Anterior Spinal Fusion means I can no longer ... - Pain Concern

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Anterior Spinal Fusion means I can no longer sit upright due to severe pain in my SI Joints/Sit bones. Anyone else had the same happen?

emmy-loue profile image

I had a 2 level (L4 /L5 & L5/S1) Posterior Fusion revised in 2017. Plus an additional Anterior Fusion at the same level. Now, 4 years later I am unable to sit upright. Not even in bed. Eating or movement in my lower abdomen also causes a great deal of pain in my SI Joints, groin, and thighs. I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who has experienced SI Joint pain following on from a Fusion at this level. My Pain Consultant refuses to believe that my SI Joints are the cause of my pain (although he has no problem with the pain in my neck being caused by osteoarthritis there). Even though my MRIs clearly show Bilateral Degeneration/Athritis in my SI Joints, as well as bone spurs. It just doesn't make sense, and I am so so tired of living with this debilitating pain day in day out.

4 Replies

Hi and I'm sorry you are suffering so much and I can totally relate to what you're going through.

I have been suffering for years now with several lumbar problems and more recently been diagnosed with similar in neck. I had a bilateral decompression and spinal fusion at level L4/5 in Oct 2017.

Although I followed all the advice of my ortho spinal cons, I really struggled to recover from the surgery and felt devastated that the surgery hadn't given me some semblance of 'normal' life or even improvement.

Thankfully my Consultant persevered... he said he felt disappointed for me as he knew I'd done everything he'd asked and did consider other causes.

I have now been told that my SI joints have contributed to my pain and after xrays, scans, CT guided injections, I have been referred from my cons to his colleague who treats SI and hip surgery.

I've just had more steroid injects done last week by new cons but he has also told me that although they don't like to keep fusing lots of spine levels, I may need to have SI fusion done at later stage.

I'm not happy about it and still unsure if I would go through with it but still have to discuss it fully with him. Covid has obv delayed appts etc but he said he needs to see me at his clinic when he can. In the meantime, I believe I've to see how this are and he'll repeat the injects again for parity.

Like yourself, I am totally gutted as to how much less I can do now and feel like my health has just spiralled down in the past 5-6 years. I was forced into early retirement from the nhs after almost 40 years, my mobility is very poor and fitness levels plumetted as no longer able to exercise as I have chronic pain and nerve damage done pre op and related to it.

Apparently SI issues are not normally considered as much as they should when we attend orthos as they tend to 'hone into' lumbar areas as that's their of concern with low back pain and because of the nearness of SI joints to lower spine, I think it can blur things or muddy three waters somewhat. I've read loads on this obviously 😁 and hope it helps.

I really hope you get some help from what I've said and hear if you want to chat further.

Sorry for the long post but I tend to witter on esp when someone else can relate to what we're going through.

Take care x

Barnclown profile image
Barnclown in reply to LesE62

Hello Les...weirdly comforting to be sharing this horror with you & emmy grateful for every detail in your reply! I’ve been surviving my L5/S1 stenosis diagnostic investigation during the pandemic: tough going! think you’ve got a great understanding of this stuff, and explain it really well: thanks! 💞 Coco

Am very much relating to your post because in 2019 neurosurgery performed a posterior L4/5 instrumented fusion has caused increased stenosis below, and spine surgeon wants to discuss L5/S1 foraminotomy (am guessing posterior, not anterior 🤷🏼‍♀️)

I too have considerable very early onset, progressively debilitating issues diagnosed in both cervical spine (been dodging double cervical discectomy since the 1990s) as well as in lumbosacral spine. I was able to hold off on surgery until my 60s, but only by learning to live with constant spine pain + debilitation. I’m hypersensitive to all analgesic meds, and am on a lot of heavy duty pharma due to a lot of early onset immune dysfunction + connective tissue disorder illnesses. Any position is very hard on me: sitting, standing, lying down, walking, whatever 🤷🏼‍♀️

It’s no picnic. And you know exactly what I mean.

I hope you get more helpful empathetic replies like Les’s

And I wish you all the best...❤️🍀❤️🍀 Coco

My experience may be useful. I had spinal fusion at L4/L5 in 2019 only to learn later, after seeing another neurosurgeon in 2020, that I have severe stenosis of both the central canal and facet joints of all my lumbar spine and SI region, except where I had fusion already. The reason I saw another specialist is that I cannot walk more than very short distances and I also have an autoimmune neuropathy that may be causing the problem, rather than inadequate or failed surgery. The question of further nerve impingement in my spine vs severe neuropathy is still open, but I learned a lot from this second neurosurgeon and he referred me to a top neurologist.

Would a second opinion from a consultant that did not have a vested interest in his own surgery help you?

I have had severe groin and buttocks pain that makes sitting hard, and I tend to slump. At least in part, this turned out to be from bursitis and other soft tissue problems that responded to myofascial massage and steroid shots. Your body doesn't necessarily recover from all the compensating it does before a problem is treated by surgery.

Just a thought....

Wishing you the best, JoAnne

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