe I am making it up in my head or exaggerating it.  Maybe I am just addicted to pain medicine.  At least that is what all the doctors make you believe, isnt' it?!  And if I have so many tests showing you my back is in BAD shape, why would you question my request for pain management medications, Doc?  When I go to my doctor for my refil or check up I feel like he is judging me.  I too worry to death that they are one day going to say, ok you are better even if you don't think so and we are taking you off the meds.  And the other poster was right, we don't get "high" on these meds we take for pain.  We are lucky if they dull the pain a little.  It's been proven that people in pain do not get the same euphoria from these meds as person not in our state of pain.

I was in a car accident in 5/04 and ever since I have had lower back problems.  I began with epidural injections under fluro.  I was having severe leg, butt and foot pain.  In 8/05 I had a laminectomy/discectomy L5S1.  I do feel it was successful.  I would say 90% of that pain went away.  I still have trouble at the grocery store or the mall.  I think it is the hard tile floor.  I makes my feet, legs and butt hurt so bad.  X-Mas shopping...FORGET IT!  I struggle every year.  And every week for our food.  Can't get around that, huh.

Well, the lami worked for most of the radiating leg pain, but my back never change.  In fact, my lower back got worse.  Since early 06 I have been taking epi's under fluro about every 3 mos.  I have tried radio frequency, no help.  I feel like it is traveling up my back, maybe cause I am so tense.  I have zanaflex a muscle relaxant for that, but it doesn't help.  It doesn't even put me to sleep anymore, now I am up most of the night again.  I have been on pain meds for years!  God only knows what damage all these pills are causing to my liver!  It's scary. But I am only prescribed 7.5mg hydrocodone 3x's a day.  I am suffering here Doc!  I was so depressed about the pain and my lack of "life" that I tried Cymbalta for months and months.  But that didn't help the pain at all and barely the depression. So I have since gone off it. So he has sent me back to my surgeon.

My surgeon has decided a fusion of L5S1 is the best option.  Not to have an implant unless the surgery does not work.  I was ok with this.  I would prefer to have surgery to FIX my condition and get off pain meds.  I want to have children, I am only 27 and just got married.  I don't want to take meds while pregnant.  I don't think I could carry the weight of a child in my condition and still have a quality of life that an expecting mother should have.  I can hardly keep my house together as it is.  So, my husband and I thought now is the best time.  Not to try to have a child and suffer through pregnancy just ot find in 2 years I REALLY can't take it and then go ahead with a surgery where I really won't be able to take care of my child, my husband or my house.  

BUT after reading this info and all of you very heartwrenching stories, I am terrified.  I don't even know if I want to bring all of these scary things to my husbands attention.  I am so worried that something like this may happen to me.  And I am so sorry that this has happened to all of you.  I wonder why they perform the surgery if it has so many risks.  When I asked my surgeon the risks I was told ONLY the normal risks of surgery relating to anesthesia and infection...LIES??  And what do I say to my doctor, I change my mind about the surgery.  Can you just give me enough medicine a day to really keep my back pain under control?  I am so lost at this point.  Until a few weeks ago I was working.  I had a wonderful professional position that I enjoyed and made great money at to boot.  I had to quit.  I had to find out what I needed to do to fix my back.  Now I feel like I am failing my husband.  I am not helping financially by not working and I am hardly able to keep the house in order.  One chore a day.  I haven't cleaned my kitchen or bathroom in I can't tell you how long.  It's depressing and hopeless.  I just don't want to be sad or in pain anymore.  But it seems maybe this fusion is not the answer.  I have so many new questions.

Thank you for listening to me.  I know my post is long.  But this is the only way to get it all out.  NOBODY except you all understand what I am going through physically and emotionally.  Thank you all for this support and I promise, I AM PRAYING FOR YOU...FOR ALL OF US.  Take care.
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Wow and Whoo...so many radio ablations and spinal epiduerals. They are only good for the short haul, but in the long-term they are depriving your spinal muscle tissue of nourishment and thus delaying your healing.  

Your are still young in relative comparison to most of the individuals I know.  Because you are still young, your body healing more rapidly is definitely in your favor.    

Most likely the  laminectomy releaved the compressed nerve(s) roots, but  the loss of the lamina weakend your lower back.   The weakened condition causes another segement usually the disc above or below to be the pain generator.   Even with spinal fusion segment disease may occur.

I try to keep in mind that modern medical science can put a bandage on a wound, and set the conditions for the body to heal itself; but it still cannot do miracles.  Healing is your body's job regardless of what anyone tells you.  

Pain as you know is a terrible thing,  only you know if it beyond you capacity to bear.  I learned so much by getting involved in a pain management support group.  I have 24/7 pain, but I manage it...it does not control or manage my life.

The is a risk in trying to manage pain with medication.  Over time the medication looses it effectiveness and/or the body builds up tolerance and requires more for relief.  Thats why with any healthy regimen it should only be used for break-through pain and when conventional means of pain control such as daily exercise, meditation, gentle stretching, ice, topical menthol/analgesics have failed.

Fusion is an alternative that the surgeon offered you, but it may not be the answer for you unless your disc is beyond repair.  There is a body-mind connection along with conventional means mentioned above that I believe may give control back over your life and it doesn't require a pill or scalpel.

Thanks for your prayers, it does help to know that hope is available to everyone who looks for answers.

Take care,
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I had a fusion on L4-S1 Feb 5, 2007. 3 weeks after the surgery i developed sepsis and nearly died, my husband said I did die but was brought back a few times. All my organs failed, my brain started swelling, thank God they were able to get the brain swelling under control cause I was headed for brain surgery where they told my husband I would never be the same again. The Dr.s fought hard for me and after a week in a coma in ICU I woke up and suprised everyone.  The Dr.s called me a miracle. it's been over a year now and I have recovered from everything except for my back fusion. Has anyone gotton an infection like I did after Back surgery?

The fusion is incomplete and two screws are loose and moving around everytime I move.  I was in back pain the entire year and my Dr.s could not figure out what was causing the pain.  I had x-rays and MRIs done, but they did not show any reason for my pain. I finally had a nuclear bone scan which showed the incomplete fusion. I also had a CT-Scan done that showed the incomplete fusion and the two screws that are loose. Do not stop asking for more tests, diffrent ones. If you are in pain there is a reason and they will find it, they just have to do the right exams and tests. If your insurance covers the tests, get them done.  Because of my complications with the sepsis I am being sent to UCLA medical center to a Dr. Khoo for my next surgery to refuse and stabllize my current loose screws.  Does anyone have info on the Dr. or Facility at UCLA medical center?.  

There is a newer drug out there for those of you who have grown a tollerance to morphine ER.  It is called Opana ER 40mg.(40 mg is the highest mg for this med)  It has helped me. I was taking three(3) 100 mg of extended release morphine three (3) times a day.  Now I take three (3) Opana ER twice (2) a day. So FYI.

Thanks to all of you who are here to talk.
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I had a fusion on L4-S1 Feb 5, 2007. 3 weeks after the surgery i developed sepsis and nearly died, my husband said I did die but was brought back a few times. All my organs failed, my brain started swelling, thank God they were able to get the brain swelling under control cause I was headed for brain surgery where they told my husband I would never be the same again. The Dr.s fought hard for me and after a week in a coma in ICU I woke up and suprised everyone.  The Dr.s called me a miracle. it's been over a year now and I have recovered from everything except for my back fusion. Has anyone gotton an infection like I did after Back surgery?

The fusion is incomplete and two screws are loose and moving around everytime I move.  I was in back pain the entire year and my Dr.s could not figure out what was causing the pain.  I had x-rays and MRIs done, but they did not show any reason for my pain. I finally had a nuclear bone scan which showed the incomplete fusion. I also had a CT-Scan done that showed the incomplete fusion and the two screws that are loose. Do not stop asking for more tests, diffrent ones. If you are in pain there is a reason and they will find it, they just have to do the right exams and tests. If your insurance covers the tests, get them done.  Because of my complications with the sepsis I am being sent to UCLA medical center to a Dr. Khoo for my next surgery to refuse and stabllize my current loose screws.  Does anyone have info on the Dr. or Facility at UCLA medical center?.  

There is a newer drug out there for those of you who have grown a tollerance to morphine ER.  It is called Opana ER 40mg.(40 mg is the highest mg for this med)  It has helped me. I was taking three(3) 100 mg of extended release morphine three (3) times a day.  Now I take three (3) Opana ER twice (2) a day. So FYI.

Thanks to all of you who are here to talk.
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I had a fusion on L4-S1 Feb 5, 2007. 3 weeks after the surgery i developed sepsis and nearly died, my husband said I did die but was brought back a few times. All my organs failed, my brain started swelling, thank God they were able to get the brain swelling under control cause I was headed for brain surgery where they told my husband I would never be the same again. The Dr.s fought hard for me and after a week in a coma in ICU I woke up and suprised everyone.  The Dr.s called me a miracle. it's been over a year now and I have recovered from everything except for my back fusion. Has anyone gotton an infection like I did after Back surgery?

The fusion is incomplete and two screws are loose and moving around everytime I move.  I was in back pain the entire year and my Dr.s could not figure out what was causing the pain.  I had x-rays and MRIs done, but they did not show any reason for my pain. I finally had a nuclear bone scan which showed the incomplete fusion. I also had a CT-Scan done that showed the incomplete fusion and the two screws that are loose. Do not stop asking for more tests, diffrent ones. If you are in pain there is a reason and they will find it, they just have to do the right exams and tests. If your insurance covers the tests, get them done.  Because of my complications with the sepsis I am being sent to UCLA medical center to a Dr. Khoo for my next surgery to refuse and stabllize my current loose screws.  Does anyone have info on the Dr. or Facility at UCLA medical center?.  

There is a newer drug out there for those of you who have grown a tollerance to morphine ER.  It is called Opana ER 40mg.(40 mg is the highest mg for this med)  It has helped me. I was taking three(3) 100 mg of extended release morphine three (3) times a day.  Now I take three (3) Opana ER twice (2) a day. So FYI.

Thanks to all of you who are here to talk.
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I had a spinal fusion Dec 20, 07 just a little over 2 months ago. Then the first 8 days of February, I had to go through withdrawals of fentanyl patch, that was really bad. now a month after that, I am doing great. but all these post about a messed up surgery are scaring the hell out of me. isn't there anyone out there that the surgery worked. I have ocasional pain, taking 4 or so viocoden a day and doing good. Finally, I am starting to feel normal again. someone else whos surgery WORKED?  or am I in for it later on down the road?
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I had a spinal fusion Dec 20, 07 just a little over 2 months ago. Then the first 8 days of February, I had to go through withdrawals of fentanyl patch, that was really bad. now a month after that, I am doing great. but all these post about a messed up surgery are scaring the hell out of me. isn't there anyone out there that the surgery worked. I have ocasional pain, taking 4 or so viocoden a day and doing good. Finally, I am starting to feel normal again. someone else whos surgery WORKED?  or am I in for it later on down the road?
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You may never have to cross that bridge.  So, there is no need to worry. According to studies 85% of people do fine after a fusion.  I just envy them and hate being part of the 15%.  I personally know two people who had fusions and they are perfectly fine.
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I had an MRI last week and nerve conduction tests today. I see the surgeon tomorrow. In the meantime the MRI report says I have perineural fibrosis.  I tried looking it up on the internet but no luck. Does anyone on this site have it or can explain what it is?
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Perineural means "surrounding the nerve." Fibrosis is commonly known as "scar tissue." So it really is a broad definition that really requires much more information to determine the specific location, nerves, and spinal structures affected.  

Research suggests the presence of a hematoma along side of an muscular incision can lead to extensive perineural fibrosis.  Of course the research is a theoretical model  in dogs. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&uid=1495380&cmd=showdetailview&indexed=google

Generally the posterior longitudinal ligament is untouched during a surgical fusion procedure which appears to be the culprit of most perineural fibrosis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posterior_longitudinal_ligament

Which likely is not your or my situation, but may have an alternate diagnosis of Arachnoiditis:

"The arachnoid can become severely inflamed because of adverse reactions to chemicals and/or steroids, infection from bacteria or viruses, as the result of direct injury to the spine, chronic compression of spinal nerves, or complications from spinal surgery or other invasive spinal procedures. Inflammation can sometimes lead to the formation of scar tissue and adhesions which can cause the spinal nerves to "stick" together."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arachnoiditis


I'm not qualified as a medical professional, but am a fellow post-op fusion pain surviver.  It does cause me to pause and wonder...

The second surgery the surgeon made me stay 3 days which are normally an overnight stay to remove my lumbar instrumentation.  Ensuring the drainage line out of the surgical site was completely clear before he released me to go home.  He repeatedly warned me to restrict movements and lifting for 6 weeks to avoid the complications of additional bleeding(hemotoma) in the new surgical site.  

3 weeks ago, after 2 years and 3 months from my original L5-S1 Surgery, I am now able to work  40 hours per week...

Keeping in mind that I couldn't work for 12 months...then worked 32.5 hours per week for 6 months....35 hours per week for 9 months.

let me know how it goes with your surgeon...Bottom line, I'm a believer in the promise...we do recover...it is just a matter of time.
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I was less than pleased with the surgeon yesterday.  He glanced at my chart, made no mention of the perineural fibrosis, renewed the Percocet, Soma, and Neurontin and said that since there might be some damage to the S1 nerve I should see the pain doctor (the one who did the EMG and nerve conduction tests) for a series of cortisone injections. The  earliest they could get me in is a week from today.  Couldn't he just give me the shot? Why do I need to wait a week in pain and give up my Spring vacation to boot. Despite all of this pain I am going to work every day. I work for the school system. Luckily I don't have to stand in front of a classroom all day.  Do you think cortisone shots will help? Before the fusion surgery I tried epidurals and they didn't work.  But since this is a different pain -  it feels like electric shocks - I will try anything in the hope that something will work.

The surgeon wants to see me back in 6 months.  He still feels that time will correct everything.  I wish I did not have to work. The hardest part of this is getting out of bed in the morning.  But we need the money, so fuzzy from the Percocet, etc. I am off to work every day. At least I have the summer off..

Do you  still have pain? What did or do you take to control it? The CIGNA nurse said I should ask about Oxycontin.
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Interesting that you asked...Cortisone injections did nothing for me...It actually intensified the sciatica...

...sensations of electrical pins and needles, fire and ice sensations in my across the tarsals of both feet, right ankle outside reaching up toward the knee, and right big toe...Neuralgic sciatica drove me just about to the brink of insanity...

Neuralgia is also involved in disorders such as sciatica and Brachial Plexopathy with Neuropathia... The pain can be described in a variety of ways such as "stabbing," "sharp," "like lightning," "burning," and even "itchy".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuralgia

I had sciatica non-stop from the 3rd month after my fusion until the week after the neurosurgeon removed the hardware 20 months later.  It seemed to be at it worst right before going to bed and would wake me up about 3:30 - 4am. Biofreeze, Lyrica and Neurontin were life savers.

My "chronic pain" ended shortly after the lumbar instrumentation hardware was removed 20 months later.  2 weeks latter the lumbar muscles relaxed out of their hardened mass....4 months afterwards the bone stopped aching.

I would recommend you discuss with your neurosurgeon about trying Lyrica along with Neurontin and see if you have healed enough to cope without pain meds.

Let''s see....10/07 to 3/08 that's 5 months post op???....Glad to hear your back at work!!!  


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The PAIN is very real. I had a laminectomy, discectomy, facetectomy and spinal fusion (using bone from my iliac crest) at L5/S1 in 1999. Since then, the pain has gotten worse and I have been under the care of Pain Management for 6 years. I have a spinal cord stimulator, which stopped being effectibe about 6 months ago. I am currently on 600mg of morphine daily so I can grag myself out of bed and to my job. It has now been suggested that I get an implanted pump to drip the opiates directly into the spinal cord sac. This SCARES me to death. I have seen many surgeons who say that I have chronic pain and there is nothing surgically that can be done. I finally went to a surgeon who is highly regarded in the field of spinal injuries. He suggested that the instrumentation (4 screws and 2 rods) be removed as they are causing the issue. I have under gone a oainful discogram and will be doing facet injections next week to prepare for the surgery. Hopefully this will help me. The real issue is that your pain is very, very real. The spine is a marvelous tool but can be quite bothersome if Irritated. Just listen to all the people who complain about their back due to a minor irritation. Thw imagine people like us who have had the spine operated on. Nobody but us can understand the pain we have. The best way to deal with the pain is find yourself a new body or a caring pain manegement doctor who understands what you are going through. My pain doc is so in tune with his patients and I believe actually feels their pain. A good doc will listen to you and if you are a good candidate, will treat you pain with all means available. Hang in there and I wish you all the best.
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I had a spinal fusion on my L5 S1 exactly a year ago at the age of 17 going on 18. Before the surgery I had severe pain all the time. I couldnt sit, walk, lay or do anything for more than 5 minutes without experiencing excruciating pain. Numbness tingling burning stabbing in both the legs and lower back. Post surgery was a horrible experience..very painful..but after about 3-4 months the pain began to subside and i was able to sit,stand,walk for long periods of time..It took a whole year for me to recover...after 12 months i do have some pains when i over do things..also i noticed my lower back cracks unusually sometimes lol but overall i am very happy i had the surgery.It completely changed my life..It may not be the best choice for everyone...but it could just change your life too. Best of luck to all
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I saw the pain doctor today. He said that I had built up tolerance to the 20 mg of oxycodone I have been taking every 4 hours, and rather than give me more he prescribed 20 mg of Oxycontin twice per day.  The first opening for an epidural isn't until 4/21.  He thinks that will be helpful but in the meantime I am dreading the pain of the decreased dosage.  Luckily I am on vacation this week. I don't know how I will be able to cope next week whenI have to go back to work.

Suggestions?
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Looks like you may have to face the dreaded PM word.  Pain Management is probably the best thing that ever happened to me.  At first it was the only way to get my Doc to prescribe additional pain medication, but I knew that at some point I would be forced to taper off of Vicodin.  

Eventually my pain will changed from a chronic incision and sharp bone ache to a deep internal muscular pressure and plastic bone type sensations.  It just hurt all the time having my muscles wrapped around that titanium instrumentation.  Every time I tilted or moved wrong it felt like the fused bone was going snap right in two.

Pain Management helped me understand the benefits walking an hour a day, ice packs, menthol ointments, all great tools of distracting your mind from the pain/pressure sensations.  What helped the most was meditation and imagery to give me hope to heal and cope, to find determination and strength.  

You see life can throw you double whammys, 3 months after my L5-S1 fusion, I developed pneumonia.  I could hardly breathe, it felt like my lungs where drowning in a flood.  My doctors treated me as if I was spending all my time loaded on drugs in bed.      

Funny thing, 18 months in preparation for the hardware removal I had an EKG and was sent by emergency referral to a cardiologist that confirmed it wasn’t pneumonia, but a silent heart attack.  He also confirmed that during this time I had developed collateral veins or "a natural bypass. to get around the blockage.  Pain Management got me off of pain meds, how to manage my pain, and back on my feet; it literally saved my life.

Ask you doc about PM.  Who knows, it give you your life back.
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God help us, I had a spinal fusion 3 months ago, still have pain in butt, tail bone, upper legs at the hip joint. I am VERY stiff and in pain, cannot walk very far, husband is loosing his patients with me. hoping to get better, not worse. just needing to vent here with all of us spinal fusion patients,  we're all in this together, lets just hope those dr.s soon find something that will help us all. I hope I didn't make a mistake with this. If I would have found this board before surgery, I don't know what I would have done. we are planning a vacation this August, I hope I can make it.
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I tried the fentynal patch(time release morphine) so I don't know if it would help you.

Fentanyl did not work for me, I had a very bad reaction to it up heartrate, anxiety and a general feeling of panic.  From what others said about it in my pain management group the withdrawls are pretty horrible too.
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I was on the patch from JUly 07 till Feb 08, it did help with the pain but going off it was horriable, and I only got 25 mg-50 mg. go on the substance abuse board and read up on this stuff, its a mean, nasty drug and going off it is like going off herion. don't use it unless its your last resort, not kidding here, its a hard one.
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fentynal, is a low dose herion (opiat), so is oxy, and vic's. unfortunatly you will have some serious withdrawls, depending on your dosage will determine how severe. I had a discectomy of the C5-6 and fusion on 8/1/07. as with the rst of you, no help. Now they are telling me that MS may be the problem after all. I asked the Doc why they wouldnt test for that first, before surgery. They told me that the tests were invasive and it was more likley that I was having the probs I am because of herniated discs. I told him that anytime you pop a persons head like a pez dispenser, that would be the winner as most invasive. I cant feel my hands, I can barely lift my arms, my 13 year old is typing for me right ow. My legs feel like I got 30 pound weights strapped to um and my knees keep giving out, BAM im on the floor. So the best advice I can give is dont be a scared to get 2 or 3 opinions b4 something as INVASIVE as surgery!!
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There was a cancellation and I had the lumbar epidural to the nerve route on Friday. I felt great until the anesthesia wore off. Then I felt worse than ever. Yesterday was a little less painful and today the pain is fairly manageable, but I have been lazing around the house.  I am tentatively hopeful that it will keep getting better with time.  I have to go back to work tomorrow.  How were your experiences with epidurals to the nerve?  I know everyone is different but it's all I can think about right now.
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I had the injections your speaking of, the first one didn't work, I think the second one did a little, it took the edge off the pain. then I went on the patch. good luck to you.
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Another option is a Radio Frequency Ablation.  This can be done at the pain site oblating peripherial nerves that are sending pain signals. My son-in-laws father had this done.  This provided him 2 to 3 months of relief between treatments.  
http://www.eorthopod.com/public/patient_education/6953/radiofrequency_ablation.html

He ended being a good candidate for a spinal cord stimulator.  Which has been quite effective for him and no longer needs Oxycontin.
http://www.poweroveryourpain.com/sb/learn_about/how_scs_works/index.html
http://www.neurocare.org/neuro.php?pageid=39&Name=Spinal%20Cord%20Stimulators
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I had a radio freguency done and i am glad to see it worked for some but it increased my pain 10 fold and go figure did more nerve damge then good, the shooting fall on your face leg pains got so much worse and the small pin piont burning pains in my lower back increased to golf ball size spots where more frequent. but it has worked for some people i hope for who ever tries it, it works great for them.
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Wish me luck. I see the pain management doctor tomorrow. He will probably want to schedule a second epidural.  I hope this one works better than the first. It seems to have helped a little, but since he cut me way back on the oxycodone I still have severe pain fairly often. I have learned to live with the constant dull pain. It is the knife like pain that makes me cry so hard!  I just hope he doesn't cut my Rx even more. I have followed his advice religiously but I am due for a refill. I will keep you all posted as to what happens.
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I have read and learned so much. Frankly, I am now scared to death. I am 46 and have suffered from lower back/buttock/and left leg pain for over 3 years. My PC physician did a MRI over 2 years ago and said there was nothing showing up except arthrits. He perscribed different pain meds such as Vicodin, a muscle relaxant, and Tramadol. None of them helped much. I did show positive signs of a disc problem when he did the straight leg raise test. Lifting my leg was okay but when he lower my left leg the pain was so severe he diffently believed it was a herniated disk. He continued to try to treat my pain and offered me Lyrica but I chose to not take it. I just feel like a junky and don't want anyone thinking I am out for the meds. After over a year of pain he finally referred me to a ortho dr. He stated this doctor was extremely conservative and would not "cut" on me for no reason. I went to him last July. He looked at my old MRI and suggested I have a lumbar epi. given by the pain management doctors. He also prescribed Vicodin 500 mg as needed for pain. Prescription was always for a small number and no refills. The LE injection helped for approx.2 months. I returned due to the horrible pain (7) and the fact I couldnt hardly put my underware on or bend to shave my legs. No one knows the horrible pain and suffering one with back pain experiences until it happens to them. My ortho dr. scheduled me with the PM doctors for another LE injections. After the second injection the PM doctor wanted to do the 3rd injection in 2 week. The pain did subside and I only occassionally took pain meds. My worst problem is doing shopping. After I am on my feet for a bit and go to get in the car I must lift my outside leg into the car. The pain is just so intense. Getting up and down from a sitting position is horrible and getting a good nights sleep is unheard of now without taking Ambien CR (which I am so scared of).

About 3 weeks ago the pain became so severe. I went back to the ortho dr. and he wanted to do another MRI since my last one was approx. 2 1/2 years ago. I said okay. The dr. had it scheduled two days later and I cancelled it because I was scared it was all in my head and people were going to say I was just in it for the meds. A week later the MRI folks were calling me to reschedule. Since the pain was so bad I went ahead and scheduled it. 4 days later I had to be back at the ortho. dr. I arrived and was waiting on the dr. to come in, he stuck his head in the door and said, Ms.**** there have been some major changes on the MRI and I need to do some other xrays so hang tight and they will be coming for you. I said okay and then anxiety and panic began to take over. They did the xrays and after about a 1/2 hours the dr. came in to talk to me. He said MRI's are static and sometimes do not show the entire picture. In short he said I had Spondelithesis (sp) which is "advanced" at L4-L5 as well as a diffused bulge. I also had 2 other areas showing mild buldging and the sacrum has "morphed" or changed. I have no idea what he is saying. He stated it now all makes since and the symptoms I have described now for over 3 years are all consistant with the diagonsis. He said I needed to have a Myleogram with CT. He told me that we had only really two choices. 1-Continue with the LE injections (for short term relief) or 2-Surgery. He said that surgery is really the only way to go. Keep in mind this dr. is very very conservative. He stated surgery is his recommendation and that he was referring me again to the pain management group for only pain medications. He said they would be more capable to care for my pain and would see to it my pain was properly managed before and after surgery. Okay...now that I took up all your time reading this. I go to Pain Management dr. on Tues and then back to ortho dr. right after that appointment for the results of the Myleogram/CT. I guess then we will know exactly what the next step is (I will take my husband with me to hear all this). My questions for this forum are....

1. Does this sound correct and would this mean the surgery will be the bad fusion surgery?
2. How long is the hospital stay for this type of surgery and how long is the actual surgery?
3. How long might one be off work and at what level of activity can I hope to regain?
4. What questions should I ask of the PM doctors and the Ortho dr. ?
5. Will I be able to care for myself after surgery such as bathing and general care?
6. Are there more tests that should be performed now that I have had the MRI, xrays and Myleogram/CT?
7. Should I get a second opinion and how do I know my dr. is able to perform this surgery? I am merely going off of what my PC doctor recommended but I know there are hundreds of doctors out there.

Any guidance or feedback you can provide would be so appreciated. I am now worried. I really knew I had a problem but now I believe the problem is worse than I or anyone for that matter knew. I am now worried and scared.

God Bless you all.....I do feel your pain.

Texas Gal
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The trial of the spinal  cord stimulator provided about 50% relief. They are  going to schedule me for the permanent one. Any success stories?
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had spinal fusion 30 years ago. i work out to relieve the pain. weights to strenghten the back muscles,  the big rubber ball in the gym to strecht out. lay on that with some weight in the hands to stretch out the back . still hurts though , going to a pain doctor in a few weeks . it sill hurts.  no fun
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another thing to do is swim . the water works wonders for this condition
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I just had a "flexible fusion" done on the L4-L5 vertebrae 10 days ago, and the results have been fantastic.  I highly recommend Resurgens Orthopedic in Atlanta, so you may want to call them to get a recommendation from them for someone in your area.  I had a bulging disk for about 5 years exacerbated by a 2nd car wreck, pulling a boat out of the water, dropping a log off the woodpile, etc. and had been on pain killers off and on and missed a lot of work.  (Sitting down is the most painful position, which my work requires.)  During my last episode I badly ruptured the disk and was given a choice between a 3rd epidural injection of corticosteroids or referral to the neurosurgeon.  I could no longer feel my toes on my left foot, had pain shooting down the left leg primarily, though it sometimes shifted to the right, and was losing bladder control, so I chose surgery.

The surgeon made a 4 1/2 inch incision, removed all the extruded material, which was more than a typical amount, according to the surgeon.  The extruded material had been pressing on both sciatic nerves, causing electric-like shocks down the legs to the big toes, in additional to severe deep-seated pain into the buttocks and hips, that had rendered me bedridden.

After removing the extruded material and cleaning out the interior of the disk, the surgeon left the disk in place as a spacer and stabilized it with a Dynesis device which consists of two plastic-coated wires with polyethylene spacers between their ends, that are screwed into the vertebrae above and below the damaged disk to hold the damaged disk in place permanently.  There is no immobility after the operation.  I was up and walking the same day.  I've been on 650 mg percocet every 4 hours and a fentonyl patch which I'm slowly weaning myself off of (I'm down to 650 mg every 8 hours now). I can now feel all my toes, have no pain in my legs or my back other than the comparatively minor incision pain, and my bladder control is back.

I interviewed 2 neurosurgeons before having the surgery done, and asked around friends and acquaintances who had back surgery.  This surgeon had good recommendations from his former patients and on line. The other one I talked to was unimpressive with and seemed to be satisfied using out-dated methods.

Good luck, and I empathize with the pain you're experiencing.
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Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since I had a spinal cord stimulator implanted in me. For the first week and a half I felt fairly miserable, but now that I am walking around and doing some of the things that I used to enjoy I am thrilled. For the first time in  years, the pain  is very manageable.

My next hurdle will be cutting the oxys way back. Thankfully  my pain management doctor will be working with me. After years of taking all those narcotics my body is used to them and when I tried to cut back by over 10% I experienced severe withdrawal symptoms.

In the meantime I am enjoying being almost 100% pain free. If anyone is a candidate for this procedure, I highly recommend it.  I plan on going back to work next week, full of energy and being able to feel like my old self.

So please don't despair. There is hope for many of you.
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I had spinal fusion done anterior/posterior about 10 weeks ago. the pain had gotten much better than before surgery.  Then all the sudden now i have sever pain in my left lower abdomen.  Did blood work and ct scan said all looked normal.  Now the pain has gone into whole pelvis, all around left side into my back low and all the way down to my thigh.  has anyone experienced this before. am i going nuts.  is this from the surgery or is this something different each day i am getting worse and worse pain is spreading and i am so fatigued.....anyone can anyone help me.  thanks........man you all are right this surgery i think was a big mistake.  caused me to have numbness and tingling in hands and legs way worse than before.  and pain is so intense...
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That sounds awful!

I'm no medical expert, but do you think it might be an post-surgery infection? Infection is one of the "risks" and this pain is really getting around.


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Post-fusion complications seem to have caused so much pain and grief for folks in this discussion.
  Sympathies to all.

My newest ortho surgeon wants me to have a  6-level fusion - (T1-S5). He thinks it's necessary to stabilize my spine as I may have scoliosis. I'm not keen on this fusion at all. I think I may really have trouble with stenosis and compressed nerve roots - another part of his diagnosis.

Has anyone else had a 6-level fusion?

Amysback  
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752038 tn?1233463830
I am so glad to know that I'm not the only one that feels like they are all alone and no one understands the paing they are in after having a lumbar lamintectomy with fusion from the L2 to S1.
Mine started in July of 2008, started out with severe abdominal pain and buttocks pain.  Upon examination of the 2nd time in the hospital they decided to do an MRI.  They said I had DDD and spinal stenonis and that I needed to see a neurosurgeon.  
I went to the neurosurgeon in August who informed me that the stenosis wasn't that bad and that I needed to return to my normal doctor to see what else could be going on, such as if was all because of my diverticulitis.
My family doctor was at a loss of what to do so she sent me for an epidural to try and relive some of the pain.  After that didn't work I took it upon myself and I went to a friend of a friends doctor for some answers.  As soon as she did her examination she said that I definatley had something going on with my back and she scheduled me for an MRI with contrast and to see another neurosurgeon in the same office as the other neuro.
I was to the point that I had pain in my buttocks, down the outside of my thighs, down my legs into my calves and feet and no feeling in the bottom of my feet.  I was unable to walk, set or stand for more than about 5 minutes before I was in unbearable pain.  I was afraid to drive because my legs would go completely numb when I sat down, so had to depend on family and friends to take me to doctors appointments or anything that was out of town.  Thank goodness we live in a small town and I could at least drive to pick up my RX.  I was relying on my 7 year old for help with laundry, cooking, cleaning and making sure I could get in and out of the shower and didn't fall.  I was put on several medications through these months and nothing helped.
After the MRi with contrast my appointment with the neuro was moved up to a month and a half before the original appointment.  He walked into the office and introduced himself and said we need to discuss doing surgery on you.  
I was shocked and asked why from the MRI 2 months before when there wasn't anything wrong I was going to we need to do surgery immediately.  He said that my discs had completely compressed and there was nothing left and we needed to get in there and get some pressure relieved.  I had to wait another month and a half for surgery and hoped that I would be able to go back to a "normal" life.  So in December 15, 2008 was my surgery date.
The day they did surgery the doctor talked to my husband and said that the vertaraes from the L2 to the L5 were completely fused together, covered in bone spurs and the nerve was entrapped and was starting to tear, so he was hoping that this would give me some relief.
When I got back into my room the PA came in and took the end of a pen and ran it across the bottom of my foot and for the first time in several years, I jerked my foot back because I felt it, I had feeling in my feet.  I was really excited thinking this was going to work.
2 weeks after my surgery I started feeling the pain starting in my buttocks and on my thighs again.  It has since gottten to the point they have done another MRI and I go in Tuesday  for my check up.  The new MRI shows that I have moderate and mild disc bulge and also a colelction of ephidural fluid at the incision site about 3 inches by 4 inches.
I am however disappointed with the staff as I have called on several occassions to let them know the severity of my pain and that I am not able to get around because of the pain and have to lay down flat on my back with a heat pad just to be able to get up and go to the bathroom.  There response is, we will have to talk to the doctor and just take a couple of ibuprofen in between your Lortab 10. I have developed the headache from you know where.  I just can't seem to get rid of it for anything.
I'm wondering now if this all didn't start when I was pregnant with my son in 2001.  I had similar pain and feet swelling when I was pregnant, however it never went away.
When I would do alot of stair climbing, housework, setting, standing, walking, yard work or anything more than being behind my desk at work, I could hardly walk and sleeping was unthought of.  I was talking 8,000 mg of ibuprofen a day just to be able to function and move around.  I was a very active person prior to July 2008.  Worked 8 to 10 hours a day, did house work when I got home, fixed dinner, laundry, spent time with my son on the floor playing and now I am resinged to laying on a bed 98% of the time due to the pain.  My husband has had to move a bed into our living room since I haven't been able to climb the 14 stairs up to our bedroom.
I'm thinking after my appointment on Tuesday (depending on what he tells me from the new MRI) that I will find another physician (neuro or ortho) as I feel that I probably have permanent nerve damage and this is something I may have to just live with.  I just want for my piece of mind to get another opinion.
Thanks for listening, it does help to get his off my chest, as it seems that unless you have been through the pain, you have no idea what it's like.
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Help, please. I'm going to have Facet Joint injects next week on c-5-7. I have had a fusion of c-6-7 and a Lami from c-5-t-2. This nightmare has been going on for two years with no end in sight. I'm back on the pain patch after ripping it off because of a bad reaction. I was on MS Contin 2x daily and about 7 vicodin daily for breakthrough pain. I saw a Orthopaedic Dr. and he thinks my first surgery for the fusion never healed. I was intentionally pushed off a houseboat 2x after my fusion and it's been down hill ever since. I want to know if the Facet injections have helped anyone?
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Welcome to the Back and Neck Community.  Members are here to provide assistance and support to individuals experiencing symptoms related to possible abnormal conditions of the cervical and/or lumbar spine.  Advice given is non-professional and is primarily based on personal experiences.

I am sorry to hear of your continued health problems.  A failed fusion is an unfortunate outcome from your prior surgery.  Being intentionally pushed off a houseboat after your fusion surgery could have contributed to this (by your friends???), but further degeneration of adjacent discs is a potential risk following any fusion surgery.  Your later laminectomies are the result.
Facet joint injections are one method of determining the actual cause of your pain as well as a potential source of relief.  Additional information in detail can be found at this web site:
      www.spineuniverse.com and entering "cervical facet joint injections"  in the search field.  
There are links to additional articles regarding chronic neck pain and treatment modalities.  Having the injections may help, or it may indicate that the facet joints are not involved as a source of your continued pain.  Either way, it serves as a definitive diagnostic tool for you and your orthopedic specialist.
Please post again with the results of your injections and with any additional questions or concerns you may have.
Best wishes -----

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I am a 26 year old mother of a 4 & 5 year old who had a spinal fusion done due to a cracked L5. Even after all the MRI's and X-Rays and Ct's no one knew my bone was broke! I was 23 in chronic pain and willing to do anything to make it stop! I was told that surgery was my only option and was never told any of the possible complications.  When they went in to do the surgery, they found my L5 cracked in half.  So they did the fusion and used part of the broke bone as the bone graft material. Sounds like it worked out alright? I wish. Now I hurt everyday, allday, everywhere.  Not only does my back hurt, but now my neck hurts and everywhere in my body. They have me on percocet and a hundred other pills that I couldn't even tell you what i'm on cause I can promise I have tried everything that isn't narcotic and some that is.  I would never, ever go to a surgeon that will not prescribe good pain pills! There is no reason to suffer after surgery! none! They do have me on flector patches and I think they help a lot with the deep pain and the lidoderm patches help a lot with the suface pain but I had to pick my poison because insurance won't pay for both! I don't know where everyone else is from on this page, but i'm glad i'm from here because it souds like my pain management is doin alright compared to some people. At least they try to figure out what's wrong with me. They are thinking about diagnosing me with fibromyalgia brought on from the surgery. Every bone, muscle and tendon hurts in my body every other day or every 2 days depending on what I do with my kids or what kind of house work I do. Anyway the moral of the story is, If at any way possible you can avoid back surgery, please please do, your kids or grandkids or nieces or nephews or sisters or cousins or someone who loves you will appreciate not seeing you in constant, agonizing pain.
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Howdy, I am 52 years old and have been suffering for the past 6 years. Thank god I have a good pain doc. In regard to fusion and laminectomy. I have heard nothing but Bad Bad Bad! I have a good friend who is a pain specialist in CA. he told me "run don't walk, don't do it" When the surgeon also told me that I would never be pain free, why would I do it?  My wife is a coder in a pain clinic and she sees patients coming back for pain management months after surgeries. My mother-in-law and my pharmacist both had it done. My mother-in-law said it lasted about 17 months and the pharmacist (it's actually his wife) said 2 years later she was just as bad as before the surgery. I went through it all therapy, caused me to go into such bad back spasms they had to pick me up off the floor. I had the spinal injections, the longest it lasted was a week and of course insurance only would pay for one every 30 days. I can no longer sit or stand for more than 15-20 minutes. As I write this comment, I am already in a bit of pain. Have not had a full nights sleep in over 16 months. Driving "forget about it" Drove my son to Phoenix 2 hour drive, when we got there had to ask the receptionist if it was ok for me to lay on the floor to try to get some kind of relief (did not work, only scared the kids). Hey what about the depression that comes along with all of this ****? Thought I would grow old gracefully, guess I can kiss that goodbye. Sooooooo guess what? Not going to do it.  Will stay on my cocktail of pain meds and try to make the best of it until I can't take it anymore, then we will just have to see what happens then. Good Luck, God Bless

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I would just like to mention that I know all too well what you are going through. In 2005 at the age of 14 I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis and was told that surgery was the only option but not to worry because it wouldn't affect my quality of life. For a little over a year now I have been having some trouble which is steadily getting worse. I have C4-L2 fused and now at the bottom, like between L2 and L3, it pops every time I move and it pretty much makes life miserable. The last time I went to the doctor he said the xrays showed nothing wrong and he had no idea what is wrong. Since then he has stopped accepting my insurance and I can't see him. But it's to the point where as an 18 yr old girl I can barely get out of bed and go to school, much less join the USAF like I have always wanted to. I am severely afraid of taking pain medicines because it seems like you always hear horror stories with them, yet when I take them I still have no life because I can't hold my head up and I am STILL hurting. If anyone has any advice please let me know...and again I am soooo sorry to hear that other people are going through this also. God bless everyone.
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Wow you are so young to have had to go thru all of that. I feel like superwhimp after reading your story. If it was not for the pain meds, I feel I would be confined to bed, or a wheel chair or something. That too would be hell, cuz I can't sit or sleep. I think the trick with meds is if your doc increases as he monitors like mine did. Started me off with the min as related to my size and pain level. From there if the meds did not work, he increased  doseage until a dose that offered some help was achieved.  That may have its draw backs as well, BUT at least I can do more than try to find a comfortable position.  My day is so full of excitement! If I make it to the bedroom, I lie down, try to get comfortable, may drift off a little and sometimes even fall asleep.  So far the longest I have been able to sleep was 5hrs. Heck I was excited about that. I then will stand until legs tingle, become numb and pressure builds up in lower back. Then I sit until.......well you get the picture. Forgot to mention as well that thank god I have a very understanding wife. Its been over a year since be have had any intamacy (?) can't even spell it. Good luck, pray, and enjoy every minute of the day if you can.
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In October 2007 I had a series of 4 epidural spinal injections during a 4 month period.  They only made my sciatica pain worse.  Plus I had severe complications from the sternoids.  Next in March 2008  they fused my L4 L5.  After the surgery I had horrible pain for months.  Had to use a walker and cane, plus wearing a brace.   After the surgery I developed new pain in my feet and legs - nerve pain.  They said my nerve root was coming back.  It would take about 6 months.  After 6 months in October 2008 my neurosurgeon sent me to another doctor.  He did a MRI.  It shows the nerve root caught upon the scar tissue on L4 L5.   Told me to wait it out.  They just did another MRI and the nerve root is still caught up on the scar tissue.  He said there is nothing I can do for it other than take medication such as Lyrica.  Another surgery to get rid of the scar tissue will only make it worse.  I have horrible pain in my feet, legs, plus the sciatica is twice as bad as it was before the surgery.    Has anyone else had this problem?  Have you found a solution?
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Ihad surgery fusion L4 L5 Oct 2006 after 3 months my back felt very unstable, i had a scan 2 screws had broken, 2weeks later my consultant did the op again only setting the plates at a different angle,the problem i have now is severe nerve damage.i have had 2 lots of nerve condustion studies,the out come was iriversable nerve damage,i get servere pain and numbness in my feet.i have been put on a drug called Gabapentin i have been on it for 3 months now it as done nothing for my problem but it sends you to sleep
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