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Lower back pain from old spinal fusion

Posted by Anonymous-fd6e0ef5 in Just Want to Talk, Dec 19, 2011

I had a lumbar fusion many years ago. Recovery was uneventful and I was able to resume all activities with no pain. But many years later I started having low back pain, esp. after lying prone for several hours. Had MRIs. Doctor at HSS said that original fusion was still good, but it needed to be expanded and reinforced with a device placed around the lumbar spine to relieve stress above and below area of prior fusion. I'm very reluctant to have another major surgery, but after sleeping several hours the pain is acute. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who may have had same problem.

Tags: back, chronic pain

mand2900

Posted by @mand2900, Jan 27, 2012

I have the same problems and am facing surgery number 3. I am 20 years post surgery from my first 5-level fusion. Unfortunately, once you fuse you lose. That is my new motto. Surgeons may "fix" the pain, but the shock from daily life must be absorped somewhere else. I have read and experienced that discs above and below the fusions wear out every 10 years or so. I am in the same boat now asking if I should get another or try more conservative options. Regardless, a lifestyle that includes impact or high impact activity should be modified to maximize the longevity of a healthy spine. Also, when looking for doctors, you need to specifically seek surgeons who are revision specialists, or "failed surgery" specialists. Unfortunately, none of hte surgeons out there have a clear or best practice approach to our condition and you will find those who want to operate and those who say conservative and everything in between. My suggestion is to try every possible conservative approach, but that surgery may be needed because the cause of your pain is from an invasive surgery in the first place... If you need the mental support, I'm game. This is a hard position to be in. For what it is worth, my second fusion extension was worth it... it alleviated my pain and I resumed a relatively normal life- but, 9 years later, I need another fusion extension... either way pain is going to be a daily reality.

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gatorcat10

Posted by @gatorcat10, May 20, 2012

I had a three level fusion about 10 years ago and am now having some instability and pain above the fusion and a great deal of pain in the SI area below the fusion. The first Dr I went to wanted to fuse the lower area farther. I got a second opinion and was told by the second Dr he didn't think I was an operable case. He did however suggest a pain implant device. You might look into this option. I haven't tried it yet, but plan to. I don't think I would want to do another fusion . This is just my own personal preference.

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joanneo

Posted by @joanneo, May 20, 2012

Same here for me. I have the same problem. What do they give u for pain? I had nerve damage from spinal surgery so I am afraid to have any furthur surgeries. Good luck. Jodi

zorone

Posted by @zorone, Jun 21, 2012

For pain after my lumbar fusion, my primary doctor prescribes Nucynta 100 mg every 6 hours. It is a little expensive but worth it.
Marcia

joanneo

Posted by @joanneo, Jun 21, 2012

Does it help? Fl u have any nerve damage. Jodi

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zorone

Posted by @zorone, Jun 22, 2012

Yes, the nerve near L-4 & L-5 was trapped when I had spond......
Still have pain in that area. Doctor said nerve was hurt and would take a long to heal.
Marcia

zorone

Posted by @zorone, Jun 21, 2012

Thanks for your insight. I've heard the discs above & below go next. Of course, my neurosurgeon says don't listen to those people but be careful!
Marcia

wildlife

Posted by @wildlife, Jun 17, 2012

Same issue for me. Now the SI section is a24 hour per day squeeze on the sciatica. Constant leg, hip, foot pain. I will not consider another surgery for reasons already posted. The best thing for me is yoga, physical therapy, less stress, warm weather, and very strong RX at night. Use a morphine/Valium suppository so I get faster action close to the region, and sleep well now. That alone is a huge help. Will do a steroid injection next week.

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zorone

Posted by @zorone, Jun 21, 2012

Thanks for your reply. Now I take Nucynta 100 mg. every 6 hours. Seems to wear our a 3 hours. Never heard of the morphine/valium suppository. Just at night?
What do you use for pain during the day?
Marcia

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wildlife

Posted by @wildlife, Jun 21, 2012

I use hydrocodone 7.5 during the day. The problem with me using that at night is that it acts as a stimulant for me and I cannot sleep on it! So if I go to codeine I have to get up every 4 hours to take more and then I never get back to sleep!

fredmoeller

Posted by @fredmoeller, Aug 24, 2012

I also had a lumbar fusion...have a sciatiac leg pain for several years have tried everthing if you find something that works let me know

chrisa

Posted by @chrisa, May 21, 2013

Same. Had L4 and L5 done in 2003. Everything fine. Past year or so pain started coming back from daily work activity. Slight lifting. Past months extremly acute. Medicine is not touching the pain. After reading these reply's I am having second thoughts aginst a second fusion. Trouble is, the little things in life are too painful to do. I find just moving around I gasp for breath because of the pain. I find I put off simple daily activities because I know it will be too much.
Where can you possibily go from here? 55 yrs old, Not overweight. IN PAIN!

cindy181

Posted by @cindy181, Jun 5, 2013

I found this from Googling on "lower back pain 20 years after spinal fusion." I haven't been to a doctor since the few years of post-op visits in my early 20s because I haven't had any pain or problems until recently (I just turned 42).

I do not want to get another surgery for pain if I can find another way around it. The first was fairly hideous, even though I recovered well.

I have found that having my knees bent while sleeping on my back relieves that particular pain. Have to use pillows or a bolster under the knees to pull that off.

Another thing I have discovered, regarding the sciatic pain that someone mentioned in one of the comments - it seems to me that I only get sciatic episodes if I bend and rotate my torso at the same time. I can bend or I can rotate (well, not too much), but if I do both at once. Ouch.

Does anyone experience lower back pain when walking for more than 5 minutes? I'm trying to figure out if I'm doing something to cause it and/or could walk differently to fix it? It would seem to me that walking would naturally cause flexing of the spinal column - perhaps mine is too stiff and there's unnatural movement causing the pain?

jennpeardon

Posted by @jennpeardon, Jul 10, 2013

I am going through this same thing right now...severe pain in my lower back at L5-S1 and left hip and leg since a month ago.. it keeps getting worse...I am at the point now it hurts to even walk a few steps..Going back for appt. with the spinal doc who did my spinal fusion about 10 years ago next week. I am terrified of having to have this surgery again as it took me a long recovery to get to where I was today before this started again. I have talked to at least 5 people who had spinal fusions and they all had to go back after many years and have theirs re-done...which sucks as if they put something in there like titanium screws cages and rods it should last is my thinking...Wish u all much luck and less pain.

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