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Old 07-02-2011, 11:05 PM   #1
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L4-L5 Fusion Complications

On Monday, June 27th, I had surgery fusing L4 and L5 as well as some clearing of stenosis in the area. I have been sent home and am generally pleased with the outcome so far.

However,there is one discouraging problem. I have been told that I have a "reticulated sciatic nerve" which is extremely painful. I believe, if not for this problem, I could easily walk one city block already (Saturday, July 3rd). However, with the "RSN," I can only walk ten or twenty paces before I experience extremely sharp pain emanating from the area around the right ball joint in my hip all the way down to the bottom of my right foot.

I have been sent home with prescriptions for Prednizone, Norco and Valium for pain management.

Has anybody else encountered this discouraging problem. What is the prognosis?

 
Old 07-03-2011, 09:51 PM   #2
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Re: L4-L5 Fusion Complications

Welcome to the board. Glad to hear your surgery went well and you are on the slow road to recovery.

Were you given this information prior to surgery? Did your surgeon explain what he meant by reticulated sciatic nerve? As far as I can tell, this is not a common term. I don't ever recall anyone being told his/her sciatic nerve was reticulated.

"Reticulated" is a term that is sometimes used in radiology reports to describe a pattern that is visible in tissue...that looks like a honeycomb...or think of the pattern on a reticulated giraffe's coat. What it means used to describe a sciatic nerve, I really have no idea.

[B]"I can only walk ten or twenty paces before I experience extremely sharp pain emanating from the area around the right ball joint in my hip all the way down to the bottom of my right foot."[/B]

Did you have this same pain prior to surgery and did it prevent you from walking further?? What was the reason for your fusion, other than stenosis?

Last edited by teteri66; 07-03-2011 at 09:52 PM.

 
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Old 07-03-2011, 11:16 PM   #3
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Re: L4-L5 Fusion Complications

[QUOTE=tetonteri66;4792043]Welcome to the board. Glad to hear your surgery went well and you are on the slow road to recovery.

Were you given this information prior to surgery? Did your surgeon explain what he meant by reticulated sciatic nerve? As far as I can tell, this is not a common term. I don't ever recall anyone being told his/her sciatic nerve was reticulated.

"Reticulated" is a term that is sometimes used in radiology reports to describe a pattern that is visible in tissue...that looks like a honeycomb...or think of the pattern on a reticulated giraffe's coat. What it means used to describe a sciatic nerve, I really have no idea.

[B]"I can only walk ten or twenty paces before I experience extremely sharp pain emanating from the area around the right ball joint in my hip all the way down to the bottom of my right foot."[/B]

Did you have this same pain prior to surgery and did it prevent you from walking further?? What was the reason for your fusion, other than stenosis?[/QUOTE]

 
Old 07-03-2011, 11:27 PM   #4
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Re: L4-L5 Fusion Complications

I had the surgery to relieve pain in my lower back and pain and tingling down both legs. In the morning and evening, I could hardly walk. I was told by two doctors ( 100% independent from each other - at two different medical centers) that I should have L4 and L5 fused and also get the stenosis cleaned out. I had this done last Monday and I believe the surgery was completely successful.

However, I was told that in installing the "cage" between L4 and L5, the sciatic nerve is "freed" and somehow may get irritated, thus the pain.

No. I did not have this pain before the surgery.

It is now Sunday,and this severe pain down my right leg is the only thing impeding my full recovery.

Very discouraging.

Thanks for your input.

 
Old 07-04-2011, 12:09 PM   #5
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Re: L4-L5 Fusion Complications

You surgery probably will be "successful," but you won't know this for about a year. In the meantime this may not be the only new sensation or pain that you will develop as your body goes about healing.

Fusion is a major surgery. Even though you may show bone growth as early as three weeks, it will not be completely filled in and hardened ("cured") for a year, possibly even a bit longer. Particularly during the first 3-6 months, you still need to be very careful in how you use your back, with your structural alignment and posture, and avoid as much as possible, bending and twisting at the waist, pushing, pulling, reaching up overhead or to the side, and you will have weight restrictions on how much you can lift.

I had a PLIF at L4-5 with a cage, rods and pedicle screws so I know a bit about this surgery. It is normal for the nerves surrounding this segment of the spine to become irritated. I don't know how your spine was accessed, but when they go in from the posterior side, there are nerves that have to be moved out of the way. Nerves are extremely touchy and do not like to be handled, so it is normal to have some post-surgical pain.

It is very disappointing to awaken from surgery with what appears to be "new pain." Unfortunately, it will probably take awhile for this pain to eventually go away. But I'm glad to hear you are doing well otherwise.

Try to be patient...and be sure to walk, whether your leg is hurting, or not. It is more beneficial to take several shorter walks than one long one each day, as this will help to keep the nerves stretched out, and it helps to keep scar tissue from forming an attachment to one of the nerves. Getting adequate rest is equally important to your healing...so regard walking and resting as your most important activities during these early weeks of recovery.

If you have questions, many on the board have been through similar procedures and will be happy to share their experiences.

 
Old 07-07-2011, 04:27 PM   #6
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Re: L4-L5 Fusion Complications

Thank you all for your responses. I can live with the temporary pain. What discouraged me was that I thought I would need to live with the "new" pain permanently. Your responses relieved me of that thought.

Again, thanks.

 
Old 07-07-2011, 05:56 PM   #7
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Re: L4-L5 Fusion Complications

Just continue to follow your surgeon's instructions and learn to be patient. Most of us have found the road to recovery has some potholes in it. Just when you start to think there is improvement, something flares up and you see to take a step back...and that can go on for months and months. It is a long recovery for most people. A positive attitude and a bit of faith go a long way...so, hang in there!

Whenever you need encouragement, post again. Other spineys know what you are going through better than your doctor or your family (unless they are spineys, too, of course!)

 
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