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5 level fusion done....still have SCIATICA!!! WHY?

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Old 12-31-2012, 08:16 AM   #1
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BeBe336 HB User
5 level fusion done....still have SCIATICA!!! WHY?

Hello everyone, I am new to this site but I wanted to get as much feedback as I could in regards to my situation since my neurosurgeons answer to my chronic pain is meds. I had a 5 level spinal fusion done July 31, 2012, after having 4 lumbar laminectomies over the years since 2001. I can't understand that if my spine is supposedly "straight" now with the fusion, why do I still have sciatica down my right leg from my buttock to my knee!! I've asked the neurosurgeon about this chronic pain and I keep getting the answer "give it time". I'm not able to walk more than 10 minutes and unable to do exercise other than I ask after gaining 75lbs, how much more time? Or should I seek a new doctor??

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Old 12-31-2012, 11:45 AM   #2
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Re: 5 level fusion done....still have SCIATICA!!! WHY?

Welcome to the board. As you know, a five level fusion is a very big most surgeons do not want to have to attempt as statistically the rates for success are not great. How was the fusion done, posterior or ...?
Which levels were included?

Have you had a MRI since the surgery to see if there is still any nerve compression?

Unfortunately, it may be that the nerve is permanently damaged and may still be sending out pain signals even though it is technically no longer compressed. But since you recently had the surgery, it is really too early to jump to that possibility.

Since you have had laminectomies through the years, I am assuming you have had sciatic pain for a long time. If a nerve has been compressed for a long time it can take an equally long time to regenerate or recover...up to two years, according to some doctors. Also, with a multi-level fusion, everything seems to take longer, the time to fuse, recovery in general.

I'm maybe not understanding what exactly you had done, but usually sciatica is caused by nerve compression created by a bulging disc, stenosis, facet arthrosis or spondylolisthesis. When you say your spine is now "straight," I'm not sure what you are referring to.

In any case, five months post surgery is still early. Are you taking neurontin or lyrica for the nerve pain? I would suggest asking for a MRI at your next appointment if you haven't had one yet. There may be a problem with the hardware. Have you had any steroid injections since the surgery? This is often done when there is lingering nerve pain post surgery.

Old 12-31-2012, 04:05 PM   #3
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BeBe336 HB User
Talking Re: 5 level fusion done....still have SCIATICA!!! WHY?

Thank you for replying to my post. I had my L2-SI fused. I had it done through a long cut in my lower back. To clarify what I meant by "straight", my disc had degenerated to the point that they were basically on top of each other, I thought once the fusion and screws were put in, it would create space between the disc and eliminate the compression on the nerve. My neurosurgeon states that he doesn't think I have permanent damage to the neve because I don't have foot issues, I can move my foot, but I have severe pain when I put weight on the right leg, it's also very painful to lift the leg to take a step. I had 2 myelograms done to correct the dural tear I sustained during the 4th laminectomy. I have been given Fentanyl patches, I take Vicodin, Nucynta and Lyrica for nerve pain, allergic to Neurotin. I understand that the recovery process may BeBe a year if not longer depending on the healing of the fusion but I wasn't expecting to still have sciatica. I know at 34, my life will never BeBe the same after the fusion but I didn't think I would BeBe worse off. I've tried to apply for disability but have been denied, unsure if that's an option for me, but I can't sit or stand for more than 5-10 minutes. I'm at a lost as to what to do. And scared.

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sciatic pain, spinal fusion, weight gain

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