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BigDaddyBBigDaddy Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in New Member Introductions
~X( Well I am somewhat new, I signed up a while ago but never posted.
I have been dealing with back and leg pain since early 2000.

Surgery #1 Left L4-5 discectomy June 2000

Did great after Surgery #1, until early 2006 – pain started again. Ortho ordered more MRI those showed more DDD, another disk bulge central L4-5 L4-5 had become very thin and dried out. L3 was dried out. S-1 was also on the road to being trashed.
Had my first DISCOGRAM. Will not ever have that procedure again. Besides my new Neuro does not give that test any weight. Too many false positive come from that test.
Had four transforaminal epidural steroid injections during 2006, early 2007. Thos helped for some time.
My left leg starting going numb, off and on the shooting pain got so bad it woke me out of a dead sleep some nights. At some point, my left leg below the knee went numb and stayed that way. I would also get this special jolt when I would put my foot on the ground walking (I later learned this was from S1)

Surgery #2 Laminectomy (partial) at L4-5, S-1 & Foraminotomy at the same levels. October 2008 – woke up from surgery with no numbness. I was happy until my Neuro told me he found massive amount of scar tissue – most of which he did not remove. He also found two bone spurs which he could not do anything about without FUSION. I did not sign up for that, at least not for this surgery. The FREEDOM pain lasted all of 3-4 months. During PT, I managed to re-injure myself causing another disc herniation central S-1, right S-1 and right L45.

As of now. My leg pain comes and goes hard. The numbness is getting worse by the minute. My back pain was somewhat under control, but the steroid injection(s), I have had five steroid injections this year, are not lasting as long as they use to. So... Neuro says NO MORE.
Finally, Fusion Surgery is agreed upon and schedule for September 25. I would do it sooner, but my Neuro requires me to donate two (2) units of blood prior to surgery. I have to start that five weeks out, so there is a week between units, and at least two weeks between last donation and surgery. In addition, I have HBP, so I have to get Cardio clearance and medical doctor clearance, which the hospital requires. N o biggie I cleared last time with bright colors.

I am taking all kinds of meds to fight the pain – which we all know never completely goes away. Lyrica seems to help some. I also take Vicodin, or Vicoprofen. I also seem to have good results with Tramadol, but I was on Cymbalta and cannot Tramadol with Cymbalta. Now I off Cymbalta due to high rate of side effects. I went back to Tramadol. My sister teases me saying it’s my crack candy—the Tramadol. Well, it sure does work well for me.
I have been on many other medicines for nerve pain. For my breakthrough back pain, I have Fentanyl now, was on Morphine for a while. Fentanyl is like 10 times stronger than Morphine. I have also been on the Oxycontin at one point.

I just wonder if I am doing the right thing by having this FUSION. Nothing else works.
I am having two levels done L4-5, S-1. My heart, mind and soul tell me to do this. Hell my Neuro says go for it. I read a lot of stuff about fusion failure and people having them and then being in more pain once they have the fusion. I read that about 60-70 % of fusions are successful –meaning solid fusion is achieved. As for those being out of pain, I have not read anywhere that any one person is totally pain free from a fusion or partial pain relief.
I should have had this fusion last year. Well thank you Mister Insurance Regulator.

Some days I hurt really badly and some days I do not. I have not been able to bowl since August 2008. I carried a 210 average. I was depressed and thought this is just sick. I need to do something. I even went to Mayo Clinic and got a second opinion. Mayo said, pain stimulator and/or fusion. No one will do the pain stimulator, nor will insurance cover it, until I have exhausted all surgical intervention. So I will go ahead and cost the insurance company $50K plus for a two level fusion vs a non-invasive pain stimulator approach which cost much less, first.

Does anyone feel I should not have this fusion or what? I am just beside myself.



  • I dont think any one person could say do or dont. You must do what is right for you and what you think may give you some relief even if only a little. You have exhausted many options and from what you have said they gave you two choices one of which the insurance refused to pay for. Its very frustrating thinking about it but since you have found this site you will be able to educate yourself with what to expect. You will also be able to get good advice on preparing for the surgery like what to have close to you so you dont have to get up, things that are easy to eat, sleeping techniques, etc. This site is great and there are many others who are or who have been in your situation and will be more than glad to tell you how they coped. I have been a member for only a few days or so but im learning a lot. Im so sorry for your pain but remember you have all the spineys to talk to now so do not despair. Good luck with everything and wishing you a painfree night!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,878

    For a Spine-Health Site introduction, Click on :

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    If you have any questions, feel free to contact (PM) any one of the Moderators here Priestess , Jeauxbert, Bruce , Paulgla, DiLauro

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    Check the various tabs at the top of the Spine-Health page and you will find so much that is offered here.

    Please remember that all information you receive from members on this forum is NOT
    formal medical advise. You should always consult with your doctors.

    To get back to the Forums, you can always click on Forum Home

    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message
    ____________________________________________________That is always such a hard decision to make. Do you have the surgery or not? My feeling on this is that as long as you can tolerate the pain and discomfort, go the conservative treatment route first. Of course there are times, when surgery IS the only way.
    Since we are not medical doctors here, I strongly suggest that you talk to your doctor to find out all the Pros and Cons about having surgery or not.
    Good luck
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • It is most certainly a tough decision, but it seems you have done all the right things in coming to your decision. Getting more than one opinion and going with your heart and intuition are biggies.

    A fusion is something that cannot be undone, but if it is the right thing to do and the necessary thing to do, then go forward without any reservations. You are the only one that can know for certain if you have had enough.

    I agree that the stimulator should be held off until all other surgical interventions are tried, but that's just my personal opinion.

    I also like to look at things in black and white. I write a list of pros and cons for whatever big decision I am trying to make. Some times it allows me to see a bigger picture and definitely helps reassure me that the decision I make, was the right one for me.

    Welcome to Spine Health.

  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. good luck on your decision. =D> we are behind you whatever you decide! =D> good luck and follow your doctor's order's to the "t." :D Jenny :)
  • i understand you and know about constant pain myself .i am going today to see the doctor as i cant cope! you and i have had similar surgeries and i was offered a fusion a few months ago .but after talking to various people and medical people i decided that it was not for me ..i have not heard good reports about fusions and as i am in pain all the time any way i would not risk doing more damage
  • This is only my personal opinion but I am not willing to risk fusion. The success rate (to be pain free) is not high enough for me. Plus you are taking the risk that the pain may actually be worse. Once a fusion is done it can not be undone. I firmly believe that all options (including SCS) should be tried before the drastic step of fusion. Again, this is just my personal opinion which is what you asked for.
    Good luck and please keep us posted.
  • Hey, and thanks for your reply. I am greatly to now have a place to get advise and help form other than medical peolpe. I have decided to have the fusion. My discs are just shot. L4-5 is just about flat, bone to bone. Doctor says it could become more painful -- so this is like some preventive maintenance -- this fusion. I trust my doctor. He is open, honest and tells all good or bad and most of all he let me talk back to him and he loves my sense of humor. If you met me face to face you would never know I was in pain unless I was moving. I hide it well! I just have to. I had medical clearance today, had more MRI's today as well. Net stop give some of my own blood to replace blood loss from upcoming surgery.
    I'll keep everyone posted.
  • Hi Big Daddy,

    Welcome to this site. You will find it very helpful. I will be having the same 2 level fusion as you in Jan. 2010. Its different for many, there are all kinds of spine problems, and for many a fusion may not be the answer. For others who have exhausted all conservative treatments, it may be what they need. Only you and your Dr. can make that decision. I have already had a 2 level fusion (DDD) in 2003 and more of my discs are shot in lumbar and cervical area. I know what it feels like to have your vertebrae rubbing and clicking against each other when you move because there is no disc left, its horrible. Good luck and wishing you some pain relief,
  • Lisa, thanks for the reply. My tolarence for pain is so high, it is hard for my doctors to understand what pain I have. I am a big boned guy. big frame. I have very strong back muscles. Maybe that is why when I take the real heavy pain medicine I have to be like close to the couch or going to bed. I dunno. One day I hurt so bad, it just sucks to be around and some days I have a great day. But the hurt never realy stops
  • Well, I am one step closer. I received clearance from my medical doctor for surgery. He is very positive about this with me and thinks it will help. Even though I am boderline case. He thinks, as do I, that this will keep me from crossing the border into some hell fried pain area. :)
  • Please keep us posted on your progress.
  • Hello "C" thanks for your reply.
    I am doing this. I've made up my mind. My gut says it will work. Doctor and I agree I am borderline canadiate. He is supportive of my decision. I have way too much scar tissue and my L4 disc is just DRIED out and 1/2 gone -- we are talking some bone on bone action here. I have to be careful or I could be in 10 x the pain I am in now.

    Thanks "C"
    Keep you posted.

    Big Daddy

    Left L4-5 Discectomy
    Laminectomy L4-5 & S-1
    Foraminotomy L4-5 & S-1
    Bone spurs
    spinal stenosis
    Nerve Damage from L4-5 and S-1
    Feel like I get shocked every time my left foot hits the ground. (S-1)
    Foot and outside left leg stay numb, foot just burns all the time.
    Back Pain is worst when driving and after sleeping all night.
    I cannot lift or carry anything on my shoulders over 5lbs.
    I was walking 4-6 miles every day. Not anymore, lucky if I make it 2 miles and that’s pushing myself ignoring my pain.
  • Hello and Welcome Big Daddy.

    This is always a very personal decision and that leap of faith need to seek out potential improvement should and will be the process best for you as an individual. Relative to the volume of fusions done they perhaps have more success than failure and you answered that is the fact that as you said, they have tried everything else and nothing has worked up to now. If you have the most recent assessment of your condition and a balance of medical opinion then you can do no more and whatever happens the decision may be right at this time for you, once you light the after burners most of the process is our of our control.

    I am pleased that you are confident of success and that positive approach a much needed support. Many here are where you are and the remnants of varied success are within this site, we all wish you well and reflect on our own initial countdown.

    Take care, John
  • Your "gut", emotions, feelings, heart and soul, whatever you want to call it should not be ignored. So do what you think you should. Be educated about your decision, yes but do what you think you should. For me, a two level fusion was the next right thing. Am I completely 100%? Yes, I have a new definition of what 100% is though. Please keep us posted on your progress and welcome to SH.

    One Love,

  • You're in a similar situation to me (as I'm sure with everyone else here) where non-surgical and less invasive spinal surgery hasn't worked. I'm 64 and looked at it this way - the older I get, the worse my back will get and I'm sure I'll find a new pain level 10, so I decided on a fusion which will be on 12th October.

    As I understand it, we will always have a bad back, but I'm hoping for a big reduction in pain in time. I have a few friends where fusion has given them their lives back again, but one friend who wouldn't recommend it. It's such a hard decision to make.

    Hope all goes well for you on the 25th.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Trish - thanks for your reply. I wish you 100% success with your fusion. My surgeon was going to do Anterior approach, but I have too much leg pain so posteriod is the approach -- He says I have way too much scar tissue to has to be removed for an anterior approach.
    My best to you. Keep us posted.
    Big Daddy (David)
  • Thanks to each of you for taking the time to read and reply to my posts. I really do feel much better when I talk about my condition with those who can relate. I hate even bringing it up around my family and friends, since don't have these problems, they have no idea what it is like. I fear they get tired of listening to me talk about it but love me too much to holler "SHUT UP". I can tell because they often just change the subject right in the middle of my sentences. It's so funny, I use the same technique when I want someone to stop talking about something. I feel like I beat this dead horse, regardless. But...... my talking about it is beneficial to my getting through this and staying sane.
    Again, thanks to everyone. I will keep everyone posted on here. Hope I will have me laptop a couple days after surgery. Hope I can get out of bed at least by the day after. --some say it can happen others say it takes more like 4-5 days -- BAH! Not me.
    Hugs and My best to all.
    Big Daddy
  • Good luck with your fusion operation, Big Daddy! I am facing the same decision, but haven't yet decided. I need to get some more opinions first, and then think long and hard about it. You sound very determined and confident about it, which is a good thing. Best of luck to you for a successful operation and a smooth recovery!
  • Okay what is Temgesic, I have never heard of it. I googled and it does not get sold in USA legally, right? I was Lyrica, never did any good, then to Neurontin and it work at first, but then after about a year it stopped -- coming off Neurontin was a big deal for me. I ended up in the cardiac unit at my local hospital. I wanted to try TENS, but my insurance says it is still expermental so they don't cover it. I have tried some other opiod meds. I find that Tramadol 100-200mg 3x day helps me tremendously and for I also take hydrocodone 10/500mg when I really need relief. My surgery is only 6 days away. I am still okay with my decision. My last epidural is still hanging on with me some, but has worn off for the most part. I manage to get through a day at work as long as I can take the Tramadol -- it does not make as me loopy, so I can at least work.
    So thanks for the comments and I will keep ya'll posted as my time permits.
    My Best
  • I can say that the day before I my Sept 25th, my surgeon came to me and said he finally had a change to review my latest MRI, he did not like what he saw. the L-3 was also bad as well. Needless to say, I went through will surgery the next day having fusion from L-3 to to S-1. 3 Levels instead of 2 levels. 3 hours to do decompression close to 5 hours to install hardware. I was in surgery just over 8 hours. When I woke up my biggest pain complaint was my chest bone was hurting so bad It is bruised. It is just a result of laying in a Jackson Frame for 8 hours. I have some fingers that fell asleep and didn't wake up for a couple days, but they are fine now. I DO NOT have any of the original leg or back pain that started all this.

    actual procedure was
    1.left total L4, total L5 laminectomy and near total facetectomy with foraminortomy with microsurgical excision of disc.

    2. Right total L4 laminectomy, right total L5 laminectomy, right partial medial facetectomy and formainotomy for decompression using microsurgical technique and excision of disc.

    3. Partial bilaterial L3 laminectomy and foraminotomy for decompression using microsurgical technique with partial medial facetectomy.

    4. Partial bilateral S1 lami and partial medial facetectomy with foraminotomy for decompression using microsurgical technique

    5. Anterior interbody fusion L4-5 level via posteriod approach
    6. Insertion of interbody PEEK spacer at L4-5 level
    7. posterolateral fusion at L3-4 level, L4-5 level, & L5-S1 level
    8. Posterior pedicle screw fixation from L-3 to S-1 bilaterally using 90 d system
    9. Harvesting of bone morphogenic protein, allograft and autograft.

    thank I said enough
    post more later as I continue to recovery but and doing ok for now. 40 some staples came out 12 days after surgery. all looks great.

  • Wow, from a 1 level to a 3 level, dang! That's quite a surprise the day before your surgery. I'm glad to hear that your original back & leg pain is gone, what a relief that must feel like! I hope my results are as good as yours!
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