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Surgery not an option

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
In the last 2 1/2 years of suffering with five degenerated discs, physical therapy, pain clinics, narcotic pain relievers, I've been told by 2 orthopedic surgeons that because I have 5 bulging discs (L5-L1) I am not a candidate for surgery. Actually, the last doctor told me that the chance that it would help if it was performed was less than 40%.

Anyone else in this situation and, if so, have you found an alternative that allows a somewhat normal life?


  • I have DDD, I am collapsed at L5 S1, and a minimal bulge at L1 L2. The levels in between are OK at this point.

    The first surgeon I saw told me I was a candidate for ALIF, but I had to lose weight first. Then we switched insurance, and the 2nd surgeon told me he wanted to try conservative treatments first (epidural) before operating because there was a chance surgery may not help me. A couple of months later (by the way the epidural did not help) we moved out of state. The third surgeon I saw told me that I was inoperable. That surgery would not predict a good surgical result. I was so shocked I forgot to really ask him why. I thought fusions were designed for people like me with collapsed disks. I have been told that a fusion could put pressure on the other disks, and I may need surgery again in the future. So perhaps that is why this doc won't touch me.

    Unless you have DDD in your thorasic region as well, I don't understand why your doc wouldn't fuse all 5 levels. I know it's been done before. You may want to get another opinion.

    My pain is pretty bad. My quality of life is gone. I can no longer grocery shop unassisted, clean my home, shave my legs. I often times need help getting dressed in the morning. I am now on pain pills daily. So I feel you "pain" so to speak.

    I'm in the same boat as you, and you have my sympathies. It's a terrible way to live, and it's mind blowing having any sense of hope wiped away.

    The only alternative I have is to just not really do anything. I have a very supportive family, which I am so grateful for. I just take my pills, and take it easy. I was once a woman who was in no way physically challenged. Now I'm a woman who is so careful about what I do, where I go, etc.

    Hang in there. :)

  • I have severe DDD in L4-S1 and it was one reason why I had a fusion over a year ago. The pain is severe and nonstop no matter what I do, and even today I'm still suffering. I honestly don't think my life will be back to the way it was before all my back problems started. At least I'm under the care of my pain specialist and neurosurgeon and they are in charge of all my treatments. I'm waiting to have a pain pump installed so I can function better and improve my quality of life.
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