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L5-S1 Fusion vs SCS for sciatica / lb pain

hi everyone,

hoping to get some honest and realistic feedback... I have been miserable with back pain for the past 3.5 years and have been told by a number of surgeons that I need surgery (Fusion at l5-s1 with hardware). I have spondylilosthesis and spondilolysis, and herniated disc at l5-s1. In addition, I have terrible sciatica on the right side and developped Sacroillitis on the right side.

I have tried most conservative treatments- ie: pr, accupuncture, a variety of medications, countless epidurals, transforaminal esi and si joint injections, but had minimal and temporary relief.

I am trying desperately to avoid a fusion as I have been told by many who have had them that they regret it!!!
I also keep meeting people with multiple sugeries and I am worried about this.

I wouldn't be too scared of the decompression but they will only do it in conjunction with the fusion :(
I am not sure if i have many options left.

I have a few questions:

Has anyone (with spondy) tried laser surgery and had any good / bad experiences?
Has anyone used a spinal cord stimulator for sciatica pain as an alternative to fusion? what were the results?
If the fusion with harware, how was the recovery? Are you happy you did it? My ns told me the pain could last for 12 to 15 months!!! IS this your experiece?

How long will I need help to basic things? I have a 3 year old and would need to get help .

i know i am asking a ton of questions but i really need to make a decision..

i appreciate your thoughts.



  • hjbackpahhjbackpa Posts: 1
    edited 08/29/2012 - 10:32 PM
    I have had sciatica for 3 years. I was diagnosed with spondylosis, spondylilosthesis, and disc herniations, the worst one being at L4-L5. I reluctantly had surgery implant done using the TLIF (Transforiminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion) done 2 years ago after an MRI showed severe bulging of my disc at this location. My doctor believed this was the reason for my sciatica and ensured me that the operation would "probably" eliminate the sciatica. WRONG! Following many hours of research, I have come to the conclusion that people with arthritic spinal conditions such as mine probably have multiple causes creating the sciatic problem. One operation may or man NOT solve your problem. Sciatica may be caused by one or several conditions. Three have already been mentioned above but a fourth one is due to Piriformis Syndrome. This is where the piriformis muscle at the hips irritates the sciatic nerve at the buttocks and causes pain along the thigh, legs, and feet. Unfortunately, most doctors will use a step at a time approach, targeting an herniated disc with surgery, without addressing other possible causes. My fusion surgery totally missed the boat because I still have the painful sciatica I had 2 years ago. If you have a fusion done (my included a replacement disc along with hardware and stem cells), you will most likely feel the hardware and soreness that goes along with it for many years as I have. You will have limited flexibility and bending (some physical therapy exercises will help a little but not much). Everyone responds differently to surgery and hopefully you'll have a better outcome than me. There are many alternative options to explore before opting for surgery, such as inversion therapy and natural pain supplements. Unfortunately for many sufferers, the physical damage is too far gone and requires immediate correction (surgery etc) as was my case. I will leave you with one suggestion or recommendation that I probably would have opted for (had I known earlier) in lieu of fusion surgery to relieve my herniated disk. It involves only trimming the disc around the perimeter so that it relieves the pressure on the nerve it is affecting. You may want to consider the Deuk Laser Disc Repair or discuss with medical professionals at the Deuk Spine Institute. Here is a link to one of their web pages...hope it helps:

    Link removed, solicitation not permitted
    Post Edited by The Spine-Health Moderator Team
  • mystim2010mmystim2010 Posts: 4
    edited 09/07/2012 - 8:26 PM
    I had the hole thing done ended up with more back pain and server right leg pain. So the docs decided to install A spinal cord stimulator and it works pretty good for getting rid of my leg pain. But now I am wanting A pain pump for my low back pain. If I were to do this all over again I would have not done the first surgery.
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