I am writing as I would like the honest opinions of those that have undergone lower lumbar fusion to see if its worth it. I am 32, I was scheduled for a microdiscectomy but ended up having a laminectomy almost 5 years ago. It was not successful, there were surgical complications including a surgical error which resulted in damage to my left leg S1 nerve which resulted in major calf atrophy and I can not go on tip-toes on left foot.
I like many of you suffer with back pain, but my question is what level of pain or lifestyle is considered normal to justify a fusion?
It seems like i have forgotten what pain free is but I am honestly unsure about getting a lumbar fusion. I have over the last 2 years been to doctors and specialists and found a surgeon I feel comfortable with. He has suggested a fusion at L6-S1 (L6 is not a typo, i have an extra disc / vertebra). The thing is, I read through these boards and it almost sounds like every fusion ends in disaster with little or nothing show for it and most are worse off for having it done.
On my worse pain days I wonder what its like for those that live this daily to get any enjoyment from life, I realise there are those that suffer far greater than I do and my heart goes out to them. In my situation I am really just trying to gauge if surgery can bring about a degree of improvement in my life based on the experiences of what others that have been through it. I will say why i am apprehensive about undergoing the surgery.
I manage without taking painkillers everyday, I live a very sedentary lifestyle and through hot baths and ice packs, I can manage most days. I rarely take medication, usually panadol couple times a week as voltarol destroyed my stomach. Recently I have been taking Carisoprodol. Tramadol and Lyrica if I have a bad bad night to get some relief. The pain comes and goes in waves. Symptons shift from leg to leg, its hard to gauge in the left leg as the offending nerve is damaged so pain manifests itself in some kind of bizarre electrical shocks. In the right leg from time to time sciatica along the S1, weird slight burning sensations in feet at night, over the past 6 months a constant back ache (not debilitating but I am going to get very medical here) the disc rupture liquid is leaking into the vertebra and the vertebra has started to go soft. The Dr. said there is instability but not clinical instability. Eitherway looks like at some point in my life I will need the surgery or something similar.
So if your were in my position ( I realise this is hard to answer if your symptoms are far worse) with a level of pain that is manageable through a limited sedentary lifestyle, when necessary medication, the looming prospect of pssible surgery anyway would you do the surgery now or wait till the last possible moment?
Has anyone has a fusion that has improved their lives or are they just to many problems associated with the operation, equipment inserted, screws etc etc to make this worthwhile?
Any experiences or guidance welcome ;-)