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Surgery scheduled ...

budmetrobbudmetro Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Spinal Stenosis

I have a laminectomy scheduled for June 20, 2011, and still need to get a second opinion. I've seen a physiatrist, who had me undergo an MRI, which showed extensive spinal stenosis. I've had back problems for many years, as well as symptoms in the legs and feet. Right now my most annoying problem is the sensation of numbness in my feet. I also have twitching and cramping in my right leg, as well as occasional burning sensations in the thigh. I don't really have back pain at the moment. I went to see an orthopedic surgeon, who confirmed that I have severe stenosis. He said I could get epidural shots first, but I opted for surgery and he said he'd perform a laminectomy with a fusion. He said he'd free up what's causing a nerve compression and that the numbness should go away. He sounded quite confident that he could solve the issue, but added that obviously I could have problems again years from now.

My question -- is surgery the best option? I tried physical therapy, which didn't help. I see no point in the shots. I could just go on with the numbness and other issues, but the stenosis obviously won't go away; it'll get worse and my symptoms will also probably get worse. I'm 51 years old and if I need surgery I'd rather have it sooner than later. I just don't want to end up with post-surgical pains, complications and other issues I don't have now. Well, that's obvious. Also, what are the pros and cons of having a neurosurgeon vs. an orthopedic surgeon perform the operation?

Thank you very much!


  • I had a decompression (laminectomy, discectomy and wide under cutting of facet joints) with fusion of L4/L5 in March 2010. Apart from very severe stenosis, I also had spondylolisthesis.

    I am ever so much better now, and would definately do it again. The recovery was VERY long, but not as painful and difficult as I had feared. I think that my recovery did go very well, but I did have several problems along the way: wound not closing properly followed by wound infection.

    I am still having problems in my cervical and thoracic spine, but I did have problems in those areas before my surgery, and I am sure that it didn't start them.

    I had an orthopedic spine surgeon, but am now seeing a neurosurgeon for my neck.

    If you are able to walk and exercise frequently, I would recommend it. I did before my surgery (still do) and several physio and medical people have said that is why my recovery went so well.

    Welcome to Spine Health. I think you will find that joining us before your surgery will be very helpful because you will get a lot of support and there is a host of information and advice to be found here.

    No-one can really say if surgery is the best option. For a lot of us, it has been very helpful in helping us get back to a more active life, but there are some who are still really struggling.

    It is definately a good idea to get a minimum of two opinions, or more if you are still unsure what to do. Read and educate yourself as much as you can, and go to your appointments armed with a list of questions.

  • Thank you so much for your quick response. It really helps a lot. Best wishes!

    (More replies also would be greatly appreciated).

  • Welcome to SH! Wanted to wish you all the best with your surgery. It is a very personal choice to have surgery,and I agree it is very important to get a second opinion.
    I am currently waiting for a fusion.I am 40 years old. I have pain that has severely impacted my daily life. The majority of my pain is in lower back/buttocks upper thigh, with numbness on outside of calf and top of foot. I first saw an orthopeodic surgeon and he reffered me to two neurosurgeons. What I think the important think to look for whether it is an orthopeodic or neuro is that they specialize in the spine. For myself, I tried physio,esi's heat/cold, tens, and I am now deteriorating rapidly, so feel that surgery is now my next step. You will know when you are ready.

    Please keep us updated on how things are going for you.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Thanks so much, Karen! Good luck with your fusion! :)
  • Monday,5-16-11, I have a consult with an orthopaedic spine surgeon.After therapy, tens and 5 epidurals, surgery seems imminent. Would patients who have had lumbar fusions please advise me on what questions to ask him? Or questions you wish you had asked. I had a C6-7 fusion and it was like a miracle. Almost drive through surgery, In & out and pain free. I am acutely aware lumbar surgery isn't close to that. That is why I am concerned about everything this time. Including what I need to prepare for post-op. Also, I am 77 years old so if any old timers have had it I would love to hear from you!

  • We don't get very many 'old timers' (your words) on here, I expect mostly because they aren't to into using the internet and forums.

    I would ask your surgeon about;
    What type of graft he will use? (I was lucky and had the bone removed during the laminectomy used.)
    Whether you will need to wear a brace or not and if so, for how long?
    Whether you will need to have physiotherapy afterwards?
    What condition the discs above and below the area to be fused are in, and if he thinks that you will have trouble with them in the future?
    Will you need to wear a Bone Growth Stimulator afterwards to help with the fusion?

    Here is a link to other ideas for questions to ask;


  • I had a laminectomy, discectomy 3 weeks ago on L4-L5 and it has helped some but I still have a cervical laminectomy in the future. The numbness has left my buttocks and legs just a little bit in the left toes is whats left. For me I'm walking more steady now and the leg strength is back. I would do it all over again. Even though he did not fuse the lumbar. I had 3 surgeries since 8/15/10 and looking at one more within 3 months hopefully. 2 was on the spine and one was a sleenectomy from trauma on 8/15/10. Of the spine surgeries the lumbar hurt more but the cervical was a longer recovery for me. Good luck and keep up the faith.
  • I had a laminectomy at L4/L5 after doing all the other stuff to see if it would get better. It didn't and the laminectomy solved the problems, but it was a slow recovery. I am very active and I am sure that helped. A few years later things deteriorated and I had L4/L5 fused. Seven months later I had L1 to L5 fused and then last march I had L5/S1 fused. Hope that is the end. My spine is a mess from being knocked unconscious from a snowboarder and it just seems to keep deteriorating. Now that all the lumbar are fixed I should be good. The thoracic are fine. Good luck with the laminectomy. It was definitely the right choice for me.


    Spinal stenosis, spondolysis, spondolythesis, L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion with instrumentation and bone graft from hip, L1/S1 fusion with replacement disc put in and a nice bolt from my spine to my pelvis; PT, accupuncture, prolotherapy, many cortisone injections, 4 rhizotomies. Currently on tramadol.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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