I've been reading the forums here for many years, but am a first time poster.
I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease at L5-S1 and left leg radiculopathy in 2008. After a year of trying other treatments (medications, PT, ESIs), I had a left L5-S1 laminotomy and partial discectomy in July 2011. The radiculopathy improved after my surgery, but my back pain remained the same.
In November 2011, I had a recurrence of left leg radiculopathy and began having some changes in sensation in my right leg as well (I frequently have a place on my left knee that feels wet/cold to me). I had a followup MRI in January, which showed further collapse of the disc space and reimpingement of the nerve root. At the time, my surgeon recommended pursuing a fusion and my pain management doctor recommended either a spinal cord stimulator or the fusion- she said she was on the fence about which.
Over the past week, I have developed further changes- I felt something move on the right side around that level when I bent over followed by intractable pain (different than usual) and muscle spasms for the past week and am now on a Medrol Dosepak.
I've spent the last few months trying to decide if I want to pursue a fusion. I have worked as a medical transcriptionist for several spine surgeons and am pretty well versed in what the procedure entails. A lot of what I hear, though, is about patients who have severe ongoing pain and difficulty.
To sum it up, I'm just wondering if there really are people out there who have good success with the fusion. I, of course, would love to have reduced pain and increased function; there are dreams that got put on hold when all this began, but I am so hesitant because of all the negative results I hear of.
Anyway, I'd love to hear from anyone who has had a good result and considers themselves a success (which no doubt is a lot different than a surgeon's definition of success!)
I thank you for your time and input.
L5-S1 degenerative disc disease/left leg radiculopathy
Laminotomy/partial discectomy July 2009
L5-S1 PLIF December 2012