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  • One year anniversary

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    Old 06-09-2013, 11:01 PM   #1
    Kj7726
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    Unhappy One year anniversary

    It has been one year since my L4-L5 fusion, with laminectomy and nerve root decompression. My last post was July 2012, which found me having questions about my recovery. I returned to work at 3 months post-op, but to an office job not to nursing. It allowed me the freedom of standing when I needed to and sitting when that was needed. Driving was the most uncomfortable part of the day. I took muscle relaxers after lunch most days and pain meds as soon as I got home and both again at bedtime. In December the neurosurgeon said my fusion was a success and a could return to work with no restrictions. I had done it, beat the odds, I was so excited.
    I lasted eight weeks, the pain was unbearable, I found myself taking robaxin and Vicodin and driving, something I swore I would be never do. I drive a good part of the day from one pt to the next. A trip to the ER took me back out of work. I have been doing PT for seven weeks, with minimal help the pain is in left lower back, hip and the nerve pain in both feet is constant. Currently I take neurontin 600 mg four times daily, naproxen 500 mg twice daily, flexeril 10 mg 3-4 times daily and hydrocodone 5/500 mg two 3-4 times daily. And still the pain continues.
    I understand the concept of pain management. I never imagined finding myself having to explain to my dr that I have been taking the same meds for so long they no longer work.
    Is this as good as it gets? Looking for any advice on recovery after a year. I can't imagine working in this pain, but don't want to admit I could recover.

    Last edited by Administrator; 11-06-2013 at 09:34 AM.

     
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    Old 06-10-2013, 05:24 AM   #2
    jw90
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    Re: One year anniversary

    sorry to hear all that you are going through..Have you ever tried an inversion machine I have one at home and use it in the morning and at night...I have S1 joint problems but the inversion machine helps to keep the rest of my spine stretched out and take some pressure off the spine..it really helps at night after a day of being upright..I have one that lets you go over gradually as you extend your arms and when you bring your arms back you come up slowly..might be worth a try. I just had trigger point massage on both S1 joints hurt like hell the first day but now is much better..
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    Last edited by jw90; 06-10-2013 at 05:25 AM.

     
    Old 06-10-2013, 06:18 AM   #3
    teteri66
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    Re: One year anniversary

    When the surgeon tells you that your fusion was a success, all that means is that he has accomplished what he set out to do. It does not take into account how you are, whether you are still in pain, etc. It may be that the original diagnosis was not adequate and fusing the one segment was not enough to resolve your pain.

    Have you had a new MRI to see if anything else might be causing your pain? You might want to get another opinion from an orthopedic spine surgeon since a neurosurgeon performed the surgery.

    In 2008 I had PLIF at L4-L5. By six months, I was convinced that the surgery had not resolved my problems, which presented as L5 radiculopathy so bad that I couldn't walk to my mailbox to get the mail, couldn't stand long enough to chop an onion. But my MRI showed no nerve compression, leaving my surgeon shaking his head and suggesting I try a SCS.

    I was not interested in a neurostimulator as I knew there was something mechanical wrong whether it showed up on MRI or not...so, I kept searching for answers. I'll skip all the details...but eventually, in early 2010, after numerous nerve blocks, a foraminotomy to decompress L5, etc. I had gathered enough information that I was able to convince my 2nd surgeon that there was still instability in my spine...and a 3 level fusion was performed. My surgeon thought that L5-S1 was the problem, and was really surprised to discover, when he opened me up, that the facets at L3 were worn away to little nubs. He did a little reconstruction, took out hardware from previous surgery since screws weren't compatible with the new ones, and then used new screws and two long rods to connect the three levels. Four days post surgery my leg pain/sciatica went away and my symptoms went away...no sciatica for first time since 2004!

    If I had listened to my first surgeon, I would have given up after that first fusion. This doctor did a good job -- everything about my first fusion was successful. It just didn't resolve my pain. Since he had "fixed" what was wrong, he didn't see anything further to do, other than pain management.

    I'm not saying that my experience is the same as others who remain in pain post fusion. Because of the pattern of the occurance of my pain, I was convinced I still had a mechanical problem. I just mention my story as an example that the surgeon who tells you "things are as good as they're going to get" doesn't always know....sometimes a difference surgeon will see something the first surgeon missed or ignored or didn't feel was relevent, or will approach something in a different way.

    I hope you will be able to find some answers soon that will provide relief.

     
    Old 06-10-2013, 07:22 AM   #4
    Moldova
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    Re: One year anniversary

    Teteri,

    I respect the fact you refused stimulator thinking it will mask the problem. I have same story. I do not believe in masking my problems with stims and pills; give me good testing and diagnoses first and if nothing can be done than I will agree or disagree about my future pain management.

    So many doctors nowadays kind of give up on patients with chronic pain, dismissing their intuition and knowledge and trying to go easy way: pain mgmt, simulators, high doses of medication...
    This is why so important to be your own Dr, do a lot of research, learn from your own experience (and others) and not to be afraid to express your feelings.

    Best of luck to you all!

    Moldova

     
    Old 06-10-2013, 08:35 AM   #5
    Kj7726
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    Unhappy Re: One year anniversary

    Thank you all for your input. I had an MRI in April of this year. It shows L5-S1 protrusion with a small tear, the PT seems to think that this is what is causing the pain, referring to it always as redicular pain. Sciatic pain down leg was relieved with the surgery, but SI joint pain radiating to left hip is unbearable now. NS wants a CT scan thinking maybe the hardware is causing the pain but waiting on workers comp to approve things slows things down considerably. In in the meantime I am miserable. I can't give up on my recovery, although my family is pushing for permanent disability. I just am not there yet, I still hope I will recover. As far as the PM goes, my primary physician promised he would keep up on it but now is taking on so much, he is only in office one day a week. My last visit with one of his partners was horrible, I left in tears, feelin like a drug seeking idiot, and mst of all in pain. I haven't returned.

     
    Old 06-10-2013, 10:54 AM   #6
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    Re: One year anniversary

    Do you currently have leg pain, or not? Radiculopathy means leg pain and many people say "sciatic" pain when they are referring to any leg pain that runs down the back of the leg...so I can't tell if you have some leg pain. I think you said earlier it is now in both legs....

    You can also have a hardware block to determine if the hardware is causing pain, if you don't see anything on CT scan.

    Annular tears can be very painful...so it may be L5-S1 causing your pain or it may be that you have not fused completely, and there is some instability between these two segments.

    You also may be having issues with the piriformis muscle that attaches by the sacrum and runs over to the hip, going over the top of the sciatic nerve. It frequently is a cause of pain post lower lumbar fusion. In my case, the left SI joint woud slip out of joint and it would cause piriformis pain, making it very painful to walk. I thought I might need a hip replacement or something...but it had nothing to do with my hip -- just the muscle attachment.

    A PT knowledgeable about spine issues should be able to assess your spinal alignment, check for pelvic rotation, and check to see what's going on with the piriformis....if it is taut, you can do exercises to stretch it out. It took me over a year to get my issues sorted out post surgery.

     
    Old 06-10-2013, 02:31 PM   #7
    Kj7726
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    Re: One year anniversary

    I do have burning pain and tingling in both feet. I do not have pain down my leg like I did before my surgery. The pain i have now is centralized to left SI joint and left hip. I have a great physical therapist who recommended I begin therapy in the pool and work up to exercises in gym, which I still have not done.

     
    Old 06-10-2013, 03:51 PM   #8
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    Re: One year anniversary

    I'm so sorry that you had to deal a jerk of a dr. I have so been in your shoes !! In the ER the ER dr and neurosurgeon both looked at me like I was smokin crack when the found out I was on pain meds for an ankle my ankle doc wants to replace !! I told them off !! I said if they want to replace my ankle thirty years earlier then the ideal patients then obviously there's something wrong with it, you turds!! After that they backed off, but it makes you feel like they think your a pill popper. It's so terrible for people like us who actually really need it to make it out of the bed in the a.m. I have to wake up an hour early just to take my pain meds , muscle relaxers , and others , just to get out of bed an hour later.

    I so hope you never have to go through that again. Sending good juju and prayers you way Hun!!
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    Last edited by Administrator; 11-06-2013 at 09:31 AM.

     
    Old 06-11-2013, 09:24 AM   #9
    teteri66
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    Re: One year anniversary

    Walking in the pool is really helpful. And perhaps your PT knows some aqua therapy exercises you can do to strengthen that area too.

    It took me about a year to get sufficiently strong that my SI joint stopped popping out -- I literally was ready to try prolotherapy or a *** injection but I didn't know who to go to so I was dragging my feet about making the appointment...and then one day I realized things were feeling a bit better...and then itjust gradually completely went away...but it did take time.

     
    Old 06-12-2013, 12:55 PM   #10
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    Re: One year anniversary

    I am 7 years post 2 level fusion and I can't encourage everyone enough to get into the water. I havebeen doing water therapy and even aerobics now for 6 months and the ONLY time I DON'T have pain is when I am in the water. Try to find a local health club with a pool and an arthritis class-and I pray everyone has a pain-less day.

     
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