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L5 disc fusion surgery

Duke123DDuke123 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Chronic Pain
I am 45 years old and while working developed a bad pain starting in my low back, coming around my hip and into my groin. I also had mild numbness and tingling in my left buttock and down my leg a little.

After an MRI it showed I had a L5 S1 disc herniation and L4, L3, L2 were bulging. I had the surgery for the L5 S1 disc herniation after physical therapy and rest did not work.

At first I felt better. I went back to work after 5 weeks and worked half days. I stand on my feet all day, after 4-5 weeks I started to have bad back pain again.

I went for another MRI it showed some scar tissue around the L5 S1 nerve root and some more pulpus leakage from the disk. My Doctor made it clear that the nerve will affect the tingling and numbness down the leg and does not cause back pain. He said that my next step would be either an epidural into the L5 S1 area or a disk fusion surgery.
I am scheduled to have the epidural done.

My questions are If the nerve causes more of the numbness and tingling than the pain in the back should I have had the first surgery?

If I had a fusion surgery what are the chances of the disc above the fused discs to herniate?

What are the chances of this epidural working?

Any advice or questions to ask my Doctor would be appreciated.

Thank You


  • a good consultant will do a discography to check that the discs above and below are suitable and will support the relevant hard wear .you may need more doing than you think if the L2/L3 are not in good shape .before my ALIF i had a CT scan /various bloods and a discography {discographies are not a pleasant procedure by the way} and should you need a fusion .....again ...they are massive surgeries and recovery is not a quick fix ..so bear that in mind and allow many months to recover ,,i am 4 months post op and still have a long way to go ...best of 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
  • Obviously I can only speak from my own experience, but I would try all/any conservative treatments (like epidurals, nerve ablations, discograms etc) first. Make sure all investigations are carried out to pin point the exact cause of your back pain.

    Epidurals are very effective although they can take a couple of weeks to 'kick in'. My first one gave me pain relief for 4 months and was brilliant. However, it only succeeded in masking the problem and further treatments were not so successful. Having an epidural will hopefully buy you more time for things to settle down and the disc may then be able to repair itself.

    It could be that your work and/or home activities might be exacerbating your condition, so it may be prudent to tackle some areas with this in mind, i.e. obtaining a good ergonomic chair, ensuring you lift objects correctly (or not lift heavy objects at all), not sitting for long periods without getting up and walking around for a few minutes etc.

    If your employer has their own Occupational Health Team, perhaps you could be referred to them for further advice and assessment? Making adjustments at work can go along way to protect your spine for the future.

    Only after everything else has been tried should you consider having fusion surgery. As Tony said, it is a very invasive procedure with [usually] a long recovery period afterwards.

    Of course, this is only my opinion. If you have specific questions or concerns, perhaps your health professional could advise you. Maybe they have pain management sessions you could attend that enables you to deal with the pain more effectively?

    I hope your epidural is successful - perhaps you'll let us know how you get on.
    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 there, I had lumbar surgery too and I am 8 weeks post-op. I was reading your post and I can relate. The thing you said about having the surgery or not is tough to say. Surgeries can cause other pain and obviously you were having pain that the surgery fixed, and now there are new pains which is a new concern. Its impossible to be sure if the operation will cause more disc problems, but its quite common for short term issues to develop.

    I had leg pain caused by the surgery that I never had before and that was scary. Through a lot of icing and walking I got the swelling down which in turn made the pain go down. Today I feel pretty good and I think at this point my main issue remains weakness is my lower back. I continue to do pt, and take medications which help.

    I recommend you use ice a lot, and try to remain positive. Good luck and take care.
    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
  • Hello

    Thanks for everyone's input. Just an up date went in for an epidural shot.
    This was not a big deal at all. Took about ten minutes and drove myself home.
    I am about three weeks out from having the shot done and I feel pretty good.
    I have been back to work for two weeks and really, surprising to me, don't have to much pain.
    (As I am writing this I think do not jinx yourself.)
    So far so good. watching what I am doing, lifting, bending, etc.

    Thanks again for your thoughts
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