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Back Problems Message Board

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Still in pain
Jun 8, 2013
I am a 50yo male, retired from the military (27 years) and I need some advice. After a helicopter crash, being hit by a car and 27 years of repelling and jumping my back pain progressed to the point of surgery. I had the lower back pain and left leg pain/numbness. I had a double laminectomy (L4/L5-L5/S1. That felt ok for a few months only. I dealt with the pain until June 2012 when I had a SCS implanted. One year later I feel worse than prior to the first surgery. It's not only lower back and left leg, but my right leg decided to get involved in the fun. Not to mention the pain from the implant site.
I have a date with the neurologist in a couple of weeks.

Has anyone experienced similar circumstances, where do I go from here?
Re: Still in pain
Jun 9, 2013
Let me preface my comments by saying that members are not doctors, but fellow spineys who hope to share information based on our experiences and what we've learned along the "journey." My following comment is just something for you to think about. I obviously no nothing about your particular situation.

Sometimes doctors are too quick to convince the patient that the SCS is the appropriate next step after a surgery is performed and the patient is still in pain. I myself went through this after my first procedure ever which was a one level fusion. My surgery was medically "successful" (meaning I fused, no complications etc. but my pain after surgery was the same as it had been prior to surgery...). The surgery cleared up the problems that were showing on the MRI, so post surgery, doctors kept telling me everything looked "fine" and they couldn't imagine why I was still in pain, so they wanted me to go through the SCS trial. I refused because I knew there was still something wrong that was the cause of the pain...and I didn't want to just mask the pain, I wanted to find the cause.

I would suggest that this may have happened to you. First, a laminectomy at more than one adjoining level runs the risk of causing instability of the spine at those segments. This can allow a nerve to get trapped, resulting in radicular pain. Since you have continued to have pain, and now have pain radiating down into the other leg, it seems that you now have further nerve compression.

If I were you, I would have the SCS removed and I would get several different opinions from both orthopedic spine surgeons and neurosurgeons to see what could be done to resolve your issues, if there are still mechanical problems with the lumbar spine. You should have a flexion/extension x-ray to check for spondylolisthesis, and to see if there is some instability. If there is you may need to have a fusion...but it may be that it would resolve your issues and keep you from having the continued nerve compression.

It will be important to look for a surgeon who is experienced in doing spinal reconstruction and revision surgeries. Not all spine surgeons (and few neurosurgeons) are willing to work on a patient who has had spine surgery with another surgeon. The fact that you just had a laminectomy may mean that you won't run into this problem....

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