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Edema, Swelling of Feet Ankles, Fluid Retention

Started by BackToWork on 01/29/2010 5:01pm

I am taking Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen 7.5/500 (Lortab, Vicodin)... Diclofenac NA 50mg... Lamictal (Lamotragine 250mg); Prilosec... sometimes Flexeril... I'm pending surgery for a couple of Herniated Discs and Severe Spinal Stenosis.

Just saw the Neuro-doc yesterday...

I have Edema in my feet and ankles pretty bad... Neuro-Doc won't operate until it's resolved... they're working on it but I don't have much confidence in "them"... they don't seem to believe that meds could be causing the problem... I've had Edema before while taking other meds... along with constipation, blurry vision... which I also have now...

Any information regarding your experience with Edema will be greatly appreciated...


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12 Responses


Hi There,

I had surgery for very bad (crippling) spinal stenosis on 12/11/09. For one year I had been almost paralyzed, the color in my left leg (the affected one ) was different, and I had edema in the knee and the thigh and calf around it. I've never had it in my life, even while pregnant. My L3 nerve was completely crushed by the stenosis and that caused these problems for me.

Within a week after surgery the swelling started going down and the color returning to what it should be. I can feel sensations now, that I could not before.

I would call my surgery successful in that I have a bit less pain, more mobility but it could take a year to find out for sure how I will be in the future. I was very happy though to have the swelling go down.

Good luck to you.


ps - I got edema from gabapentin


Pending surgery for me 2-9. Have a unexplained history of foot, ankle,& hands edema. I either have or am now taking some of same meds you listed. I think you just helped me put 2 and 2 together. My surgery will fuse L1-5 and S1. Thanks and God Bless


I had anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery on L-5 S-1 back on 12/9/09 and it did basically nothing and 9 weeks post-op I was still having the same extreme pain like before the surgery only difference was now I had about a 3 inch incision a little below my stomach and two the left of it.. My neurosurgeon then did a medial branch block to determine if it was the nerve. Sure enough as soon as he did the injection my pain almost totally disappeared for about a day and a half. On 2/24/10 he did a Rhizotomy where they use a small scope and insert it through a very small incision to go in and burn the nerve endings. He didn't want to put me through another major surgery so he suggested we try the Rhizotomy as at that point I had nothing to loose even though it might not be a permanent solution. In early March I was cleared to start rehabilitative process. I was given a few pages of exercises to do and was sent on my way. Well to make a long story short when attempting to do one of the exercises at home I slipped off an exercise ball which thank goodness did no major damage but i was starting to have horrible pain again so once again the neurosurgeon did another medial branch nerve block to see if it was the facet joint and that made the pain 10 times worse so about a month ago I I was told that the pain is now all myofascial so I am now doing Physical Therapy and have a made a little progress, but for the last few days have had edema in my ankles when sitting. Made the mistake of letting Chiropractor adjust the knees and he pulled on them the other day so I am hoping that this is all that it is and it will resolve itself in a few days. I sometimes feel like this is a nightmare that won't ever end.


I'm stil pending surgery. I had an extensive battery of tests to discover the reasons for my complications which included, Edema and High Blood pressure, especially the Edema... but I never had either, nor any spine issues for that matter, prior to my Lumbar failure... which began softly around mid-October 2009, and progressed to present... I had several Blood Tests, 2 MRI's, Xrays, Flex Extension Xray's, An EKG, an ECG, a Nuclear Stress Test... I was put on (and am still taking)... a water pil/Lasix, Potassium, and a Blood Pressure pill... Pain Meds, etc... none of which, as prescribed, seemed to do much by the way.

A Cardo Cathaterization to look for blockage found 2 borderline, blockages in my Left Anterior Descending Artery (Lad)... another Cath to check for flow through the blockages revealed a single long lumpy borderline blockage... I opted for 2 overlapping metal stents. This all took place April 1st. I had to be finished with Plavix therapy and obtain a satisfactory clearance from the VA Cardiology Dept... coincidentally, the clearance was obtained yesterday, May 27th.

The point of me telling you all this is that as per my Nurse Practitioner at the VA Cardiology Dept. the Edema issue was something of a No Brainer. The first time I went to see him. I told him the Edema began (in Dec. 2009) and got worse, as the pain in my spine got worse, and my pain medication was increased. I told him (and all the other medical staff) that the Edema seemed to be somewhat related to the pain, inflamation, and/or meds. They weren't very receptive to that theory... and that's OK... I understand they have to be careful about what they say, and what they do... I totally understood they were looking out for what was best for me... and so as not to get snarled up in legal issues or whatever. Thus the reason for all the tests. I would just have to be a patient, Patient, and hang in there... which I have been doing with flying colors and accolades I might add. I've been told that I'm an "Awesome" patient and my disposition all along has been very positive, optimistic, and upbeat. I feel, at age 48... I'm geting some renovations and repairs done that would have been more problematic and inconvenient if they weren't discovered, say, till I was 58. I have more positives like that... maybe for another post somewhere in this forum.

The Tests I had previous to the Cardio Cath procedures were all somewhat borderline... "iffy"... and "maybe"... items... he, my NP, said there were too many "maybe's"... That's why they went ahead with the Cath procedures... otherwise, my NP would have cleared me for surgery... if it was only the Edema.

My Cardio Nurse Practitioner was certain it was because of my Lumbar/Spine injuries that the Edema was present. He asked me "...does the swelling go down when you put your feet up?"... I said "yes"... he said, "...does it get swollen again when you put them down or stand?"... I said, "yes, my feet swell back up almost immediately..."...he said it was a circulation issue related to the injuries and swelling, etc... I reminded him how it seemed to get worse as the pain and inflamation got worse... and that I wasn't sure if it was because of the inflamation squashing and/or pressing against things. It's a real mess down there... like a pile of junk all pressing against this, that, and the other...

My neurosurgeon, considered to be one of the best in the country is well known to every other doctor, nurse, clinic, hospital... spiney, gas station attendant, and supermarket cashier within a thousand miles of my home... and several other foreign countries... His name is Dr. Bajwa... he's highly talked about and recommended by everyone... and his clinic is fondly referred to as the Baj Mahal!

On my first consult with him, he was of course super professional and communicated perfectly... he said to me, finally, when beginning to discuss the MRI films... "...You have Big Problems My Friend... but we are going to fix you..." I almost cried... He pointed at all the junk in my spine and explained everything and then went on about how he was going to fix it all... I knew he must have a heavy schedule and didn't expect the clinic Admin person, to get me in anytime soon... But she got me an appointment about a month away (my birthday in fact)... well... before we were finished with the Admin person, he sent his assistant out to tell her to try to make my appointment sooner and/or put me on a cancelation list... he felt my stuff was serious and wanted to get at it asap.

The point of all that is that... yes, there was a lot of junk pressing against this, that, and the other, and cutting off circulation... I think my Great NeuroSurgeon wasn't concerned about the Edema one bit because he probably knew that too... I think he was more concerned about the seriousness of all the pressing junk... My Cardio NP Guy said there are nerves down there that are like signals to the heart regarding circulation down and around there, the legs, feet, and so forth... made sense to me.

Sure enough, prior to the Stents and Plavix/Asprin Therapy, as things moved around down there, I'd have good and bad days with pain, with associated Edema issues, and Blood Pressure fluctuations. Just Prior to the Stents, things in my spine were feeling pretty good, not much Edema at all... After the Stents and Plavix/Asprin therapy, Edema practically non-existent... my BP improved, I noticed more energy, and as another odd development... my vision improved!... but that's another story.

This past week, after going the previous week with things feeling pretty awesome good in the spine department, comparably speaking... I was pushing things quite a bit and enjoying myself on two legs often blowing off my walker... well this week my Lumbars are showing their displeasure with all that... for a few days my pain and inflamation got real bad... My Edema blossomed along with my Feet... After the Stent operation I was advised to stop taking my anti-inflamatory, Diclofenac (NSAID), for reasons related to possible stomach bleeding, and blood thinners and all. But the Diclofenac seemed to help with the Edema... by reducing the inflamation. I began taking the Diclofenac again and rested my back a lot... The Edema is just about Gone after a few days.

The point of all this writing (I guess I have a lot of points to make (ha!)), is that... yes, I'm a little bit bored today with time on my hands... but also... sure enough, injury, pain, swelling, inflamation... etc... in, on, and around that whole Lumbar region... can certainly be the cause of Edema in the Legs and/or Feet... along with maybe some High Blood Pressure... and who knows what else. For me, I had the added complication of a borderline artery blockage... I think that's why before the Stents, my blood pressure would get pretty high, and my feet would really swell up... I should post the pics... they would get at least twice their size and looking like they were ready to burst... Now, just this past week, after torturing my Lumbars and Discs and whatever for several days... and not taking an anti-inflamatory, they swelled up alright... but nothing scary that couldn't be alleviated after a few days of appropriate therapy, rest, meds... and more intelligent behavior.

Next week, I begin Phase Whatever... probably more tests, pics, and associated and then on with the operation, new parts, and rehab. I'm looking forward to it all but with a patient and optimistic demeanor.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!


About 11 weeks after surgery... 2 TLIF's and associated whatever... at first, and for a while... Edema was worst ever... but now is significantly reduced to sometimes looking non-existent... I'm on the minimal dosages of blood pressure medications, atenolol, lisinopril, furosemide (lasix)... the lasix is mostly for BP/Cardio stuff (which I didn't have before my back gave out) and didn't help much with the type of Edema I had. Again, as far as my BP is concerned... I never had an issue before my back collapsed... my BP was always perfect... but after getting a stent for a single borderline blockage... I have to take the meds... although I'm on the teeniest dosages on all of them.

I use Diclofenac anti-inflamatory as necessary... right now I'm using it because I've done a bit much walking and exercise / activity and my weakened muscles are sore. I'm weaning off of Lortab / Hydrocodone... the withdrawal comes with lots of depression but I'm dealing with it, and working on it...

I believe my surgery was a perfect text book example of How-To... I'm totally walking and getting around much better with very little pain. The numbness has gone down quite a bit. I believe the Stenosis was well dealt with by my neuro-doc (the best in the country/world I believe). I have and have had the best doctors and medical treatment thanks to the VA. My stay in the hospital... VIP service and great food, 4 days... I had a prolonged stay due some initial spinal fluid leakage... oh my god... what a severe headache that was... like my brains were bouncing around my skull... really... they did a lot of work on me... it was a long surgery session... the doc said "it was a real mess in there"... he said he had to use some tools similar to a hammer and chisel to pry the disks apart... bu I feel confident about the success of my complete fusion and healing... although I know it's going to take a long time... I'm wearing a Spinal-Stim 2 to 4 hours a day... (see orthofix.com)... I'm committed to a healthy, disciplined, fusion support program... I want fusion to be complete and solid... I want my back to be structurally sound and fully functional... with little or no pain and

I was very concerned about the Edema... and still I'm apprehensive about getting my hopes up... but things are looking very, very, good. I believe it was all the spinal damage and nerve squishing, squashing, and compression that was causing it... whatever... I'm hoping that it continues to get better... and eventually... disappear and not be a worry anymore.

Good Luck to All!


hi "back to work" :) your doctor should have solutions for you to try for the edema, but you can check these reputable, leading medical organizations. one of the first things you should cut or cut down on is salt, because it helps fluid retention, which you don't need, and there's a lot of it in all of the fast foods, processed (box/packaged) foods, etc. that alone may help a fair amount.. you can research that more online, too. meds can cause it, as well. i'd research those, too.

check one of these sites on your specific drugs: http://www.drugs.com/ orhttp://www.rxlist.com
here's one that shows these with nutritional deficiencies: http://1stholistic.com/nutrition/hol_nutr-def-symptoms.htm
if you use anti-depressants, this one may help: http://heroinaddiction.com/other_psyc.html
here's a good one that shows these symptoms and to understand exactly what you're taking and WHY: http://www.scleroderma.org/medical/medication.shtm
here's one for constipation and edema: http://symptoms.wrongdiagnosis.com/cosymptoms/constipation/edema.htm

leading professional medical organizational info on edema:

i hope this info helps you. good luck, and keep us informed.



Thanks Julie,

I'm now going on 12 weeks post surgery for 2 TLIFs and associated repairs... the Edema got worse right after surgery and stayed that way for a long while. I had to wear thigh high TED socks. They checked my legs for blockages but found none. But for the past 10 days or so, my feet and legs are looking great... hardly any edema at all. My surgery was very successful. Very little pain... weening off of Lortabs, taking Diclofenac as necessary... getting around very good with a hard brace... so far so good... I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the Edema is finally gone... I'm thinking it was from all the inflamation, swelling, nerve compression and so forth that was going on in my back.



. stop Back pain causes/Julie// I just had back surgery and you seem to be such an expert. Did you go to College for medical or advertising for medical companies. Please enlighten us so we can take your comment seriously. Readers Beware!!!!! There are so many people that are just selling things not paying spine universe!!! Really stealing from spine universe!!!!


If you are still on this site, let me know. I am interested in your symptoms. Mine are nearly identical.


I had fusion at L5-S1 on July 29, 2014. Everything was great until my incision busted open due to a seroma. Then I spent 8 weeks on a wound vac and
Had to return to work during that time, which was not fun! After the 8 weeks my wound was trying to heal, but they couldn't let it because I had two tunnels that had been dug out by the water in the seroma looking for an exit.

My surgeon decided to go back in and "clean it up & see why the tunnels wouldn't heal. This was done on Nov. 3, 2014. After the surgery When I woke up in recovery I started screaming and crying uncontrollably. The nurse didn't have any orders from the Doctor yet so I had to suffer with my back on fire for 30 minutes. My daughter held my hand as I cried with no tears. I was in so much agony I couldn't form tears


Dear "Back to Work: If you are still on this site, can you please tell me where your surgeon is located? Or even better - a phone #? If he is strictly VA Doc then I don't need the info but please respond so I'll know! Thank you - Crippled in Cali...or PRich64!


I’ve been on all those at one time or another

Only med that caused edema like you describe is Neurontin (Gabapentin generic).

Good luck