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New & NEED your advice! L3,-S1 Surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi everyone:

I feel like my life is over at 44yrs. My back is killing me.

Initially I had low back pain associated with L4 that would constantly go out of place - Chiropractors put it back in OFTEN. For about 2 years I saw and did everything for back pain then decided upon a microdiscectomy for L4-L5. This gave me relief for a WEEK and I got nerve damage in my right upper extremity - healed in over 2 years. (Never go to that surgeon again!!! - I'll report him on another site) Really, it was the anesthesia and the OR nurses fault for improper positioning.

Then after another 6 years of pain and tons of alternative treatments life was a D- for me. I was ready to exit it! I found a surgeon who would consider surgery for the three bad levels: L3-L4, L4-L5 L5-S1. For this surgery #2 He decided to put the Dynesys system in at the worst level L4-L5 and fuse at L3-L4. (Dynesys recommends fusion at the levels both above and below the device - I suppose I listened to my 'cowboy' surgeon) This was ok for a year -I still needed pain meds up to 15 mg oxycodone/day, muscle relaxants, back brace offered relief. My life was brought up to a C- like the surgeon said - he never acted like a hero or like he was going to remove my pain. An accidental pregnancy and supportive boyfriend helped me get off most of the meds. I had a miscarriage which was sort of a blessing in disguise because I ended up on 1/2 vicodin (500mg) in the morning and at night and that was it!!! So happy!! However, after some vigorous activity a pedicale screw was loosened and I was like my surgeon said, "In the same pickle you were in before." I was in so much pain - I thought 'pickle'!!! man he makes it sound so light hearted! I insisted he do something to help me so that I could get back to where I was on low dose or on nothing!

Surgery #3 I had posterior interbody fusion at L3-L4 and L4-L5 leaving the Dynesys system in to do it's work, but with stiffed suspension. The surgeon insisted that it would stiffen up the area and that is what I needed. Well, at first I felt awesome - just normal surgical site pain for a few days. Then I fell jarring my whole right side because I wasn't used to the weakness/nerve damage in my right quadricipes muscle. After that it didn't feel normal or good inside - I was no longer enjoying just the surgical pain and felt I screwed something up. Doc. wanted to wait it out to see about some healing first. It's been 6 months & I am in such incredible pain now he's ready for the next one and so am I.

So, after these 6 horrific months of pain and multiple tests later we are at the precipice of surgery #4. He wants to try an anterior interbody fusion and place it at L5-S1 where my L5 disc is hanging out causing all of the nerve pain, sciatica, muscle pain and of course back pain. Initially, he suggested hardware at L5-S1 but it scared me, so he suggested a two part - do the interbody first and if it works continue on with the metal. I am not sure if the Dynesys being in there is the problem and or if any other implantation will be the answer. So, with this in mind he suggested the interbody fusion check on me the next day after the surgery. If that doesn't work put that metal in. I am wondering if I should just go for it and have him do instrumentation at say two levels. I'm an R.N. and live in this body and he does listen to me.

Also, this time I am going to get two more opinions.

Anyway, I hope that anyone can give me their personal opinions. I cannot forgo this surgery because otherwise I do not want to live in all of this pain. I have no life.

So to sum it up I have L3-L4, L4-L5 L5-S1 - should I get the full fusion? I have read that interbody fusions only last 6-7 years is this really true???

Sorry if I am all over the place but it's hard to sum up the whole history with all of this pain.

I look forward to some suggestions, stories, answers whatever.

Thank you


  • You've got quite the complex situation going on and well, if it looks as though you're going to have the fusion sooner or later...you might want to consider sooner, since waiting is just going to mean more pain for you.

    I had a 1 level L5/S1 fusion back in 1991 and the fusion itself has held up perfectly. However, I do have what's called "failed back syndrome" now but that's related to scar tissue build-up and arthritis impinging the nerves down there...which presents many of the same symptoms that were originally present.

    Best wishes to you, and I would find a good Neuro or Ortho surgeon (with much experience) and consider taking the plunge!
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. you are very wise to be getting other opinions. =D> the more information you have the better decision you can make. :? good luck as you make your decision. check out the "Back and Neck surgery" forum for more input! :? hope you are feeling better soon. :D Jenny :)
  • Sooo sorry to hear your going through all that now in january i had an L-2 L-3 L-4 L-5 S-1. in November 2006 had L-4 L-5 S-1 doc never put bone in i have numbness in certain places everyday am in pain but i had no choice but to do a revision of my surgery!!it is a life changing experience ,for all of us...now am getting ready for joint injections...Other than my back i am pretty healthy as i see the x-rays i can see i am starting to fuse and see the new bone growth because the first surgeon left me with a bunch of holes did not do a thing my bones were bleeding for 2 years and the screw 1 was stuck it took the surgeon 2 hours to break i have and read the report !! it really suxx iam depressed seeing a therapist but now i now i will never bee the same i have to figure out what it is i want because it s life changing i cannot sit or stand to long especially in the car forget it after 10 15 min i am in soo much pain

    if you feel you need the 2nd surgery and the docs recommened it than you should do it eventally it will get worse dont take a chance like that i went for 2nd opinions so i know i needed the revision!!!! i have to thank G-D i can walk it is painful but i walk in the pool just walk and it helps good luck to u its hard but try to be positive!!
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