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magnetlady45 09-13-2003 02:51 PM

9 weeks postop from posterior lumbar fusion and still feels like screws are digging
Hi I have posted here before. On July 9th of this year I had posterior lumbar fusion level 4-5 with decompression laminectomy done. Of course I had pain like everyone else after surgery. I was starting to feel better at about 5 to 6 weeks and then started physical therapy. Unfortunately they gave me two exercises to do which set me back terribly. Since then I switched therapists but the pain is still pretty bad whereas prior to the first therapist my pain level had dropped to a 3. Now at times it is 7 or 8. My new therapist shut me down as of this past Wednesday and put me back in the corset. I wanted to go back to work part time but when I told my boss about that he told me not to worry about my job, it is mine when I get back but he wants me to wait till I am better. I must say that I really appreciate that because to be honest I don't think I could do 4 hours a day right now.

The main reason for this post is that I was wondering why my lower back still hurts so much. It seems that even the muscles are so tender and it really feels like the screws are pinching me. It hurts just to touch there. Of course I still have the pain in my lower left leg and buttock which is usually associated with the back. Does anyone else suffer the same thing?

Could it be that the titanium rods and screws don't work well with my body. I am a thin woman so there isn't really any cushion there to protect me. I heard someone say that it is possible that I may have to suffer this pain till I totally fuse and then maybe they would have to go back in to remove the hardware.



magnetlady45 09-13-2003 02:54 PM

Hi again:

I forgot to mention that it really bothers me to sit anymore. I can hardly sit even for a half hour. Sure is different from previous 2 surgeries. My therapist says that I need to change positions every half hour.

Thanks again,


MarianJ 09-13-2003 04:28 PM

Hello :wave: Christi,

I was wondering were you have been as I have not seen you post in a while. Sorry to hear that you are still having so much pain. Looks as if were both in the same boat. I too have a problem sitting. I cannot sit in the recliner for long as it actually feels as it something is pressing and causing more pain. I can now sit longer in my computer chair as I found out that with my legs down and the chair tilts just a little forward, that I do not feel that pressure close to buttock area. But my problem is I am supposed to be keeping my feet elevated because feet and legs are swollen. I still have the pain in the buttocks and in both legs and feet. I don't think that your pain has anything to do with being thin, as I to suffer and I am not quite thin.

I was not employed prior to my surgery so I don't have to rush things. I think that you have a great boss since he seems more concerned with your health and he is not pushing you to come back to early.

Someone on the boards told me that this guy took about 5 months to start getting some pain relief after fusion. I pray that we will be as lucky.

Take Care,

Lumbar 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 Schmorl’s 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]
Cervical 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

magnetlady45 09-13-2003 04:49 PM

Hi Tomorrow:

I hope things get better for you too. My husband and I usually go to Hershey, Pa for the big car show in October. We have a few reserved spots on the flea market field and usually camp out in a van. I told him that I didn't think I could do that this year because we usually slept on an inflated mattress and trying to get dressed without anyone seeing you was tough enough when I didn't hurt. I am going to try to go along and was so lucky to be able to find a room at a hotel for us to stay in. Out of all the motels in that area they were all booked for that week but I still found this one. It is within 11 miles and if it is too much for me to go out with him every day for 3 days then I can always go back to the room and wait on him.

I can't let this problem from robbing me of all the pleasures in this world.

I hope you find out what is causing the swelling.
Wish we were over and done with this.


MarianJ 09-14-2003 11:09 AM

Hello :wave: Christi,

Wow, the car show does sound like a lot of fun. I think it was a very smart move in reserving a room at the Hotel. Sounds as if you were very lucky to find one. I have often wondered how it would be to sleep on the inflatable mattress as they really do look comfortable. I still can't sleep in my bed since my surgery. My husband has tried everything. First he bought plywood and put in under our mattress. That did not make it any firmer. Then he took our bed off of the bed frame and put in directly on the floor. Still no firmness. They he cut the plywood in half and put in on top of our mattress and put a cot mattress on top of it. Would you believe now it is to firm.. Oh I tried sleeping on for two nights, and woke up a couple of times a night in really bad pain. I was thinking about purchasing an air mattress but was worrying about wasting the money if it did not give me comfort.

A good positive attitude is what is needed for our recovery. I think is it great that you are so determined. And I really hope that you have a good time.

Take Care.

magnetlady45 09-14-2003 12:49 PM

Hi Tomorrow:

Thanks for responding. It is really hard trying to keep your chin up during these times. My back is so sore from below the shoulder blades and going down. Of course I never had that kind of pain prior to my surgery. It was always in the left buttock and lower leg. Now I have it all. Went to church today and managed to hang in there for the whole service. After an hour I started squirming. The service usually lasts 1 and a half hours. I have been sleeping in my bed for six weeks or more. My bed is firm and I have a magnetic mattress pad over the mattress. I do sleep rather well as a matter of fact that is where I feel the most pain free. I told my husband this morning that it was too bad we couldn't be knocked out for 6 months or till we were pain free.

Have a great day.


MarianJ 09-18-2003 09:52 AM

Hello :wave: Christi,

Somehow I missed your reply to me, sorry. It seems that we are opposite when it comes to be pain free while sleeping. I awake with so much pain a couple of times a night. I actually get a pain in the back of left foot and it wakes me up. I have to get up and stand and then the pain stops. That has me wondering a little bit. But my ns ordered a cat scan and increased my neurontin and put me on Zanaflex for bed time. I took it last night and it didn't help at all. It might take awhile to get in my system before it starts to work.

Glad you were able to make it through the church service. I know how difficult that must have been. I went to visit my mother in law at the hospital and I could only stay a half hour. I have not had any pain in my upper back at all. It is all in the lower back, actually lower everything.

We have got to keep thinking positive that things are going to get better. I wish you the very best.

Take Care.

shg 09-18-2003 10:11 AM


I really empathize with your situation. Have you had follow-up x-rays with your physician to that it's healing well or maybe, not? To be this far out and have this situation doesn't seem to be right and I would want to have all the x-rays to assure myself that things are okay or if not, know what needs to be done?


magnetlady45 09-18-2003 11:41 AM

Hi Tomorrow & shg:

Thanks for responding. Can hardly believe that I am feeling better. As I posted before my doctor had ordered physical therapy for me at 4 weeks postop. I went to a local rehabilitation center rather than drive a hour to the rehab center associated with my doctor. At 6 weeks post op the therapist had me doing some exercises that I thought was rather strange to be doing at that point and time. My mother had a fit when she heard about it. In a weeks time I had gone from a level 3 to a level 8 in pain. I faxed over pictures to my doctor and to their rehab place. The therapist called me back and said they would never have their patients do those particular exercises until they were 3 to 6 months along after surgery. The doctor didn't want to do any tests at that time. He wants to wait till my followup appt which is Oct. 16. By the way they had taken xrays prior to that at 3 weeks post op.
Come to find out the first rehab place had never treated a spine fusion patient prior to me. I have not returned there and chose to travel the hour drive to the rehab place associated with my doctor.

They made me start all over with some other minor exercises but I wasn't getting better.Last week my therapist shut me down, put me back into corset and no more exercises. I am to walk and no more vacuuming either which I tried to do once last week. As of Monday my pain level has decreased tremendously. My therapist thinks that I may be the kind of person that needs to heal first before therapy. I say Amen to that. I am not pain free but this is the best I have felt in quite a while. I am only taking Vicodin 3.75 mg every 6 hours and may cut back on that too. Last week I was ready to ask the doctor for more pain meds.

Shg: Check out therapists too before going to them. Make sure they know what they are doing or they could ruin you or set you back like they did for me.


shg 09-18-2003 11:53 AM


I really feel bad for you in this situation and I'm sorry you went through this. This does in fact have one positive connotation attached to it and that is what I've been saying all along on my thread, BE SURE TO DO ALL RESEARCH PRIOR TO the operation. You put trust in people who are clearly incapable of giving trust to. As a matter of disclosure they should've told you they never dealt with spinal fusion patients. If I were you, I'd complain to the better business bureau as well as the organization that governs them in OH. It's said to think that while you should've asked the question about their experience in this particular body part that they in fact didn't step up and tell you. It's BS!

Again, I'm sorry you went through this! Let this be a lesson for the rest of us to be sure to leave no stone unturned in our research of everything.

As far as your doctor is concerned, is he not worried himself about the "rehab" you had and the potential damage it could've caused? If he's not, than be positive and just keep on working through everything the way you have. We'll be here for you!

I know all the people who were and will be involved in my care even the therapists. I interviewed them all and saw their practices, etc...there were a few who didn't want to go through my rigorous questioning and well, lets just say not only will they not be treating me, but I can assure you that they received a piece of my mind. I know many people who need pt's and like all business, referrals are the life blood of any successful practice and without getting them, they'll suffer...not me.


magnetlady45 09-18-2003 04:17 PM

Hi Shg:

This whole fusion surgery was so different from the other 2 back surgeries I had before. I didn't even know about back them and happen to stumble upon it at 3 weeks postop. I wish I knew then what I know now. Thank God I am feeling better now. Oh the pain isn't all gone but a lot better than last week. Are you wearing a corset? What kind of meds are you on?
Have you heard from Sharon J, or Susie Q who had her surgery on 9/9 .Toyqt was scheduled for 9/16? I really believe that I handled things a lot better than most but could have done better if I would have known more what to expect and had been better informed.


acme 09-18-2003 04:29 PM

I had those same pains in my back after Fusion for 3-4 mos. I thought the hardware or screws were coming out or loose. My Neuro assured that the nerves were trying to reconnect & the sharp pinching sensation would go away in time! It Did!
Hey .......worse case senerio.....Best case senerio.....get a X-ray.....That would show if anything is unscrewed.

MarianJ 09-18-2003 05:45 PM

Hello :wave: Christi,

Glad to hear that your pain is diminishing. Just don't over do anything. As for the vacuum leave it alone. I even tried and I paid for it afterwards. Plus some of these vacuums can be very heavy. I have a hard time with my home no longer being in order. Oh, I have teenage children that help out, but they can vacuum a room in less than a minute, so you can imagine the Good Luck with trying to cut back on the pain meds.

Oh, I really hope that you also found the right therapist for you this time. At least this one has knowledge of fusion surgery. And since your surgeon is aware of what they did to you with the incorrect therapy, I really don't think he will ever refer and patients there.

I hope things keep getting better for you.

Take Care.

MarianJ 09-18-2003 05:58 PM

Hello :wave: Shg,

After reading your post about you interviewing all that would be providing care, I have just seen things a bit differently. I have done physical therapy in the past as well as my son and daughter. On our first visit with the therapists, it was as if they were interviewing us and our conditions and deciding if they could help us. You are correct, It should be the other way around. When I am able to start therapy, it will be me asking more questions then they will. I have decided to turn the tables especially after reading Christi's post and yours.
It is as if we are hiring them and wanting the most effective and proper care.

Thanks for the insight.....

magnetlady45 09-18-2003 07:15 PM


Thanks Acme for your response. It is nice to know there is someone else out there who experienced the same thing. I am going to take it easy Tomorrow. Work says my job is waiting on me when I am ready to go back but they don't want me to go back until I am able. I am very glad for that. I am not going to push things, like I was trying to. I am going to relax and take it one day at a time.
As far as I am concerned therapy to strengthen leg and stomach muscles can wait till I get better.

Acme, when did you start physical therapy. It seems 3 weeks after surgery is a little soon even though it was only stomach tightening exercises.

Shg, have they mentioned when you are to start P.T.? How about you Tomorrow?


MarianJ 09-19-2003 04:44 AM

Hello :wave: Christi,

My neuro surgeon has put my physical therapy on hold. Last month he thought my problems were coming from a muscle and this month he thinks both nerves and muscles. He has also ordered the cat scan and if everything comes back OK, then maybe he will let me start therapy.

Take Care.

acme 09-19-2003 05:29 AM

I think PT started for me about 5 weeks after surgery. It only lasted about a week and 1/2! The idiots had me doing exercises that weren't on the to do list from my surgen....They put me in alot of pain! My Neuro told me to stop & just walk alot...He was Pi$$ed at the PT people.


shg 09-19-2003 06:51 AM

Good morning all.

I have not head from anyone who had their operation after me. I think we'll all hear at the same time. As for me and my pt, I'm weeks to about 2 months away. I am allowed to do littl things: stand on my toes, bend at the knees 3-5 inches and do a standing knee bend. Other than that, I'm allowed nothing until they see evidence of bone growth. How about all of you, are any of you allowed something similar?


magnetlady45 09-19-2003 01:01 PM

Hi Acme:

I am with you. I don't even want to do any more physical therapy till I am at least 6 months along. There used to be a time when that was when they started physical therapy. I want to be healed first, then worry about strengthening muscles. I do walk every day, I probably walk about two miles but in 4 trips.
By the way when was your surgery acme?

Tomorrow how are you doing today? Isabel has caused us to have a lot of rain since last night but it ended this afternoon. Humidity always bothers me. Alittle more discomfort today but not as bad as last week. I bought a DVD player so I can amuse myself a little more during recovery.

SHG: when is your follow up appointment with your doctor. What kind of meds are you taking if any. Did Isabel affect you too? It seems like my lower back is a little more tender today but not excruciating.

shg 09-19-2003 01:30 PM


Isabel hit NYC but it wasn't that bad. I awoke at 3:30am b/c of the wind and rain but when I woke up at 7 it was beautiful out. I've already had 2 follow-ups with my doctor with the latest being this past Monday. I'm to see him on October 13th next unless I need to see him sooner. As far as medis, it's weird, I'm taking nothing unless I have some break-through pain which I can take either Vicodin, Percocet or Dilauted. But all in all, I'm taking nothing on a steady basis and that's been the case for a week now. It's weird how I hear from some people saying they take this and take that and I'm just not at that level where I need too.

Like I said on my thread, I no longer gauge my "pain level" on a scale of it's a "discomfort level." I get sore at times b/c of the incision or when I move, I hear a "click" in my low back but that's about it. I just pray that it stays this great.


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