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preparing for laminectomy with fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
I have had back pain for several years. The pain moved into my right leg, at first it was just the pins and needles feeling, but it has now advanced to severe pain when I walk. I had an MRI in October 07 and found out that I have DDD at I believe L4 of L5. The doctor at that time told me that injections and PT were all that I needed. Had three shots the first year I was diagnosed and they worked really well, kept me pain free for nearly a year. Pain and sciatica came back and tried injections again, this time they did not work. I have tried injections, PT, accupunture, massage and spinal decompression therapy. I have had it with pain. Went to a new neurosurgeon in October 08 and said that disc was nearly gone and that I had slippage of my vertebrae. He said that I needed a fusion surgery at only one level within 6 mos to a year. He said that if I put it off I would end up having to fuse more areas. I have tried to stay away from surgery, but finally gave in to the idea. Surgery is scheduled for April 17, 2009. Now I am scared to death! Almost everything I have read on these forums tell me to stay away from surgery, but hasn't it helped some people? I am afraid that something may go wrong with surgery, and hate the idea of being down for so long and of course the brace really bothers me. Any advice to this scared soul?


  • i can understand your fears regarding surgery.. but with modern anaesthetics and surgical techniques i would not be too worried {all i remember from both my operations was kissing my wife before the anesthetist put a venflon in my arm.. the only thing i would be concerned about is the back pain post surgery mine has gotten a lot worse since ..i know that this is not always the case but be aware that it can happen. also make sure that you dont over do it when you get home dont bend/life/twist and rest as much as possible for at least one month then gentle swimming nothing else..i have found the exercises that the physio gave me were impossible and my private physio told me to not even try them because i could do damage .if you want to email me feel free tony.beer1@googlemail.com
    good luck
  • First, it is very normal to be nervous and to question your decision. Did you get any other opinions from a spinal specialist in a different practice or different specialty? That is not always necessary, if you are comfortable with the surgeon you have been dealing with and feel you have explored your options.

    Very few people who have a successful surgery hang around to write about it! What you mostly read are from the ones who have had complications or who develop additional problems.

    What is important for you is to have realistic expectations and to realize that recovery is a long process. Fusion is a big surgery and even when it is completely successful it will not restore you to the way you were prior to the injury or onset of pain. Most people end up better than they were prior to the surgery -- i.e., less pain, able to walk further, etc. but they are not restored to their "original condition."

    Do not be alarmed by what you read on the forums. Each specialist has a slightly different approach to surgery and to recovery. Some use braces, others do not. Some want you to start physical therapy fairly soon after surgery, some feel it does more harm than good and want you to wait until at least six months. Straker mentions swimming. I was not allowed to swim for many months. Some people do "aqua therapy". Some people walk in the pool. I think all surgeons will agree that you should begin walking almost immediately after surgery and continue on with it. Walking will become the basis of your new fitness program...at least at the beginning. It is useful because it gets the blood circulating which aids healing, and it also helps to stretch out the nerves. No other activity does this as well or as safely as walking. Anyway, you will want to follow your surgeon's directions as he knows what is best for you and for the type of surgery he has performed on you.

    Keep posting with your questions and concerns. Someone will likely know the answer or be able to commiserate with you!!

    xx Gwennie
  • :H I know just how you feel. :''( Im having a L4-5 laminectomy with fusion and hardware, and Ive already had a L5-S1 laminectomy w/fusion :''( :''( ..when I have my surgery the surgeon is removing my old hardware. Im just as scared as you are but as you know the pain we suffer in our legs and feet now has got to go.... :))) :)))
  • Gwennie,
    The first doctor I saw was an orthopedic surgeon back in Oct. 07. He was the one that suggested PT and injections. He told me I could live without surgery for the rest of my life if I could handle the pain. I was not impressed with him. In Oct. 08 I went to a neurosurgeon that I really liked. He told me that my disc and slippage were so bad that I could get drop foot because of the damage to the nerve. The other doctor said it was so rare. It seems that everyone has a different opinion. The message therapist thinks working the gluteus muscle will relieve sciatica, the PT thinks exercises are best,the accupunturist thinks sticking needles in me is the fix and the pain management Doc wants to inject steroids and throw some pills out me. So far none of these have helped, so that's why I am trying surgery. I sure hope I have a successful story to tell when I am done.
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