spinal fusion complications

Newark, NJ

#104 Jan 6, 2008
Has anyone on the forum ever tried or have implanted a spinal stimulator to assist with the pain associated with spinal fusion surgery? My brother has a successful fusion, however is experiencing extreme sharp burning throbing pain around the incision through his buttox and sometimes down his leg.
The Dr. feels the stimulator might give him releif. Any thoughts??????????

Oxnard, CA

#105 Jan 15, 2008
How many months since his original surgery Jason? Neuropathy or the nerves healing after being impinged can take 12 months or more.

I would get a second opinion, like having a myelogram with dye to make sure it not scar tissue intrusion. Surgeons can make mistakes and slaughter nerve ends which can lead to permanent pain. If that is is the case, then the implant would be beneficial.

My Son in law's Father had one implanted and it has really made a huge difference for him. Of course, watching him go through 2 years of terrible pain and watching him waste away with an addiction to Oxycotin was not a pleasant sight either.

Pain is terrible thing to face. Medication provides little help beyond 60 days. The problem with most pain meds Codeine/Percocet is that the body develops tolerance to the pain relieving effects and they are only effective for short periods of time. Neurotin can help but it also can be a huge emotional crutch and dependency problemsThe down side is that they dull the mind, and mess with an individuals emotions and judgment.

Just as a side note, I found that Ibuprophen doesn't help a bit with fusion pain or surgery site healing. I got a ton more relief from Time Release Tylenol. Analgesics Aspirin and Ibuprophen are much better if used topically as an ointment.
kathy newyork


#106 Jan 17, 2008
oh god dont know where to begin.had a fusion done at the L4L5 4years ago.i interviewed 3 surgeons found the one i liked and had the surgery he told me that he could not gaurantee the back pain would go away but he said when i wake up the leg pain would be gone.the surgery was not to take any longer then 5 hours 8 hours later i woke up in the rec room withen 6 min screaming and crying the pain in my leg was horrific.needless to say this went on 4 3 days.in that time they told my family that i was a drrug addict who just wanted more meds.at my family insisting to have a ct scan done they did it it turned out the screw slipped and went threw the nerve inmy right leg 5more hours of surgery and they could not fix the damage to the nerve.so 4yr laterthe pain meds epis spinal cord stim 2 times and nothing.my pain lev is at a10 at mostly.did i mention i was 37 and have 4 kidsjust let them run a mri went to a new surg and found out that the fusion didnt takeand the metal bone and scar tis haved formed a mass putting pressure on the spine nneed another surg scared as hell,but i thank u all 4 listening cause nobody knows and understands unless u live.i just found this site so thank u 4 being so honest.anyone who has had this help.
cally girl

Washington, DC

#107 Jan 18, 2008
I had a fusion done to my c-2 to t-1. I lost 50% os being able to turn my neck. I now incured another herneated disk. I was on the patch but my doc said I missed 2 many app. so now I am screwed
M Honas

Hays, KS

#108 Jan 23, 2008
Hi, my name is monte honas and i am 17. About 2 years ago i was hit in the back while playing football and have had back problems eversince. I just reasently found out that i have spondylolysthesis in my L5. I just got a Colchicine shot a couple days ago and so far i havnt had any results. My doctor sugested that i get a spinal fusion if this shot doesnt help. After reading some of the replys it worrys me. So i was wondering if any of you have had this shot or what you think about me getting spinal fusion, and also if any of you have found any way of releaf during everyday life. If anyone could help me out i would really appreciate it. Thanks.


#109 Jan 26, 2008
HI, I had spinal fusion surgery in November of '06. In March of "07, I was in so much pain that they went back in . A huge cyst had formed on the nerve because of bone protein used in the fusion had spilled out , trickling throughout the area. Since that March surgery, I have not walked at all. I have dropped foot in both legs, and no movement in my right foot. On top of that, I developed MG, an auto immune disease. I am convinced that this is a direct response to the foreign bodies put into my back. I have lost speech, all muscle movement , and now am having trouble breathing. My neurosurgeon is passing all of this off, saying "These things happen some times". I don't know what to do. Not being able to talk, or walk has me at a disadvantage to do much. Just a warning. Bad things can happen . Oh yes, and the pain in my buttocks is still there, only it is worse than ever. I can't sit or lie on my right side.(or walk)
michael fox UK

Wigan, UK

#110 Jan 27, 2008
I underwent a spinal fusion in 1988,and although it did improve my situation a little it has never been that successful. I have had to programme my self to do things in a different way to eleviate the back muscle spasms that are not only excruciatingly painful,but lay me up for upto two weeks.I still get burning to the top of both legs,and alot of numbness in both.
It seems from reading your mail that everyone that has had a fusion suffers with very similar problems.I reget to say that things get worse as you get older thats my experience, i would advice anyone who is contemplating this type of surgery to be absolutely sure its necessary.

Columbus, IN

#111 Jan 27, 2008
I had a spinal fusion in the 4-5 area. It has been 1 year. I am still having much pain in my back. the pain is not in the center (where the spine is) but in the lower back area on the left side. I am on vicoden and muscle relaxers, but they do not help for long. I feel like a drug addict if i ask my doctor for something stronger. Anyone know what could cause the pain on the left side of the lower back. And what can I do about the pain?

Oxnard, CA

#112 Jan 31, 2008
Fusion surgeries are a mixed blessing. It is a difficult decison to decide how long you are able to suffer to the point of choosing the lesser of two evils. If you need the surgery you will benefit in the long run from it. However, keep in mind that you will have long recovery period and residual pain. Almost every person I have met that had a fusion ended up with a permanent 24/7 back-ache which at times aggravates to chronic states.

Take at least 3 months to see if you will get better. That is why insurance companies have a standard procedure 3 epideural cortisone injections spaced 4-6 weeks apart. It is also why most Neurology clinics have you wait 60 days for an appointment. 4 or more months with chronic pain and no relief in sight surgery is probably necessary.

A word for the wise: If you have a workman's comp related issue beware of any hack and chop-ready surgeon. There is big money involved in this business and everyone, but the back-pain sufferer wins. Too many willing victims aided by Doctors and Lawyers are swindled into this deluge. The longer you are disabled and the more surgeries they do the greater the $ settlement especially if you end up permanently disabled. But if may not be much of life after it is all said and done.

Since: Jan 08

Columbus, IN

#113 Feb 2, 2008
Linda wrote:
I have had L5S1 fusion a year ago, this week I go back to remove the hardware. I was wondering if any one has had this done and how the recovery was and what results they might have gotten.
what type of hardware? i have noticed several people talking about getting their hardware removed, due to the pain issues. I am having pain issues, 1 year after surgery. I have had a lower disk removed, implant, 2 rods and 4 screws to hold everything together. Just wondering what other type of hardware people have.

Since: Jan 08

Columbus, IN

#114 Feb 2, 2008
Dave wrote:
I had a spinal fusion in july of 2006 L4-L5 the initial recovery was more than I bargained for,but once you have the operation.you are comitted.I agree with kevin the pain is ten times worse I am taking double the pain pills I was I get sharp pains in my legs spasms in my back and unbeleivable pressure continuously.I am working.I don't know how much longer I can do that. the only releif of any kind in to put my legs up and lower back on the heating pad. I too have marks on my back from the electicity. Pinole,California
Do you have hardware? Are your spasms where the surgery spot is, or to the side? I had a fusion, and I have spasms on my left side, left buttocks, and upper left leg. Wondering if you are the same?

Rock Hill, SC

#115 Feb 2, 2008
Hi, I'm new to post, wish I had found this site before my fusion surgery in Aug '07. Surgeons don't tend to tell you the horror stories, they play down the complications! Prior to my surgery, I had 6 months of tolerable low back pain, with no leg symptoms at all. During this time, the pain was well managed with NSAIDS. But then, an incident lifting one of my 3 year twins, changed everything. From that point, I was pretty much in bed for the next 5 months. I had ruptured the disc at L5-S1. I tried PT, 2 epidural injections, non-surgical disc decompression, ice and pretty much any non surgical suggestion I could get, all to no avail!! My lower back felt completely unstable with excrutiating pain with every movement. About 3 months in, I started having left hip and leg pain, electrical shocks that radiated from my back to my foot, tingling, numbness, and aching pretty much constantly. I, too, was taking percocet, soma, NSAIDS, nothing was helping. I went to 3 different doctors, one ortho, 2 neurosurgeons, and finally decided on fusion surgery. In addition to the herniation, I also had severe degeneration of L5-S1, making discectomy not an option. I truly expected to be back to normal, and back to work within 3 months. Seems funny, now! But that is really what I thought. I did so much research, but found it was not nearly enough! The surgery went well, but the first night post op was the worse night of my life!!! I have never experienced so much pain. I was taking Demerol every 1-2 hours with NO relief!! The next morning, the MD ordered a PCA pump (which he should done the first day!), and the rest of my hospitalization went well. The first month of recovery was horrible. Muscle spasms in my back were almost unbearable, and my leg symptoms never really went away, they got better, but didn't go away. Months 2 and 3 were better, I was moving around, feeling much better, but still the leg symptoms were there, but my back felt much better. I was able to walk, sit, stand. I was still having back pain, but it was so much better, I couldn't complain. The dr. said my continued leg symptoms was probably just residual pain from the nerve being irritated for so long pre-op, and with time it should get better. Sounded good to me, but it never happened. Once I started my PT, my leg symptoms and back pain worsened. my PT sid to back off the PT with leg symptoms, so I did, but the leg pain eventually became constant. Still the MD didn't think anything serious, "just give it time". Well, I'm now entering my 6th month post-op, and things are still not as I expected. I have to say that I am about 60% better since I had my surgery, so I'm not sorry I had it. I just wish I had been better informed (which is why I am writing, to all who are considering this surgery)! I just had a CT, which showed an abnormal amount of scar tissue has formed around the left nerve root, and is compressing it, which is probably what is causing my problems. My MD wants to do exploratory surgery, and try to move the scar tissue away from the nerve root. I don't know what to do!! I'm 39 years old with 4 kids, 2 of whom are 3 1/2 years old! I am in pain all day every day. I can't take pain meds during the day, because they make me so sleepy I can't function, and I have to care for my children. I am terrified of another surgery, and not sure if I will even go through with it. I can't imagine being in this kind of pain for the rest of my life. Any suggestions?? I open to any all opinions!! Thanks to all who are so honest about their experiences here!

Since: Jan 08

Columbus, IN

#117 Feb 3, 2008
Sounds pretty similar to me. Instead of scar tissue pressing on my nerve, I have excessive bone groth pressing on it. Same thing with the doctor...this is normal....time will make it better....just give it some time. Well it's been 13 months. Also like you I am better now than before my surgery, I just wasn't well informed. my doctor said my options now are to wait and try to put up with the pain or let him go back in and do more surgery. The only problem is he said after another surgery (and a bigger surgery) he did not know if it would help the pain! So I am waiting until June. then I will have more tests and see where I'm at. So I would recommend that before you have anything else done, ask your doc if what he is going to do will fix the problem (pain) or if he is not sure and just wants to dig around and hope for the best.

Oxnard, CA

#118 Feb 4, 2008
Hi Angie,

For nerve compression pain, large doses of Neurontin can give take the edge off of your pain. It take awhile to get used to it because of it can make you feel sleepy. So I take all my doseage at night.

Keep in mind that if you can make it to the twelve month point with a solid fusion. They can clean up the scar tissue compression and take the metal hardware out of your back. The hardware creates a lot of pressure in the para-spinal muscles.

Having mine removed made a huge difference in my ability to function in day to day activities.

Concord, CA

#119 Feb 12, 2008
I always see the same comments on most threads everybody is in more pain than they started with.
I guess that Iam different I just had a cervical fusion 4-5-6 with plates and for the most part Iam wholly better off, yes I have less movement if I want to avoid a neck ache but Iam certainly better off I will never do my old job again Iam a car inspector for a railroad.
I had my surgery Dec 4 07 and am steadily getting better I did not even take an asprin after surgery the hospital kept trying to give me pain meds but I never needed them.
Iam having lumbar surgery in april a minidisc at L3 I will leave L4 alone the formini will be opened up and a fusion at L5/S1 as the L5 disc is almost gone, I hope to do as well as I did with my other surgerys maybe Iam abnormal but I also have an excellent doctor I live in the San Francisco east bay.
Ive had all of the pains that most of you talk about and even with a 8" thick pillow top mattress I feel like Iam sleeping on the sidewalk. I dont take any pain meds and even after L5 herniated I still went to work and walked 4 to 8 miles a day crawling under rail cars evertime I crawled under a railcar my left leg would be vertually paralized from the pain but I had to work 9 months after that to get my pension so I was going to work if I had to crawl I had to hide it from the company or they would have pulled me off the job but I made it and had the neck surgery it has really helped and I look forward to the back surgery in April.
So I would say to anyone dont be afraid of the surgery but do find the best doctor and really check that doctor out go to the hospital where they operate and see how respected they are and check online to see if there are any malpractice judgments or other claims do your homework it is your health at stake and dont be apoligetic about it good luck to all.
winnie fletcher

Annapolis, MD

#120 Feb 19, 2008
Cara wrote:
<quoted text>I also have been diagnosed with spondolythesis...this was not my original diagnosis as I had a synovial cyst at L4/5. After that surgery the pain I have now, developed. I have been everywhere and the only way this is probably going to resolve itself is surgically. However, I have seen 3 surgeons and the first one I saw probably told me like it is....my husband asked him if I were a family member or relative what would he tell them to do and he said"live with it". Frankly, until things get worse I will live with it. The thoughts of rods and screws and pins make me nervous. I would love to speak to one person who has had successful fusion surgery.
don't have it done.
winnie fletcher

Annapolis, MD

#121 Feb 19, 2008
mt husband had the surgery and regrates it everyday.It has made it worse. It has been 4 months and he is still in pain.


#122 Feb 27, 2008
To everyone,
I have had one spinal fusion l5- s-1 because of spondylistlothesis. I had to do it because the vertebrae was moving. If there is any other way to help your pain i would recommend it. Since I have had surgery I also have had noting but problems. As someone was saying about having burning and sweating in the foot I too have those symptoms plus more. I kept telling the doctors someting was really wrong but they kept saying it will go away. It didn't and I finally got another opinion and I was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome. So, on top of having terrible back pain still I have terrible leg and foot pain and nubmness. And they are considering more surgery.

Oxnard, CA

#123 Feb 28, 2008
Hi Shell,

Do you have the skin discoloration, sensitivity to heat and cold?

I don't believe I have CRS, but the neurosugeon calls it neuropathy on the bottom of my left foot related to nerve damage from my 12/05 L5-S1 Fusion. I hate the sensations can't seem to tell exactly what it is because it is a mixture of burning, cold, pin pricking, and numbness tactile sensations.

I ended buying specialed shoes to protect me against pronation due to the numbness. Neurotinin has helped, but the problem still persists. Last visit with the Doc said it is S1 nerve damage.

I've been feeling so much better spinewise since the hardware was removed that I can't imagine having another surgery. Neurontin helps take the edge of of it. Guess, I'll just live with it.

Citra, FL

#124 Feb 29, 2008
I am 28 years old and had my first 2 surgeries on my L5 disc when I was 13 due to trauma. When I was 23 and pregnant I fell down some stairs damageing the work the two surgeries repaired. I then had the fusion to L5 and S1 6 months after my daughters birth. Since then I am in constant pain everywhere. The back pain has now afftected my knees so theres chronic pain there as well. I have become dependant on my meds to maintain a halfway normal life. I havent been able to hold my 6 year old daughter since she was 2 and the daughter I had during the hardest era of my back pain is now 4 and I was only able to hold her ther first 9 months of her life. I was once a paramedic and now I've been fighting for 4 years for my disability. You are all in my thoughts because no one knows our pain except those who live in the everyday hell that is L5 and S1 back pain. God bless

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