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  • Chronic back pain after : 2L5/S1 fusion plus implant of spinal cord stimulator

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    Old 02-06-2013, 10:42 PM   #1
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    Chronic back pain after : 2L5/S1 fusion plus implant of spinal cord stimulator

    Hi, I am new to this board and was hoping to see if anyone else has/is going through anything similar to what I am. 18 yrs ago, when I was 26, I got injured at work. I got on one of the swings, unknown to any of us the swing was broken. It held for a few minutes but as I was going forward, feet up, the bottom of the swing on the left side , went out from under me and I landed on hard ground low back first. I was immediately in pain but got up right away because the kids looked panicked and I wanted to reassure them I was ok. Meanwhile, over the course of the next 13 months, I went to numerous drs, had X-rays, bone scan, MRI, 6 months of pt 3x's a week then wore a medical corset for 2 months...all to no avail. A new dr was able to diagnose me with new X-rays (according to him, the 1st set was horrendous). I was told I would need a fusion. I went to yet another specialist who suggested the same thing due to a fracture at L5 which was also pushed forward.

    So I have a fusion at L5/S1 with a discectomy and bone taken from my hip. 8 months later, I was feeling like I couldn't get past a certain point in my pt. had a ct scan done to find out there was not a solid fusion. So, a plan to go in for another surgery. This time an anterior/posterior fusion , laminectomy with donor bone as well as bone from my own hip again.

    Initially I felt better, was out of work for 6 months, went back at 1/3 time for3 months then back to full time (at the school). I worked the following yr, but my pain consistently increased and eventually felt worse than prior to my initial surgery. I obviously was unable to continue working. I did have 2 children (both c-sections) and actually didn't feel as bad during my pregnancies as I did on a normal basis. I did always have difficulty holding my babies in my arms. I went to numerous dr's and had since moved to sc from ny. I had tried acupuncture as well to no avail. With debilitating pain, not just in my back but also now going down both legs, extremely sore hips all the time, I was sent to Pain Management. We have tried numerous different types of pt including aqua therapy. I take pain medication, muscle relaxers, anti-inflamatory's , sleep medication and anti depressants. Still tons of pain. We've tried injections as well.
    Eventually, I did a trial to see if a spinal cord stimulator would help me. I decided to go through with it. Unfortunately, that surgery too had to be repeated - the surgery has wires that are placed against certain nerves in your spine (the incision is between my shoulder blades and about 6 inches long) those wires are connected to a battery which is placed under the skin at the upper part of my right buttock. It is basically an integral tens unit that is controlled with a hand held device. That gives me some relief, but I am still in terrible pain.
    Over the last 5 yrs, I have found that I am constantly sore all over and my joints are extremely stiff and painful. I also went to my regular dr 5 yrs ago because of excessive fatigue . He tried to blow it off as nothing, I asked for a blood test because as I explained to him, I wasn't just tired...I was like narcoleptic type tired. He told me "your as old today as you've ever been" ....I said "IM 38 yrs old!!" Two yrs ago, while visiting my mother, I woke up one morning and my thumbs were sore. We went to the beach and as the day progressed, my elbows and shoulders were extremely sore . I took the kids to the marina to watch someone sing and when I tried to get up from sitting, my knees were so painful I couldn't get up. When I tried to push my hands on the bench to get up, I couldn't bear weight on my wrists. My children helped me up and my ankles were so painful as we're my hips. I couldn't grasp the steering wheel with my hands so we took a cab home. I couldn't hold a cup and trying to get into bed was ridiculous because I had to sort of roll on and roll into a spot. I seriously couldn't move. Obviously went to the dr in the morning, she said joints weren't swollen or hot, gave me prednisone and went for a blood test - which apparently showed no abnormalities, it did test for lupus which was negative. Took about 3 days to feel somewhat better. A week to be back to my normal pain.
    I initially thought the fatigue and all over pain was part of my back problems, but I really think there must be something else going on on top of my back issues. My husband is wonderful, but so much of the burden of the house and kids falls on him...along with his own job!
    Soon if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear it. I am going to make an appointment with a rhuemetologist for this upcoming week.

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    Old 02-07-2013, 06:41 AM   #2
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    Re: Chronic back pain after : 2L5/S1 fusion plus implant of spinal cord stimulator

    Welcome to the board. I'm sorry for the reason you find yourself joining our little group! After reading through your history, I was going to suggest a visit to the rheumatologist. There is a whole group of arthritises that affect the spine.

    Do you still have the neurostimulator implanted?

    Did you ever make the rounds of other spine surgeons to see if there might be a reason for the continued pain stemming from the L5-S1 issues?

    Old 02-07-2013, 04:43 PM   #3
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    Re: Chronic back pain after : 2L5/S1 fusion plus implant of spinal cord stimulator

    Hi, yes I do still have the stimulator implanted. Initially I was using it 24/7 but had made a point of cutting back on it to use it when I most need it in order for it to have the best effect. I have seen a couple of other spine dr's but according to everyone, my fusion looks solid and was done properly. The amount of tender nous in that area is mind boggling to every dr I see. I know I have developed a disk bulge at the level above, L4 . As the dr's have said, the level above takes on the brunt of the work and such now. My mid back, where the stimulator incision is, still gets very fatigued and as my massage therapist's almost like a divot where the incision is. She actually asked me if the removed any bone or shaved it down at all because it is so significant. My low back, where the fusion was done, just has no strength and gets fatigued very easily. I of course get muscle spasms still, even though I take muscle relaxers 4 x's a day. I wish I didn't have to take the medicine I do...wear a Fentanyl patch 100mcg change every 2 days, roxicodone 4 x's a day (used to be Opana until a problem with the manufacturer) , mobic 2x's, ambien, and Zoloft. I also have the Voltaren gel that I can use to put directly on an area but then I wouldn't take the mobic. I also have Lidoderm patches I can use on whatever area I feel necessary .

    The back pain has been lingering for so very long and as you read, I have tried soon many different things to improve, without much success. Massage therapy has helped me the most the past 2 yrs. I am always soon very tight, despite muscle relaxers. My hamstrings and calf muscles are so tight, to the point that I have Achilles achilles started tearing forming a large lump behind my ankle and A LOT of pain. Not sure what else I can try besides going to a rheumatologist. Especially now with my joints so painful as well as muscle tenderness.

    Thanks for any other ideas.

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    chronic back pain, fatigue, joint and muscle pain

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