View Full Version : Pain 1.5 years post-op

10-31-2009, 03:41 PM
Hi everyone,

I don't write on here much anymore, but I visit quite often. I saw my surgeon back in September and he said everything looked really good. I currently have the same pain that I had pre-op plus some. I'm on the verge of taking narcotics on a regular basis but I do not want to become an addict. My surgeon recommended seeing a shoulder specialist for my shoulder blade area pain that has been bothering me for 9 years. The doctor works with the Philadelphia 76ers so I'm guessing he's pretty good (I see him Nov. 18). I'm pretty sure he's not going to find anything wrong which will lead me to try acupuncture. I'm not counting on that working either. I read an article on low intensity laser treatment for pain that sounded somewhat promising. Has anyone ever tried this or know anything about it?

People often say that it will keep getting better, but I feel like this is as good as it's going to get. I've felt the same since May. Sorry to vent. I just know that you all will understand.


11-01-2009, 01:16 AM

Sorry to hear that you're having pain this long after surgery. If you don't get relief from some of the things you're going to try, I'd encourage you to get a second opinion.

Also, the shoulder guy might indeed be a great doctor, but I wouldn't let the "team" doctor thing trick you into believing that he's better than anyone else. I recently found out that "team" doctors typically pay a very hefty fee for being named "team" doctor for most professional sports teams.


11-01-2009, 09:02 PM
Thanks for the response Linda. I appreciate it. I hadn't thought of getting a second opinion, but that sounds like a good idea.

Wow! I did not know team doctors usually paid a fee! That's good to know though. I will keep my expectations on the low side to avoid disappointment.


11-01-2009, 11:25 PM

I sure hope you can get to the bottom of this. After my shoulder surgery, things improved quickly. The shoulder compounded the pain.

It might not be a bad idea to go run up to New York and see Dr Boachie.

Hang in there

11-02-2009, 05:48 AM
Hi Shell,
After my surgery (9 months ago) I had pain in both shoulders and xrays revealed rotator cuff tears in both shoulders. Supposedly not that uncommon considering I used my poor shoulders to get my enormous body up or out of bed or a chair. As my back healed so has the shoulder pain. I still have a problem with my right shoulder if I use it too much. I too have fallen for "team doctor" or "best of Philly docs." That's how I found my first fusion surgeon. Good luck in getting some relief and some answers.:D

loves to skate
11-02-2009, 11:02 AM
Hi Shell,

I'm so sorry you are still in pain. It is disheartening to go through such major surgery only to still have pain. Is your pain mainly in your shoulders or do you have nerve pain also? I hope you can find someone who can find out what, if anything, is wrong.

I'm almost two years post-op and still have nerve pain down my legs (mostly right leg) and in my very low back. My pain is a lot better than it was, but still, it makes me uncomfortable at times and makes it difficult to sleep. Dr. Rand said it is possible he might have missed something at L5-S1, so I am having a CT/Myelogram and an EMG test done Nov. 9th to see if it can be determined what is wrong.

The Team Doctor thing. One of our local Orthopedic Docs was the Team Doctor for the New England Patriots several years ago. I don't know if he paid for the privilege. He is certainly not the best Ortho Doc in this area. There are at least 3 or 4 others that are much better. All you have to do is ask a Physical Therapist or a Nurse at your local hospital who is the best Ortho Doctor in your area.

My thoughts are with you.

11-02-2009, 04:03 PM
I'm over 3 years post op and still get lower back pain every few months. I was told it's just major muscle spasms. I was tired of taking pain killers & muscle relaxers, so I found great drug free relief through acupuncture. My insurance co. covers it because I found a medical Dr. trained in it. Good luck!

11-02-2009, 07:51 PM
Thanks for the replies!

Ed - What was your shoulder surgery for? I hope I don't need another surgery.

Avis - Was anything done for your rotator cuff tears? Do you know of any good shoulder guys in the Philly area? Who did your original surgery?

Sally - The pain is mainly my shoulder area. My entire right shoulder blade hurts (it seems to be muscle). The other pain is on that ridge of bone on the shoulder blade (acromion?). Just touching it hurts. I have nerve pain too. Pain shoots down my right arm occasionally and my arm is almost always tingly (I had this problem pre-op too). My leg will be tingly on occasion, usually a few hours once or twice a week. I had an EMG done on my arms back in July and it came back normal.

I hope you don't need to have surgery again, but if it resolves your pain, it will be worth it. Do you take Neurontin? I took it for a few days but it made me extremely drowsy and dizzy.

Summer - It's nice to hear a good report about acupuncture! I'm glad it works for you. I found an MD who does it in PA, but I still don't think my insurance will cover it.


11-02-2009, 09:00 PM
I broke it 2 weeks before I went in for my scoli surgeries. You might call that a pre existing condition. Not the result of my scoli surgeries.

11-03-2009, 06:51 AM
Dr. Rand in Boston did my scoli surgery. The rotator cuffs resolved by not being used to carry me around. I know to be careful with exercises because it doesn't take much to set my right shoulder off. I see Dr. Osterman for my shoulders. He is my hand surgeon who also does shoulders. He gave me a steroid shot in my left shoulder. I see him in Haverford. If you decide to see him be prepared to wait a couple of hours. You always wait 2-4 hours for him. If it's any less, praise be!! Everyone sits there and says how worth it he is to wait for him. MY 2 cents.

11-03-2009, 07:04 AM
Hi Briarose,

This may be a long shot, but has anyone checked for a pinched nerve in your neck? This is sometimes a cause of shoulder and arm pain, numbness and tingling.
Hope you get better.:)

loves to skate
11-03-2009, 09:50 PM
Hi Shell,

I do take Neurontin and Dr. Rand just upped my dosage to 1,200 mg/day which really seems to help. Yes, Neurontin will make you sleepy and dizzy when you first start taking it, but I adjusted to it fairly easily. I started taking it when I was 3 months post-op, soon after I was off the narcotics, so I was happy to take something that made me sleep.:D It didn't affect me very much during the day.


11-07-2009, 01:03 PM
I am 5 years post op. 2 years after surgery my pain seemed to be improving, but last year I developed a stress fracture on my L5. Now in addition to the pain between my shoulder blades, I have lower back pain. My doctor says that the hardware in my back (I'm fused from T1 - L2) puts all the stress on the bones that are not fused. Anyone here ever had a stress fracture?

Shell, my pain is located between my shoulder blades and was present both before and after my surgery, it has never completely subsided. Doctor says it's due to the hardware being so bulky, now they are using a lower profile hardware. I have very bulky rods in my back, they feel heavy.


11-08-2009, 08:58 AM
Thanks again everyone for the responses!

Ed - So you had a broken shoulder while you were recovering from scoliosis surgery? That's horrible!!

Avis - Thanks for the info about Dr. Osterman. I don't mind waiting if it's worth it. I may go see him if Dr. Rubenstein doesn't work out.

Vali - I had a neck MRI both before and after my surgery. It didn't show a pinched nerve. I do have a very small syrinx between C5 and C6, but all the doctors I've been to about it say it's too small to cause any problems. I'm not completely convinced though.

Sally - I'm glad the Neurontin helps you. I should really try taking it again some weekend. I'm studying for the GRE so now isn't the best time to get loopy :)

Lexy - It looks like we have the same fusion levels and the same area of pain. So is the pain something you just have to deal with? Some days I can handle it and other days I can't. If I sit back in a comfortable chair all day I'm fine. The second I'm up walking around or doing the dishes the pain starts. I bought a heating pad the other day which has helped some. What can be done for your stress fracture?


11-08-2009, 02:04 PM
Hi Shell,

I am sure I told you that one of my tortoises is named Shell so I think of the name fondly. Anyway, I must say I am the opposite of you since the surgery. it is easier now to walk or even stand but sitting causes me the worst and tightest pain in my thoracic region. I call it the bowling ball. I am hoping that since I have stopped physical therapy it will improve and eventually go away. I am off from everything school and practicum for 3 days in a row and in those days the level of pain is nothing like when i am in school or sitting at my practicum. Of course the chair I have at my practicum is from hunger!!
Dr. Osterman besides being a great doctor, is the kindest most human and warmest doctor I have ever met. After outpatient surgery you can't leave until he comes over and talks to you and makes sure you are ok. (I have had 2 surgeries with him). If I need to get shoulder surgery, he's the only one I would go to.

11-09-2009, 06:44 AM
Shell, what a great name for a tortoise xD

11-09-2009, 12:39 PM
Hey there,

I have used acupuncture more than a couple of times for pain and it works to relieve ‘in my own opinion” about 15%-50% of the pain but not all of it. It is best when nothing else is working, for me.

If you find that your pain is tissue related, look into Graston. Graston is soft tissue work that does wonders for breaking up scars and tissues that don’t work right.

11-18-2009, 07:11 PM
So I saw the doctor today for my shoulder. The intern came in and had no idea what was wrong with me. The doctor came in and asked me a bunch of questions and then described exactly the pain I was experiencing. He said I have scapular tendonitis (I actually wonder if he meant bursitis) that is not related to my back and he gave me a cortisone shot. I feel better already in that area. My arm is still really bothering me so maybe I need to go back to the neurologist for that. I cried on the way home from the doctor. I just can't believe that I've been in awful pain for 9 years, have been to countless doctors and this is all it was. I'm not completely convinced though. It seems too good to be true. I'm to start PT soon (I'll go to a different one than before. He gave me a list of people he recommended.) and if my pain comes back, he'll try another cortisone shot.

Avis - That's a great name for your tortoise! Did you find that PT aggravated things? I may check out that doctor.

frolicin - I'm glad acupuncture has brought you some relief. I will look into it if my pain returns.

11-19-2009, 01:03 AM
Hi Shell,

You have already been given a lot of great advice, I just feel the need to chime in here.

I am fused from T-1 to L-5 with 5 disc' removed,a rib and some hip bone, I was 45 at the time, very active and in good shape other than my back, of course.

I was never promised a pain-free life, just the stoppage of progression. I had a rough recovery, and a long one to boot. It was 3 years until I could say I started to feel as "normal" as possible. I was on heavy duty meds for at least 2 1/2 yrs. I was getting so depressed that I just about had enough.

I kept that inside, what a mistake. My family Dr., who knows me very well, noticed the changes in me. He told me I had symptoms of depression. He put on Cymbalta, which is for depression associated with chronic pain. It took a month or so to adjust meds, then once I felt better, I started to realize that a lot of my back pain came from me being so tense and stressed. Now I a new person.

Talk to your Dr., there is no shame in admitting we need help sometimes!!!
I'm not a Dr., just someone sharing an experience that may help you.

Don't wait like I did, if you can relate to what I've said.

Your on my mind,
Take care,

11-21-2009, 02:17 PM
Hi Shari,

Thanks for your response. My husband mentioned last week that I was depressed. I had never really thought about it until then. I'm going to start counseling next week. Thanks for mentioning Cymbalta. I will definitely keep that in mind if my mental state does not improve. I told my mom today that I realized I was depressed and she said she had noticed it too but never wanted to say anything. My pain is better now, but I still have a significant amount. You'd think I wouldn't be as depressed since I'm feeling better.

Thanks again Shari!