Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > Spinal Injuries Forum

Spinal fusion 6 years ago, trouble now

I a fairly healthy 41-year old man who had surgery to fuse L-5 S-1. I am a corn-fed Iowa farm boy who is blessed with good genes that allow me to lift heavy objects. I do so with my head as well as my muscles. No stupid lifts here.
I had about 13 years of back pain that resulted in me being medically discharged from the Navy after 12.5 years of service. That part hurt pretty bad.

The surgery started as a laminectomy, then another and finally the fusion. All happened within 10 weeks. Recovery was brutal. I was able to get back into the gym at about 12 months. I can only dream of being able to run again. The good news is that, until recently, I have had one flair up that was fixed by an epidural.

I was working with a crew building a road in the mountains along a river. The last day of a 3 month job had me going down to the river's edge to grab small equipment and continue packing up the trucks. I lost my footing and fell backward. All of my weight (270 pounds) landed on the spine of a boulder. The spine hit right in the center of my fusion site. It was the perfect fall in a really bad way. The fusion is still complete. However, the two disks above it are not coming back to where they were. CT scans reveal a bulging in both disks. The pain down my legs tell me that the disks are putting pressure on the nerve. I know that the disks above the fusion were bound to have more strain put on them.

I am going to school at night to become a nurse. Something that I have been working on for a while. I answered a call.

I am working with my primary physician, physical therapist to try anything to help me with the pain. I still go to the gym 2-3 times a week just to keep active. No free weights or heavy machine stuff, though. I can walk on the tread mill for about 15 minutes before the pain is too much. I can't stop working out. I am a huge guy (6'2" 270 lbs) and don't have a belly. I want to keep it that way.

I am going to get a consult with a surgeon who specializes in spinal trauma/procedures to see if there is anything that can help.

Does anyone have any ideas?
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First Helper tomlilly

replied January 9th, 2012
back pain
I have the same thing going on here wish someone would answer the question but I feel ur pain. Im 29 female I had the same surgery as u the fusion l4-s1 in 06" and like last week out of nothing in particular that I remember my lower back and right leg is killing me hurts so bad !! Thinking of calling my old surgeon up tomorrow to see what's up nothing is helping except heat and feet elevation. Is that helping u at all.Idk feels like the same pain from before surgery but really don't want to re go that surgery ever again hard recovery .
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replied July 23rd, 2012
L5 S1 Spinal Fusion - severe pain 9 years later
I am a 43 yr old female 5'7" 130lbs with a very healthy athletic appearance who had L5S1 Spinal Fusion, a discectomy at L4/5 and a lamenectomy all at once in '03 after a car accident. At the time I was a competitive triathlete, runner, hiker etc. One year after my surgery I was walking 5 miles a day and cycling 20+ three times a week along with my physical therapy. I also had neck and mid back issues. After about 4 years I had about a month free of pain. I have avoided pain meds during this time (with the exception of about 4 months in the surgery time period) and used heat, ice, electric stim., massage until I was broke (about 1 yr ago). Pain has become a background noise that I am accustomed to, I have a natural tolerance for pain apparently (endurance athlete explained) but it has been turned up too loud now after 9 yrs. I have maintained a pretty active life during this time but now the pain is back in full force and has taken over. I am afraid that I will need another surgery, and I am also about to have my third epidural steroid injection for my neck (surgery was suggested after the accident as well as 3 levels of fusion but I saw 4 surgeons before I found one that agreed with a less traumatic treatment which I am grateful I received). My lower back and both legs, mid back & neck are in severe pain 24/7 now.
Sooooo my question is are there others out there who have had L5S1 surgery who have had to go back for more? Any similar experiences? How many years?
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