spinal fusion complications

spinal fusion complications

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kev-jan

United States

#1 Jan 28, 2007
My name is Kevin and I had spinal fusion on my L5-S1 last January and my symptoms are 10x worse now. The pressure in my back is unbelievable, and my legs and feet twitch 24/7, it feels that there is electricity in my legs..Help does anyone else have these symptoms?
Kim

Marquette, MI

#2 Mar 18, 2007
Oh man you just really scared me! I am 23 years old, and my neurosurgeon is suggesting that I get a 3 level spinal fusion this summer. I have already had 2 operations on my back for herniated disks but I have gotten no relief. Besides having 2 herniated disks, I have 1 ruptured disk and a fractured vertabre. I am very worried about getting the surgery because of the recovery time, and the fact that if it doesn't work, there will be no reversing this procedure. I am going for my Masters degree and will have to take a semester off for recovery. I am assuming you would not suggust getting this surgery?

Since: Dec 06

United States

#3 Mar 23, 2007
Yeah that scared me as well. I was diagnosed (at 40) two years ago with osteoporosis (-3.67) and scoliosis in my lumbar spine (L-1 through 5). The goal was to get the osteoporosis to at least a -1 to -1.5 for consideration of surgery but now that they have, I'm seriousely reconsidering the fusion. It seems that it goes one of two ways: Either a person is completely pain free and thinks it was the best thing since sliced bread, or it's a nightmare that requires one surgery after another.

My biggest problem is pressure, Like Kevin's and seeing him write "10x worse" is frightening. I'm miserable now, with pain that starts within an hour of being awake. I can only imagine what he's going through.:(
Kim

Marquette, MI

#4 Mar 23, 2007
I understand what you are going through! The thing that scares me the most is my pain is so bad, I am popping pain pills like candy on top of wearing a 75 mcg fentenal patch. I have pain every minute of everyday. I just can't imagine living with this pain the rest of my life. I try to stay as active as possible with walking, but I can't get that far with having to sit down and take a break. And what drives me even more crazy is the fact that the pain pills don't make me sleepy, they make me stay WIDE awake, so I never can take them after 7pm if I want to sleep that night. My DR just gives me prescriptions for sleeping pills on top of that. After reading the things I have read, I am really not looking forward to making the decsion of having the fusion or not.

Since: Dec 06

United States

#5 Mar 23, 2007
Ouch. That's a lot of meds.

I wish I knew what to tell you - but I'm in the same boat. It's a hard decision to make and unfortunately, they can't give any guarentees.

Do you have a pool or access to one? We're having one installed next month. Last year I swam in my mom's while on vacation and was amazed at how much less my back hurt afterwards. Simply floating around took so much weight off my spine. It's worth a shot if you have access to one.
Melodie

Toledo, OH

#6 Mar 25, 2007
I had spinal fusion done on Jan 16th of this yr L5 S1 levels ..I was doing great..now that Im off of the fentanyl patch I am also having the twitching of the feet and legs. My feet are so cold that they burn and sweat. My doctor tells me that the nerves are starting to refire. I am waiting for a new medication to be pre- certified by my insurance, it is suppose to help with the nerve pain. Until the new medicine is approved (now waiting for 5 days) I had to start taking perocet for the pain, and it is keeping me wide awake. I hope all of us will find some relief from our pain.
Kim

Marquette, MI

#7 Mar 26, 2007
I was just wondering if you mind saying where you got your surgery done? I also living in Michigan and looking for someplace to have the surgery done. I am waiting for an appointment at Mayo Clinic, and I guess they are suppose to be the best, but I would like to have the surgery someplace closer. Mayo Clinic is about 9 hours away from where I live, and because I wouldn't be able to fly, I would have to be in a car that long. My fentanyl patches drive me CRAZY! They never seem to stay on and I am changing the 75mcg patch every other day. Being 23 I am scared to death that I'm going to become addicted to all the pain medicine I'm on. I hope everything works out. I tell everyone I know that I don't wish back pain on my worst enemey. Nobody deserves to have this type of pain. There is also a possibility that I might not be able to have children because of my back and I get so upset whenever stuff about my back comes up. I hate being limited in activities, but the only time I get relief is laying in bed with my legs up and on a heating pad. I wish there was some miracle!!
Melodie wrote:
I had spinal fusion done on Jan 16th of this yr L5 S1 levels ..I was doing great..now that Im off of the fentanyl patch I am also having the twitching of the feet and legs. My feet are so cold that they burn and sweat. My doctor tells me that the nerves are starting to refire. I am waiting for a new medication to be pre- certified by my insurance, it is suppose to help with the nerve pain. Until the new medicine is approved (now waiting for 5 days) I had to start taking perocet for the pain, and it is keeping me wide awake. I hope all of us will find some relief from our pain.

Since: Mar 07

Cyprus

#8 Mar 27, 2007
Kim wrote:
Oh man you just really scared me! I am 23 years old, and my neurosurgeon is suggesting that I get a 3 level spinal fusion this summer. I have already had 2 operations on my back for herniated disks but I have gotten no relief. Besides having 2 herniated disks, I have 1 ruptured disk and a fractured vertabre. I am very worried about getting the surgery because of the recovery time, and the fact that if it doesn't work, there will be no reversing this procedure. I am going for my Masters degree and will have to take a semester off for recovery. I am assuming you would not suggust getting this surgery?
Hi,
Would You mind telling me what kind of disk herniation at the age of TWENTY THREE requires surgery? I assume You might have spondylolysthesis as well since they seriously suggest fusion as well. I looks quite, how can I put that, an incredible condition. Would You please clarify?
Kim

Marquette, MI

#9 Mar 27, 2007
I have 3 herniated disks between L3 to S1. I also have degenerative disk disease, and a fractured vertabre that showed up after my first surgery. The disk they have operated 2 times (One is Aug then 2 months later in October) has no reputred. The disk at L3 L4 is buldging to the right, and then one at L5 S1 is buldging to the left and both are pressing on my satic nerves. My neurosurgeon says disk replacement isn't an option because I more then 1 disk that would need to be replaced. I was never in a car accident, the only thing I can think that might have caused this is we have carpeted stairs, and I was wearing socks and slipped down 2 stairs. I started getting pain in my legs about a 1 year later. Hope that helps :)

Since: Mar 07

Cyprus

#10 Mar 29, 2007
Kim wrote:
I have 3 herniated disks between L3 to S1. I also have degenerative disk disease, and a fractured vertabre that showed up after my first surgery. The disk they have operated 2 times (One is Aug then 2 months later in October) has no reputred. The disk at L3 L4 is buldging to the right, and then one at L5 S1 is buldging to the left and both are pressing on my satic nerves. My neurosurgeon says disk replacement isn't an option because I more then 1 disk that would need to be replaced. I was never in a car accident, the only thing I can think that might have caused this is we have carpeted stairs, and I was wearing socks and slipped down 2 stairs. I started getting pain in my legs about a 1 year later. Hope that helps :)
Hi,
I guess I start getting the picture.
2 comments. A hernaited disc as such does not "guarantie", if I may put it like that, the presence of LBP (lower back pain). While myofascial problems almost invariably do so.
There are also considerations of severly imbalanced and plain weak muscular "corset" which unavoidably "delegates" its responsibilities "down the chain of command" to ligaments and/or tendons WHILE being in a severe [muscular] spasm.
This effectively cuts off all the supply of two key components to the spinal segment (mainly "disc" and "nerve root")- WATER and OXYGEN.
This kinda renders the above-mentioned pump mechanism non-functional and largely useless.
If this lasts for years (usually) in absence of ANY serious kinesiotherapy treatment aimed at correction of muscular development, strengthening and reinstating TROPHIC functions to the spinal segment I can assure You NO surgery would improve the status quo in the LB. As for degenerative disc disease. Being anatomically an avascular structure the disc DOES rely on the muscular pump to supply the above nutrients and basically gets DRIED out through the years of abuse.(I repeat myself on different forums so many times that it makes me think of writing an ebook on the subject ;-)))
For that same reason the presence of disc BULGING!!!? would not be significantly compressing your sciatic. While serious trophic irregularities will almost ensure the above picture.
It gets trickier with fractures (what kind of fracture is that? location, location, location? is spondylolisthesis present, to what degree?). Get me the info so that I might consider the answer to the burning question "what exactly should I do to rid my wonderful self forever of this condition"
Thanks for your attention.
Kim

Marquette, MI

#11 Mar 29, 2007
Dmitri, you seem to be good with medical termonology, so I will just write what my last MRI stated...
Straightening of lumbar lordosis is identified. Postsurgical changes are reidentified at L5-S1 level, right laminotomy of L5 is identified. Advanced degenerative disk space disease is seen at L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1. At L3-L4, disk protusion is noted, mildly narrowing. At L5-S1 postsurgical changes are noted within the disk annulus, ventrral and right ventral lateral epidural fat. There is very mild enhanacement of the ventral lateral epidural fat. Focal disk extusion with caudal migration is identified. The extrusion reaches the mid S1 vertebral body level. There is peripheral enhancement of the small centeral extrusion. There is mild compression of the left S1 root in the lateral recess and facet hypertrophy moderately narrow right neural foramen.
Impression: Postsurgical changes at L5-S1 level as described. Please note that the labeling of the vertebral bodies is performed on base of segmentation and position of the conus at L1-L2 level assuming postsurgical change at L5-S1. Focal disk extrusion at L5-S1 level with caudal migration. Interval increases in the amount of extrusion since prior examination. Mild compression of the left S1 root in the lateral recess. Right foraminal disk protrusion at L5-S1 and facet hypertrophy at this level results in moderate right foraminal narrowing. Mild centeral canal narrowing throughout the lumbar spine due to multilevel disk protrusion and facet hypertrophy.

Maybe you would be able to explain this a little better to me.. All I know about the fracture is at the L3-L4 level. My surgeon really didn't explain much more, but I think it has something to with the fact that before my 1st surgery I didn't have a fracture, but then during my 2nd surgery (which was only maybe 2 months later) they "found" a fracture. I did not fall or do anything that would have fractured it.

Thanks for all your help!

Since: Apr 07

Fall River, MA

#12 Apr 1, 2007
kev-jan wrote:
My name is Kevin and I had spinal fusion on my L5-S1 last January and my symptoms are 10x worse now. The pressure in my back is unbelievable, and my legs and feet twitch 24/7, it feels that there is electricity in my legs..Help does anyone else have these symptoms?
Kevin:
I also had spinal fusion surgery last March (l3,l4,l5,s1) It was my 5 surgery and I have had 5 since due to infection. I was told a couple days ago that I have to have the hardware taken out. I feel the same way you do. The tingling, numbness, pain, ect is worse than it was before the fusion. I am petrified as I have been told that there is a bettter than not chance I will be 100% disabled after this next surgery. I don't know what to do. I can't have surgery every month to cut out infection but at the same time I can't be disabled either.
I feel your pain man. I understand as noone else (without this problem) would. Good luck to you.

Bill
Dmitri

Cyprus

#13 Apr 2, 2007
Kim wrote:
Dmitri, you seem to be good with medical termonology, so I will just write what my last MRI stated......
Thanks for all your help!
Hi, keep posting reply to your questions but they keep disappearing from forum. Any idea what I can do about that?
Kim

Marquette, MI

#14 Apr 2, 2007
Dmitri, I am not sure why they keep disappearing. I am not that familiar with forums, but sometimes it takes awhile to post. I will try to figue it out so I can see your response!
Paul Pain

Boston, MA

#15 Apr 2, 2007
Dear Kim,
I am new to this forum but have you tried to ice the hell out of it to get the muscles to contract? At least maybe then you could get some sleep. I too have gone through the pain pill-killer path. This does give me some relief but has caused some problems with sex drive problems. I hope you feel better-I feel your pain.-Paul
Kim wrote:
I understand what you are going through! The thing that scares me the most is my pain is so bad, I am popping pain pills like candy on top of wearing a 75 mcg fentenal patch. I have pain every minute of everyday. I just can't imagine living with this pain the rest of my life. I try to stay as active as possible with walking, but I can't get that far with having to sit down and take a break. And what drives me even more crazy is the fact that the pain pills don't make me sleepy, they make me stay WIDE awake, so I never can take them after 7pm if I want to sleep that night. My DR just gives me prescriptions for sleeping pills on top of that. After reading the things I have read, I am really not looking forward to making the decsion of having the fusion or not.
Paul Pain

Boston, MA

#16 Apr 2, 2007
Dear Everybody,
I can't say that I have a specific spot in my back that I can say is causing all my pain. It's more like the muscles in my thoracic region down to my lower back have spasmed to the point that I can't even sleep unless I ice it down before bed-and even then the spasms will return within 2-3 hours and wake me up. I am taking some Vicodin but these pain pills are numbing me out to he point that I can't think and reason very well on my high tech job. Please someone help me!-Paul
Paul Pain

Boston, MA

#17 Apr 2, 2007
Kim,
The Vicodins are opiate receptor drugs and can cause sleeplessness in 15% of all vicodin users. You probably fall into this category. Please slow down on the pain pills. You could have a rough 4 or 5 day withdrawal from taking them.-Paul
Kim wrote:
I understand what you are going through! The thing that scares me the most is my pain is so bad, I am popping pain pills like candy on top of wearing a 75 mcg fentenal patch. I have pain every minute of everyday. I just can't imagine living with this pain the rest of my life. I try to stay as active as possible with walking, but I can't get that far with having to sit down and take a break. And what drives me even more crazy is the fact that the pain pills don't make me sleepy, they make me stay WIDE awake, so I never can take them after 7pm if I want to sleep that night. My DR just gives me prescriptions for sleeping pills on top of that. After reading the things I have read, I am really not looking forward to making the decsion of having the fusion or not.
Dmitri

Cyprus

#18 Apr 3, 2007
Paul Pain wrote:
It's more like the muscles in my thoracic region down to my lower back have spasmed to the point that I can't even sleep unless I ice it down before bed-and even then the spasms will return within 2-3 hours and wake me up.
Hi, that makes perfect sense! Let me explain. You seem accidentally to have stumbled upon the ONLY resonable relief - namely ANTI-INFLAMMATORY treatment. Incidentally it improves microcirculation quite a bit too - and that is a vast vascular bed responsible for tissue breathing.
Tumor, rubor, dolor, calor et functio laesa are CLASSIC signs of inflammation - swelling,redness, PAIN, HEAT, impaired function.
Frankly my eyes pop up when I read about hot wraps for the treatment of your kind of pain...
Dmitri

Cyprus

#19 Apr 3, 2007
Kim wrote:
Dmitri, I am not sure why they keep disappearing. I am not that familiar with forums, but sometimes it takes awhile to post. I will try to figue it out so I can see your response!
Hi, I would really like to help you (and everyone) out there. But I am also quite pressed for time.
Since THREE of my long replies disappeared I finally said I had had enough and decided to relly get to writing my Lower Back Pain report for everyone to use. Hopefully it will be ready right after Easter holidays. The holidays hopefully will give me time to finish the most pressing responses to most problems posted so far. I will post the link as soon as it is available.
Kim

Marquette, MI

#20 Apr 3, 2007
Thanks Paul for the advice. I have tried ice in the past and have gotten little releif from it, but will try it tonight to see how it goes. Most of the time my legs are the problem why I can't sleep, there is a constant pain that goes all the way down to my calf that keeps me awake. Since the fall months I have been using a heating pad, and get a little relief from that if I am laying down with my legs up and the heating pad under my back. My doctor tells me now that I am laying on it too much and my lower back looks like a road map from the electric heating pad, but once I stop laying on the pad it will go away in time. I haven't taken any pain pills in I would say 10 days, but I am constantly on the Fentenal patch. Yesterday when I got out of the shower I forgot to put my patch on, and about 6 hours later, I could barely move an inch or walk the pain was so bad. Thanks to you too Dmitri for all the help! Any suggestions I will try because I can't picture living in the much pain the rest of my life.

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