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L5/S1 - what type of pain?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Lower Back Pain
I am interested in hearing some stories on the type and severity of pain that other people with a long history of L5/S1 back problems have.
I have been living with my bad back for 12 years now and the pain has evolved over this time. I have never had surgery or pain blocks of any kind but after all these years the pain has developed into a kind of dull ache most of the time.
The main concern i have is that the nero has advised that the decision to have surgery rests with "whether i can handle the pain" - What the!!!!!
I mean, come on!! How long do i have to live with any kind of pain - it controls most parts of my life and I'm over it.
The lastest thing is the constant numbness in my right leg. Sometimes i find myself knocking my foot and leg on the floor to try and get some sensation going - like it's fallen asleep.
I can do all sorts of things around the house now though - vaccum, sweep, clean, rake the yard - all sorts of things, but when i do these things i usually have to lie down by the afternoon and I'm taking drugs for the pain.
I feel i've lost prespective though and i want to hear how others have found that long term back conditions have evolved and whether surgery after this length of time was of any help.
i will go ahead with the spinal fusion if it gives a chance of living without the constant threat of pain - any imput would be great.



  • Hi Sue,
    I totally understand your pain, I also have dealt with the same kind of pain for quite sometime. The last straw was I had a fall and blew out my disc! ouch...
    I am scheduled for a L5 S1 fusion on 01/22/09 with harvesting my hipbone and puting in hardware so I will let you know how bad the pain is and if its worth it but I really hope it works so I can go on with my life and start living it again!
    Take care, bree
  • Welcome,

    I have lived with back problems since I was a teenager. I never ever realsied there was anything that could be done so I struggled on and on.

    I have taken pain killers for years, then stopped cos they never worked and slowly made changes to my life to try and manage the pain. Sadly that eroded much of a normal life.

    Finally I sought help. My life is severely limited by pain and mobility issues. If there is one thing I would do differently that is seek help sooner.
    Many back problems are muscular and some disc problems self - resolve but there are a few issues that can be helped and should be helped surgically. The road is not an easy one and you need to be aware of all the risks.

    I think your surgeon comment, although harsh is true. You need to be in a nothing to lose place, then at least complications of surgery can't make you worse. I honestly think, had I not had complications I would be significantly more improved by now. Sadly I had unusual complications and this has hindered my recovery. Perhaps even permanently.
    But am not worse.
    It is a bit of a trade off!

    Your surgeon needs to give you a realsitic picture of your outcome. I think some problems are easily solved than others and then medicine is not an exact science. They should have a good idea.

    I hope you find some releif soon. Back pain is horrible.

    Good Luck with any up and coming surgeries!
  • Interesting, reading your post as I am going through a similar situation. My problem is with my legs and butt more though... shooting pains, cramping, radiating pain and weakness. I seldom have any numbness or tingling. If I do not take my meds I suffer with mobility issues and very poor quality of life. When on my meds and I take life very easy I am fine, people think there is nothing wrong with me.
    My neurosurgeon recently gave my 3 options
    1. Do nothing and continue with my drugs
    2. Try more injections (if they work will only prolong the inevitable)
    3. Surgery
    So I have been contemplating surgery over the last year?
    I went to see an anesthesiologist last week for possibly more injections and he said he was not the one to discuss whether surgery was a good option as quite a number of the people come to him after surgery has failed them? His negative and in a big hurry attitude turned me right off, if I get more injections it will not be at his office!
    This is a huge decision for us but quality of life to me is important and do I wait a couple of years like this not being able to pick up my grandson of 14 months or go for walks, no gardening and the biggest problem no more golf!
    As you can see I am leaning towards surgery but still not convinced and scared to death. Good luck with your big decision and I hope all goes well. :H Feel free to PM me. Thanks
    Nana Shan
  • Hi Sue,
    I can definitely relate to how you are feeling! Try to keep your spirits up. It is too easy to feel discouraged in your situation.

    I am 1.5 years post surgery and I defnitely glad I had the surgery but the recovery was FAR from easy.

    How old are you? Are you in overall good health? This should impact your decision about whether or not surgery is the right choice for you.

    Have you had the very painful disectomy procedure? If your pain is due to ruptured disc that procedure can give you a lot of information about whether a fusion will help you.

    Lastly, I will say this. They prepared me for a long physical recovery form surgery but didn't prepapre me for how the recovery would affect me mentally. (I can provide more details if you need them) Also, I expected to be pain free after my recovery. I ended up needing a subsequent surgery for hardware removal (that I did not anticipate) and though my pain is GREATLY improved, I am still not pain free.

    Hope this helps. Christina

  • Hi Sue, the pain in the L4-S1 levels of my back has been persistant and severe. It always feels like someone has kicked me in my behind with a steel toed boot. It feels like a deep, agonizing ache. And I also contend with nerve pain that feels like aching,crushing, stabbing, numbing, pins and needles and dreadful muscle spasms. It's the best way I can describe it. I have been through 2 surgeries and I still feel all of this. I am grateful to have medications to make things more bearable to me, but unfortunately this is a constant pain in my life.
  • thankyou all so much - sometimes i feel like a bit of a nutter with the pain being a wicked beast that changes day by day. But your comments show that we are all in similar situations.
    I'm still confused about what to do but the more imput i receive from others the better informed i am to make a decision.
    i am so disappointed in myself at the monment that all my decisions seemed to be based on how it will affect my back. i want to make decisions on whether to go camping or holidaying based on how much fun it will be not how much pain i'll be in!!!
    I was wondering though how much mobility did you have before surgery - was it limited a LOT or were you like me and able to do a fair bit but with consequeces.
    One thing i would like to avoid is ending up paralyzed. When i had my fourth child i was paralyzed for 10 hours. THe nero said that when she was born she sat in the birth canal for to long and becuase my disc was already weak it pushed onto my spinal column and paralyzed me. The swelling went down but some damage was permanent and this has lead to further back pain since.
    Once again any input is great - look forward to talking soon
  • thanks for the post. I am 34 years old and the mum of four. My health is quite good - not taking into consideration my back - i try to keep my weight down by working around the house and keeping active with my kids but i don't have time to go the gym. My husband works out of town week on and week off - so i'm a single mum 1/2 the time. I have considered having the surgery when i'm younger and healthier would be wise as this could only help my recovery.
    My ultimate goal is to be able to live relativly pain free - not completly without pain - but not be a slave to it. for example i like to garden and mow our yard - to do this though my young son has to start the mower and any bending usually means by the arvo i'm having to get to bed and the next few days are a muddle of drugs and heat packs. this is the sort of thing i want to stop. anyway thanks again talk soon
  • Hiya Sue, I see you are a new comer, Welcome to Spine Health. Well My back problems started with L5/S1, where i had good days and bad days, and still get away with doing household chores. These days its a different story all together. Every day is a bad day, the only difference is the pain some days is less teeth clenching than others. My pain now goes all the way down my spine and across the lumber area, all the way down my right leg into my foot, and my toes go numb, (pins and needles), my left leg the pain goes down to my knee, im even having pain in my arms now. I cant get out of bed on my own in the mornings, ( i have to smile at myself otherwise i would spend the days crying) oh yeah back to getting out of bed, i cant my daughter has to get me out,picture this ( its like that scene out of the film the rise of Frankinstien). Even with all the medication i take, im still in pain. i had my second lot of facet joint injections, but they havnt worked. One doctor has already given up on me, he said there isnt anything else he can do. I dunno, you know somehow i always thought i would getter better than this. but i have resided myself to the idea now that i will never. People say , aww i bet it makes you depressed being ill all the time, i say no not really, im more frustrated of the normal everyday things this prevents me from doing.
    Anyway i could go on all day, i hope this input helps. Hope to see you around. If i can help you in anyway , just ask !

    Angie x
  • I have L5-S1 problem as well as L3-L4 and L4-L5. I still can go to work while I feel pain after several hours in the company. I can not sit even for 10 minutes although walk or standing does not bother me too much. The coventional surgery is not an option for me, too risky for my level of pain. However, the pain do affect my normal life and get me frustrated all the time. Its been there for more than one year. I am seeking some kind of laser surergy and doing some research now. I will keep you posted about the progress.
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