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Possible Fusion? Need Advice...

edited 08/17/2012 - 12:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My pain started in 2008, all of a sudden out of know where my back was hurting constantly on a daily basis. In 2008 I was 21, years old working a desk job, so I wasnt sure how or what caused my pain to have such horrific and excrusiating pains. I started with a chiropractor, which ordered the mri's after I insisted because the pain wasnt getting better, Then i was told I have buldging disc and annular tear in L-4 -L5 and S-1 and then on to physical therapy for about 3-4 constant years (because I wanted to make sure I did everything I can to stay out of surgery). After 2 years in 2010 of that not working I was sent to pain management because the pain was so unbearable and nothing was helping me, and for 6 months I was given several different pain narcatoics which just made me sleepy and sluggish , not to mention it did nothing for my constant back pain.I then tried epidurals that were injected into my spine 2 times and did not help, and I tried facet block injections as well, At the same time that my back pain, was going on, I was also getting really bad cervical neck pain and constant headaches and migranes everyday for the last 4 years, my health was getting worse and worse. I was trying Acupuncutre which didnt work, and I also started getting massage therapy which helps the most. In 2011 I was considering surgery because nothing was helpping, At that point I was getting worse and in constant pain in a daily basis. the pain felt like stabbing and pins and needles through out my whole back especially in my neck and lumbar area. I started getting sciata and numbing and tinglings in my toes as well. The surgeon wanted to get some new mri's which I was told i have a bulding disc in my C-6(other not so great news) which is explains my headaches and neckpains. In 2012 (currently) The surgeon I saw ordered a discogram to find the problematic disc, thats causing the severe pain. I was told after the results that i need a 2 level fusion L-4-L5 AND L-5-S-1. The doctor did say Artifical disc replacement is superior to a fusion but, that fusion are proven to be just as good or even better, due to the Artifical disc replacment is current not approved by the FDA. so the insurance companies dont cover that, only fusion surgerys. At this point my next and final step to this journey is to decide what Im going to do, I have and appointment on 9/5/2012 with Dr. EDITED which is one of the top Spine Surgeon in Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, Ca (He is the one recommending this surgery), at the appointment I will decide on a surgery date. Im very scared because im only 26 years old. Im at the end of my road, Im depressed all the time and its because of the pain and me being unable to function in life, or live a life for that matter. I know Im young but I think Im going to go through with this, especially since my insurance will cover it, and wont cover the other surgery.

I also heard of this laser spine procedures, that are less invasive surgery, Has anyone heard of that?

Any suggestions or advice would greatly be appreciated.I could definitly use some

Post edited to remove name of medical professional and or facility. by The Spine-Health Moderator Team


  • saltzworksssaltzworks Posts: 1,031
    edited 08/18/2012 - 2:03 PM
    There is hope.

    I was terrified of surgery. After years of avoiding it, I finally went under the knife. Now, I have my life back. I won't sugar coat it, it takes dedication to healthy eating, following exercising guidelines and a vigilant watch on exactly how much pain medication you really need (it is SO easy to get in the habit of needing it-- you don't even realize until you are off them) -- it took me 2 years of struggling until I finally felt that I had some of my old self back.

    You can do it. Get the best surgeon you can, expect a slow recovery, and stay positive.

    Good Luck
  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 08/19/2012 - 12:37 AM
    Hi. You have a lot of choices to make, ask the doctor what he suguest and why. I may be wrong but it looks like the less invasive surgery is a cheap fix and my have to be redone later. The full fusion of L4 L5 and S1 is not a bad surgery to go through with good results, I still have pain but waited 30 years taking vicodin and SOMA for several weeks over the years so I could back to work.
    ASK Doc what he wants to do and why plus what hardware so you can look up the hardware for failed.programs
    Ask doc if you do a fushion if he will cut your hip or use a donor bone. Many people that had their own harvested have pain in the hip area. I used a donor bone because I all ready have the good old arthritis.
    Ask about down time and limits af movement
    Ask where you can do PT also I don't know if you live close to them or is travel going to be a problem
    Even that it looks like you are gong to a place that was on my list I would still go get a second opinom
    My second opinion saved my arms legs and breathing.
    Good Luck. If I can help you any at all let me know

  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 08/19/2012 - 1:05 AM
  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 08/19/2012 - 1:57 AM
    i can give you my opinion based on my story ,i have had three operations on my back and countless procedures ,i have had a laminectomy the a redo of laminectomy plus a discectomy .all at L4/L5/S1 this is all in 15 years.anyway come the last operation before the fusion about 5 years ago .they made a mess of it and for 5 years my life was turned upside down and i have lasting permanent problems due to poor quality surgery .so much so that 4 consultant refused to operate on me ,eventually i found a consultant that deals with people that no other consultant want to deal with .he is a renowned consultant and people come from all over the world to see him he had a 12 months waiting list just to see him for an initial consultant in than another 12 months to get in to theater .so it all began i wanted ADR but after a discography my spin was so badly damaged that a ALIF was the only option .{i was 5h177i4g myself ! ..} as ALIF is major that's where they go in through the front .its the best way for the consultant as he/she has a better view of the area to be operated on .so come the 29 dec 2011 it was my turn and i was in bits !!! .i had my ALIF and woke in agony because i already take massive amounts of oxycontin and oxynorm .but after 3 days of hell i was settling down then 4 days later i was allowed home .luckily for me my wife is a nurse of 30 years so i was looked after very well plus over the years we have purchased things like a rise and recline recliner an electrical adjustable bed and a floor level shower and a downstairs toilet so we hate things in place to facilitate my recovery .the first 6 weeks i was so weak all i could o was lay on my recliner with 4 pillows strategically placed to keep me comfortable .i was very upset and would cry at anything and was very easily defeated.even shaving was a mammoth task .my wife was there to help with everything and for that i can't thank her enough.its been nearly 9 months now and i am still in pain {please remember that a fusion is wont to stabilise the spine and NOT for pain relief ....any pain relief is a bonus}
    i am still on loads of pain killers and sleep is a no no .i have just ordered a new octaspring mattress they are memory foam springs of various density rather than a solid lump of memory foam .life is not the same post ALIF or PLIF as a fusion take around 12 to 36 months to recover from and be as good as you will ever be .{....some people will heal quicker than me } .to conclude ////.yes ALIF is hard work and recover is long and hard .ADR is also hard work and you may not be suitable .all i can say is what every you do make sure that the consultant knows his her stuff very well as one slip up and your life is ruined .so do your home work .good luck i will answer any question should you wish to contact me
    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
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