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To fuse or not to fuse?

Misty5002000MMisty5002000 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Has anyone had any success in spinal fusion? I know the next step for me is spinal fusion but I don't know if it's worth it. From what I have read and heard, it's going to lead to even more surgeries. I have already had 1 minor surgery, 3 years ago and it has helped a little but, I am still in a lot of pain. I personally don't anyone that has gone through this so, it would be nice to know the positive and negative sides of the procedure. Please share your story.
Thank you.


  • Hi Misty'I guess it realy comes down to how much pain you are in and will fusion actualy help that pain. It realy comes down to your condition of whats causing the pain.What are they saying off the mri, or mylogram test thatyou have problem with? What surgery did they do years back that helped? There are many factors that come in to play of who will benefit from fusion. In many cases fusion made some worse especialy if they had slight issue at other levels already and they had fusion, and the extra stress put on those other levels now becomes a problem. Everyone here i think will tell you surgery should be the last option, unless there are spine structure issues of the spine not being stable, and puting it off can cause nerve damage in some cases. Myself i opted for the artificial disc in my l4l5 in 2004 when it was still in trial stage, and i ended up with nerve damage, 2 years later having the artificial disc fused in. And all i realy had issue with before surgery was a bad disc at the l4l5 that was leaking. I am what they call failed back surgery. Get more then 1 opinion form dr's to make sure you need the surgery because there are always many things that can go wrong during surgery. Most failed back surgery from what i read is dr's fusing patients at the wrong level because they never were realy able to confirm what level the pain was generating from. Some jump to have fusion when at times Pt along with injection and proper exercise could of resolved there issue. I hope this helps, and i hope what ever you decide helps you resolve your pain issue. Again, get more then 1 opinion. Also if you do have fusion, not everyone has issues after that fusion and need another surgery. If you post a litle more detail of your condition i am sure others will give you there opinions here and will be able to help ya as much as they can. As long as you keep in mind we are not dr's just patients ourself. Good luck, keep us updated, many here are happy to help and suport you through out this process you are going through. Alex'
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Misty,

    To have surgery, to not have surgery. Many of us have had to face that, and face it over and over. My first fusion I consider a 100% successful. A year later the next level went, and nerve damage occurred when it went. The surgery *did* prevent further damage, but not even 6 months later my C6 vertebra cracked between the fusions!! I feel it is in part due to the stress differences between my hardware that they used. Same surgeon, and I've yet to see anyone on this site with a 'wing thing'.

    Misty, each case is different, as are the causes and reasons for spine surgery. If you get to the stage that you need it, believe me *you* will know consciously and unconsciously! The best advice I can give is do lots of research to see what's out there. See other doctors (spine specialists) for other opinions - nothing wrong with that, and most will agree that unless you have full faith and trust in your surgeon, additional opinions are a great thing to do! I know this is going to be a rough and stressing decision, but you and only you along with your doctor can make the final decision. Please keep us posted on how it goes. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Making the decision for surgery is an intensely personal decision. I personally had to be ready to accept life in a wheelchair as being better than not having the surgery.

    I had some complications after my surgery, but I am still glad I did go through with it. I no longer have excruciating sciatica or CES. I'd avoided surgery for several years with PT, Physiotherapy and cortisone.

    Warning- if you go through with surgery - if things go wrong, are you willing to live with your decision? Will you second guess yourself and wonder if you had researched your dr. better, wonder if you could have waited for your disc to get better on its own... etc. What 'what ifs' will you have?

    Also - don't expect it to be easy to recover. It takes a good year to start to feel like yourself again, even if things go well. If you don't follow the dr.'s restrictions you are asking for worse pain. When you follow them you feel stifled and restricted and BORED.

    I found success. I did not go back to work for almost 6 mo. I started PT at 6 mo (because of problems with my newly numb right leg) I continued working out after my PT benefits ran out. I worked HARD (not physically hard, but mentally hard - the keeping on keeping on). I dieted - super strict and sensible dieted. I lost 40 lbs. I have strengthened my core, my legs and arms.

    Success is possible, but the odds are not always there. Get multiple opinions. RESEARCH your dr., your hospital, your options. In the end it's YOUR life.

    Best of luck

  • I think I saw fusion as last alternative.
    I had a microdiscectomy that failed.
    I had several surgeons telling me fusion was the only way I'd be happy and by not having it I was avoiding the inevitable. I thought, maybe, but maybe not.

    I had another group of surgeons saying try the revision microdiscectomy and give it time. I even had one surgeon saying...let's give it more time before we do another surgery.

    Long story short, it is a VERY personal decision. I saw 7 doctors + got a remote opinion from the Cleveland clinic. I had my family and friends all with varying opinions. But at the end of the day, I had to feel comfortable with the decision and I had to be sure no one could talk me out of a fusion.

    Guess what? I could talk me out of a fusion. So I spent 2 months researching and meeting doctors. I opted for the revision. Will it be a permanent solution? Not sure. Has it worked perfectly? Nope but I'm better than I was after the 1st surgery.

    My thought? I wanted to make fusion last resort. Even if I only get 2 years from this surgery, it's 2 years more for technology and options to develop for me. If I get 5 years...even better. My surgeon says he hopes he never sees me again but he said if he does, we can talk then about what the next steps are. He and I hope we never meet but we also both hope that if we do meet, I have more options and even if not, we both will know we tried all the alternatives.

    It is a very tough decision. Even tougher because you need support of your friends and family with your decision. So you not only need to be sure, you need to make sure those closest to you support you.

    I was lucky...I finally found a doctor both my husband and I had confidence in that could explain why the revision was the best route. That won over my husband who actually didn't quite understand my fear of the fusion at the time.

    When no one can talk you out of a fusion, you are probably ready. But be sure to voice your concerns, your fears, you hopes, and your life goals with those closest to you.

    Good luck!
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