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Trying to decide if I should have spinal fusion

Hi I'm new here. Some history, I'm a 39 year old mother of four young ones. I have had back issues most of my life, not too sure how it all started but I have spinal stenosis, sciatica, DDD arthritis.... Had a laminectomy/diskcectomy done, failed back surgery, nerve damage numbness in left leg all of a result of the surgeries. Did the physio, nerve blocks and am on Hydromorph contin, Cymbalta, Lyrica, and Bachlophen. My surgeon now says that i must have a spinal fusion. I am very scared and not sure if I should go through with it, I would like any one to tell me of there experience and if they think it's a good idea to go thru with it. By the way my apologies for all the spelling errors.


  • Wow our medical history is the same. I had the anterior/posterior spinal fusion in 2002. I won't lie to you it was the most painful thing I have ever done with not much relief. It took me over a year to recover and because of the extensive damage to my back, it didn't work. Please get 2 even 3 opinions before you have this surgery. It is a major decision and does effect your life your kids and your future. Do not take this decision lightly. Please make the most informed decision you can!!!
  • and after 15 years and 2 previous operations and many painful procedures and many many pain pills! i decided to {after much talking and should i should i not } have ALIF that's the one where they go in through your stomach /its sounds awful and to be honest if was the most painfullest thing i have ever had done i woke from the operation in agony.and the next 2 weeks were hell i wasn't able to do anything for myself .i was too tired and in pain .its been 10 weeks and the recovery time is very long for a fusion about 2 years .unfortunately my pain has increased and i know its early days i don't hold out much hope for a total pain relief ,,.i have just started swimming and that make its worse but i Ned to do something .physio wise .and swimming is my thing ,a fusion is a massive operation so learn as much as you can about it and then think should i have it done .then find a top end consultant and you will also need help at home for at least 4 months minimum as you wont be able to life bend it .even things like showering will at first make you so tired you wont be able to do anything for the rest of the day .my wife has been an angel and helps me out so much i can't thank her enough .so have a good thing and remember the operation is massive and recovery long and hard so don't expect instant fix ..it wont happen .in fact it may even get worse before it gets better or it may remain the same ..but don't rush in to anything ,.and do t take second best consultant wise .i live in the uk and the consultant i have been using is top end people come for all over europe to see him and his waiting list is over 12 months .he specializes in other consultants cock ups! .lots for you to think about .but remember its your back and a fusion is massive and can go wrong especially in the wrong hands .it took 4 consultant to find the right one to sort me out ,and i am not too happy with the result but i am not a patient person and as i have said recovery is long and very restrictive
    tony {UK}
    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
  • I would get the full story from the dr why he thinks fusion will help, Not always is fusion going to fix a problem,

    I would also get a 2 nd opinion before doing a fusion to make sure fusion is the best option,

    Dr has to give a good explanation why the previous surgery did not help, Often when they cant explain it at times its something totaly diferent then what they assune fusion will fix,

    You always want to make sure another dr agrees because if its fused and it was something other then that level, then you have a biger set of issues,

    Best of luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • I first want to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to offer me your wonderful input. I have been told by many doctors that my surgeon is THE best in the country (Canada)- had to wait three years before I was even able to be seen by him for the first time. He is in Toronto which is eight hours away for me, it will be a nightmare getting home, then I have four little ones at home ( 5,7,11,and 13) believe it or not the younger ones are more helpful, but how am I gonna be an effective mom if I can't even get off my ass..

    The pain is so brutal and the meds only help a little and I'm young so I'm a little afraid of what it all might be doing to my liver and other organs. Want to be able to help my children become the wonderful adults they are gonna be. Soo many emotions Uck, I will take more time to consider this but my doctors are getting a little impatient. I'll keep you updated, and any other impute would be greatly appreciated.
  • I can understand how worried you are about looking after your children if you did have the fusion surgery.

    I don't know if you have Social Services in Canada (like we have here in the UK), but perhaps this is something you can look into to see if there is any support that can be provided while you recovery from surgery.

    Also, do you have family living close by that can help to support and look after you and your children?

    It something to think about while you have the time to investigate what options might be available to you well before your impending surgery (if you have it, of course). Maybe you can be more reassured if your research proved beneficial.
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • Hi,

    I am sorry to read that you are suffering so much.

    I made the decision to have fusion as I was "editing" my life to cope with the pain. Basically I could go to work but not do much else. I didn't go out to eat or the cinema etc as sitting was too painful.

    I came on these boards a lot pre and post op. I felt I had no choice if I wanted my life back.

    Unfortunately I fell into the small percentage of people who have complications. The thing is I was told the risks - you know the drill- so 1% chance csf leak, 1% foot drop etc etc. I did the maths and decided it was worth the risk. But I got an infection and now am in a right old mess.

    I think it is really hard to decide whether to get it done or not. A year ago I was glad I had as I had a really good spell. Now I am not so sure!

    The risks are real, if unlikely. I feel a little bit like the "poster girl" for not having the op!

    There are so many people that have it done and do really well. If you do go for it the advice given above is all really useful. You will have good and bad days and will probably be frustrated with the slow pace of progress.

    I wish you loads of luck and hope that whatever decision you come to it turns out well for you.

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