I had back fusion L4-L5 back in November of 2008 and had no relief from pain. So my surgeon suggested pain management only 3 months after surgery (which I thought was awfully fast! He didn't even try any tests to figure out the problem.) So a found a fellowship trained pain doc, and for the last 2 years I have had countless epidural steroid injections and 2 radio frequency ablations! Still my sypmtons have progressed from bad to worse. My Pain doc said I have a "very complex spine" convinced me to see a neurosurgeon, which I did. The neuro found delayed fusion (if fused at all) plus major herniations at 2 levels above fusion complete with nerve impingment! He said surgery was needed to stabilize the spine.
Next, I sent 3 years worth of mri's and ct's to a top doctor at a university/teaching hospital in Raleigh Durham. He is a friend of a friend and he also said based on my studies, I needed surgery, the question was how much, 1 level or 2 levels fusion. He wants to see me in person so he can do movement studies and he is standing by - but frankly, I live just north of Atlanta and all the trips back and forth will be very difficult. And expensive because the drive is too long (8 hours.)But I'll go if needed.
So, 2 opinions and 2 thumbs up for surgery. Now, I've been waiting for 6 months (yep, that's how long it takes to get in and see this neurosurgeon at a big university/teaching hospital in Atlanta!) to get my third and final opinion. Then I'll have to sort it all out. My appointment is the 1st week in March.
The reason for sharing this story with you all is my belief that we all have to perservere and trudge through the system as long as it takes to get the answers we need to make such a big decision. Whether it's a first or a second or even a third back or neck surgery, do your research. And you may as well go to the "best in the field" - that's what I'm doing. I'm gambling that all this effort will pay off this time. No rushing into surgery here unless of course if it becomes a caudal equina emergency!
I'll keep you updated! Kathy