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fusion surgery

dkayjddkayj Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:00 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello! First time writing to forum. Have been reading for awhile. Scheduled to have double fusion surgery (L3-L4 & L4-L5) on April 6th. Also, removing a cyst (L3-L4) and "cleaning" L4-L5 because of severe stenosis. Have been having nerve pain since June 2011. Have been through P.T. two chiropractors, decompression, and three series' of epidurals and steroid injections. This has become worse as time goes by. Now pain not only in lower back, but in hips, buttocks, and down back of both legs. I'm sure everyone here has heard this before.
I have been very active all my life. I'm 61, in good overall health. Do not smoke, no diabetes. Not over weight. I'm just so tired of living with this pain every time I walk, stand, or try to hold my grandchild. I hope someone out there can give me encouragement that better days are ahead. I have been to 4 doctors, all say I need surgery. I will have a orthopedic surgeon, with a neurosurgeon assisting. I have great confidence in both of my surgeons. Neurosurgeon told me I should expect immediate relief from my nerve pain, but will be several weeks for surgery recovery. Thanks to all of you for any thoughts or experiences you might want to share.


  • In my own opinion your chances of a successful fusion are as good as everyone here on SH. I hope it is a huge success.
    Yes....the nerve pain should dissappear right away. With a fusion the acute pain is brutal but it is gone in a couple of weeks.
    Very best of luck to you.

    Cheers :H
    Patsy W
  • I do not want to discourage you from having the surgery, but I do want you to know that there is no such thing as feeling amazing a few weeks after a big surgery like any spine surgery.

    Surgery is not a quick fix.

    You may even have nerve damage. There is no guarantee that your nerve pain will go away directly after the operation.

    I had a fusion... I do not regret having it, I am glad I had it. They told me recovery would be a couple weeks after the surgery. I have never seen that to be true for anyone. It takes months, even a year or more of physical therapy and healing time before you will feel normal.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • I agree with Donnabe. Do not think that surgery is a quick fix. Physical therapy is most likely a life long addition to your every day life. I also am glad I had surgery, but the recovery can be long and exhaustive. If all the surgeons agree that surgery is the answer, then perhaps it is necessary to prevent further damage. Good luck!
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • and up to 2/3 years until you are as good as you are going to be .the fact that you are otherwise fit may reduce this time .i have just had a double ALIF fusion at l4/5 and s1 and i can tel you i too had the top man on the job but after surgery i was in major agony i woke from the anesthetic and as soon as i realised where i was i screamed like something from a horror movie .
    the operation is highly invasive and need to be treated carefully post op .recovery will be slow and you will need help with the most simplest of things like showering .i was so weak my wife came to the hospital and we went in to the bathroom and she gave me a stand up wash as i was so tired .i just flopped back in to the hospital bed and fell asleep .any good consultant will tell you that ADR/fusion is not to be undertaken lightly and is not the answer to total pain relief .i was told by my consultant that we are doing your operation NOT TO REDUCE PAIN but to stabilise your spine .any pain relief will be a bonus .
    its more than it look like and you will need someone with you to help with the basic things you now take for granted .i have only just returned to eating food and even that is not as it should be .i have been sick and not wanted the normal food that i like .also remember that a fusion can be damaged in the early stages so don't overdo it even if you feel you can do it .good luck
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Thanks Tony,
    That is some great positive advice from someone who has experience and the reality of how difficult this process can be, people come here just for that support and encouragement they want to know how it is for others and envisage a future. Some people go into fusions with the unrealistic expectation that the pain will be reduced and it needs to be explained that this is not always the case, that stabilisation is to stop more pain in the future if possible.

    Where do patients get the notion that it will be a quick fix, surgery if required is an irreversible step where we have to live with the consequences good or bad, we get more efficient over time and reach a better place every day if possible.

    Take care I know you are working hard to improve, one day at a time for now. John
  • you've done your homework and gotten many opinions that all agree you need this surgery. Let me tell you that surgeons have a way of exagerating recovery time. When they say 3 weeks, usually you can at least double the time they say. Now this is just from my experience, and I was not in good health before my surgeries. The better health you are in, the quicker the recovery. I wish you a quick recovery and a great relief in pain. Make sure you listen to what your doctor has to say, and follow it to the word.
  • i am sorry you have to have the surgery, i too have been there. mine started as a ruptered l5s1 and 8 years and 4 surgeries later, i still am in constant pain, trying to apply for disability, and can sleep in no other position but a recliner. However, it is not near the intense nerve pain like when it all started. my sciatic nerve was described in writing by the surgeon as kinked, pinched off and swollen 3 times its normal size. i was 29 years old then, on no medication, and in excelent shape. my wife had to dress me, and putting on my own shoes wasnt even an option. so from now to then is alot better, but the type of pain will change and it will never go away. i dont mean to frighten you, just wanted to tell you to not have great expectations for a pain free life. i made that mistake. hope it goes well. would like to know how it goes, take care,

  • I am eight months out of the exact same surgery you are going to have. I had three surgeries prior to the PLIF spinal fusion procedure (laminectomy / microdiscectomy) on both discs.

    FUSION UPSIDE - I received complete relief from the sciatic nerve pain immediately after fusion surgery. It was, however, easy for me to get a little overconfident given the pain medication during recovery. However, I was walking immediately and had no sciatic pain. The only real pain I have now is tightness in my hips and legs from not stretching out adequately.

    DOWNSIDE - the acute post-surgery pain is intense. Getting used to all of the hardware (especially when standing up after lying in bed) takes some time (about two months for me). Anticipate a decrease in flexibility, bending at the waist.

    Everyone's experience is different. I have zero regrets about my surgery. Like many of my peers on the site, there were no other options to alleviate pain and live a "normal" life. I am 41 with two kids under 10 years old. I expect to continue leading an active life for many years. Losing excess weight has also helped a great deal.

    Best of luck to you - my experience was much less frightening than I was prepared for and I hope yours is the same.
  • Surgery is so annoying. My fusion surgery that I had in '07 never took it seems and has been 4 years with constant back pain/bone pain. My fusion had to be done quick, considering I was in a car accident and had severe trauma. The screws I have fusing me together are just sitting there, aggravating my nerve and giving me more pain (from what my doctor assumes). Since my fusion, apparently I need to take the screws out and have another type of fusion done. What are they going to be fusing you together with? I hope your surgery goes okay, surgery should always be the last option though considering all the risks also where your surgery is going to be performed is quite the dangerous/sensitive area. But I'm sure you've been told this. I wish you luck, keep everyone updated!
  • Hello Everyone! Many thanks to all of you for your responses. Your comments really make me think and hope I have made the right decision. I guess with all I have tried to get relief from my pain, diagnosis and prognosis from doctors that I could lose the use of my leg/legs and develop "drop foot" from nerve damage, that I am araid to put off surgery. I figure my surgery would go better at 61 yrs. old in good health and with no other health concerns, than if I wait until I'm older and not in as good of shape as I am now. I'm sure all of you know and have experienced the almost constant pain that I have now. The only time I have relief is when I sit down. Can't walk the dog, can't go shopping, can't pick up my granddaughter, much less play with my other three grandchildren. I know surgery will not be a breeze. I had two major intestinal surgeries back in 1987, but I can not let pain control my life like it is doing now. I feel as though I must do something. It may not be the perfect fix, but I must try. Thanks again to all of you who took the time and trouble to respond to my post. God Bless!
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