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Well...doc says I am a prime candidate for another fusion.

nowwhat44nnowwhat44 Posts: 47
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Went to the spine specialist today for a follow up on some injections I had a couple weeks ago that didn't seem to do much. I am fused at the L/5 S/1 level (2007) and now I have developed arthritis and as a result some sever stenosis at the next 2 levels. My pain in manageable right now with stretching and simple motrin 800s. Some days are better than others of course but overall I do ok. I get pain in my foot and shin and it's never so bad that I can't do anything, but it is depressing and annoying for sure.

Anyway, he says i fI was to have surgery he would fuse the l3-l5 making me fused at 3 levels. Told me straight up that I would likely end up having my entire lumbar region fused one day and usually it stops there. Something to look forward too at 36 right? Unreal. But I asked him, why fusion? the disks at those levels are not herniated and have good spacing. At that point he did say there was other options like laminectomy as well. Well, what the hell? Isn't the point to maintain as much motion as possible to prevent the further degeneration? his point was it would mean the possibility of more surgeries later and the fusion may be inevitable. Maybe so, but I am not a old man, shouldn't we take the less severe route first, like laminectomy? I don't know, I am not nearly in enough pain to have surgery yet anyway and will put it off as long as humanly possible and as long as my life is not completely turned upside down with chronic pain. He said he has seen people with worse stenosis than mine (mine is severe) with no symptoms. Makes me hope I can hold on for a long time.

I am too young for this. Lost so much I love to do already at 36 years old. Surgery is likely inevitable, but when time comes, I don't know what to even think. Maybe by then the option for laminectomy or anything else will not be there and fuse is only choice, who knows.

anyone out there with a similar story or condition with any advice?


  • Hi; and i completely agree with you.

    Also you said that stretching and motrin, can control your pain. So i really dont believe any ins.co. would approve the surgery, when something that simple can control your pain.

    I didnt see in your post of you getting a 2nd or 3rd opinion. I would definitely get one before i agree to surgery of that kind, and at your age until it becomes necessary.

    Sounds to me your doctor is" putting the cart before the horse", so tell him to slow down.

    Good luck and dont rush into something that drastic, until its a last resort.
  • I agree w/blazer.
    Anytime a person decides surgery and/or/but the description on paper has the operation listed or considered 'ELECTIVE', this means that it's the patients' decision. I would not elect to have surgery on my spine, but would exhaust all other avenues before resorting to surgery, which should always be my Drs last resort (if at all possible) as well.
    My thoughts in reading your post would be to get another opinion.
  • Hey there...you are thinking clearly!
    Some doctors say...operate once to reduce risk of infection, and more surgery.

    I picked a doctor that was avoid surgery and if you have to operate, go with least invasive/permanent approach.

    Neither are right or wrong. I had my microdiscectomy (and revision) at age 40 which is essentially a laminectomy type procedure.

    My surgeon said...he hoped he would never see me again but was hopeful that he bought me enough time for technology to advance so I might have other options to pick from other than fusion. Why? Because fusion is permanent and once you do that, you are sort of out of options if it doesn't work.

    I think getting a 2nd & 3rd opinion is a good idea.
    I'm also a fan (not sure if it will get cleared) of the eCleveland clinic's remote opinion. You have to be treated by a doctor locally but you can send your records and fill out lots of details and ask questions and you get a report back and then, if you want, can talk to a nurse or the surgeon that prepared the report on-line.

    If you can manage on non-prescriptions, you have time to do your homework. And, if you are not managing any longer on these, see about visiting a Pain Mgmt (PM) doctor until you have time to do your research and consider your options.
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