Postoperative Spinal Fusion Pain

I am a 49 year old woman. I have experienced back, hip and leg pain since I was a teenager but most of the time, the pain subsided after resting for a few days. 3 years ago the pain started, but never subsided. It became very extreme in my lower back, hip, buttocks and down my left leg.

My doctor sent me for PT and then to see an orthopedic surgeon after discovering that I had a pars defect and 2 grade spondylolisthesis at L3-4.

He said that he did not want to operate unless I had tried everything, so I did. More PT, chiropractor, acupuncture, steroid injections, but nothing worked, so I ended up having the fusion in August 2011.

The surgery lasted 8 hours and was pretty painful, but bearable. Initially I thought, wow the pain is gone. I did complain of a prickly, burning sensation on the outer, upper side of my right thigh. I was told that this was from the positioning during the lengthy surgery and would get better in 3-6 months.

It is now 7 months postop and the pain in my thigh has actually gotten worse. It seems that the more I try to get moving and do things, the more the pain gets worse. The outside of my thigh is very sensitive to touch, burning, tingling sensation and I get electrical type shocks throughout my thigh and my muscles keep going into spasms.

The physical therapist believes that the nerve is pinched in my hip area, but my doctor seems to think that the problem stems from my surgery site. Unfortunately the MRI was inconclusive because of scar tissue. The surgeon is actually blaming it on scarring and is telling me that it will get better.

I am so frustrated. It has been 7 months and I have done everything that I was told to do for a good recovery. I am only working part time. I don’t really feel like working at all, but need the income! Medical insurance only lasted for 15 weeks, so I had to go back to work.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?

I would love to hear any feedback.

Thanks! – Tammy

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