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Upcoming L4-S1 Laminectomies, any advice

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Progressive sciatic pain last year, finally got bad enough for an MRI early Aug showing L3-S1 mod to large disc herniations. Did chiro tx and PT, though not sure how PT was supposed to help, still eating motrin like candy, trying to avoid narcs, neurotonin and occ percocet, cant stand the constant charley horses in both calf and now have low back pain, which is new. I have seen 3 neurosurgeons, 2 of 3 want to fuse me. I am seeing my main doc this thursday to throw in the towel and have surgery. This doc has a very conservative approach and only does surgery as a last resort. I've not done steroid infections becuase I have heard they dont work well on largely herniated discs. Im scared s*#tless about surgery, ready many blod about the pain being worse. I'm a nurse with a type A personality and not dealing well. Open to any advice :S :S :S


  • I think all the nurses on this forum agree that nurses make the worst patients.

    The neuro that did not recommend surgery...what was he suggesting you do?

    Is your main doc a neurosurgeon?

    Have you discussed the issue of stability after having three adjoining discectomies or laminectomies....?
  • Welcome to Spine Health. It is very okay to be nervous and scared spitless about the situation and possible outcomes from surgery. Most nurses have seen enough surgical results to know that it's not a guarantee, but the individual also has a lot to do with the results. Following doctor's orders, taking care of oneself and attitude all go a long way towards a good outcome.

    My NS elected to do a complete 2 level laminectomy without fusion because my spine is structurally sound. I was on board with that since I figured I would rather risk having to fuse down the road if necessary, then to fuse right away and then stress the disks above that area. It has worked out very well for several years now.

    So when you discuss surgery with your doc, ask him about the risks down the road based on what he feels needs to be done now to provide you some relief and stability.

    Keep us posted.

  • as a nurse you will be aware that once you star with back operations there's more than a good chance that you will require revision surgery as the years roll on .i have had 2 operations and because the first operation was done badley i am now facing a triple ADR surgery .if you can avoid surgery i would but if its necessary then make sure you get the best that you can
  • Gwennie, my two other docs wanted to do fusions. My Main doc is a NS, he did further Xrays and saw no spinal instability and just wants to do the lower two laminectomies, the L3-L4 isnt that bad, he did say further down the road I may need a fusion, just like Haglandc has mentioned. He some people do well for a year and some do well for ten yrs. I dont see me going back to bedside nursing.
  • I had what you are going to have as you can see below and I went to several Docs PRIOR who all talked Fusion. I was very anti fusion for me and I eventually found a great Doc who refused to even mention fusion in my case. I fell on him as you can imagine and while I am only 8 months post surgery, I am doing fine. My advice to you is very simple. DO NOT OVERDO IT AFTER SURGERY AND FOLLOW YOUR DOCS ADVICE WITH RESPECT TO BENDING, LIFTING AND TWISTING ETC AND REMEMBER THAT ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY, AND YOU SHOULD BE FINE.





    JOHN B

  • On June 26 I had both a laminectomy and microdiscectomy. Overall the surgery went well as I had a wonderful surgeon. I am having problems now....fluid and inflammation and still having back pain along with butt and leg pain on the left side. They say the healing process takes awhile as the nerve was pinched for so long....7 years for me.

    My doc also wanted to do a fusion, and I have refused. My second opinion appt is in two weeks. Much like you I don't like narcs and try my very best not to take them. I take Advil in the morning and at night. Normally it doesn't help much at night but I sit with a pillow behind me and that tends to ease it up a little.

    As others have said nurses usually make the worse patients because you know a whole lot more than the average person. Be patient and please don't overdo it. I thought I was ok and of course I am very impatient and started raking leaves...not a good idea. Just don't push it and take your time.

    I wish you all the best :)
  • You are wise to go with the least amount of surgery that it takes to do the job. If you are careful in your recovery, you may be able to get along just fine without fusion.

    Just a reminder to anyone that has had lumbar surgery:
    Raking, vacuuming, sweeping are about the worst activities you can do -- any activity that involves both twisting and pushing/pulling at the same time is terrible for your lumbar spine. Please try to curb your enthusiasm!!

    Cheers ~
  • The most important part of your surgery is your attitude toward recovery. I cannot emphasize enough the need to take it easy and NOT be in a hurry to rush the process along. So many people feel so much better after surgery that they rush out and try to do all the things that pain has kept them from doing for weeks, months or years. You can imagine what happens....

    Recovery will probably be slower than you are now imagining, but just remember, it is important to give your body time and to allow the process to play out. After all, you will not want to repeat this whole process in the near future.

    Get all the information you can about the procedure and how your surgeon plans to do it. Will it be minimally invasive, or open? Then work at trying to relax and not worry. As surgeries go, this won't be bad. Some people feel great within hours. It is nothing like fusion...and remember, all the stories you read on this and other forums are not necessarily "the norm." Remember that having a positive attitude is very important. Perhaps it might be helpful to try to put aside your nursing persona and let yourself just be a patient for awhile....

    When will you have surgery?
  • Thanks everyone for the advice and support, I will certainly take it to heart, especially the common theme of not doing too much. I just saw my NS surgery is scheduled for Oct 20th, I am spending the weekend prior with my sister who lives out of state for some relaxation. NS is doing L4-L5 laminectomy and L5-S1 patial laminectomy as the disc is only herniated to the left. I am feeling better about it already and plan to take at least 2 solid months off work, more if needed. I dont want to reherniate and go through all this again.
  • I am 7 days post op, NS ended up doing 3 level lami instead of 2, feel great I was walking that night and home the next am. I am keeping my spinal precautions together, just cant sleep at night, so hard to lay in bed with straight back, i was a tummy sleeper, or rolled up in a ball. Thanks everyone for your help

    I am delighted that it is over for you now and you are on the mend. There is often post surgery, a feeling of quiet euphoria sometimes when you realize that you are feeling better than you expected to. Don't overdo it though.

    I hope and pray that your progress continues. Please remember the rules and take your docs good advice with what not to do.

    Keep us informed of your progress and keep well.

    Take care

    John B
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