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Had spinal fushion in L5S1 done. Experiencing sharp pain and unable to sit properly. Any suggestion?

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Spine Surgeon
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 322 Questions
Hi there. I am 25 years old about 170lbs and have had a spinal fushion in my L5S1 a little over three years ago. I was doing okay until about a year ago. I am constantly stiff, so stiff sometimes I can't get out of bed. I have tried physical therapy, gotten a rhizotomy (did nothing if anything messed me more up), have steriord injections every three months in both levels, see a chiropractor, get manual therapy twice a week, and nothing helps me. I use heat, ice, and have a personal tens unit.(this helps when it is positioned correctly but only works as a bandaid) I take over the counter meds and they don't make a difference. No one can help me or explain this. My orthopedic doctor wants to remove the hardware and extra bone spurs and old scar tissue but given my first surgery wasn't successful I am very nervous. I have arthritis after surgery and also have several bone spurs. I now have a sharp pain(thinking I pinched my sciatic nerve), almost like a bee sting, only on my left side near surgery site and it radiates to my butt and I can no longer run anymore. I am at a loss. I want to be active and work out but that makes my stiffness even work. i dont wear heels, I can stand stationary for longer than 5 minutes and cant sit in a seat without being in pain for about 10 minutes. Can't sit in couches, too soft, and most beds. I am in so much pain, I don't know how much longer I can live this way. No matter what I do, I am in pain and stiff. I feel like someone took my spine and condensed it to crush it (fushion) and now I'm scrunched and locked forever. I don't understand why this is happening to me.

Can you please give me any suggestions?
Posted Wed, 8 May 2013 in Osteoporosis
Answered by Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari 6 hours later
Thanks for writing to us.
I understand your situation.I need more information about previous surgery. What was the initial diagnosis? what were your complaints that time? back pain? leg pain?
In current situation, the symptoms may be due to nerve pressure. Did you get a recent MRI?
Medicine wont help you in long run and the problem needs to be diagnosed. I would suggest to get a fresh MRI and CT myelo of the spine. It will tell us for sure if there is any nerve pressure and what is the status of the spinal fusion at L5-S1 level. Please upload your Xrays to know more about your spine. Thanks.
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Follow-up: Had spinal fushion in L5S1 done. Experiencing sharp pain and unable to sit properly. Any suggestion? 2 hours later
I have had an MRI about 6 months ago showing a lot of hypertrophy and the doctor thought there may be some impingment going on but he wasn;t 100% ... at the time I had the MRI I didnt have this biting pain I have now. However, even if that goes away, I will still have constant stiffness and aching 24/7, no sitting, driving for long periods, standing, etc.
My initially diagnosis was a fracture and wasn't constant pain like it is now. It was just stiffness and feeling my back had to be cracked, standing was very difficult. We have gotten xrays the the fusion is very solid, the doctor said it looks great which is why this is a little bit of a mystery.
In the xray i have attached, my doctor asked me to point where i am having the most pain and then he tapes paper clips to me and x rayed where I pointed. It appears my pain is surrounding the surgical site.
Answered by Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari 50 minutes later
I looked at the x XXXXXXX Fusion looks solid but as you still have backache and stiffness. I would suggest to get a CT myelo. It will tell us the actual fusion bone in all planes and also myelo part will tell us about the nerve pressure.
Most probably I would consider reexploration of the surgery site with thorough decompression of the nerves and if fusion looks solid I would consider removal of the screws. Thanks.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Had spinal fushion in L5S1 done. Experiencing sharp pain and unable to sit properly. Any suggestion? 2 minutes later
would removal of the screws help with stiffness??
Answered by Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari 29 minutes later
Quite possible. Few patient get pain and stiffness due to implant. No exact reason behind this but it happens. Thanks.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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