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Need Insight - Spinal Fusion - Did your Spinal Fusion Help?

SlancastvaSSlancastva Posts: 43
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Lower Back Pain
I am considering a spinal fusion. I would appreciate any insight on the subject.

Did your spinal fusion help your pain level and quality of life?

How long ago did you have one?

Do you need to quit smoking?

Again, thanks for any insight anyone may send my way.



  • I had a C6/7 fusion in Oct. 2007. I am no longer worried about worsening nerve damage, but I do live with chronic neck pain that I never had until the year leading up to my surgery.
    Kill the smoking before it kills you. It has absolutely no redeeming value.
  • I had a 2 level spinal fusion from L4-5 to L5-S1 in November 2000 and I had immediate relief and even though my doctors said I would not be able to lift and bend as before, I returned to my job as an asistant store manager with a company that required daily lifting and bending atleast 50lbs at a time.
    I also had another spinal fusion in August 2007, where I had L3-4 fused to L4-5 with flexible rods placed at L2-3, and again I have had immediate releif from the pain. I have never smoked but I live with a smoker, and according to all that I have read, smoking slows down bone growth, but because I live with a smoker, the second hand smoke has only slowed my bone growth but hs not prohibited it. After this most recent fusion, my doctor would not ok my return to retail because my spine is alot more reliant on the titanium hardware than on my own spinal strength, so I have changed careers and have returned to school.
    The only advice that I can give you is that you must be ready for the surgery to work in your mind as well as in your body. If you do not have complete confidence in your surgeon and all of his expertiese and he should be an expert in spinal surgery.
  • If you want to give yourself the best chance of a successful fusion, you must quit smoking. There is tons of research proving how harmful smoking is to new bone growth.

    Fusion is a BIG surgery requiring a LONG recovery and a great deal of patience. You will not want to go through all of this only to find out a year down the road you do not have a solid fusion, probably due to smoking. You want to do everything you can to help the surgeon and your body to a successful outcome.

    It is important to realize that fusion will not return you to the way you were prior to onset of injury or pain. Occasionally someone will say they are "good as new," but that is the exception rather than the rule.

    Some of us find that we are limited in movement and have activities restricted. Others of us are still in some degree of pain. But for the most part, people who NEED fusion are usually mostly satisfied with the results.

    I had my lumbar fusion in Jan of 2008. I still have some nerve pain but I can walk further and stand longer than I could prior to surgery. Things are not as good as I had hoped, and I have not given up finding what is still causing the nerve pain...but I would do it all over again.

  • I had Degenerative discs at the age of 21, my discs started to degenerate at 14 and just kept getting worse. I had a 2 level disc fusion in October 2004 and i am worse now than i was before the surgery.

    i have chronic pain and am at a 6 out of 10 on the pain scale everyday. i just wanted to write and tell you about my experience so that you know that you can either not get better, or get worse which is what happened to me. The probability of that is only 15% and 85% do get better, but i wanted to show you that it can and does go the other way.

    I am unable to work and have no life, i can't do many things, like go out with my friends or my boyfriend. This surgery was really detrimental to my life and no one explained this to me before i had my surgery.

    Good Luck,
  • I had two level plif last Dec. I had l-4-5-S1 and have not had much releif in pain. I am having my hardware out, as my Ortho feels that this is giving me my pain., I will let you know after but right now, I am still in pain, but can stand straighter than before. I feel it is hardware related as I had pnuemonia in April and May of this year and was pretty much laying for two months. At that time my pain level was not as great as it is since getting more active.
  • Hi there. I have had a lumbar laminectomy and two lumbar fusions. While the back pain and leg I felt is not as acute now (unless I overdo things) I am still in pain and have to limit my daily activities. Everybody is different. One thing I do know is that recovery really is slow, less so for XLIF. Don't smoke. Good luck. KE
  • Hi Sharon,

    I had a 2 level lumbar fusion in 2003. After a long recovery my pain was much improved. However, I was foolish and went back to overdoing things, "sucking it up" by taking another pain pill and forging on. Then I had a second child. Baby #2 really was too much for my spine, all of the back strain they put you through. Anyway, fusion #2 will be happening next January since the 2 discs below my fusion are now shot.
    Everyone is different with how they heal. Whether you have the fusion or not don't take your back for granted! Also, if you check out this site, there are different types of fusions, some more invasive than others. There is an abundance of helpful articles and info here, as well as many people who will try to help with your questions.
    As for the smoking, definitely not a good idea.
  • I went out and bought patches. I have set my quit date for tomorrow.

    Everyone say a pray for me to be successful with this.

  • If you need (or want) extra support with your smoking cessation, we do have a forum for it. You'll find so much there to help you - it will be hard for you to fail!

    Go get 'em girl!
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