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Back Problems Message Board


Back Problems Board Index


As you know, shoveling is one of the worst activities for someone with a surgically altered lumbar spine. I also know how bad the weather has been in Chicagoland and sometimes we just have to do things that we know can be harmful.

What happens is that the nerve will become aggravated for reasons different from what was coming on prior to the surgery. I am fused from L3 to S1 and it doesn't take a great deal of certain motions to bring on sciatic nerve irritation. I just had this discussion with my surgeon this past summer, on the 3rd anniversary of that surgery. The tissue is altered due to the fusion and the way things heal post surgery. When I bend a certain way, it pulls on the incision and the soft tissue is affected...it ends up pulling on the nerve and thus, bringing on the pain.

In my case, I considered this surgery my last chance to get things right, as did my surgeon...so we took my recovery very slowly. I started and stopped physical therapy about six different times as every time something would begin to cause a nerve flare, I would stop and go back to just walking. With this surgery, I was not fully fused for about 15 months, and then it took another year to get various issues under control.

I imagine this varies from person to person, but I have come to the conclusion, 3 1/2 years post surgery, that I will always have certain motions that I can count on to aggravate my back. I have learned how to manage these activities, how much I can do without causing continuing pain, etc. I now may be sore for the rest of the day, but after a night's sleep, I feel fine.

I imagine you have irritated the nerve sufficiently that it is going to take awhile to calm back down. If it continues to be a problem, perhaps your doctor can give you a medrol pack to reduce the inflammation, and in the meantime, go back to the usual rules: no bending or twisting at the waist, be careful with the amount you lift or carry, limit sitting time, etc.

There is a bit of a learning curve when one is fused. We are always living in fear of when the pain might return, and it takes awhile to get over this anxiety...and in a way, it is what keeps us safe from doing too much too soon.

Have you been icing the area? You might try doing that several times each day for awhile. Hopefully you will gradually feel better.





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