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Laminectomy Inevitable

ellencalieellencali Posts: 162
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:00 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Ok..so I had a follow up appointment with the spine doctor this morning. After 3 epidurals, which I now believe to be finaly working ;..I am at a crossroad, well at least a psychological one. I defiantely have pain relief, but I still have considerable weakness in my lef leg and foot. I still have pain in my hip and down my left leg to knee and pain...pain is livable...I am not complaining. When I asked what my prognosis was,I was informed that due to the level of stenosis and the number of nerves involved, physical therapy will not help. I learned today that I have chronic nerve damage as well as accute. Dr told me that my only choice is epidurals and a laminectomy at L3...my question is this: Is it going to be worth the risk to have surgery with the nerves being as damaged as they are. She said the only way to release the pressure...my spinal canal is really tiny at L3....is with surgery. I have read and read and read posts in here and I am beginning to think I am diagnosing myself and thinking I know too much! I would like to wait on the surgery as long as possible but also dont want to do more damage to the nerves....anyone have an oppinion here. I have have quite a bit going on at different levels, but this seems to be the level causing debilitating pain. Any input is greatly appreciated. Also, she said that the surgery is highly successful..takes about an hour with one night stay hospital...I am a single mom of 2 little one...2 and 7...is this even possible?

3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012


  • Just posting again because I wanted to be notified of any posts! Thanks
    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012
  • I have issues at multiple levels. I just had a laminectomy and discectomy at l4-L5. It really wasn't that bad as far as surgeries go. I have had a number of different types. Pain from the surgeries was pretty well managed. By two weeks I was getting around pretty well, with the staples out. I was given the ok to drive after 3 weeks. I'm 4 weeks out now and I am tired and I'm sure I must have been too active yesterday because pain levels are up.

    Whether to do surgery is really a personal decision, weighing the pros and cons, the risks of surgery vs. a potential relief of pain.

    Take care and good luck with your decision.

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • When it comes to stenosis, there's really no way to relieve the pressure on the nerves other than to "open things up" and take the pressure off. Epidurals help temporarily to reduce inflammation that is adding additional pressure in that area, but ultimately you are still left with no way to ease the pressure other than to remove a portion of the lamina. It's not a flexible tissue to the point where you can do some sort of therapy to "stretch it" out again to relieve the pressure. The more times you have inflammation build up the more scaring that will occur and eventually the scar tissue will cause even further stenosis in the area.

    As Karen said, the decision for surgery is one that only you can make. The problem then becomes one of weighing your long term and short term risks based on the problem you have at L3. I find that writing things down and looking at it in black and white pros and cons helps me a lot. We all have a way of decision making that works for ourselves. You're doing the right thing in researching, just be careful of information overload and also keep in mind that most people posting on line have had complications, difficulties or are early in recovery. The success stories aren't as prolific not because they aren't happening, but because those folks are out living life and don't have the need for continued support.

    I've had the lamina completely removed at L4 and L5 as well as partially at C1 and C2. The relief I have gained from that is incredible. Although it doesn't do anything for the damage already done to the nerves, it certainly helps keep me comfortable and far more mobile.

    Good luck with your decision.

  • Hi Ellen. I had a microdiscectomy and laminectomy at L4L5 about 4 weeks ago, on 1/27. The surgery was short and I only stayed one night in the hospital. You would definitely need help for the first few weeks. I think the hardest part would be looking after your 2 year old. You won't be able to pick her/him up for a long time, so that would be a real challenge.

    Have you had a second opinion? I think a laminectomy sounds like the right step if you're looking for something other than short-term relief, but I would definitely get a second or third opinion from other doctors.

    I still have some surgical pain if I'm too active (and by that I mean if I just do too much around my apartment), but the nerve pain I had before surgery is gone. I'm really glad I had the surgery. It can be a long recovery though. I am a healthy 39 year old female and was really active and fit before surgery so I thought I would bounce back quickly. However, I find that I'm tired after just a full day of being awake and doing low-key stuff. Everyone is different so you might bounce back more quickly though.

    Good luck with your decision, and let us know what you decide!

  • Just wanted to take a quick minute to thank everyone that posted....all such great feedback. I wish everyone the best on their recoveries. Hglandc, you offered more information and explanation, and I can't thank you enough! I believe in success stories as much as I hurt for those that have suffered with failed surgeries...I want to make sure I do my research and weigh the pros and cons...I feel I have a little bit of time, but am afraid to wait too long..just a little more than a week since my last ESI and the pain is creeping back...deep in my hip and today my knee and shin are really sore...I still take MS Contin. I am waiting for authorization to see NS that PM doctor put in for...so I will use him as my 2nd oppinion and I am fortunate enough to have a family friend NS (not in my crappy network) that will give me the 3rd and final when its all said and done. My fears are the same as most Im sure...will it be a success or will I be worse off after and of course the idea I wont be able to take care of my kids...dad has left recently on the heels of "pain changes people" he cant deal with me being down and hurt...that has been the hardest thing to handle in this journey, what it has done to my relationship and to my kids...kids are resiliant but when your 7 year old cries out at you that she wishes she didnt have a mommy with a hurt back its heartbreaking....and yes the 2 year old is a challenge....he's 35 pounds and I find myself dragging him around if not picking him up...mostly in frustration...been a rough time, but I believe in happy endings!

    So thanks again for the feedback...I really feel like one of the lucky ones because though my days can be rough...I still see all the good there is to see...I read such heartwrenching posts on here and I get grateful quick!

    A little relief and a little peace...that's all I want and what I wish for everyone!
    3 level fusion L3-S1 July 23, 2012
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