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Has anybody had this happen

Had a L4 L5 fusion about 5 years ago which seems to have failed. In chronic pain 24/7. Had an EMG done and the doctor said I have nerve damage at L5 that is "old" damage. Can they do anything for this? Going for MRI next week.


  • a fusion ever complete or do you and the doctor assume it had fused? I have not heard of anybody have a fusion fail once x-rays and CT scans show that there was a fusion.

    The next step is to look for a reason why it didn't fuse and then have a revision surgery to get it to refuse. It is usually a more involved operation and a lot of times done as a 360 where they go in from both the front and back to stabilize the spine.

    Not what you were probably hoping to hear. Your doctor will be the one to make the final decision on what needs to be done and how he/she is going to do it. It may be that one of the upper or lower levels has failed which is somewhat common for fusion patients.

    Good luck.
  • Hi Bkins,
    Thanks, for the info but to clarify the fusion did not fail, the neuroligist feels that the surgery may have failed. The last MRI is showing that the pain might be coming from 5 differant places and thats why the EMG. Looks like the likely souce is from the damaged nerves at L5.
    Thanks again.
  • Hi Bob,
    It depends on what is causing the old damage. If it is where the nerve root exits and is compressing the nerve, then they may be able to move the bone overgrowth or remove the facet by doing a hemilaminectomy or laminotomy to remove the compression. Whether or not the nerve will recover is anyone's guess. It will depend on what is causing the compression, how long it has been there and whether or not it is a minor thing or if there is more extensive damage.
    Nerves regrow very slowly, so it could be some time before you see any improvement in the symptoms.
  • I think your explanation makes sense. The doctor did mention some of those long words that nobody understands except a doctor. Bitateral LR moderate chronic L5 radiculopathies. Hopefully a new MRI will show something and somebody will hopefully be able to help me. As with many people on this forum, being in pain 24/7 for MANY years is no fun. After awhile is sure takes a toll on your body and your mind.
    Thanks again for your input.
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