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2 1/2 months post L5 microdiscectomy. Looking at fusion. HELP

momwithnosleepmmomwithnosleep Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Lower Back Pain
I have been in chronic back pain since Nov 2009. I have seen 3 different surgeons. Two neuro and one orthopedic. My initial xrays, MRI, and myelogram showed 3 bulges. L4, L5, S1. My L5 bulg had calcified so I had a L5 microdiscectomy. One he opened me up and found MANY bone spurs. He saw some on the myelogram but there were MANY more than he seen.
The first two weeks post-op i was pain free except incision pain. In week 3 I started having the nerve pain again. Mostly upon waking in the AM. I was put back on anti inflammatory meds and a steroid pack to make sure the nerve pain wasn't caused from swelling or damage to the nerve.

Now 2 1/2 months post op I am in the same boat as before surgery. Both my orthopedic surgeon (performed 1st surgery) and a neuro have told me a multi level fusion is my only option. They did say that because all my problems are on the right side they could do laproscopic instead of open.

My MRI dictation mentions mild stenosis, facet arthropathy, degenerative disc disease, narrowing and arthritis at these 3 levels also

I am 34 yr old mothet of a 9 yr old and 5 yr old identical twins, one of which is a Type 1 (insulin dependant) diabetic. I HATE not being able to enjoy my kids. I HATE taking all the meds. I HATE that my husband has to come home from working a 12 hour day to have to cook, clean and take care of kids.

Has anyone had experience with the liproscopic multi level fusion?
What is the recovery like?

I am currenyly taking
4 10/325 percocets a day
1 200 mg ultrim a day
2 75 mg voltaren a day
1 600 mg neurontin a day
3 10 mg flexeril a day
as well as asthma and thyroid meds

Any help or insight is GREATLY appreciated!!!


  • hello

    Your experience mirrors mine, i too had microdiscectomy on the right, and it failed after 3 weeks post op. i too am looking at fusion but only at one level L5/S1.

    Your not alone,and there are many people on here to help and give advice where they can.

    I dont have any experience of laparoscopic fusion, but someone may on here? laparoscopic method isnt done in uk as far as im aware, someone may no different tho.

    try and keep positive

    L5/s1 discectomy & decompression 2009
    ALIF l5/s1 2011
    Awaiting X-ray & consultant to see if fused, but experiencing a lot of pain again :( 2013
  • I went to my surgeon yesterday. He was the third dr to tell me that by looking at my 1at MRI a year ago that I had degenerative disc disease really bad in my L5 and starting in my L4. Going by my age and the amount of damage already I was told I would need fusion in 5-10 years.
    I went last week for MRI #2 (almost 1 year apart) and the disease is progressing MUCH faster than originally thought and the max he is giving me now is 3 years before having to have a fusion. He said the disease is causing 80%of my pain. Arthritis 10% and nerve compression 10%.
    So on Dec 1 I will be having the fusion. He wanted to study my MRI again but it will probably be 3 levels. I am VERY scared. More of the pain I will be in post op. Kind of like thinking of putting your hand in a flame. You KNOW its gonna hurt VERY bad.
    But I just keep thinking past the recovery to where I can actually enjoy my life, husband and kids. And when I can get off all these meds.
    He said I will still have some pain because of the arthritis but he can fix the rest!!!!
  • HI there...don't hesitate to get additional opinions. I had a microD on L5/S1 that also failed rather quickly afterward (I think by week 3 but we waited it out until week 6, prednisone, blah blah blah and confirmed at week 10 that I had reherniated).

    I had varying opnions of fusion and revision MicroD. I had 3 opinions initially and found myself to be very confused and scared.

    I had 7 opinions...why? because I still wasn't sure and needed more time and information to figure out the risks and benefits I was facing as well as find the right surgeon for me not just for the immediate issue but for the future.

    I encourage your to ensure you are comfortable with your decision even if that means spending some money on additional opinions.

    I didn't have the bone spurs or anything but I do have a bulging disc at L5/4 as well as the herniation at L5/S1. I opted for revision MicroD on L5/S1 knowing that it may not work. So far it's going ok.

    Good luck.
  • ...be enough opinions. When all 3 concur with identical opinion on issues and solutions. 7 opinions in my mind is confusing and probably would cause contradiction. If you see enough surgeons you can get a different answer. 3 is what most insurance companies and people i know have gone with. IF all 3 agree on the same thing.

    Is it going to hurt? Of course. Should you be scared? Of course. The idea of looking down the road at the long term I think it the right attitude. You can plan on taking a year to recover from a 2-3 level. You should be functional sooner but have to be careful.

    Don't be surprised a microd didn't last. The theory seems to be it can last from 5 minutes to 5 years. Once you start cutting into discs you are on your way down the path to a fusion. Discectomy delays the fusion in hopes of a better answer or type of fusion as technology improves.

    Given all the meds you are on if it were me I'd want it done soon. Especially having kids to deal with and having a supportive husband. Keep on thinking long term and don't let the short term scare and pain part distract you. How could it really hurt more than it does now given the meds you are taking for pain? Really, think about it. Only you can answer that.

    Good luck.
  • Z06...sufficient opinions is really in the eye of the beholder. There were reasons why I got several opinions (mainly b/c my 3rd contradicted the 1st 2) and then then 2 of the 3 were no longer covered by my insurance company.

    The point is, the time I spent actually reduced my confusion and made me quite confident not only in the surgical approach but in the surgeon.

    I guess I'm just recommending that people do their homework before surgery.

    And, while many do end up with fusion, I know people that are 11+ years post discectomies and doing fine.
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