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Spine and Back Health

Neurogenic Claudication After Spinal Fusion

10/25/2010

Question:

I had severe lower right side back pain and leg weakness when standing and walking (worse when standing). When I would sit down, the pain and weakness would go away quickly. I had two herniated discs with nerve compression and spinal stenosis.

I had fusion surgery two months ago for my lower lumbar spine. While initially I felt a little bit better, now that I have stepped up walking again, I seem to have pre-surgical symptoms.

I`ve been told that the nerves may need time to heal and the fusion to fuse. I am curious about why this is the case -- I understand the nerves might take time to heal -- but why would they be affected by my standing and walking vs. sitting, assuming the fusion corrected the stenosis issue? And why would the healing of the fusion affect pain and strength levels at this point.

I`ve also been told that this might be scar tissue and this might account for why it seemed better and then got worse.

Thank you.

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness. On this site, we try to answer general questions about health but cannot diagnose or recommend treatment. You appear to have some very, very specific questions about your condition, which can only be answered properly by a physician who is familiar with your history, physical exam, and test results. Your questions about the testing results you've been given or the risks, benefits, and alternatives for proposed treatments of this condition need to be directed to your treating physician(s). You should insist that they answer these questions in a way that you are able to understand before consenting to any treatment. If your physician is unable to help you understand these issues, you should get a second opinion. Take care.

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Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University