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6 mo post 360 lumbar fusion and New neck evaluation!! Neckies please chime in!

lynettellynette Posts: 217
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone!!
Well here we are 6 months after my 360 L5-S1 lumbar fusion. I saw my spine surgeon yesterday in NYC and had lumbar xrays and he said I am healing excellent and released me to do anything I want!!:) :) I can ski,golf kayak bike etc...I still have a lot of PT to do but am improving all the time. I do PT 3x week with eliptical 25-30 min before 45 min of all my core and strength training.I have no significant pain to speak of, but do still take a dose a tylenol almost every day to help with pt soreness and muscle soreness. I still have issues staying in alignment and my pt has to adjust me frequently. My muscles still don't like to work all together yet!! I did have a flare of some numbness in my affected pre surgical leg a few weeks ago but that was after a long 3 hr bus trip to nyc and a show in nyc so was a lot of sitting and was also increasing my walking and eliptical. Surgeon was not concerened and said this can happen and should get better. I continue to work full time as a nurse in an office setting without any difficulties. It has been a long recovery but certainly worth it cuz I am getting my life back!! I know a lot of people that do well do tend to move away from the forum but I really like to ck in and show the newbies and the people trying to decide on fusion that you can return to a normal life again.

I did have a consult on my neck disc c-5 c-6 herniation that I have been fighting with since 2003 to re-evaluate. My only symptoms at this time are r arm numbness every night generally wakes me up once or twice, some minor pain and stiffness in neck. 2 years ago with the last flare i had significant cord compression from disc herniation and now have alot more degeneration at the endplates and loss of height with bone spurs and osteophytes pressing on the cord, really no fluid around the cord at that level. I am no longer a candidate for an ADR due to too much loss of height and the endplate changes. The surgeon says that it most likely will get worse with time and of coarse pain. My dilema is weather to have done sooner than later. I am feeling so good now it's hard think of having more but I don't want to experience the pain in my arms that I had in my legs if that is the inevitable. Since my surgeon is out of network my $4000 out of network benifit is already met and before the end of year would be covered at %100. If I don't have it done now and wait a yr then I pay the $4000.00 again!! Any thought and experience would be appreciated, and thanks for reading all of this!! Lynette


  • What does your surgeon say as far as prognoses with a cord compression, if I read that right? Cord compressions can cause some serious conditions that no surgery can undo. So I would be more worried about the cord compression. Now if it is a thecal sac compression maybe a different story, depending on the pressure.

    AS someone whom has had a cord compression and has myelopathy, surgery was only done to stop the progression but no undo what had been done. So I what be asking your surgeon at what risk you are to cord damage? If it is none then I would wait it out, as long as you can stand the pain and are doing so well. Surgery as you know has no guarantee so it is possible if you don't really need it, that it could not work as well as the lumbar surgery, but who knows.

    A big congrats on the success of the lumbar surgery, though. I say if you can keep going as long as no serious injury can occur.
  • Lynette,

    First off, congrats on your recovery to this point! I am looking at future fusion for L2/3/4, so stories such as yours makes me feel better. For my neck I've had the 'good', the 'bad' and the 'ugly.' So I know nothing is a guarantee.

    As for your situation, health status, and financial I would go for it. But too, I don't know how much your neck issues are affecting your daily life, or how bad it 'will' get if you wait, things like that. If looked at black and white, sure surgery would be on the table. But as you yourself has already experienced, surgery of any kind (especially SPINE surgery), it is very very personal and at times difficult. I hear ya with how well you are now, and just the thought of going through all that again.

    In closing, you of course have to weigh the pros and cons to see which is best for you at this time. You know... doctors information to you, test results, possible damage if not done, financial, work etc. Please let us know what you decide. Sorry you are part of the neckie club Lynette. *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • It is difficult for me to encourage anyone to have spine surgery unless there is an absolute need to have it done. I would put it off as long as it is safe to put it off.

    I took my first ACDF lightly, thinking I would return to work in a couple of weeks and be good to go. I had always healed up quicker than expected on previous surgeries and felt like I was tougher than nails. Had I known then what I know now, I would have done things differently. This is not meant to scare anyone or cause alarm, but surgeons don't often stress the risks involved with this type of surgery. They may tell you there is a miniscule chance of this or that happening, but if you are that person it happens to, a 100th of a percent suddenly becomes huge.

    I am not against c-spine surgery. When one is in a situation where it is absolutely necessary, I am a big proponent for finding a great surgeon and doing what needs to be done. I agree with Tammy that you should discuss this with your doctor. Specifically ask him if there are any ill-consequences of waiting. Ask if he feels it is inevitable that you will require surgery, and if so, get a second opinion just to solidify that information. Ask if there are treatments you can do to avoid surgery altogether. Or if there is NO way of avoiding surgery.

    I understand the out of pocket expense. I am about to pay $5K for medical, and that hurts. So I feel your pain.

    Congratulations on the successful recovery with the lumbar surgery. I wish you the best with your neck.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    If the neck surgery is the right thing and the doctor is out of network then it works out better for you to do it sooner rather than later. I'm in a similar decision making process, but my neck surgeon is in network so I'll start over 1/1 having to meet a $300 deductible and $1500 out of pocket max. Yet if I were to do it by the end of this year I'd have met those already!

    If it's any consolation neck surgery through the front of the neck (ACDF) is much easier in terms of post surgical pain than lumbar fusion surgery!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • We happen to be in a similar, albeit opposite, position. I have recovered from an ACDF, and am about to have surgery at L5/S1 in November. If your doc is not saying you risk permanent nerve damage, and your pain isn’t too bad I wouldn’t rush it, especially right on the heels of having a lumbar surgery. Have you considered getting a steroid shot?

    I had severe cord compression that caused a cyst to form inside my spinal cord, so the doc wanted to operate immediately. As far as insurance is concerned, being a cheapskate, I understand the urge to want to take the cheaper route but in the end I would personally want to push it off for as long as possible. Of course this is coming from a guy who is about to have another spine surgery only a year and a half after having his first, so maybe I’m not the best source of advice. Good luck!


  • Thanks for all your input!! I hear all of you and have thought of it all. I have had compression and been myelopathic in 2003 and was on the or sched then but it got better while waiting for surgery so I cancelled cuz I was scared to death! He wasn't too concerned about permanent damage at this point. As far as my symptoms now they are minimal and do not interfere with my daily activities maybe just some sleeping. It's not near bad enough to have any injections at this point. I'm pretty sure that for now I'm going to wait it out and hope for a long period of no degeneration and work hard at pt to strengthen and stablize the neck. I have babied it for years by not strengthening my upper body, but now since the lumbar surgery I don't fear it as much. The surgeon said it would be a walk in the park compared to the lumbar surgery. Good luck to everyone with your spinal issues!!! Lynette
  • It sounds like you're doing great after your 360! No help for you, just letting you know posts like yours make me that much less nervous!
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