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Help? Fear of having surgery on my L-4, L-5 and S-1

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,900
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello I'm a 30 yr old woman and I had hurt my back at work unloading a pallet of produce while I herinated L-4 through S-1 and boy I'm in pain! I had ESI's Facet injections, SI injections pain blocks, nerve blocks, and any other blocks I could get. I do have sereve pain down my left leg but now is going down my right leg. I have problems getting up in mornings due to being so stiff and hurting all the time. I'm on Neurtion 3 pills 300mgs 3 times a day, Vicodin 3 times 500mgs a day and Tramadol 4 times 50mgs a day. Doc said he couldn't do anything else oh Also on Mobic twice a day. So WC doc stated me as MMI. My lawyer said he don't think so and is getting me another doc to treat me.

Anyway, the wc doc said all their is left is surgery and he doesn't really want me to have it but I'm in so much pain why not?

Will it cure me or will it make me worse?

My question is what will they do to my L-4 L-5 and S-1 area in my back? Anything is better than being in pain all the time 24/7 days a week? I think Neurotion is messing with my brain, at times I forget to spell out a word or type all the letters but in wrong order!! WoW! But he also told me that I can't up my dose for Neurotion that's all I can have. Why is that? 2700 mgs a day write? 3x9=27 Well it isn't doing any good is their anyone taking more than that does it help?

Well I gotta go,


  • I am 38 yrs old and just had a 360 fusion surgery on L4-L5-S1 on Oct. 6th. For the past two years plus i have been dealing with severe lower back pain and finally decided that was enough. It got to the point where it was controlling my life. Of course, i am still early in the recovery phase but i am doing well. the majority of my pain is postop pain and not nerve pain anymore. I had a microdiscectomy and 2006 and but the disc reherniated again shortly after. i also have had 6-7 injections but they were only temporary fixes. I did try Mobic several different times but it didn't help. Since surgery, i am only taking Lortab in the morning and at night. I take 400 mg of Neurontin in the evenings to help me relax and sleep. I would try all the conservative methods before you decide on surgery. Those only helped me temporarily so that is why i decided on surgery in the end.
  • i was injured over a year ago i tried everything from injections and pt to just sucking it up. The pain was finall just too intense i first saw a NS who was ver into me having the surgery as the only option left. Im not a surgery fan way too much fear of that so i saw an OS for a second opinion he too was very much about surger being m only option because of the damage. I was so scared i didnt want surgery cause i also knew that my career in the infantry would be over so i procrastinated like no other until finally the pain was so severe it was flaring up m PTSD to the point noone even my family wanted to be around me, now that ive had the surgery (2 weeks post op) im still in pain but have a good outlook on the future. I guess what im trying to say is take a long look at how the pain is affecting your life or lack there of and the people around you. If the pros of the surgery outweigh the cons then go for it if your at the bottom of the spiral already the only place to go from there is up! I hope this helped a little. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • How long have you had your injury? I've been off work since February and getting a second opinion in January from ortho. I wanted surgery at first but hope to heal on my own if possible. I take lyrica for sciatica and it causes some forgetfulness at first. I've decreased my dose and used to the side effects now. Take care Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Misty,

    YES, Do get another opinion.
    It is best to get at least 2 point of views to see where the DRs agreee in what is the best path for you. Sometimes they see different issues.

    Me, my brother, my son, and my daughter are at some stage of what we are all going through...I have seen some of the things that work or just postone things.

    It is always best to go the conservative route for herniated discs...what you probably don't want to hear again..is PT. When you hurt, we all know its difficult to motivate your self to do more exercise. Here I am, guilty as the rest...I fear the excercise as well but do know I do feel better as a result.

    If the herination is serious ( and the only problem) they may sugest a microdisectomy to releive the pressure. But make sure they identify all other possible problems in the area.

    Look up online books on exercises ..McKenzie "Treat your own back", Everson "Back in Shape" If your dedicated enough...this will avert the PT trips.

    If you only had a MRI, ask for a CAT scan of the lumbar.
    I myself suffered for many years and almost made a bad surgery choice because the first Dr never noticed my PARS defect. The 2nd Dr ordered the CAT scan and it all became more clearer of the complete problem.

    I'm going in for a 2 level TLIF/fusion of S1/L4/L5 on Nov 10. It took me a long time to beleive I was making the right choice for me and my family. Now I can wait to fell better and get active again.

    Take Care

  • Hey yall,
    I've tried all the conservative treatments and had all of my shots I can get. All I know is that I'm always in pain and seem not to get any better. I thought if I had surgery it would in the long run help me. Now since my work made me resign or forced me into resigning I can't get unemployment now I'm trying to get food stamps because I can't by my own food. That's pretty bad and I can't help it. I had asked if I could get an handicap sticker doc told me that it would be very diffcuilt and hard to get so he did't fill out my paper. I had a hard time walking and standing in long lines and trying to tell others they think yeah right!
    Almost need to carry my doc report around with me to show folks. Anyway, I will look at the pros and cons of surgery but just sitting here typing I have shooting pains running down my legs and my back. My lawyer is getting another doc for me due to my wc doc stating me as MMI. My court date is Dec 11th my mother's birthday I pray my hearing will be early in the moring and not late in the evening so I don't have to sit that long on those hard benches without padding. I'll be druged up! lol

    Anyway, thanks and if their are others with their experiences with surgery please let me know.

    How long did yall stay in the hospital and how long was the surgery itself?

    Has anyone drop their meds or cut them in half?

    What all did they do to your back? Like rods or screws or what I'm meaning is how did they fix the problem?

    WC doc said that having surgery on the L-4, L-5 and S-1 is tricky? How is that? What do they do?

    Please tell me,
  • I also have a work injury and going through workmans comp. I go for my Independent Medical Evaluation(I.M.E)tomorrow with a Workmans comp doctor to see if everything is as bad as what the two surgeons I saw said it is. I know I shouldn't be worried but in the back of my mind I feel like this I.M.E Doc is just working for the insurance company and will say "Oh, you aren't that bad, you don't need surgery." If only he could see me at home laying in bed, praying to God my surgery comes soon. God i hope I don't have too go to trial, I don't know if I can wait that long.

    I have also tried everything (rest, shots, P.T, Acupuncture, meds) and nothing has worked. Definitely get a second opinion, it will only help your case.

    Here is a video on fusion surgery.

  • my hospital stay was only suppost to be 4 days but due to complications i ended up in there for almost 2 weeks but if in your surgery everything goes fine 3-4 days is what youd probably expect.

  • Hi Misty,
    I copied and pasted your questions so that mabye I could help ya just a little. There is a ton of recovery stories on here that you may want to read through.
    As for your dr not thinking surgery is good. I was given a 60 percent chance of feeling better and I took it!!! It worked the first time believe me. Surgery is always a last option for all drs. But it seems you have tried everything else. And of course you do not want any perm nerve damage . Which I have seen to often with people.
    If your not comfortable with this dr. And WC approves to see another dr GO FOR IT. Those 2 opinions make all the difference in the world. They are either both going to say the same thing OR they will say something totally different.

    How long did yall stay in the hospital and how long was the surgery itself?

    ANSWER: First surgery I was in Mon-Thurs due to having high doses of pain meds and not knowing what to expect. Surgery took a 1 1/2. Second revisions surgery for non fusion due to other medical issues going on now. Wed-Fri 2 hr surgery.

    Has anyone drop their meds or cut them in half?
    ANSWER: First surgery I was on 7.5mg percocets 7 a day, plus muscle relaxers. down to 2 pills plus a muscle relaxer in 4 months. I was on 7.5 lortabs before surgery.
    Second surgery I was on 5 mg lortabs 7 a day. I am only 6wks out with other issues so I am on 8- 5mg percocets, 1 muscle relaxer and valium as needed. I usually have to take 10mg.

    What all did they do to your back? Like rods or screws or what I'm meaning is how did they fix the problem?
    ANSWER: All drs will suggest different things. I have my own bone graft taken from the top of my iliac crest . I have screws, rods and a cage.

    WC doc said that having surgery on the L-4, L-5 and S-1 is tricky? How is that? What do they do?
    ANSWER: Any spinal surgery is tricky. But I'v never heard a dr saying that to a patient. They went through just the back with mine. Much easier (in my mind) then going through the front and back. Which some do. Which is called a 360 fusion. Them going through the front to they have to move all your organs out of the way. With your back they have access right there. But again the drs and patients choice.

    Please tell me,

    Hang in there!!! Alot of people have been where you are now. So your not alone as you can see.

    Take care hope all goes well.
    Terri :)
  • Hi

    After talking to all these good people on the SH board, I realise that there are differences in how the op is carried out in the UK to the US, but I've just had 360 3 level fusion at exactly the same levels as you. I was in hospital for 11 days but that was the docs choice, as he likes to to the front and back surgeries at different times (his opinion is there is less risk in 2 x 3 hour surgeries than 1 x 6 hour)

    But your surgeon will do the operation in whichever way he feels most comfortable

    I've been home a week - but the day after the rods and screws were put in my back the shooting pains and leg aches I had were GONE The bones are now back in their natural place, not rubbing and banging and crushing nerves, so hopefully once the surgical aches and pains have gone I'll Be Free.....

    Get the second opinion - but if you trust the surgeon (and I'm sure they only operate on cases that they think they can really help) then put your trust in them.

    Keep us informed

  • Have the Drs said what type of surgery he would suggest. It may be a simple MicroD, a laminectomy, discectomy or a fusion.
    Each surgery is quite different with differening recovery periods.
    For a hernieated disc (or 2) it is quite likely that you may only need a microD, so please dont get worked up over something that may not happen. MicroD is where they shave off the part of the disc that has hernieated and pressing on the nerves.

    Even with WC, you can insist on a second opinion.

    Sparky- good luck with the IME tomorrow. I had to see 2 WC drs who said there was nothing wrong with me and I was making it all up, then 2 independant Drs who just about dug my grave for me then 1 Dr commissioned from Work cover who was on neither side :))(
    They should have saved all that money and sent me to Dr no 5 first. LOL

    Blessings Sara O:)

  • I thought I could surive the cold last night but I didn't. I made sure I brought extra meds in case I was in horrible pain and at which I was. The temp got down too 38' and that was cold, I had two pair of pants on, three shirts, two pair of socks, and a jacket with a blanket covering me up. My poor nose and fingers frozed but we were taking up tickets at the back gate of our harvest fest at church. They let up park up close because they knew I could not walk a long ways. and you know when its cold you even hurt worse!

    Haven't talked with lawyer but he did state he's going to get me too see another doc to have 2nd look at me.

    C All of Yall Later,
  • :H

    Have not seen you here for awhile. Are you still working at the same place? (and if so I hope the situation improved, seems to me you did not have a very understanding manager?) Reason I asked is that if I recall correctly you have a somewhat physical job, and that may be why the meds are not helping as they could (?) I can only speak from my experience but most of my work is in an office, and sitting all day, and my meds are mostly effective. When I have to travel for work (flying to NYC and Asia and walking through factories all day), which is physically challenging, the same dose is not effective at all. Just a thought.

    Also you ask if surgery will cure you or make it worse. That is the million dollar question, and there are no guarantees, We hope that it does. We don't know.
    (wandering the internet aimlessly...)
  • hey aimless I've been around but just been in pain here lately and seem can't find what the right doctor to find why?
    I was working at Kroger but they told me to resign and is was a forced resign. The co manager had said I had stolening something that didn't belong to me. That is their way of saying we don't want you working for us because you might hurt yourself again and we would be liable. I didn't know what to do so I can told them I would give them an anwser at the end of the day she told me that I wasn't going to work and she needed an anwser right then and I was to go home and never come back to work.

    I had an employee watch me walk out and sit in my van crying because I needed to work and earn my part to pay bills but I didn't need all the harassing they gave me and all. I walked out and told them that they could kiss my ass and I'm going to get even for what they done to me. Just because a person was hurt on the job doesn't mean that you get rid of them as soon possible so they can't file another claim.
    Oh I could have filed lots of claims but I didn't. I was told that While your on WC that you need to keep your job and still work for them. I was put through hell at work, just hated getting up going because I knew what was coming every time someone came up to me.

    I got an lawyer and told him all about what happen and how I was hurt on the job and how long it took for them to send off my first response accident report. He said it shouldn't have taken no more than 3 days but mine was about a week and I couldn't see anyone until I had a claim number so they could file wc for the bills and not me! My court date is in Dec and I can't wait. My wc doctor told me that I was MMI and he was done with me, I called my lawyer told him he was going to try to get me another doc close to me what will testify on my behalf that I'm in severe pain like right now!

    Well, How are you doing Aimless? What's your story and how do you cope with your disablity and work?

    I'm, looking for a job and had some good interviews but they don't want to hire a person who's on WC that sucks on my behalf that I can't get a job and I need to pay my van insurance payment so I can still drive to doc appts.

    Well I need to go I'm getting dizzy after taking 2 Vicidons, 3 Neurotions, 1 Soma, and Nexium, Mobic which I don't think helps.

    Talk later Misty
  • You took all that medication at one time? That's a pretty high octane cocktail! Have you asked about taking the Nexium at the same time as the Neurotin? I know you can't take antacids at the same time...it affects the intake of the Neurotin. Be careful with taking so much at one time!
  • How different doctors do different things. I had a 360, but they did my surgery all in one, it was about 6 hours or so. They didn't give me the option of separating it, but I don't know that I would have, given the choice.
  • Hi, I'm a 46 year old female that had surgery in 1993, when I was 30 years old, I had a laminectomy bilaterally & spinectomy at L4-L5. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days, now this is in Canada and we have a very good health care coverage, OHIP. To say the least about back surgery, I felt great for approximately 8 years with almost no back pain and no medications, now since the past 6 months I am off work on long term disability due to a severe relapse, all because a fusion wasn't performed when I had the operation, now the problems are back again with vengeance. Now my L4-L5 is herniated, L5-S1 has compressed nerve root in both legs and numbness and paralysis, I now have disc degenerative disease and looking at a possibility of yet another surgery. I went to see a specialist this week, since I took all the required tests that prove the existing condition, I was surprised at the doctors comments, she said that there's nothing she can do, it's non-operable, so what is a person suppose to do? She said that exercise and pain pills are my best chances to endure the pain, now I know with time this will get worse and paralyse before they operate again, just like the first time.
  • I don't mean this in a rude way at all, but 8 years is a long time. Personally, I'd view 8 years of feeling good as a successful surgery. Your body is going to degrade naturally over 8 years, so who is to say whether or not you would have needed further surgery now whether you had a fusion then or not? Personally, if I could have put my fusion off and had 8 good years before, I totally would have. And I think any doctor would, too. They don't fuse unless it's the LAST option for RIGHT NOW. 8 years is almost a decade! I'm only 2 decades old.

    Fusing puts more stress on the surrounding levels anyway, so say you had gotten fused 8 years ago (which you obviously didn't need at that time, if you could go 8 years without pain or medication, which some people still need after surgery even successful ones)you may be worse off than you are right now. So you never know. I just think it's not the best way of looking at it. There are some people here who don't know what it's like to have 8 pain free DAYS or HOURS, even. Honestly, 8 years IS a success. Your surgeon did the RIGHT THING THEN. Yeah, more surgery sucks, but like any other good surgeon would have done, they would have put the fusion off nearly a decade. How were they to know how your spine would deteriorate 8 years later? They cannot treat for what the future may possibly bring, they can only treat for what they see in front of their eyes... So it's somewhat unfair to them to insinuate they were negligent.

    I do feel your pain, honestly. And my heart goes out to you at this point in your life where you cannot carry on like you used to. Unfortunately roughly 80 percent of people who have back problems that require any type of surgery will have more back problems at a later time in their lives. It's almost inevitable. Not that it makes the pain any less painful, but.... Know that you aren't alone. My mother is practically disabled and doesn't go a day without pain, but can't have any surgery at all, because she can't take even a week off from work, or she will lose her house (she is a single parent caring for my younger sister). There are all sorts of heartbreaking stories and situations out there... But I don't think you should look back toward the past and try to find somewhere to place blame or find the catalyst that may not exist. ShXt happens. Sucks, but such is life, right? The only thing we can really do is focus on right now, and what we can do NOW. It seems in your situation they're saying there isn't much... But maybe it's time to see another doctor? Or maybe it was left untreated too long once it started up again. My surgeon told me their cut off point for any numbness or weakness is around 6 weeks, and then nerve damage is almost certain... But they will operate right away if you should so choose. I reherniated 3 weeks before my scheduled surgery, and I was in the operating room 12 hours after seeing my surgeon. Time is the biggest factor in nerve damage situations... And unfortunately she may be right... Maybe it is too late for her to undo the damage that is done. In that case, maybe your best bet is to start pain management and maybe Aquatic physical therapy or something along those lines.

    If you think that it will get worse and you will be paralyzed before they operate again, then you should go see another specialist. You don't have to take what this specialist said as your only answer. All doctors see things very differently.

    Anyway, I hope you were not offended, as my intention was only to point out the uncertainty in life and the other possibilities, to maybe help you see it in a different perspective, and not have regret or resentment toward anyone who treated you years ago. I wish you the best, and I hope that they do find something to ease your pain, and that you can find some comfort and peace of mind.
  • My surgeon believes there is more risk in having two surgeries within a short window of times than performing one longer one. They won't perform lumbar spine surgeries closer than 6 weeks apart.

    Surgeon's opinions differ very, very, very much from place to place.
  • Oh I'm so happy I finally get to face the lawyer for Kroger next week about my workers comp case. I want to get them back so bad you know! They done me wrong and I hope they pay me a lot of money for pain and suffering working for them while I am in pain. I still can't find a job due to being on workers comp know one wants to give me a chance.

    To the question about taken that much meds yes I do wait about three hours after I take Neurotion, or I will take the Nexium before I take the Neurotion. I have a high tolerance to pain meds. The vicodin keeps me up at night where I can't sleep or turn my mind off. The celexa helps but I still lay awake with my mind turning and thinking about other things. I take my meds throught out the day! Like I may need my Neurotin early in the am and then I might need my Vicodin so I take throught out the day NOT ALL AT ONCE. Boy if I did I think I could have an heart attack.

    I haven't heard yet what we are going to do but I have another appt on the 20th of this month with Dr. Richardson. I hurt all the time with severe pain in my back, I can't rake leaves, vaccum, mop or do any other house chores without my back killing me!!!!

    Well, I need to go I don't feel very well at this moment!
  • I got up to go too the restroom and trip over the ironing board and fell in the floor on my back. My Grandmother got up and asked me if I could get up I told her I didn't think so, Anyway, I was taken by amblance on a stretcher where they gave me 2 1/2 shots of Duhlautta pain med can't spell it some phenerigan, and some other kind of shot. Had a X ray done nothing show it was broken or damaged but I hurt like hell now I made an appt to see my Workers Comp doc today at 4:30pm. Waiting on grandmother to get off of work to take me.

    The doctor asked if I was going to have surgery or not? I told him I hope I do I'm tried of being in pain!

    Gotta go. C Yall later.
  • You've mentioned being MMI several times. What the heck is that? At any rate, I hope you get to see a new doc and they figure out something to help you. It doesn't sound like Kroger should have made you resign. They should have found a light duty job for you to do until you could improve or have surgery. I hate Worker's Comp. I figure I'll never file one of those claims again. If I get hurt on the job, I'll go out and fall down in the street and claim I got hurt there! Bad WC experience for me, years ago.

    All the best.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • MMI is (Maxium Medical Improvement) Which means they are throught with me for now but my lawyer told them at the deposition I had they need to find me another doc. The old doc put me on fentanyl patch 12. I feel little bit better but I still can't fill my tailbone it is so numb and feel werid. WEll I gotta go talk later,
  • That helps. I think they are saying they've done all they can for you because docs don't normally like to do three-level fusions. I'm having one on Wednesday. At first they told me there was absolutely nothing they could do for me, except to implant a spinal cord stimulator in my back. I didn't want the SCS, I want my back fixed!! I do realize that there is a chance (and a fairly good one) that the discs above my fusions will be affected in later years, but I want to have a least five good years in retirement (coming up soon, I hope) before I have to be physically disabled. I hope you can find someone to help you.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Misty, you are handicapped.

    get the forms from your state DMV and read them. You will qualify. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask your Dr to fill out the forms for the permanent placard and/or plates. You are entitled to both.

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