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Not a candidate for disc replacement

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:33 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm new to this forum and am looking, like many, for some others experiences with Lumbar issues. Fusion surgery specifically.
I had a herniation at L5 S1 which progressed to rupture and required a discectomy in 01/03. I recovered ok, but have been living with chronic lower back pain ever since. I never have a pain-free day, but I have habituated to it and continue to function. In 01/08 I noticed more and more pain. I had a set of facet injections (which didn't help) and then an epidural and PT (which did). In 01/09 I noticed more pain again and had a 2nd epidural which gave me no relief this time. My pain Doc sent me to the surgeon to evaluate me as a candidate for disc replacement. I had a discogram which determined that although it IS the degenerated disc causing the pain (duh!!) my facet joints are bad and disqualify me from replacement. It's looking like fusion is in my future.
I'm still doing ok as far as daily life and work are concerned. I take Aleve and 1-2 vicodin 1-2 times a day and that seems to be ok. I'm only 29. I feel like I'm too young for a fusion. Do I do it now and get it over with if it's inevitable or do I wait til things get worse? Any thoughts?


  • I agree that the decision to have a fusion is major and only your doctor can decide if it's worth taking that chance. Some people do get better, some have no improvement, while others like me have gotten worse. I wasn't a candidate for ADR because of the chronic degenerative endplate changes of the vertebra and all the facet joint arthritis I have, along with multilevel DDD. I was 34 when I had a 2 level fusion. What made me decide to go ahead with this surgery was that my pain was severe and nonstop, and it really affected my quality of life. Think about how your pain affects you because it may help you with your decision down the road. Take care
  • Welcome - sorry you are not a candidate for disc replacement. I have not had my fusion yet (sked for 24 Aug) TLIF procedure, but I have stuggled with the pain for almost a year - pain meds: Mobic and Tramadol help, but I hate the fact that I can't go without them to fuction day to day.

    You might give a injection another try. My Surgeon told me that I should try and avoid him for as long as I could and while I probably could avoid him longer I tired of dealing with the way my back and right leg feels. I also have a stability issue with a grade 2 spondylolesthesis plus a bad herniation. As Paul stated only you will know when the time is right. My OS says the above/below stress on other vertebra has not been conclusivly proven but it sure does seem to be the case the more you read the board. Good luck with your decision - feel free to send a PM if you want to discuss further. Atb, Mike
  • I had a similar situation. I really wanted to go artificial disk, had done all the research but my docs (both opinions) said no because of the facet disease. I started researching fusions and my research lead me to be a strong believer in minimally invasive spinal fusions. My pain had increased so much that it was affecting my quality of life and so I decided to get the fusion. I am only 2 weeks post op now and have been feeling very good after I got through the first week. I think having the MI made things much much easier on me than if I had gone with an open spinal fusion (what the first doc wanted to do). You have to make your own decision - but if it is causing you enough pain that it impacts your day to day life, then especially at age 29 - I wouldn't want to be limited in what I can and cannot do - so I would do the fusion if I was in your situation unless you can manage the pain with conservative measures and aren't limited in what you can do because of the pain and movement limitations. If you have any questions about the surgery, feel free to PM since I just did it, I would be happy to provide you with any more information as you consider your options.
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