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  • lynn
    Post count: 1

    Thank you for your site. I had surgery Dec 4. AnteriorL4-L5, S1 fusion with decompression. I have several issues with my that includes a very deformed facet joint on the left side of my lumbar spine, rapid degen disk disease, and neurological problems. I have had some nerves burned, and steroid injections. As far as my recovery from surgery, my back looked to be healing well. However, I did have agonizing nerve pain that was treated by steroid injection. This worked well, except I have almost constant pain in my left ankle..and crushing feeling. My left foot swells, burns and goes numb. This has become worse since surgery. My doctor tested for CRPS – negative after seeing how swollen my foot has been since surgery. I went of Lyrica and the symptoms seemed to resolve some, but now the swelling has come back and I also have swelling just below my knee and a lot of swelling on my low back.

    Additionally, my back spasms and my spine is extremely tight, and locks at times. The PT has been working on this.

    The main issue and question I have is this: Last week, after PT I got home and was in unbearable back pain. I was hunched over again (this was corrected post surgery). I called the pt office in the morning. My back was popping, I believe in the center just above my rear and maybe in the lower thoracic area. I was still hunched over. When I arrived, they worked to get some of the fluid moving up from my foot and lower leg and rubbed softly. I could not stand the back pain and had to go to the ER. Naturally my back was in spasm and very tight. I really don’t know the difference between tight and locked. I just know that I can not bend but an inch or so to the right or left.

    The next day my pain doctor looked me over and suggested I call my neurosurgeon. It was now late in the afternoon on Friday. The office staff paged him. I knew popping must be something of concern by then. I got an x-ray, and my neuro doc’s asst was leaving as I was coming with the x ray. He said the radiologist would call if something was wrong. I have not heard from him this weekend…I presume nothing by not hearing from him, except that it is not life threatening.

    I did not have popping on Sat. Today, I tried to slightly bend to the right and my back popped in the lower thoracic area. A minute later, I bend slightly forward, and my back popped in the center of my lower back. I am 95 percent certain it wasn’t in the deformed facet joint area. I am also still hunched over, but not as bad. I can pick up something off the ground by mid day and if I had my pain meds. Up to now, I couldn’t bend any further forward than to lay something on the bed (for example).

    I was wondering, of course, what could be going on? Can one get a popping sound after an annular tear? I had three-stage threes in my lumbar that weren’t picked up on mri but by discogram only. Maybe my mid back is doing just what it always does…pain, spasm and locking. But the one pop was just above the lumbar area, and a minute later, another in the lumbar center.

    If you could give me any thoughts….I would so appreciate it. My neurosurgeon is awesome and very busy in surgery. He sees pts just two days per week, and even if the x ray looks ok…I am certain something is wrong.

    thank you for your time. I was a teacher until last year. I have met so many great medical personnel and I reflect in gratitude that many of us have chosen human compassion professions.



    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Post count: 8583

    Your symptoms of “constant pain in my left ankle..and crushing feeling. My left foot swells, burns and goes numb. This has become worse since surgery” fits with nerve compression or injury. An anterior surgery (ALIF) is designed to indirectly decompress any compressed nerve. It does so by “lifting up” the disc space from the front and hopefully reducing compression on the nerves in back.

    This “lifting” works a large part of the time but is not fool-proof and failures of this indirect decompression are well known. The way to tell if there is or is not residual compression of the roots is with a new MRI scan.

    You are still in the post-operative three month period for your back pain. The pain should be diminishing now but some patients will still have back pain at this point. Popping sounds should not be emanating from your fused areas as these areas should be immobile. Popping can originate from your sacroiliac joints or the facets above your fusion levels.

    Your neurosurgeon or his assistants should have the time to go over these issues with you.

    Dr. Corenman

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.
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