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rods and pins

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,607
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Lower Back Pain
I am no stranger to back surgery. My first was for a ruptured disc 26 years ago, worked great, the second was three years ago for another buldging disc, scare tissue and a cyst which gave symptoms of with severe back and leg pain. I was opnly in the hospital 1 night recop at home for 4 weeks and everything has been great unti about 3 weeks and I hurt my back again.My neurosurgeon has suggested to stablize my lower back by using rods and pins and bone grafts. I really like this MD. He has spent hours explaining and going over the surgury he suggests, but I am VERY worried about this extensive 8 hour surgury 5 day hospital stay and 4 week recovery. I have only hear horry stories. Other patients say the leg pain, weekness and numbness is gone but they have constance severe back pain with limited mobility. HELP!!! KR


  • Please check out the surgery section and I feel that you will find lots of info there. One thing to remember is that the failed surgeries are mostly the only ones that keep posting on this forum. Most of the people with success stories have gone on with their life, back to work etc and have little to no time to post here. So you are really looking at a lopsided picture when you look here. I too am fearful of the odds with a fusion but if it is the only thing left to try and you can not manage your pain in any other way it may be what you need to do. Have you tried getting a couple more opinions? That is always a good thing to do when faced with major surgery. Good luck to you and I feel sure that one of the success stories will come along anytime now to offer you support.
  • Please, please, get not only a 2nd opinion but a 3rd and 4th if needed! And, you must make sure that you have found the best surgeon that you can find. Someone who does ONLY the spine, not just any old bones. I had a failed Laminectomy and went straight to a spine fusion, the biggest mistake of my life. I was later told by my my 2nd surgeon, the one who had to perform reconstructive surgery because of the fusion, that I only needed another Laminectomy. That was all I needed, a 2nd Laminectomy and my life would have been so different.

    The last surgery that I had was my 3rd. This was performed by my "good" surgeon. It was a reconstructive surgery to repair the mess that was made from the spine fusion. This surgery lasted over 8 hours and I was in ICU for 4 days. I was in very critical condition. My hospital stay was 7 days in total. I was delirous from the pain and from my body trying to shut down. I had begged my husband to make the surgeons take it back, that I didn't want it after all. That's how delirious I was! Of course with any surgery that last's 8 hours you have to have blood transfusions, but I also had to have them for 2 days after in ICU. The pain from this was worse than anything that I could ever have comprehended!

    I don't want to scare you away from a surgery that you may "have" to have. I just want to let you know what my experience was like. I wouldn't expect yours to be as bad as mine, since mine was reconstructive and I had been cut open both on the front and on the back. That's even harder to recover from. I just want to make sure that a surgeon doesn't have you jump into anything that you don't need. That's why you need more than one or two second opinions. And it's also why I want to make sure that you have the most experienced surgeon possible in this field. As I said, if I would have had the best surgeon from the beginning, I wouldn't have needed that 3rs surgery and my life would have been so different.

    Once you have gotten all of the doc's opinions, and have found the best surgeon, you might have a great life with no or very little pain. I certainly hope so. I hope that I haven't scared you off, I don't want to do that by any means. I just want to give you the best advice that I can so you can make the most informed decision. Keep us up to date on what you decide and I wish you the best of luck. If you have any questions, feel free to pm me any time. I will be happy to answer anything!
    Take care,
  • thanks for your info, i have decided to get 2nd opionion.ct scan shows disc sliped at l 3 enough to touch nerve but pain has gone down to about a3 out of 10. right leg tingle and some hip pain, i talked to a guy yesterday had fusion low back ,he said no pain down leg anymore but back hurts all the time at level 8 or 9 out 10. i really dont want a fusion now but i dont want to do any permanent damage either. thanks for your help what do you think about my plan. k.r
  • I had severe sciatica with my herniated disk and after all of the surgeries that I have had, I still have a lot of severe nerve damage down my left leg. From my buttocks, thigh, calve, ankle, and foot. The whole thing. But it's nerve damage now rather than the actual sciatica. There is a big difference between the two. Are you having sciatica? I don't remember at this point.

    A 3 out of 10 on the pain scale is great! I stay between a 8 to 9! But you do need to get that 2nd opinion. If there is anything dangerous going on you definatly don't want to ignore that. I wish there had been a message board like this before I had ever had any of my surgeries. Actually, there might have been but I didn't have a personal computer yet. At the time, I didn't even know what sciatic pain was and no doctor was telling me. I just kept going on with this awful pain and dragging my leg behind me when I walked.

    I discovered what was wrong with me about a month before I had to have emergency surgery. I had gone out on my own and had a MRI done. Yes, I had some very bad doctors at that time but I didn't know it yet. That's why I'm urging you to find the best surgeon possible. Seriously, make sure the surgeon ONLY works on spines. I ended up going to a Spine Care Center in Phoenix, where this was their only specialty. I was too naive and trusting to have gone there in the first place. I didn't have any experience with this type of situation and didn't know anyone who did.

    In the end, you will be luckier than I was/am. When you speak to the next doc, tell him your concerns about not wanting any permanent damage in your leg but at the same time you're not overly enthused about the fusion either. If you get two different opinions from 2 doc's, I would suggest a 3rd opinion. It's really the best advice that I can give. This is a decision that can seriously impact the rest of your life and you need to make the best informed decision. Feel free to pm me anytime if you have any questions, and I'll check back here also. I'm wishing you the very best of luck! :H
  • jewels thanks , pain down leg with leg weakness , idont know why it has got so much better. 3wks of 9pain level to 3 now ,does not make me wont fusion. he said to stabilize levels 2and 3 or it will keep on doing this. been 4 years and not had any problems untill now. pulled on heavy equipment on farm and felt something pop . begining of problem. k.r
  • I remember the exact moment when my own back "popped"! The pain was excruciating! Is the pain in your leg getting worse or better? I know that your back is feeling better but unsure about the leg. For some people "me" after they have surgery the weakness and numbness are still there. Let me know about the leg pain! :SS
  • jewels, pain in low back almost gone, leg weak but tingles, sinsation of tingles and some pain not alot now from hip to knee calf of leg kinda like its asleep, slept all night last night for achange very little pain very confusing.k.r
  • At this rate, you may not need any surgery at all. Let's hope so! I have all of the exact same pain in my leg that you've described, but worse. My leg feels like it's asleep a lot of the time and it always has a "numb & tingly" feel to it. My butt even feels this way on one side only. I have to admit, it feels really uncomfortable to sit on the toilet. Even after all of these years I'm still not used to that weird feeling and I hate it when I have to go pee. Yes, I'm being fairly blunt, but if not here, then where? There are times, actually a lot of them, when I'm just sitting on the sofa and my entire butt and leg will go completely numb, like it's asleep. This just started in the last year. Shrugging my shoulders! At this point I can't stress the point hard enough to get another opinion. This may end up going away all on it's own. Actually, if this is all that you ever have you will be extremely lucky. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed for you! Maybe my toes too!
    Hang in there,
  • i've been suffuring with lower back pain for a good 10yrs before i decided to have my fussion L3-L4-L5

    I've been sleeping on a lazyboy recliner for the last 15yrs
    i decided to have a fussion last july after a good 14 yrs of pain and i honestly have to say its was the worst decission i could have made. at least for me anyway..

    even thought i had to sleep on a recliner....at least i was able to get some sleep and work the next day!

    now 13 months after my fussion and i'm in worst pain then i've ever been in and i'm lucky to get 3-4 hrs sleep each nite...(on my recliner)!

    Now the doctor wants to take out the hardware: six screwss and two rods then i should "feel much better"

    he says thats the only thing it could be..he says some patience can live with the hardware and some can't
    i guess i'm a can't..

    Now i guess i'm hoping to find someone out there that had the hardware removed and got some relief?

    so now i hear about this laser treatment stuff,i'm looking into laser treatment for cronic pain, and i suggests you do the same...try anything before a back fussion or any kind of back surgery
  • KR--- Glad your pain is doing better! Really think about it before surgery. After 4 doctors said I needed surgery I finally had S1-L4 fused in April. I still haven't started to fuse and I have a lot more back and leg pain then pre op. The tingling and numbness is worse to. But there are alot of people out there who have had very successful surgeries. I guess it's kind of a crap shoot. I can say that if nothing else good comes from my surgery at least I have been smoke free for 7 months so that is one very big positive! Good luck in your decision making and try to have patience.
  • this is an update ,i got an appointment for 2nd opionion. low back pain almost gone but right leg still tingles and the more it tingles at times the weaker it seems but not alot of pain still dont know what to think, see the doc for 2nd on sept 9,any body got any sugestions. k.r
  • Hi,

    I've had 4 surgeries on my herniated disc L5-S1, microdiskectomy. I refused to do a fusion. Some people told me that it would be better if I do a fusion but I just didn't feel its the right thing to do for myself. The thing is that even the fourth surgery didn't really help me a lot. I am still on pain, lower back pain, leg pain and numbness. On my experience I think if someone can avoid surgery please do so and try to do other non surgical options. Before the last surgery I was able to run, sneeze but I was on some pain. After the last surgery I can not run, I can not sneeze (maybe sounds funny but its the truth, when I sneeze it hurts as hell) and am still on pain.

    The only reason I didn't do a fusion was that I was affraid that the rods and pins may come loose after a while and that I had to go trough 8 hours surgery and maybe 7 days stay in hospital.
    It is really hard to make a choice. I listened to my body and did what fellt is right for me, maybe I did a wrond decision maybe not, I still dont know. I am just so surprised that with the technology we have today Doctors, neurosurgeons and the orthopedics are not being able to make us pain free. It sucks big time. I am so pissed off.
    Good luck making your decision. But I think at my personal experience that more surgery you have more dificult it will be.
    Sorry if I was not being able to help. Just wanted to share my story with you.
    Take care.
  • nexhi thanks for that, ithink you are right about more surgery if you can avoid it. today i saw theripist he started electro massage and looked at my scans this was at a sport medical center a friend told me about. he said he has seen alot and he is not surgion of course but stay away from fusions if at all posible. this evening the numbness seems alot better like it is alot less when i stand.very encourageing.k.r
  • KR,
    I have had back pain and leg pain numbness for 7+ years after an injury.
    Last Christmas I went to see a specalist not sure what to expect and he said that the only thing left that could help me was to fuse L3-L4 L4-L5 L5-S1 laminectomies on all levels and to straighten the scoliosis that had developed from bulgin.herniated discs.
    To say I was shocked is an undertatement but I thought about It and got other opinions.
    Bottom line. I decided that I wanted a life back as really my back was stopping me from doing everything I enjoyed.
    SO last May I had the 3 level fusion 12.5 hrs! :O and it was one of the best things I have ever done. I can now feel my feet, I can go out, I can walk and stand for more then a few minutes at a time.
    DO I have pain, yes but I am still recovering and it is getting easier all the time.

    you have heard a lot of horror stories here but believe me there are far more good stories then bad.
    At the same time I wouldn't jump into anything you didn't really need so what you have to look at is your quality of life. Are you happy to stay wher you are or is it time to take that leap of faith. You will know when it is.

    Blessings to you
  • angleback , thanks for your input, but from all i can gather , fusion is a 50/50 operation on pain and problems. not good odds, i think i will exhaust all other options first. i am better with little back pain still have some weakness in right leg and these crazy spasams tingle from thigh to knee but periods of when its normal feeling.2nd doctor tuesday, therapy, mon tues wed thur next week. thankyou,k.r
  • Hi, I am new to all this forum stuff so please bear with me if this is a bit too long! This is my story:
    I have scoliosis which bothered me a lot when I was growing up but seemed to settle somewhat when I was in my early 20’s.
    On one Sunday in October last year my back started to hurt, over the following 3 days I was in the worst pain I have ever experienced. On the third day, I could hardly walk but managed to get to my GP who found i did have a great deal of numbness, she straight away called a surgeon who wanted me admitted that day. I had a CT scan and an MRI.I was told my lower spine had collapsed and was trappingand and killing the nerves and I needed major surgery as quickly as possible. The doctors were unsure why the collapse happened when I was 27 years old since it was more likely to happen in my 50’s! If I didn’t have the operation I would have been virtually unable to walk within a month or two.
    I had an L4-S2 decompression and they pinned my spine and I had a bone graft so the rods and pins are there for good. A neuro surgeon and spinal surgeon worked together in surgery, I was in for about 7 hours. Folloing surgery I was leaking spinal fluid so was unable to sit up for 5 weeks, lying flat on my back all day. Because of this, in total, I was in hospital for just over 2 months - that all sounds a bit grim BUT it was totally the right thing for me. Even though the situation after the operation was difficult to deal with, it did work and they are very pleased with my progress. I am able to walk so much better now and have a part time job and am getting my life back. The back and leg pain are still there, nowhere near as bad as before though so am on Gabapentin for pain relief and am still having physiotherapy. Its a slow process but I have never regretted my decision. All in all, it depends what your personal risks are, i sympathise with anyone out there trying to make a desicion about this type of surgery.
    It can change you life dramaticly, even with the bad times the operation was a success and i wanted to share that with you. I hope this helps someone out there! Dory :H
  • KR,
    I would agree with the comment that statistically the more surgery you have the worse it may become and that is always a risk, my own quality of life was always used as a measure of impending surgery with all the perceived risk. You have to do what is best for you as others have done what they thought was best for them at the time, our condition are similar but intrinsically individual and using a collective notion on an individual basis is not the best route for success.

    Although my fusion failed, I am an avid support of doing what is right for the patient and even though we should take the risks and testimony into consideration, this is no measure of your success and should not be used as such. You need the right decision, not one from overall consensus based on individual case histories and MRI,s, we do share general commonalities.

    A second opinion is just that and may just confuse the issue you need confidence and clarity of the process for you, not well intended second, third or 300 opinions. In my experience the more opinions I sought, the more individual and selective strategies I accumulated and rather than giving some clarity towards the future, just confused me more.

    That leap of faith into the unknown is never easy and something you have to come to term with the you have used all your skill to get the correct diagnosis and moved forward from known evidence. At the end of the day we all want someone to come and say everything will be alright, a form of guarantor and we are all looking for that illusive outcome with faith hope and good grace.

    Take care John
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