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Still in constant back pain after fusion

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Old 09-29-2003, 11:23 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: los angeles, ca, usa
Posts: 1
seespotwrite HB User
Unhappy Still in constant back pain after fusion

Hello everyone,

I am posting here to hopefully find someone who can either understand or hopefully shed some light on why I keep having pain in one small area after a double Micro-D on L2/3 and L3/4 in April, then lumbar fusion
with hip bone graft on August 6. The original surgeon who insisted I needed the micro-d's really messed me up by taking out 2 facet joints, much too much bone and not fixing one of the ruptured dics. I have been in out of the hospital 7 times over 6 months, on every pain med known to man and the original pain from 7 months ago located just below my fusion incision has never gone away. I am beyond upset as my surgeon keeps blowing me off and saying he's done all that he can and the CT scan showed I was healing, but not fused. He said it's a pain management issue now. I truly beleive that we are own own best diagnosticians and something inside me keeps telling me there's still something wrong! I wouldn't complain if this were general pain or even pain that could be controlled by the meds I'm taking now - Oxycontin and Vicodin. Can't sit here any longer - have to go lay down. Please help if you can...

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Old 09-29-2003, 12:54 PM   #2
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,339
MarianJ HB User

Hello Seespotwrite,

First I would like to Welcome you to the Healthboards. Second I go a little chuckle from you screen name.
OK, on a more serious note I am very sorry to hear of all your suffering. Your surgeon has some nerve stating that he can no longer help you. First of all he is supposed to give your proper care after surgery which would include 90 days post op. Second of all how can he tell from a CT Scan that you are healing. And third, he should have explained things more thoroughly to you. Fusion recovery can take from 3 months till 1 year and sometimes longer. You said that your surgery was August 6 and I am thinking this year. That would mean that you are almost 7 weeks post op. Of course you have not fused yet. The fusion is such a long process. Usually the first couple of x-rays is to make sure that you instrumentation has stayed in place. My neuro has just ordered a CT Scan and I had it done last week. I will be amazed if it shows signs of fusing beginning and I stress beginning....

You really need to find another doctor. If you don't mind me asking was your surgeon neuro or ortho?
Also have you tried ice as you may have a lot of inflammation as I also suffered from it. Some members of these boards suggested a frozen bag of vegetables, for instance peas. You are correct when saying listen to your body. Have you tried going to your primary doctor and maybe he/she can refer you to another doctor? Gosh I really hope that you can find pain relief as you are already taking strong meds. Maybe they also need to prescribe something for nerve pain as that can also be an issue.

I'll be praying for you.

[b]Cervical[/b] MRI 10/02
Loss of cervical lordosis with reversal of the curvature.
C4-5 and C6-7 disc bulges resulting in flattening of the ventral margin of the cord.
C5-6 there is a left foraminal herniation which results in moderate foraminal stenosis In addition, there is flattening of the ventral margin of the cord due to bulging disc.
Cervical Epidural 5/19/03

[b]Lumbar[/b] MRI 10/02
Lumbar Lordosis
L5-S1 disc herniation with moderate thecal sac deformity.
L4-5 disc desiccation with bulge which results in mild thecal sac deformity and mild bilateral foraminal stenosis.
L2-3 disc desiccation with Schmorlís nodule of L3.
Lumbar Epidural 1/30/03
Lumbar Epidural 2/12/03
Lumbar Epidural 2/26/03
Lumbar Discogram 5/23/03
Lumbar CatScan 5/23/03
[b]Posterior Fusion & Infuse on L4,L5,S1 6/30/03[/b]
Lumbar X-Ray 7/24/03
Lumbar X-Ray 8/27/03
Still no pain relief....
Lumbar CT Scan 9/24/03
Waiting for results....

Old 09-29-2003, 01:04 PM   #3
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: CA USA
Posts: 11
Btrphlygrl HB User

I understand all too well....I have had three surgeries (the last being a fusion with the same hip-bone graft that you mentioned). The first surgeon took out the wrong disc - and that's just he beginning...
Once the doctors perform surgery and we-the patients are still in pain - they don't know what to do. THey have failed, and they don't like to fail. It's been a very frusterating road...but one that I understand as I'm reading your message.

I have also taken more pain medication than one person should take in 20 lifetimes...maybe more.

What I'm doing now...trying to get off of the drugs. After 5-1/2 years - I really don't know how much of the pain is from the original back problems and how much of it is from the pain medication. I have been told that once your body becomes dependent on the pain meds it will actually create pain to keep you taking the drugs.

I have just begun, and I know that this is probably going to be more difficult than all the surgeries combined...but for my own piece of mind...I have to try.

Reading all of the advice and what people go through (withdrawals) from Oxycontin - it definitely has me scared..but I'm more scared of spending the rest of my life on the drugs.

I wish you lots of luck...and someone to talk to if you need to.

Hang in there....
Talk to people who have been there...not just doctors.
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break,
that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

Khalil Gibran

Old 09-29-2003, 03:42 PM   #4
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Forked River, NJ, USA
Posts: 33
JanieD HB User

Wow, you have had a rough time, and I am having the same pain as you. I am 4 months post fusion, I had a hernia from them going into an existing incision in the front, that was a nightmare of a surgery, I have been to my doctor, who has taken x-rays every month and has stated that I am starting to fuse and it looks excellent! Well looks can be deceving, because had I know then what I know now, I may have lived with the pain I was in, it certainly wasn't as bad as it is now. I am looking to start oxycodone, you can take that with Vicoden?? I too would try another doctor, I am looking into that possibility also. Good luck to you Jane

Old 09-29-2003, 04:14 PM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 345
magnetlady45 HB User


I have a post 9weeks postop. I thought I would jump in here and give my two cents worth. I believe we need to be patient after our surgeries. I just had posterior lumbar fusion L4-5 with decompresion laminectomy. This was my 3rd back surgery. I expected to be back to work after 4 weeks but that was without my knowing how long a fusion recovery time actually is. Since then I have found out that it takes a year or more to recover. I had been on Vicodin Es since February. At 3 weeks postop I decided to cut down on my meds and dropped down on my own to 3.75 by cutting pill in two. Doctor lowered my meds to Vicodin which is 5 mg but I chose to cut that pill in two and am now taking 2.5mg. I believe that taking too many pain pills like Vicodin or Oxycotin can actually make one feel even more pain. It is a psycological thing since those drugs are addictive. I don't doubt the pain you are experiencing. I am still experiencing pain but no more than before even after reducing meds. I would personally rather have some pain than become addicted to meds. Hope you get well soon.

Old 09-30-2003, 09:04 AM   #6
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: richmond va
Posts: 4
kristinkj HB User

I highly suggest reading Dr. John Sarno's "The Mindbody Prescription" and he wrote another I have not read yet, but intend to, "Healing Back Pain". If you are in as much pain as I was, and are at the end of your rope, and are WILLING to try anything, this is for you. I promise....
Man's ignorance is contempt prior to experience.

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