7 weeks post-op L4/L5 T/LIF fusion
Okay, I am now 7 weeks post-op from an L4/L5 T/LIF fusion. I had an L4/L5 decompression last summer followed up by another surgery two weeks later to clean out a massive hematoma and infection.
The first few weeks after this surgery actually weren't that bad - I was in far less pain after this fusion than I was after my decompression last summer when I could barely walk after surgery. Perhaps I'm just becoming accustomed to the pain in some twisted way.
My surgeon said that I had a nasty bundle of scar tissue entangling and wrapped around my nerve roots at L4/L5. He said the nerve roots were flaming red and he had to chisel the scar tissue away from them. He is sending me to physical therapy for nerve flossing to hopefully keep the scar tissue from coming back, but I am scared to death of the scar tissue returning.
My MRI's really didn't look that bad at all after my first surgery and I had multiple doctors tell me there was nothing wrong with me, that they couldn't explain why I was in pain, and who refused to order additional tests. It took a lot of perseverance to finally find a doctor who was willing to do an upright MRI which showed significant nerve root compression and nerve root tethering when I would sit. Also, a discogram showed a huge tear in my disc and pain at L4/L5. I'm still not sure how I mentally held up during the process of finding this problem that was so evasive. All I can say to any of you who know you are in pain and have doctors saying that you shouldn't be, keep going with the tests or additional doctor opinions until your problem is found.
I am still having nasty sciatic pain in the bottom of my left heel and along the outer side of my foot, and recently started also having pain along the top of my foot into my big toe - that's new for me and I'll have to admit that it is really annoying. My surgeon recently said he is pleased with where things are at and that he's not worried nor surprised about the new and continued sciatic pain given my surgery findings. He said it could take 1-2 years to have significant sciatic pain relief. I am very thankful that I don't have any permanent numbness or functionality loss.
However, I was having problems with a psycho leg that would violently jerk about when I would sit or lay down that I was put on Baclofen (muscle relaxer and antispasmodic) for, and when I tried to wean off the Baclofen recently my psycho leg returned with a vengence. I had to go back on my full dose of Baclofen and my surgeon said I may need to be on it for life. I also had to go back on Gabapentin for the sciatic pain as I was completely unable to sleep when I weaned off of it. I am taking about 5-6 Percosets a day for pain.
I am walking 2-3 times a day for a total of about a mile a day. I have tried to increase the distance but am rewarded with severe back pain when I try. Also, I am unable to sit at a 90 degree angle due to the nasty sciatic pain when I do. Even though my surgeon said he thinks things are going well, I am really getting concerned about being able to return to work. I already lost my job but when I return to looking for work it would be in a professional position working at a computer the majority of the day. For those of you who have had a fusion, did any of you still have nasty sciatic pain when sitting a couple of months after your surgery that improved enough at some point to return to work that involved sitting at a computer? I have always held out hope of returning to some type of "normal" life which involves going back to work, but I am also a realist and it's starting to sink in that I may not be able to.
Thanks to all of you for the support you have given me during my back surgery adventures.