In January of 2010, I had spinal fusion at Level L4-L5-S1. Felt a lot better afterwards but encountered problems after about 10 months. When I became more active, I began experiencing a lot of pain and swelling at the surgery site. I went back to the doctor who thought the hardware may be causing the problem. I am thin, and more likely to run into problems as a result. They did a MRI, CT, and injections to determine if the problem was the hardware. They did a surgery in March of 2011 to remove the hardware. Everything went went well with the surgery. It was fused. The PT afterwards said that in the OR report that the doctor had to actually remove some bone to get the hardware and screws out. The doctor told my wife that I had a lot of scar tissue. After removal of hardware, the swelling and pain at the site subsided. It has been 4 months, and my problem at this point is that the muscles in the lower back always feel very tight and stiff. I walk each day, do strengthening exercises, and try to stretch them out, but nothing seems to help them. I will do fine for several weeks, and then they will tighten up and become more painful. I really don't have any idea how to loosen these muscles up. Any ideas? Is this a permanent thing or does it get better?
I'm sorry that I don't have a really good answer for you, but I have a couple of suggestions. Have you taken a muscle relaxer when you get these flares? You might find that it would help loosen up the tightness you are experiencing. the other thing is have you tried heat when you tense up? Heat is often used to loosen up the tightness. Are you still in PY? Have they suggested anything?
there is a product out called Biofreeze that is a gel you rub on and it helps with the discomfort. You can search for it on the web as it isn't sold OTC...just a PT and Chiropracters.
It is entirely possible that scar tissue is causing you to feel taut. Every time the surgeon goes in, your fascia and other soft tissue are disturbed and have to grow back together another time.
You might want to look into some type of therapeutic massage or body work or acupuncture. Any of these might help with the tightness. It may not be muscular.
Do you buy this acupuncture stuff? I wonder if my insurance covers it. Therapeutic massage sounds nice, too, but I can't imagine one of my doctors prescribing it. I bet there's no chance for a massage on my back for quite a while. I had a swedish massage and pedicure at a really nice spa two weeks before my fusion. It was a birthday present from my dear wife. I'd love to have it again. Since I can't wear closed-toe shoes right now, mybe the pedicaure is a good idea. These poor feet aren't things of beauty (lipstick on a pig and all that), but it sure felt nice and my nails were nice and shiny for quite some time.