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Newbie here L5-S1 Laminectomy

z3cruzinzz3cruzin Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in New Member Introductions
What a great site!! Thank you to everyone. My surgery is in Dec so I have plenty of time to get house in order. Thanks for the list! I am scared. I have a herniated disc and 2 disc bulges and severe spinal canal stenosis. What do all the initials mean such as PLIF, etc.?


  • Hi,

    You've found a great site, lots of good info/support.
    There's a search box at the top center of the page that can be helpful when trying to research a condition.

    The initals are for the different types of spine surgery that can be done:

    PLIF - Posterior lumbar interbody fusion
    ALIF - Anterior lumbar interbody fusion
    TLIF - Transforaminal interbody fusion

    Procedures can be done either as open (long incision) or minimally invasively (small incision).
    Hope you are seeing a fellowship trained neurologist or orthopedist whose practices are centered on back & spine issues, they have the expertise to maximize a good surgical outcome.

    Hope this helps, ask away question wise, someone here will be sure to respond.
  • I have a neurosurgeon and the surgery will be done at Barrows in Phoenix, AZ.
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can.so glad you stopped by.. you will find all kinds of info about your procedure here on the forum. :D be sure and be prepared for after your procedure. there is a great list for that under the "Back and Neck surgery" forum.. good luck and keep us informed. Jenny :)
  • OMG - i just spent like 20 minutes (maybe not that long) but a long time typing up my story only to have my mouse fall into the floor and it hit the button just right which took it to the previous screen and everything that i had type (all my hard work) was GONE, TOTALLY GONE!!!! So here goes again:

    hello to you all, i was online doing some research and came across the Pain Forums and decided to register and become a part of this big family. i see alot of people experience alot of pain and differnt sypmtoms and procedures, and thought i would tell my story and look for any Advice - Suggestions - Opinions - Recommendations, Ect. i am very open and very sympathetic to those out that that have to endure what i have had to endure for the past 8yrs. so here's my story:

    I am a 39 yr old female form maryland who is married with 2 children, a 18 yr old daughter and a 6 yr old son. lets see, well all of my problems started in Dec 2001,when i had an injury at work, and after that injury everything went downhill.

    I injured my R Knee while i was working, as i rolled up to my computer on my desk i struck my R knee on the under the desk keyboard hardware and i just happened to hit it in a way that i knocked the knee cap out of alignment by 80 degrees. well throughout the the following 3 yrs i underwent a total of 4 surguries on the knee. my last surgery was a tibial tubual osteotomy which the shin bone was moved to the best location under the knee cap, for which did not work. the end result is that there is no cartilage under the knee cap and when i bend walk or just extend my leg there is nothing but bone on bone grinding.

    During the first couple of years that i endured my injury and treatments and surgeies, i relied on my L Knee more and more which in turn wore out the cartilage under the knee cap itself. in the following 3 yrs i underwent another 4 knee surguries but this time on the L Knee, and the last surgery was as the R Knee but this time they went in prior to my major surgery date and removed some cartilage, which they shipped off to another state to harvest, and actually grew new cartilage cells for which were inserted under the knee cap in a patch type procedure with hopes that these cells would attach and the cartilage would then start to regrow and replace what was worn away. while this surgery was done a tibial tubual osteotomy was also performed on the L Knee moving my shin bone to the best part of the knee cap with hopes of a better success, even though i was totally aware of the fact that there were no guarantees that this procedure would be a success. of course it was not a success and i continue to live with my medical issues with not just one knee but both. had been referred to a knee specialist in baltimore that specialized in knee replacements and the dr. came right out and told me that he would not do a knee replacement on me, for one i was too young, and he stated that my knee would feel as if it was swollen at all times. he stated at that time that i would be a fool if i even considered allowing any other dr to try to talk me into a replacement, that i would never be right and the chance of them being worse after surgery was a high percentage.

    in 2003/2004 i started to experience increased pain in my lower back, well i told myself every day that my back was bothering my so much because even though one knee was not any better than the other, but i still favored my L knee and the back pain was due to the way that i walked. finally in 2006/2007 i discussed with my knee specialist my back symptoms that i was experiencing and he sent me to have a MRI done and recommended that i see another dr in his practice that specialized in backs. well i (still to this day) think very highly of my knee dr. and was more than just a number i was actually a patient, and he actually had sympathy and concern for my discomforts. so i agreed to see his partner.

    i attended my 1st visit with the local specialist in my area and presented my MRI films and reports and he never even read the report he reviewed the films (in my presence) and advised to me that i had a herniated disc at L5-S1, he wanted to know how i did this and i advised him that i hadnt done anything that would have resulted in a herniated disc, i was limited with activities due to my knees. at that time he showed me where the disc was herniated (like i knew what i was looking at, i was well educated on the knee and its anatomy, and was becoming very fluent in the medical terminology for that, but i was totally CLUELESS when it came to the back/spine), and he recommended a disc fusion of L5-S1, advised him that i wanted to discuss this wiht my family because it was a 6 weeks (no activity) and then up to 6 months before be fully recovered and completely healed. so made the decision to move forward with the recommended surgery because by this point my back would be totally locked up in the morning (every morning) when i would wake up and to move my legs to get out of bed, the pain was so bad i would have rather been hit in the teeth with a metal baseball bat, and it was obvious that my symptoms were progressing and i was becomes less and less mobile and able to function just to walk around. Returned to the back specialist and we moved forward with the surgery. i stayed in the hospital for 3 days and they went in through my abdomen area to do the surgery instead of going in through the back. recovery was a long slow process, had a nurse that would come to my house 2-3 times a week to take vitals, monitor the incision and ensure that it was healing as expected and just take an overall evaluation of my activities (which were very very limited) and my pain levels and just ensure that i was recovering as expected. after 6-8 weeks i was able to drive once again and actually perform some activities. i would return for my follow ups and advise the dr.that my symptoms had not totally deminished / disappeared, that i was still in constant pain in the lower back. well at that time he blew me off and passed me off as if I was just a piece of paper. he advised me that i was suffering from degenerative disc disease and that eventually i would have to have more surgeries on my back, and there was nothing more that he could do for me and he just referred me out to the pain managment dept in the local hospital.

    proceded to make my appt with the pain mgmt dept and at that time it was recommended by one of the dr.s there that we try the facet blocks well i underwent two of those and experienced no relief at all, through all the waiting and the once a month visits with pain mgmt, i would have to have my medications changed very often because the pain meds would work in the beginning enough to provide some relief but only to decrease over time resulting in no relief not even enough to take the edge off. after many many months and being placed on vicoden, percocet, dilaudid, fentanyl patch, anti inflammatory, nothing seem to work for any extended period of time.

    (let me back up just a tad bit here), prior to having the back surgery was also being seen by a neurologist for migraine headaches, and after undergoing some nerve tests, discovered (per the neurologist) that the nerve test showed that i possibly had a pinched nerve. now this was NEVER addressed by the back specialist never once even mentioned.

    so the pain mgmt dr. recommended that i have a another nerve test completed within his facility, so i followed through and had the nerve test done. the dr (or whatever her title was), ended up stopping before she completely finished the test and stated to me that i was suffering from sciatica.

    at this time my pain mgmt dr (i.e. treating dr) recommended that i undergo the SI Joint Injection Procedure of both joints (right and left), well at this point what do i have to loose right. that was the worst experience of my whole life the pain was totally unbearable i was actually on the table in tears the pain was so bad. there was no improvement from this procedure so we continued to play with the medications and change up once the current meds no longer helped.

    about 2 1/2 months ago, i decided that i needed to go back to a spine specialist but i refused to return to the last back specialist that i had seen, was very disappointed with the care / and treatment and the lack of respect once he operated and pushed me out like a piece of paper.

    located a Spine Specialist in Townson, MD sent over all of the reports for all MRI's, XRays, Bone Scans, CT Scans that i had done for my back. met with the spine specialist (i.e. ss)about 5 weeks ago. provided the latest CT Scan that i did have the results from when all the other reports were forwarded to his office, and extension Xrays, as well as the last MRI films form 2/2009. The dr was very thorough, treated me as a person, not just a number to get a co pay out of and even though he had 2 patients waiting behind me in the rooms he still spent like 30-40 miniutes with me, completing a physical exam, reviewing the new reports and films, listening to me and what my symptoms are and just being very very thorough and personable. (considering it takes me 5 mins shy of 2 hrs to get to the office from my residence). at that time he proceeded to provide me with GOOD NEWS but also BAD NEWS.

    THE GOOD NEWS was that the fusion that i had done in 2008, May had healed completely and it was all in place, nothing had shifted it was good.

    THE BAD NEWS well where do i begin with that:
    * He proceeded to tell me as he examined my spine that the lumbar area of my spine is Flat, and he mentioned Loss of Lordosis (where the spine curves in more than it should)
    * The back pain that I experience daily well there is nothing at all that can be done to get rid of or even decrease it, this is something that i am going to have to continue to work with pain mgmt and do whatever needs to be done to keep me as pain free as possible. (so that means pain medications for the rest of my life)
    * His BIG / MAIN concern at that time is the fact that i have a compressed nerver (L5) which is causing the sensitivity that i experience in the top of my left foot to the point that it actually hurts to touch it, and due to the compressed nerve i have started to develop Foot Drop. and this is something that concerns him and stated that there is treatment for that (surgery) but he wasn't ready to jump right into surgery at that point. he wanted to try some different non invasive approaches for this before even thinking about discussing surgery. (which is unusual cause most of these dr. out her jump right into surgery cause they see the $$$$$$ in their eyes they aren't concerned about trying differnt avenues and approaches for the situation)
    * At that time he recommended that i move forward with my pre scheduled spinal edpidural at L5-S1, to continue with my PT (Physical Therapy), start some aquatherapy, and prescribed a TENS belt for me to have at home. Felt positive when i left his office that day.

    well i am sheduled to return to the specialist one (1) week from today / 12 Nov 09 for my 6 week follow up: was hoping to return to him with good news/improvement, but unfortunately that is not going to happen. since i have seen him i:
    * i started and do my aquatherapy treatments, which the warm water helps to relax the muscles in my back but the activities seems to aggitate my symptoms, the only thing that actually gives me some relief is to just hang in the deep end of the pool on a noodle and allow my spine to stretch out. the relaxation is wonderful but is for a limited time, within a 5-6 hr period there is no more relaxation anymore, i am right back where i started.
    * i obtained the L5-S1 epidural injection and received no relief, well maybe a 10% relief for a limited time period.
    * i do wear my TENS belt but that doesn't give me alot of relief and i can't wear it all of the time.
    * the sensitivity in the top of my foot has progressively gotten worse to the point that i can barely put a sock on it and put it in a shoe, (spend most of my time walking around in slippers) which has started to move down into the big toe on my L side.
    * agreed to endure a SI Joint injection (recommended by my pain mgmt dr), which did absolutely nothing at all but cause discomfort and pain for me in the end (and during the procedure)
    * am experiencing non stop burning/deep aching pain in the top outer side of my left thigh that radiates down into the inner backside of my shin down into my foot. the pain has become increasing and so intense that I am unable to sit for any period of time, stand / walk for any length of time, even having difficulties laying in the bed and getting sleep at night. Tuesday night got maybe a total of 5 hrs sleep wasn't able to go to sleep due to the pain, and when i finally did fall asleep was awoken by the pain. i just want to rub my shins and thigh to make it go away, and then Wednesday (last) night got a totaly of 1 hour if that to be honest with you,
    * my left foot is going numb when i sit (flat) i find myself sitting leaning over to the right side when then in turns causes my r foot to go numb (pins/needles).
    * cant sit normally experience so much pain on the butt bone that i have to continually move from side to side
    * and just within the last 2 1/2 weeks have been experiencing my left hand (especially) going totally numb that it will actually wake me up hurting like crazy.

    i just dont know what to do anymore, between the constant pain and discomfort, the depression that is taking over my life, and the fact that i have absolutely no quality of life anymore and im only 39 yrs old, my 83 yr old grandmother can run circles around me. i am just totally beside myself, there are so many days that i wonder why i even bother to get out of the bed, for what not like i have alot to look forward to you know.

    i am very thankful that my husband have been very supportive for the past 8 yrs and he has given up things that we once both enjoyed doing, but he has backed off with doing them because he knows that i get totally upset emotionally when i am not able to do those things anymore.

    my son who is 6 is in his first year of football, and he has been so understanding when mommy isn't able to make it tto practice or able to attend a full 1 hr game due to back ppain, as well as it being his first yr in Cub Scouts and when he asks mom to go along with him and dad and he doesn't get upset, or mad when i tell him i can't make it cause i dont feel good. he just says ok mom i'll be back soon, r u going to be alright. those are the moments that i just sit and cry and wonder why me, and then i worry if all of my medical issues could be passed down to my children and they will have to suffer like i have had to suffer and have more suffering to endure in my future.

    if there is anyone out there that has/is experiencing what i have described in my short story (lol) i am very open to your opinions, advice, suggestions, anything even to be there for someone else that needs to vent or just get things out whether frustrations or emotions. i know that there are others out there that are a whole lot worse off than i am and when i start with my own little pitty party i just remind myself that i could be worse off....

    i am so sorry that i have gone in such depth and this is such a long text.

    if you would prefer to contact me privately please feel free to email me at dgibsonholman@hotmail.com

  • dgibson....hi and welcome to the forum... :H we are very glad to have you here.. i hope you find the friends and family that SH truly is, rewarding. we are more than ready to support you in your endeavors..i really don't know where to tell you to start!! your son sounds precious.. :D and so understanding for a little boy.. what a love!!! :X just remember you can stop by anytime and find someone to chat with. you can get info anytime on the forum. good luck to you and keep us informed. :D Jenny
  • Hello...Has anyone come out of surgery in WORSE pain than what they started with? Not just incision area pain, but the pain in my left butt cheek and down my left leg was almost unbearable when I woke up this a.m., and has required a full cocktail of Gabapentin, Vicodin, and Toradol to find relief. I'm also having new numbness and tingling in my left foot. I spoke with my surgeon yesterday, and he said the nerve roots are still going to be angry for awhile, but I guess I just didn't anticipate the pain being so much worse post surgery. Many people I know who have had this procedure came out of anesthesia w/immediate relief, so, I'm feeling a bit disappointed and concerned that I'm going to need another surgery. I know it's only been 2 days, but, has anyone else had this happen? Thanks!
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