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Possible fusion

TomophobicTTomophobic Posts: 25
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi, I am a 40 year old mother of two +two (my boyfriends children)with a long history of back trouble. As a matter of fact, I don't remember my back not bothering me to some degree since I was about 15. Long story short, I have been told that I have scoliosis,spinal stenosis, sciatica and spondylethosis. The Nuero and Ortho have said that I will need a fusion (L5 and S1, I think) with hardware and decompresion. This was in November of last year. So far, I have been avoiding the surgery by pain management, but I think I have run out of options. I am worried that I will not be able to return to work after the fusion. I work a retail management position that requires that I lift 50lbs often and 80-100 lbs at times. There is also alot of standing and bending. Currently I take Oxy 50/500 4 or more times a day and am in constant pain still. I also have attention deficit disorder and the pain meds and constant pain make it almost impossible for me to concentrate and complete a task. I am in fear of losing my job if I can't get it together. Could you guys give me your opinion of what you think the odds of me being able to go back to work and how soon if so. The neuro and ortho wouldn't give me a straight answer when I asked. I am planning on going to another nuero for a second opinion very soon, not because I don't agree, just because I think it is the smart thing to do. I have been an observer of the forums for a while and I would love to get everyone's opinion on this. Thanks in advance!


  • Hi there!

    I read your story with interest, having similar problems at L5/S1 and also facing surgery as opposed to long-term pain management!

    All I can tell you is that I did lose my job through this and although I don't know anything about the pitfalls of surgery as yet, I'd do anything to get my job (and life) back. I say that, but will need to research the problems following surgery too, because I'm sure there are many.

    From what I've read on this site, which is incredibly informative, the outcome of surgery seems to vary from person to person. However, from personal experience, I'd agree that it's wise to get a second opinion from a different neurosurgeon, especially if you're unhappy with the one you've seen.

    This site is so good and everyone is ready to help, so I'm quite certain that someone will be able to advise you far better than I have.

  • Thanks for responding Val. You reminded me that I have DDD also. Sorry to hear that you lost your job. Was it from missing work, restrictions or something else? It wasn't that I was "unhappy" with the neuro, I just think it would be wise to get a sencond opinion. I am more informed now, thanks to this sight and other info I have gathered, and I will understand more.
  • I lost my job because I could no longer walk/sit/stand/ drive for longer than 10-15 mins. My employers were really good about it, but the diagnosis was taking so long (years) that in the end, I had to resign.

    I think your decision to see another neurosurgeon is a sound one and in your position, I'd definitely see someone else.

    Good luck!


  • Hi and welcome to spine-health. There is so much information here. Take your shoes off and read awhile. Besides the forums there is some great doctor written and per reviewed articles to look at as well. In the FAQ section you will find a great article on preparing to meet with a spine surgeon. Having surgery is such a huge decision and you are the only one who can decide if it is the right thing for yourself. So being informed as to what they are discussing and being part of the decision process is so critical. When you get the second opinion just insure that the two doctors are not affiliated in anyway. You will more than likely get a true second opinion. Many patients get the name for a second opinion from the surgeon who gave the first opinion. You may want to post in low back pain as well. Many more on that side to post specific to what you are asking in reference to the surgery as well.

    Keep in mind that there are many who have came and are long gone and had wonderful out comes from surgery. Those that remain are a smaller percentage having issues still. I think you need to ask these surgeons exactly what you asked here. Most won't give you a yes or no but rather the answer in percentages. They also give the percentage answer when discussing how much surgery will relieve your issues. Once again welcome to spine health look forward to reading more of your post. Take care.
  • 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 going for that second opinion.. :? many times with back problems we have to alter or completely stop our careers. it is very difficult to even think of i know... ~X( take one step at a time. get a plan together to help with the pain and your back problem... go from there.... good luck and stop by anytime.. =D> we are here to help and to listen! :D Jenny :)
  • i understand you reticence to go for a fusion {i have just turned on down on medical advice} i too I'm in constant pain and on Oxycontin 300mg per day and still in pain !! i would say that if you went ahead with a fusion that you will never work again .i have not been able to work for the last ten years due to lower back pain and i have thoracic out let syndrome and extensive facet joint syndrome .back to you ..once the L5/S1 has been operated on you will always have back ache ..and you more than likely require more surgery later in life i am on my second surgery and i have has multi spinal procedures over the years .its no fun being in pain all the time and it takes a forum like this one to be understood by like minded people as the general public tend not to understand what we go through on a daily basis .i wish you well personally i would avoid a fusion ..i have not talked to anyone that has had a good outcome .if fact many i know are now worse off .is your pain mainly in the back or legs? because if in the legs more than back you may want to go for a SCS if you have more back ache than leg pain ..well don't bother as a SCS wont help
  • So my doctor says. I still have some pain, from sitting too long or being on my feet too long. But I am far better off now than I was before my surgry in Jan. 2009. I still have limits with lifting and bending. I take percocet 10/325 on my bad days, bad weather really gets too me. I am not that far out from surgry and still wonder if its gonna get any better than this.
    I have been back to work since April 2009, was on light duty for 90 days. I still watch what I do, and worry about which one will go next.
    Good luck to you, and please do get a second opinion, the more the better.
  • Thank you everyone, for your well wishes and advice. Yes, Straker the first neuro did say that there were a couple of other that would possibly need a fusion later. I am very concerned that I won't be able to work and am trying to simplify my life just in case. I just hope that I will have the docter's help for applying for disability if I can't work. I will have 4 months of full pay (vacation and short term disability) if I were to do the surgerey this year.I would have 60% after that. I have read up on the companies policy on leaves. It seems as if you have about 4 months before they begin find a replacement for your position. All of this is really stressing me out. I can't go on with out having the surgery, the pain and medications effect my entire life adversely. Then agian, if I have the surgery and I am no better or possibly worse........ I am just trying to be informed and prepared as much as possible, I guess that's my way of controlling this as much as possible.
  • If I were you, I wouldn't continue doing any more heavy lifting at your job. It will only make the pain worse for you. Maybe you can get a medical excuse restricting activities that bad for your back.

    I had a 2 level fusion on L4-S1 over a year ago and it was the most difficult surgery I ever had. It can take up to 2 years to completely recover, esp for the nerves. You'll have to do a lot of walking post op and avoid bending, lifting, and twisting. You'll also need plenty of help during the early stage of recovery, and you won't be able to cook, clean, bathe without assistance, run errands (until your doctor gives you permission, and driving is limited to short distances at first). Then you have to deal with pain and boredom, and going to PT later on. The most important thing you have to do is to keep a positive outlook while you are going through these things. It really makes a difference.

    You have to keep in mind that there is a risk of permanent nerve damage if you wait too long. Only your doctor can tell you if you're at risk, and if surgery is needed any time soon. I decided to have mine because the pain was severe and it never went away no matter what I tried- meds, PT, resting, and ESI's. I was also suffering from a prior decompression surgery that failed because I reherniated the same disc one month post op.

    Today I still have chronic lower back pain and nerve pains in both legs. If all goes well, I hope to have a pain pump implanted to improve my quality of life. Take care and I hope everything works out for you.
  • You know, I asked both surgeons if continueing to work would make anything worse and both of them answered the same, which was no.I will be sure to ask the second opinion about that. It does make the pain worse when I over do it. I hope I am not causing more problems, I definately don't need that! I am fortunate to have come across this site, it has been so helpful.
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