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Never going to be the same L5 - S1 spinal fusion

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Old 12-10-2012, 07:06 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: USA
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Never going to be the same L5 - S1 spinal fusion

Hello all. I'm new to the board and was relieved to find it.

In Sept 2011 I had spinal fusion on L5 - S1 and also needed brackets/screws for vertebrae stabilization after my spinal surgeon diagnosed me w/ spondylothesis. It's been over a year and while the pain has lessened, it's still there..and I feel like my life has been altered in a way that can't be fixed. The nerve damage from the fractured vertebrae has caused pretty big issues w/ my right leg (like it doesn't "work" half the time) that my surgeon cautioned me may never go away because of the extent of damage that was done. I've gained like 75lbs since the surgery (that doesn't help my back either), I still have no energy, still have pain, and quite frankly am likely in a major depression. I am STILL sleeping in a hospital bed because I can't lie flat at night. I've been through tons of p/t and done everything I was supposed to do but my body just feels broken and useless to me.

I was on an a/d but that didn't help with the weight issue and made me feel more dull than anything so am off it for now (will be finding a new one soon). My back still hurts (though thankfully not near as bad) and my energy level is ZERO. I am a single parent to a child with special needs and struggling like I am makes caring for him more difficult than it used to be, not to mention, we aren't as active as we used to be so I feel bad that he's stuck in the house so much with mommy. My career has tanked pretty much. I don't have the most understanding management and have had immense pressure put on me at work regarding my spinal surgery and recovery.

I never feel like I get enough rest. My body as a whole aches in my joints most the time. My hips, elbows, knees...etc

I have read that it's common for spinal surgery patients to experience depression but this far post-op? Honestly, I feel like having this surgery while it was really my only choice (I was almost immobile w/ pain), has pretty much ruined my life. Does anyone else ever feel that way? and if so, how'd you get past it? It just feels like there are so many obstacles. I can't move like I used to and even if I could, I don't have any energy. My leg makes me trip a lot and just this morning I really jolted my lower back coming down the stairs.

Does it get better? Do you think there could something else going on either caused by or in conjunction with the spinal issues?

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Old 12-10-2012, 10:06 AM   #2
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Re: Never going to be the same L5 - S1 spinal fusion

Welcome to the board. I am pleased you found us, but am sorry for the reason. I hope you will find some support here and maybe a little information that might help.

It is very frustrating when a surgery ends up with less that desired results. When you say your leg doesn't work part of the time, do you mean there is a weakness or do you have a "drop foot?"

My first surgery of any type was a fusion at L4-L5. I too had spondylolisthesis. My surgery was considered a success and the recovery was uneventful, but my sciatic and nerve pain never really changed. I was no worse after I recovered from the surgery but, I was no different. You are sufficiently far out from your surgery that you can pretty well conclude that it is no longer just a matter of the nerve needing time to recover from the prior compression.

Are you currently working with a pain management doctor or a physiatrist? I suggest you look into taking a mild anti-depressant as well. While it is perfectly normal to feel depressed about your situation, there are some medications that can kill two birds with one stone -- that is, will work for the depression and will have some positive effect on the pain. Being in pain all the time wears one down and makes it more difficult to cope with everything else that is going on in life.

I would suggest you go to a new spine specialist, either a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon whose practice is limited to the neck and back for an evaluation of your current condition. If you live in a larger city, look for someone who specializes in revision surgery...and it will most likely be an orthopedic spine surgeon. (Neurosurgeons tend to not want to deal with some other doctor's handiwork.) If not, try to find someone who is not in practice with your current doctor. I'm not saying your surgeon did anything wrong or doesn't know how to handle your case...but what you want is a new set of eyes evaluating your issues.

It may be that something else is amiss or that you needed fusion on two levels rather than the one...or....there are dozens of things that could be going on...but surgeon # 1 will tend to just look at what has been done and see how it is progressing. You need someone different to give you a fresh opinion.

Now, this may take some time and perseverance to find the right doctor...but I encourage you to try.

I saw many specialists before I found someone who could help me...and several times I was told to accept the way things were and to deal with it...but I knew there was something else going on that was continuing to cause my nerve I kept looking. I ended up having a revision which added on to my first I am now fused from L3 to S1.

But first I would start by looking into treating the depression so you have the energy to deal with the other issues you are facing.

We're here to offer support and to try to share our experiences, answer questions you might have, etc. You aren't alone in what you are going through.

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