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View Full Version : Low back pain, outer thigh pain return at almost three months post op



WLB1
09-03-2013, 11:53 PM
Yesterday I felt a pop, like a joint popping, in my fused area. I am fused from t4 to pelvis. I had lamenectomy from L2 through L5. Then I started to feel a dull ache in my low back. Today the ache progressed down the outer part of my thigh to my knee. I have been in bed all day crying on and off in fear and pain. Called the nurse who said that if it didn't go away in a week to call back. She said the instrumentation sometimes makes those noises as it settles in. I am also trying to cut back on the pain meds from 10 mg every four to five hours to 5 mg. How long after surgery do you need pain meds? My surgeon refers people to pain specialists if they need it more than three months, so I got a referral to a place close to home. The surgeon is four hours away. I also read on the pain website about "failed back syndrome", which is when scar tissue forms over the exposed part of the spinal cord after lamenectomies causing pressure and pain. How long after surgery does the pain last? How long does it take to get up and going? I have yet to see a pt person because of a snafu at the pt's, my first app is Thursday. Thanks for your help. I did a search trying to find relevant posts and was unsuccessful. If anyone knows of any I would appreciate that as well. I have gleaned so much helpful material from this forum, things my Doctor would never think to tell me, and I wouldn't know to ask. Again, thanks so much!

susancook
09-04-2013, 01:16 AM
Yesterday I felt a pop, like a joint popping, in my fused area. I am fused from t4 to pelvis. I had lamenectomy from L2 through L5. Then I started to feel a dull ache in my low back. Today the ache progressed down the outer part of my thigh to my knee. I have been in bed all day crying on and off in fear and pain. Called the nurse who said that if it didn't go away in a week to call back. She said the instrumentation sometimes makes those noises as it settles in. I am also trying to cut back on the pain meds from 10 mg every four to five hours to 5 mg. How long after surgery do you need pain meds? My surgeon refers people to pain specialists if they need it more than three months, so I got a referral to a place close to home. The surgeon is four hours away. I also read on the pain website about "failed back syndrome", which is when scar tissue forms over the exposed part of the spinal cord after lamenectomies causing pressure and pain. How long after surgery does the pain last? How long does it take to get up and going? I have yet to see a pt person because of a snafu at the pt's, my first app is Thursday. Thanks for your help. I did a search trying to find relevant posts and was unsuccessful. If anyone knows of any I would appreciate that as well. I have gleaned so much helpful material from this forum, things my Doctor would never think to tell me, and I wouldn't know to ask. Again, thanks so much!

First of all, try to relax. From your note, are you 2 months postop? You need the pain meds as long as you need them. Everyone is different in pain tolerance, surgical procedures, etc. sounds like right now, with whatever is causing your pain from the pop, you need your pain meds from what i hear you saying. And the pop? It probably is just a realignment....but you need more time to gather information and see what happens over the next week, unless your pain gets much worse or you have increased problems walking, or something major. Sounds like the popping sound was pretty scary to you. i can certainly understand why. maybe you might want to wait to change meds until you see the pain control MD. Way, way to early to worry about other things like flat back problems.

How about trying a heating pad or cold pack? Are you eating ok? Are you alone? If you are alone, maybe call a friend or family member to stay with you.

Keep us posted on how you are doing. Sending healing thoughts your way, Susan

WLB1
09-05-2013, 07:40 PM
Went to my first pt visit. My pain is soft tissue. My pelvis, since it is fused is now forever off level by two inches to the right. The exercises the Doc gave me are messed up, why would you give some one with a fused pelvis a "pelvic tilt" exercise? Looks like I need to continue searching this site. Btw, the pages of this site are really slow to load on my device..is it just me?

LindaRacine
09-05-2013, 08:45 PM
Hi...

There's actually nothing in the pelvis to fuse, as it's already a single bone. It's possible that your SI joints were fused, but that's unlikely. Usually, what is done, is that there are bolts put into the pelvis to stabilize the pelvis during fusion.

Nevertheless, pelvic tilts are not an appropriate exercise.

Regards,
Linda

WLB1
09-05-2013, 10:54 PM
So then you are saying that it might be possible after all the major healing is done, to use something like gentle yoga to even out my pelvis? It is off by two inches. Rib cage to pelvis on the right is13" on the left 15".

Susan, thank you. I have a husband who has been my main care giver for two months, but he also has a full time job. He is getting worn out. So I followed your suggestion and called on some good friends. One brought us a meal tonight. It was wonderful to not have to worry about dinner when I got home late after my pt visit. I am on a heating pad now, and I worked on the really tender areas of my hip and side with light massage. And you are right, I am two months and a week post op. I have a reason to feel pain, and have low energy. I think I am making things harder than they need to be, and they are already hard enough.

susancook
09-06-2013, 01:14 AM
Glad to hear that you had a good evening. Call friends and get out and visit. Sometimes the isolation caused by the pain adds to depression. It certainly contributes to it for me.

Unsure what you mean by the disparity on your hips, but postop, I had a lot of L buttocks and L leg pain that I did not have preop. That was depressing, especially thinking that it might be permanent. Well, I looked closely at my hip X-ray and noticed that my R hip was lower than my L hip, which was not true preop. I went to Walgreens and bought a heel lift and put it in my R shoe only. Totally to my amazement, the pain quickly went away! Just a thought for you.

My husband is phenomenally helpful, but I am afraid of wearing him out. He also is patient with hearing my complaints, but I am sure that he is tired of it. I talk more to my brother and daughter and try to be more positive at home. Ed frequently says to stop talking about your back pain. That was helpful for me. After a while, it gets counterproductive.

Someone on the forum or maybe it was my doctor who said that recovery takes 1 to 2 years and I believe that it true. I am impatient and of course, I thought that I would be different. I keep telling myself to be patient.

Suggestions? Heat or cold pack, relaxation breathing....in through your nose, out through your mouth, continue to take pain meds on schedule for now until your pain management MD gives you a plan, take a nap in the afternoon, walk as much as you can but not if you are in pain. Try walking shorter distances a couple of times a day. Recovery seems to always take longer than we want.

I wish you better days and progressively less pain and inconvenience in making the changes that the disability following surgery usually causes. Susan

Confusedmom
09-06-2013, 09:56 PM
I also was fused T4 - S1, and I was on pain meds about 5 months. When you start weaning them, two things can happen. One, you notice more pain. Your lower back and leg pain may have been there all along, but covered up by the meds. Don't fret yet; it's early and they may go away as you heal. Two, decreasing pain meds makes a lot of people emotional. So, in bed all day crying might not just be from pain. I would suggest taking it very slowly for a while on the weaning. Your pain doctor can help you through it. Don't get worried yet--you are just in the early stages of recovery, and most people are still in a lot of pain at this point.

Best,
Evelyn

Irina
09-06-2013, 10:56 PM
WLB1,

You're still in the early stages of recovery and it's normal to feel pain. Take your meds for as long as you need them and talk with your doctor about how to wean off them slowly and carefully. It does get better, believe me! Right after the surgery I was experiencing quite bad right buttock pain that radiated all the way down to my foot and I didn't have that before the surgery. My doctor told me that it will go away with time, but I found it hard to believe because that pain always seemed to be there. I am happy to report that it's almost gone at 6 months! I get a little tingling in my right foot when lying down, but it's mild and doesn't bother me much.

Physical therapy may help you too, just make sure to find a good pt, who knows what is he/she doing. PT sessions were always such an emotional boost for me and I exercises at home diligently twice a day. Are you walking outside a little? Being outside in a sunshine helps with the mood too. Hang in here and vent all you want - we are here to listen and help because all of us have been thru this.

golfnut
09-07-2013, 04:21 PM
I would be very cautious of physical therapy unless it is someone familiar with long spinal fusions. Dr. Lenke wouldn't even allow me to go to physical therapy until I was a year post op. Even then, I took a list of do's and don'ts. I had exercises that I did lying on my back on the bed with light arm weights during the first year. Other than that, I simply walked and walked and walked.

Irina
09-07-2013, 05:34 PM
I think that surgeons' views vary about PT. My doctor encouraged physical therapy. The first therapist that was coming to our house was clueless and only caused me more pain. Some of her exercises clearly broke my restrictions and I refused to do them. After a few sessions I got rid of her.

The second physical therapist was recommended by a friend who had a long fusion with the same doctor. This pt had experience working with people with long fusions and it was obvious she knew her staff. She had me do a lot of exercises with rubber bands - make a knot in the middle and put over the door top, side, handle and pull it. Keep your core tight, shoulders down and pull the band in a slow and controlled motion so that you feel it in your arms. That helped to strengthen my core and arms. Also some leg exercises, holding on a back of a chair, standing on one leg and extending another leg forward, sideways, backwards, just like a ballerina. And many more easy exercises that built up my strength. I am in a better physical shape now than before the surgery, thanks to a pt. I also started swimming and LOVE it! I only do breast stroke so that I don't twist.

It's all about repetition. We don't need any heavy duty workouts, but if you do your light toning exercises for 30-40 min twice a day and walk for as long as you can, you'll see good results... at least that was my experience. And think about any exercise your pt has you to do - does it cause you bend, lift too much or twist? Does it make you break 90* angle or squat too much? If the exercise doesn't feel right - don't do it and tell pt straight that you believe it's breaking your restrictions.

golfnut
09-07-2013, 06:03 PM
Dr. Lenke was fine with PT if his physical therapist approved of the exercises. His comment to me was that most (not all) physical therapists don't understand the magnitude of this surgery and can do more harm than good.
I also loved exercising in the pool at the YMCA. The warm water felt wonderful!

loves to skate
09-07-2013, 08:04 PM
Look for a Physical Therapist with an advanced degree of the spine and has a Doctorate degree. It makes all the difference in the world.
Sally

WLB1
10-23-2013, 06:20 PM
Finally got into Pain Management Clinic. SI joint problem, the only joint in my lower back not fused. I was advised that my pain levels are not likely to decline until one year post op. Both my surgeon and primary care Doc were fuzzy about that, both wanted me off pain meds ASAP. Why is it that, at least in my case, those in charge would rather have a patient endure pain rather than prescribe a small amount of pain meds. I will be getting a shot for the joint, and increasing my lyrica by 75 mg pr day, currently on 150 mg. everything else remains the same for a week, when I change to 15 mg sr morphine 2x per day and maintain my current 5/325 Percocet x3 per day. I will discontinue the tramadol. After another week, if all is well with pain med increase and I am still in pain, she will increase dosage on cymbalta, currently on 90mg per day. I am really grateful for my primary care Doc who did the best he could for me when my surgeon quit prescribing pain meds for me @ 3 mos post op. on Sept 21. Now, a month later, the surgeon got me into the Clinic. I have weaned myself down to 3 Percocets a day. At that dosage I am still in pain and wake up at night screaming with pain. I still don't like the thought of having to go to a clinic for pain meds. Does anyone else have to do that? Thanks, forum members. So nice there is a place to find those who can relate and advise! It means a lot to me. This is the most trying and painful ordeal I have ever gone through. So nice to know I am not alone.