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New to the forum and having back surgery on Nov24th. Any Advice?

Joey46987JJoey46987 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone, I am new to the site, but have been reading a lot of posts. I have had lower back pain/leg pain on and off for the past year and a half. Here is a break down:

Aug08- Woke up with lower back pain
Aug/Sep 08- PT with Flexerol, Tramadol, and Indocin

multiple doctor visits with no tests or imaging

Oct09- MRI!!! Found L4-5 "degenerative disc disease with loss of dis height and hydration. there is a right paramedian moderate sized disc protrusion resulting in a mass effect on the right anterolateral aspect of the thecal sac. This is associated with a small linear high intensity zone in the protruding posterior annulus compatable with small posterior annular tear. The protruding disc results in spinal stenosis with narrowing of the thecal sac to approx. 7mm. this also encroaches upon the neural foramen bilaterally right greater than left. There is no evidence of extruded or free fragment. Posterior facets are unremarkable."

The neurosurgeon wants to do a disc decompression surgery and insturmented fusion. Has anyone had anything similar and what were the results?


  • I have had surgery for almost the same thing. My dr said 95% this would fix my pain. I had two small kids at the time 1 and 2 years old. And was told I could not lift,carry,bend, hold etc. them for weeks after. My surgery did not work at all! I have since seen more dr's and they all told me they would NOT have recommend surgery to me (I was only 32 at the time). I will say that maybe the reason mine failed is because I am a stay at home mom and I did have to take care of my kids about 2weeks post surgery because my husband had to go back to work. I thought long and hard about the choice to have the surgery I had went through two pain clinics prior and tried every injection, and treatment option they offered with no luck. PT helped a little but with two small kids I was not able to go nearly as often as they wanted me to. My advise is make sure you have tried everything else first, and make sure you have ample amount of time after to recover before you need to get back to "life"

    Good Luck
  • You might want to get at least another opinion from a different fellowship-trained spinal specialist. Any type of back surgery should not be entered into casually. Regardless of what you might be told, no back surgery is a quick fix. It is very important to do your research, to be confidant that the surgery is necessary and that the right procedure has been selected for your particular problems.

    Surgery should also be considered as your last option. What other types of conservative treatments have you tried?

    Is your pain in your back or more in your legs?

    From what you have described and what your MRI indicates, I would think there might be some other treatments or procedures you would want to investigate prior to having a fusion. The fusion surgery is really starting with the big guns, with no place left to go.

    There are many threads on this board pertaining to fusion. If you read through some of them, you will see that it is a procedure best left for when nothing else will do. I would strongly suggest you gather a couple more opinions, including one that is from someone other than a surgeon, such as a physiatrist.

    Good luck.


  • As a quick background, i am a 24yo Male, in good health and singe, in the US Coast Guard. I am stationed in Key West, FL and I was refered onto the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine. The pain is a stabbing pain shooting down my leg and an achy pain in my lower back. I have gotten progressivly worse over the last 3 months. I lost almost all ability to do my job and have found myself drinking alcohol a lot more than usual to deal with the pain... That is a road that i do NOT want to go down. The NS found a significant weakening in my right leg. I didnt even notice because i have had this problem for well over a year. The Coast Guard will give me up to a year to recover before they will process me for a medical discharge. They are very good when it comes to recovery time. Surgery seems to be the best option because i am stationed on a ship and if i were to loose the ability to use my bowels or feet, it would be a huge medical emergency that could take days to get me to medical attention. Nevermind the effects of being on a ship in rough weather and having to work with this condition. I am tired of being in pain and my attitude has drastically changed since i have been in the amount of pain i am in.
  • I still think it would be a good idea to get another opinion just to be sure you are on the right track and that a slightly less invasive ptocedure would not take care of the problem

    Since you went to a neurosurgeon, you might want to try an orthopedic spinal specialist (not a general ortho.) just to see if your problems might be handled differently.

    I do understand your desire to get this problem resolved as quickly as possible! From your description it didn't sound like a complete fusion would be needed -- that you might be able to get by with a discectomy or something like that if you do not have instability. I just wanted to be sure you are aware of the difference procedures and are not just blindly following one doctor's recommendations.

    Sometimes people think that surgery will be the quickest route to a quick recovery, when in fact, it rarely turns out that way! Once in awhile surgery can create just as many problems as it solves and so, it should always be reserved for the last option.

    Good luck to you. I wish you a speedy recovery.

    You can read about fusion here:



  • there are medical facilities that do a lateral approach that is much less invasive than the traditional posterior approach (moving delicate nerves around) which is a LONG recovery that you may not want to deal with.

  • likely will need a year for recovery if you have the fusion. I'm coming up on my one year anniversary and I would have given anything to have more time for recovery. I went back to work part time one month after a 3-level (although I did mostly bring work home at that time) and then full time after three months (I have a desk job). Sitting is a big problem. Of course, we all can't see your MRI images, so we can't say for sure (and, of course, we're not medical professionals), but with one level, you might be able to get by with a microdiscectomy to get the disc material off your nerve. There could be other issues there requiring a fusion, but I don't see them. Since you are in Florida, you may want to investigate the Laser Institute there. You problem sounds like one that is custom made for their procedures.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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