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Is anyone getting better?

watchyurbackwwatchyurback Posts: 73
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm discouraged about my own condition and have been reading the many posts here, which have helped me to cope. But I'm just wondering: is anyone getting better? Did the surgery help? Did the physical therapy help? Did acupuncture, meditation, painkillers, chiropractic treatment, antidepressants -- whatever it is we are taking to help ease the pain -- actually work?
This may be a naive question. I know that back pain is a chronic condition. There's no cure. But my neurosurgeon told me six weeks after my two-level instrumented fusion (L4-S1) in January that I could expect an overall pain reduction of 75 percent, with 90 percent of that decrease occurring in the first six months after surgery. Well, it's now nearly eight months later and my pain is no better. It's probably worse than before surgery. At best it's the same. I'm not knocking any of the treatments (I've tried most of them, including epidural shots). I just wonder if the medical establishment really has a handle on pain, especially back pain. Is surgery the answer? Is prayer the answer?
Please help.
Thanks much,

-2-level ALIF October 2008; posterior instrumentation in January. Fusion progressing well, no instrumentation breakage or loosening. X-rays look good. But the pain persists.


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    It depends on how you want to classify getting better. Since I had surgery I no longer have the risk of being paralyzed or even possibly death due to my condition. So in that aspect my surgery was a success. The pain level I have daily ranges anywhere from a 7-8 to which pain meds only take the edge off. I would rather have the pain then the alternative. I enjoy life too much and at times I just want to give up but some how I always find the strength to get myself through the rough times and carry on with my life.
  • Yes, many do get better to varying degrees over time. Remember, most people who do get better aren't on this or other similar forums. The web is heavily skewed toward people with worse health outcomes.
  • I have been a member her for about three years and had my last surgery in April of 2007. I consider myself better, a 100% better than I was prior to my fusion. I am still an active member here, giving support and information when I can. It took me 13 months after my fusion to really begin to feel better and to really start to walk and get myself back into shape.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • It's a little soon for me to tell completely but so far I have none of my Pre-surgical pain. I'm 2 weeks today from my minamally invasive L5-S1 fusion .Only a small amount of surgical pain which is less each day.

  • I agree wholeheartedly with Dick. I am 1 1/2 years post cervical fusion and 1 year post lumbar. Cervical fusion after 3 months of recovery time was a great success. I have some residual decrease in range of motion and do have flare ups if I do too much. The lumbar fusion took me all this time and the addition of chronic pain med to get better, also with some residual discomfort and flare ups if I am not careful.

    I also remain on this forum for my own continual need for support and desire to support others. I have made some wonderful friends here who understand what I go through better than anyone else in my life.


    P.S. As said over and over here in the forums, we all heal differently.
  • Dick,
    I hope you didn't take my comments personally. Sorry if you did. I am sure that there are many who continue to frequent this forum despite getting better. I sincerely admire folks like you, but, nonetheless, people should not be discouraged by some tough stories and less favorable outcomes they may read about. I hope to also return to this forum after making a great recovery and provide any help or hope I can to others. However, this forum population, myself included, REMAINS SKEWED TOWARD WORSE OUTCOMES THAN THE GENERAL POPULATION. Those who are doing well are MUCH less likely to be frequenting this site. People should remember to keep this in mind.

  • athlete ,

    No offense taken. Like Marianne, I was here when I was miserable and needed support so I am paying back some of those good vibes and any information I can pass along.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • I am almost 4 months post op. I am on very little pain medication, have lost 19 lbs. and am walking 2 to 3 miles a day. I am also doing Graston technique with my physical therapist. Guess the real test will be next week when I go back to work. I am thankful I am doing this well but also know I must be careful and not over do.
  • I am improving all the time from my surgery July 13. I still have some occasional (phantom?) pains in the old places but the weakness is going away. I also know it will take up to a year for nerves to settle though, so unless I have a big relapse I will try to be patient. I am very hopeful but also lucky to have had a good surgeon and no real complications.

    I wish everyone good luck with their recovery. For me the surgery was definitely worth it so far.

  • Admittedly, I still have some problems and flare-ups, but I can walk without holding onto the walls, I don't have to use a cane any more, I don't have those severe jolts of pain I would get which would cause me to freeze and not be able to move. YES, I can definitely say I'm much better than before surgery.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful comments. I would agree with Athlete that the site is skewed to those with less favorable outcomes. I suppose people who are feeling great wouldn't necessarily need a support group.
    I am encouraged even by those who continue to suffer, as they provide me with strength to endure and think of a day when I, too, may be in less pain. I am still confused about the range of treatments out there and am growing less confident in the surgical option that was recommended to me -- and which I chose. Clearly there are many cases where surgery is the treatment of choice, but I get the sense from reading the literature that it's being overdone for people with fairly simple cases of back pain. Perhaps the AMA should recommend longer periods of conservative treatment before going for surgery.
    Thankfully I do feel better, slowly, and am doing an aggressive and refreshing physical therapy regimen.
    Thanks again,
  • :H

    I'm here to lend support as well. I'm not as learned as most of the members here but I can only say how my surgeries have helped me and how good I'm doing and hope to continue to do. Since we all recover at a different rate it is only normal to have pain when others do not even tho we had the same kind of surgery. Please feel free to PM me if you like.

    Evelyn :H
    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
  • i am so much better then i was before my surgery.My recovery has been long and slow with many obstacles but i am definitely better then i was over a year ago and now i don't have to worry that i maybe paralyzed with one of my many falls.I guess its like the saying "life is like a bowl of cherries ,you never know what your going to get".
  • I am better than I was before surgery, just not as good as I was prior to my injury. I guess I expected a full 100% recovery, though some do. But I'll tell you those first six months post fusion I wasn't so sure. So hang in there.
  • Yes - better - I have not had surgery, but am due to be reviewed after another espisode on July8,09 that has taken until this week to sort out.

    It took years to get the pain controlled, but now it is most of the time, through a number of different methods.

    Overall - I am much better off than 4 years ago, when I started into the latest round with my GP.

    Cheers - David
  • YES, I have suddenly turned a huge corner (I hope a big Mack truck isn't bearing down on me after the turn). I am not really a swimmer, but I swam 2.5 miles today nonstop, 2 weeks after my 2nd discectomy in 3 weeks. SCiatic is much better. Too much too soon (I've been known to ride a bike easy over 60 miles a week after discectomy), maybe, but my motto is Harden or toughen the ---- UP. I am less likely to hurt myself in the water. I've gotta FIGHT!
  • I had my three-level lumbar fusion on 5/1/08, and I was one of the the lucky ones who got relief right away. I still had to go through the rather slow recovery, in order to protect my spine, but after one year the fusion process was completed, so my restrictions eased off. Like several people on this thread, I consider mine a very successful surgery, and the only reason I stay on is because every once in a while I see a posting like that, where I feel compelled to provide reassurance to people who are wondering if there are any truly positive outcomes. This is why I check in periodically. Especially, since many people move on completely, and there are fewer people like me left to can give encouragement. So don't give up, there are (or have been) many satisfied customers on this board. I know, I am one of them.

    Wishing you all freedom from pain and back problems.

  • So far I have had my neck surgery, C5-6 C6-7 and My back surgery, L5 S1. Still have the surgery on T11-T12, T12-L1 and L1-L2 to go, but that will be quite a while from now.
    My neck surgery was on March 13th and I am doing pretty good, at least to me. The headaches that I was having are gone and now I only have some pain in the back of my neck. My range of motion is somewhat limited, but not too bad. Over all, I feel that the surgery was a sucess.

    My back surgery on L5 S1 was done on July 23rd. and will be returning for my one month check up on August 25th.
    I still have to take pain medicine and use my walker to help keep the weight off of my back and legs. I still have pretty bad pain in the right hip and leg, but the pain that I was having before surgery on my left back side is gone. Every little bit helps.

    So I also will remain on this board even after I feel a lot better and have finished all of my surgeries. The help that I have recieved here has been great and would like to pass on that to others that are just starting to go through it all, or are still having problems.

    Good luck to everyone and God bless.

  • From where I was to where I am now, it is a much better place to be. The recovery continues on a very slow pace, but thankfully I am walking on my own. I am trying to keep in contact more. Good luck and hope all get better soon.
  • I had a lumbar decompression L4-S1 in 2001. I was told up front that it wasn't going to help my pain,and he was right, it didn't. But I had it because I woke up with foot drop and incontinent. It did help, it took around 3 months which felt like an eternity. Did it help 100%, no, but that is ok.

    I am having cervical fusion on Aug 24, I am not looking forward to it, but have been told I have no choice. I always blamed myself for waiting to long on my Lumbar surgery, and then here I went again and am afraid I waited to long on this surgery too. But, even more so I am afraid that one surgery leads to another surgery, which is what they have told me I need on my lumbar spine, a fusion of L2-S1.

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