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Fusions and Disc Replacements

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Just wanted some information of people who had any fusions done on their lower back and also any disc replacements. I have had two previous back operations when I was younger due to a benign cartilage tumor on my spine. 4 spinous processes have been removed.
Now my back got really bad, pain down my left leg and numbness. I had 3 opinions and the verdict is that I should have a fusion on L4 and L5 and maybe replace the disc on L3. The fusion is done from the back and the disc replacement is done from the front. As I already had two previous operations, my healing process on the back might take longer as the nerves are scarred already.
My question is; how is the mobility after recovery? And will the back feel stronger, less pain?
Thanks for anyone who can help with my decision.


  • Check my sig for my surgery info.

    I had the sciatica/throbbing back pain, it was gone immediately after surgery.

    I am 6 weeks post op as of Friday, and my mobility as of now is nearly back to normal. Still get stiff and unable to lay flat but not all have the laying flat issue.

    When you see disc replacement do you mean ADR (artifical disc replacement) or a cage?
  • Yes, ADR.
    That sounds positive, thanks.
  • Fusion and ADR I don't know about but there are those here whom had it done.
  • Welcome to the forum. About 1 and a half yrs ago i had back surgery. I would not allow them to take bone from my hip, they removed the disk between the l4 and l5 and used BMP instead. I can do many things that i could not do before the surgery. I'm not allowed to lift more then ten pounds or run/jump/jog or do high impact aerobics anymore! :''( I'm 62 so all i do now is low impact aerobics, low weight free weights, treadmill, dancing and stretching! Sure, everything i do hurts a little but that's life!

    I wish you well and i will keep you in my prayers! O:)

    PM me if you wish.

    Evelyn :H
    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
  • well as you can see the name says it all for me. i have had a 3 level replacement and doing rather well. i do suffer from nerve damage as a result of herniation. but as far as pain in the lower back i am doing ok. please note that this procedure is not for all and is a decision to be made based on many factors. if you would like to know more of my personal experiences feel free to contact me on the Spine Health Chat room take care and good luck in your future endeavors :H
  • I put the following together who was wondering if she should do it. She was worried about her family. Here 2 Boys are the same age as my two boys. Now you have the background.

    I am still home, mostly still in bed from Feb 9th surgery. My first surgery went well, and as soon as I woke up, I felt substantial relief. A few years later, I had my second surgery. The symptoms before my first surgery were all in my back. The symptoms before the second surgery were in my back and legs, and were excruciating. The first two surgeries were L5-S1 lamenectomies. The scar tissue from the first surgery had wrapped around my nerves like vines. Therefore every time I moved, they tightened, and it was unbelievable. For the third surgery, there was leakage from the disc, and the doctor told me that there was still some liquid left in the disc, and I would have probable had to have another surgery if he had only done a lamenectomy again. The pain before the third surgery was not as bad as before the third, but I knew it could get worse very quickly. Before the second surgery, I went from walking fine, to only being able to walk short distances, with a cane, in a week. When I scheduled the second surgery, I did not have it done right away. I saw the doctor on a Tuesday, and had him schedule it for the following Thursday, instead of that Thursday. That was a HUGE mistake. I was in so much pain; I wished someone would just shoot me. But, like the first time, I woke up from surgery, and the pain was gone. I can tell you the pain after the third was more than what it was before the surgery. It has taken about 3 weeks to get full, but careful movement to return. From my standpoint, you will have to determine if you can live with your current pain, and deal with the fact that you may wake up one day, and it is worse, and as the day progresses it does not get any better. How my pain started for the third one, was a Charlie Horse in my lower left leg that would not go away. When it started, I thought maybe it would take a day or two to go away, but it never did. Now all my leg pain is gone, but there is still some lower back pain and stiffness. Especially when I wake up in the morning. You also need to talk to your partner about this. My wife has been great through all of this, but you also need to consider whether are not they can live with you in the condition you are in. You maybe able to live with the pain, but what kind of life will it be for you and your family?
  • Hi All,
    Thanks for replying to me.
    I have made up my mind now and booked in my OP on the 1.6.09.
    I will have a combined L4/5 anterior and posterior fusion.
    This website has given me a lot of helpful info.

  • I'm actually getting cold feet to have my operation on the 1st June!!!
    Only because my back has been so good for the last 2months! I have been doing lots of walking and no lifting and resting.
    Also I believe the Chiropractic help I have had has helped me a great deal.
    I just wonder if I should go through this operation now, or wait until my back is really bad.
    I'm just afraid to go in healthy and come out of the operation maybe worse than before.


    40 years

    2 previous operations on the spine due to a benign cartilage tumor on my spine.
    4 Spinal processes were removed when I was 9 and 16 years old.

    Booked in for a combined L4/L5 anterior and posterior fusion on 6/1/09
  • I was an very young 37 fitness freak. Marathoner yoga instructor biker skier tennis hiking walking and did I mention very success in my career that required walking all day, oh we mustnt forget single.

    Injured by being driven recklessly in highseas causing me to get bounced hard for source of owners entertainment sat back on cushioned seat not getting bounced. Tore 2 disc L4,L5,S1. Advised tohave 2 level ADR. Was to receive Pro disc lied to in order to lets say make results for Flexicore appear far better/safer then are. Told day prior disc too big, promised surgeon never implant them, but had new plan, the flexicore was implanted restraining me to prohibit me from speaking to Surgeon to ask about "new plan"?

    thats me lost in new england questioning life? Thank god for dogs theres reason they call them dog GOD backwards and believe me Ive now ha dto question a god but my dog is what kkeeps me gping. If dont have one in similair situation as mine get one it will be a constant source of joy in what is a joyless life.
    I appreciate any insight and sorry for going on but be very helpful of found anyone else in my shoes, Make sure you check out ADR surgeons find out how many in study an dothr sites then send your work to them for 2nd opinions, the ADR market is new as you know charite has had many lawsuits, I spoke to surgeon who feels ADR premature as too knew to know the longevty and with no chance for relocation surgery its a question worth asking self? Also its a new market where the companies spent millions to invent they will do anything to get their product FDA approved, fyi if asked to see my file for study? it states SUCCESSFUL ADR no complications, they cant afford to show the bad results and no surgeon Ive met is willing to help aftr fact, As surgeon at yale told me when informed me of my predictiment that I might as well have the plague no surgeon will ever touch me athe 1st surgeon I tried to see was the Dr in NYC who invented flexicore thinking Im in study he would WANT to know so can make adjustments right? WRONG I was called back by receptionist and told sorry he "HAS NO INTEREST IN SEEING YOU" in those exact words, he was the owner but he sold to stryker for 400 million to show you money involved. Stryker Im quite sure unaware of how the study fixed all negative results were falsified, so please at this point in mmy life all I can do is help to prevent another me happening, proceed with caution and remember where I had surgery.

    2003 injured tore disc s1 l4 l5 discogram (OUCH)
    2005 2 level ADR w/ Flexicore disc. Failed
    Disabled for life
    meds Ive tried them all. Neurontin I highly caution against know man who held gun to head from taking it, many lawsuits against it. Norco fent patches-puked unable tramadol remerom way bad lost power of limbs fell off toilet couldnt move arms?? all anti depressants as know can raise suicide thoughts, for the ave joe ok but those with chronic pain no life we dont need anything that might make world seem even darker. Lyrica zoloft vicoden even tho ii dont have ddictive nature ive seen too many strung out hooked too bad on it. Opt for percs. cymabalta(gained 10 pds felt worse) if forced id vote for zoloft has lest side effects, well butrin same nothing.
    titaniumgal gone bad

    I was in a pain that all I did was pray nightly to die, now I'm marathoner yogi, I have above norm determination, I've been on own whole life where I couldnt be sick, I found mind game I'd use repeating "MIND OVER MATTER" but this pain? Well after hell hospital stay where they paged surgeon daily numerous times as all at lost what to do with me, after surgery the 1 time I saw him he said I would be in a greater pain then most due to fact he had to STRETCH me soo much to implant. I still under drugs too out of it to queuery, (his purpose for that 1 and only visit? The pain only increased as I started suffering other weird pains? Starting in my bum muscles it felt like they so tight like I'd just done 1000 squats? Attributed it to walking hunched over due to incision in stomach that wee scar I told that is over 8 inches long ugly. Then the pain or rather the muscle tightness worked way down legs to point couldnt stand as calves felt like ran marathon, I'd say Mom please rub my legs they ache soo bad, to find a comfortable position was not happening, she went to touch my legs I screamed as my skin hurt like flu type? I'm calling Surgeon back in San Fran 15 calls 5 daqys later emergency room visit later where they didnt know how to help.? I miles away from surgery center so getting themto return call my only hope??

    Summaary-I traveled back for my 6 wk visit at 9 weeks and still unable to walk much move, get up down very painful, I had been told I'd be ready to work at 6 weeks, Given no instrustions for PT? After driving 2 days to san Fran at appt asst to study said"I see what you mean how your legs are having problems, Me?? I then looked down at my ankles wearing capris with sandal had strap over foot and my ankles/feet were swelled as if broken?The swelling pushing around that strap I freak say oh my god whats that? That not being a side effect yet had? SHe already nervous knowing she promised i not get these discs DID and so Dr Death(least this got him in room) told me bunch of big words all had to do with neuro this that. nothing i got?? I asked and?? He said I'll be back, I had asked for water retention pills remembering my dad with bad heart had lasix I'd take when young for during my period for tht weight gain. He told me that the swelling wasnt like that those pills nothing would work besides time and putting feet above head? He says be back. Never to see him ever again, given script for lidoderm patches told put where hurts? What coat my whole legs wit these 3x5 patches? The result of my ankles that continue to swell whenever I'm up too long drive is that kneeling is out of question, after swell they ache stiff for days I look like herman munster walking, have caused me to fall down stairs numerous times due to stiffness.

    I let cal returning here to yale where an ADR surgeon looked at films said "WOW I cant believe he put these in you? they so knowingly too big!" SO take them out I reply, he says dont you know? clearly I didnt? You cant remove those disc you shouldve been made aware of this is biggest risk with ADR at your level, to remove which has never been done and why? cuz no SURGEON has ever implanted knowing the life long damage they do w/no hope for relief. I have less then 15% survival rate and no guarantees it will help.

    So At 44 now on 2/80mgs oxy day was 3 but when lost my cobra medicare not allow 3 as states its 12 hr drug. 10/325 2 every 4 hours for bt pain and still my pain level never below 7.5 by evening its about 13. mY back will literally hurt mid level below shoulder blades with a burning aching stabbing feeling to pt I cant sustain I must lay down right NOW. Hence I've been seen lying on shop floors streets restaurants. The worst or most humiliating is that they believe due to my nerves getting stretched beyond capacity disc size could be pushing nerve to brain that says "I need to wee" instead that nerve dead I can be stood middle of CVS when I have to wee and now from day 1 of surgery I get no warning no time its wee and NOW> As woman we have that ability you know to squeeze off to prevent wetting pants. I've lost that and stand jumping up and down praying please no thinking do I hit the carpark? daylight or try to find sales to unlock loo? So suffice to say I've had many embarrassing moments, now as I have read all post on constipation, this I cannot find solution I go 5 days w/out. Its soo big hard as rock Im sobbing in pain trying to go. Not even enemas help for that 1 time only but cant do that daily.

    I'd like to know if anyone has experienced these side effects? Is there anyone currently with a 2 level at s1 L4 L5 flexicore disc? I was told by scientist at company the disc is infact too big for small statured women, when asked side effects hypothetically? He said I dont know cuz it would never be done. I try again hypothetically can you guess at side effects? He said you dont understand no Dr would implant too big ones it be like signing death warrant. Need I say more? I rarely sleep take klonipin unable to get sleep aids medicare great system. lets have a chronic pain back injured person who is biggest candidate for PT and then deny them coverage for that for muscle relaxers sleep aids as being 44 and normally way hyper, take them make them immobile and tell them really you need to move little as possible and prepare to get worse with time and think they can sleep?? I go 3 days no sleep couple with no BMs and a life where I have no quality, unable to even support self show me 1 person w/out these problems?

    I fear being soo young the effects of taking the meds I do for life?? Knock on wood I have no addiction to any of them, I often stop taking for weeks to see where my pain is at and I feel no w/drawls my dr says Im lucky 1 in million.
    For those questioning using oxycontin? I felt same way didnt want to be labeled as taking that BAD drug etc so was taking only percs, my weight was 90 pdds Im 5'7 i was near death from pain when saw new Dr who said I had to be taken to hospital asap my body was shutting down, pain gotten far too away from me. I was in hotel with my 3 dogs 2 shepherds 1 stray, I cried saying I cant my dogs, lucky for me he dog lover and then he said heres the deal and theres no If when nnothing you cannot live life like this you are in horrible situation, so you must take these oxys morning/night 7am 7pm without fail you dont think you just do, you need to find way to have some quality to walk dogs go lunch must gain weight. I did and 2 days later walking my dogs in SAN FRAN my dog was raising his leg on homeless man under cardboard? I was mortified didnt want to yell fearing guy wake up? I was trying to call him quietly and he was looking at me like "what" sure it smelled worse then anything smelled before, well I think the last year half of a pain I cried daily from stres unknown etc that all I knew was I was on my knees laughing tears of joy hysterically laughingg unable to stop my dogs who always run to my aid if I trip think somethings wrong so all aroundme kissing me and all I kept thinking was"OMG my my dog just wee'd on homeless man?" Not funny I know but to someone who had lost her laugh any peace it ws really the relief of pain which until that moment I hadnt noticed then thught wait my back doesnt hurt soo bad still hurt but I wasnt on fire like normal. and so I can attest that Oxy saved my life. I never saw anyone taking topomax and this was one drug I found very helpful, sadly medicare doesnt cover it as no generic but if you have insurance try it. I notice the help and the pain higher w/out it.
  • Back surgery is rarely a 1 offer. It should be used only when you can no longer function and then make sure you research extensively. I was told fusion for my age which is yours would most surely lead to future fusions, we are too young to try and take back and say DONT MOVE, common sense says the opposing disc will indeed suffer from this surgery yuo having to help only to harm others. Theres many invasive treatments, have you checked out the clinic in florida? I've heard great things about it and they are state of the art with most upto date tech. Bottom line if it doesnt hurt dont mess with it, thank god someone for your releif and run with it:O)

    titaniumgal disaster
  • Hi

    I know how you feel in determining surgery when you are feeling good. it is difficult. i was feeling great with osteopath, diet change, glucosamen sulphate and hydrotherapy and was planning to cancel my anterior fusion at L5 S1 planned for two weeks time and then I picked up a bag and my back went completely again. Back on the thoughts of surgery now. This doesn't mean to say this will happen to everybody, I picked up the bag the wrong way (how stupid am I) and couldn't walk at all for the last week. Before the offer of the anterior fusion I did ask my surgeon about disc replacement and he told me that some of the outcomes are not great so he won't do this. I am UK based and this is only one surgeon who has informed me of this, but he wasn't prepared to do it even if I was prepared to pay for it. Things could be different in the States though.

    I hope that everything works out well for you
  • If I couldof gotten out of having surgery I wouldof. Back surgery should be a last choice option.
  • Hi all and thanks for your replies.

    I have canceled my surgery as I will only go through with it at the last resort.
    The surgeon also said if I can handle the pain and it doesn't distract me eg. sleeping, walking etc. I should not do it.

    I know that I will definitely have to have a fusion at a later stage, knowing that the bones deteriorate with age. I will just keep looking after myself and I guess the technology will only get better in time. So things are looking good.
    I wish everyone good luck and enjoy the little things in life that make you happy.

    Titaniumgal - I have two shepherds myself and a few cows that keep me busy. :-)
    Yes, dogs really are your best mates aren't they?!

    I will keep reading the forums to keep me informed as it is very interesting to see how many people around the world can exchange and help each other with their own experiences.


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