Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Am I crazy to want more surgery?

OK, I have had 3 separate back surgeries and 1 spinal cord stimulator implant surgery. I still have pain from my back down my left leg to the toes and across the top of the foot. I have approached the neurosurgeon about not being able to return to a full level of work. I am good for about 4-5 hours a few days a week. Its hard to know which days when it depends so much on the level of pain from the day before and how that impacted my ability to get to sleep before 3 am, when I think I have taken so many meds my body just gives up the fight and lets me go to sleep.

Before my disability coverage ends, I need to be able to make a living to cover our family bills. I can't do that the way I am now. The doctor has had me try transforaminal injections, facet injections and now a SI joint injection, all since November. I feel like a pin cushion. Oh, did I mention the EMG and nerve conductions studies too...

Next up is a myelogram to see if they can pippoint which nerve is still compressed. MRI is out because of the SCS. Add to all this that I was told in the last appointment that I am not fused L5-S1...nice bone growth L3-4 and L4-5 but not L5-S1...

Am I crazy or is not maybe the lack of fusion at L5-S1 behind the pain? Shouldn't they try to fuse it again? The hardware can't last forever. Someday it will give out and I will be worse off than now. So why not fix that now rather than later?

I know its a personal decision. I am talking with my doctor. But I would like my spinal buddies out there to chime in. Anyone out there living with hardware only holding the back together? I am going insane with thinking it out in my head...I need some different thoughts please.



  • Stacy:

    I don't believe you are crazy to want more surgery, because that is not your end objective. You want pain relief and a somewhat resemblance of normal life.

    The same question has bounced around my hollow mind. Am I just attracted back to the surgery room because I have some "disturbed" notion that it was a positive experience? Crazy logic. I am after a solution.

    Our situations are similar. I had a two level TLIF (L4-S1) in Jan 2011. My first postsurgery xray showed immediate and good bone growth. However, after about 6 weeks my pain returned and has steadily increased. I have undergone all the tests and treatments, to no avail. Finally, my last xray showed a halo so now my hardware is showing signs of fatigue and my fusion ceased to proceed. My surgeon has hinted that I was a nonunion since Oct 2011, but I did not want to accept that diagnosis, nor the remedy. I have changed my mind. My ability to work is seriously comprised; my quality of life is just above zero; and my mobility is very limited. As you stated, on some days (who knows when or why) you just can't function.

    My pain is not nerve related. Mine is a persistent ache that always remains in my lower back, but will gradually extend down both legs. I literally feel as if I have bone on bone grinding in my spine. In my opinion, I need the assistance of a carpenter (ortho) instead of an electrician (neuro).

    So, in mid May I will have the old removed and new inserted. On the next day I will begin to wear both a turtle shell brace and a bone growth stimulator. I did not have to wear a brace the first time, but I did wear the BGS 9 months post fusion when things began to indicate a problematic fusion. No doubt about it, this summer I will experience global warming inside my shell.

    Don't question your "need" for intervention. Place all options on the table - literally and figuratively. Good luck. It's a tough place to be. I know because I am there.

  • StacyAnnSStacyAnn Posts: 50
    edited 03/03/2013 - 8:43 AM
    Hi Jim,

    So is your new surgery going to be done by an orthopedic doc then? I do not envy you having to wear the turtle shell this summer, but its a small price to pay if it gives you a better chance at a good fix.

    I too have the "fix it" attitude. I cannot accept the "you are stuck with what you got," not that that is how anyone is exactly putting it but...when you translate it, yes, thats what they are saying.

    We are suppossed to be the most technicologically advanced and most developed nation in the world. How can we be told to just accept pain? And worse than that, now it is going to be even harder for me to get my pain meds here in NY. Now , not only can narcotics be only ordered for a 30 day supply, the doctor has to write a new prescription each time...no refills allowed. That is going to be a royal pain in the a** as my neurosurgeon requires (maybe this will change) a visit before any med renewal and he is an hour away! Because narcotics have been overused and abused, the people who really need them will suffer.

    I know that my pain situation is not as bad as some others here on the Forum or across the world. I keep praying for an answer for us all.

  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 03/03/2013 - 3:14 PM
    No, just kidding. I hope you are able to find some answers and resolve the pain soon. And Florida already has the law that you have to have a paper copy for schedule 1 drugs anyways, the doctor can't call them in to the pharmacy. Also another "hurdle" is that say the doctor orders 40 pills for you and the pharmacy only has 30 you can either take the 30 and loose the ten or wait for them all to come in, but you can pick up the 30 and go back later to get the 10. so rediculous....
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Stacy et.al:

    I live in Tennessee. My narcotic prescriptions must be picked up by me and physically taken to the pharmacy. Amount of prescription does not exceed one month. However, my surgeon still prescribes for me and my cycle for visiting him is about every 60 days, so I guess he remains in compliance with the DEA, whomever.

    After my revision surgery I hope that I do not require the use of narcotic meds, but if I do then I will most likely fall under the medical supervision of a PM doctor. From there the rules may change.

    All I know is that I am growing weary from my chronic pain and I have finally conceded to another surgical intervention. Would sure be happy, even estatic, if a medical practitioner pulled a "pain relief" rabbit out of a hat. Not necessarily his/her hat - just anyone's hat.

    Life can be very challenging at times and chronic pain makes it even more so challenging!

  • I don't think it's crazy at all. However, most surgeons will tell you that with a fusion you have a 50/50 chance for success (pain reduction).

    In my case, the pain I was having was fixed, but unfortunately that pain was replaced with a different pain which was much worse than I was having prior to surgery. I just saw a different Ortho surgeon a couple weeks ago who told me I'm esentially out of luck. There are no surgical interventions that can fix what's wrong with my back.

    There is an article you should read prior to deciding on a fusion; www.spine-health.com/blog/warning-proceed-caution-fusion-surgery

    It's a well written article that presents both sides of fusion surgery. Best of luck to you and I hope you find the solution to your pain!


    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 03/04/2013 - 11:16 AM
    I don't know how long the hardware will hold and I am sure it is different in each case.
    My surgeon though, did tell me at 18 months after my surgery, that I must be fused otherwise my hardware would have either come loose or broken. He may have just been saying that though.

    I was wondering if your surgeon would think it a good idea to wear a bone growth stimulator. I don't really know about them, and they aren't used much here in the UK, but if I was in your position, I think I would ask about one. I don't think it could do any harm and it may help you to fuse.

    Good luck :-)
  • Finally got approval and got it scheduled. I am a bit disappointed that I can't see the surgeon until 2 weeks afterwards because he is booked up. I am not a very patient person.

    I guess somehow the bottom with my history is gone so here goes:

    Sept 2009 PLIF L3-L5 with BMP and hardware. Brace for 9 months due to poor bone growth on L4-L5 fusion. Bone stimulator also tried for 3 months.

    Aug 4, 2010 PLIF L4-S1 with BMP and Hardware. Spacer slipped BMP spilled so...
    Aug 18, 2010 Reexploration of PLIF with spacer removed. Brace on 3 months Bone Stimulator 3 months

    Nov 22, 2011 Spinal Cord Stimulator placed for pain management

    The original 2009 surgery was from L3 collapsing on L4 pinching the nerve and my right leg giving out.
    Left leg pain intensified postop 2010 from slipped spacer has also left me with new pain down the left leg, around ankle and across top of foot to the other ankle and with pain out to the toes, and the front outer portion of my calf is numb and/or tingling depending on what I do.

    I was a bedside nurse for 16+ years with multiple injuries. I have degenerative disc disease from top to bottom with bulging disc and osteophyte complexes in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar areas. My neurosurgeon told me I have the spine of a 70 year old...lucky me...but no osteoporosis at least.

  • Finally got the results of the CT scan from the beginning of February...new but not necessarily noteworthy is "minimal retrolisthesis of L2 on L3 measuring 2 mm (above the original fusion) and anterior spondylolisthesis of L4 on L5 measuring 4mm." I do not know when slippage becomes noteworthy...

  • Having an anterior lumbar fusion of L5-S1 on May 7th. NS is going to put in a spacer anteriorly to try to jack the disk space open. The original spacer placed posteriorly in 2010 slipped slightly and had to be taken out 2 weeks later. He said then it was so tight back there with my spine and "high hips."

    We are hoping this will take enough pressure off the pesky L5 nerve and decrease/eliminate? the pain. Here's hoping! Will let you know how it goes.

  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 04/15/2013 - 5:20 PM
    I know you don't want another surgery, but I'm glad you have a doctor with a plan. Keep us updated.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
Sign In or Register to comment.