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Spinal Stenosis/ Spinal Fusion

Hi - I'm new to this forum but wanted to get some advice from people who have undergone surgery/ have the same condition rather than doctors.

I'm 32 years old. I have always been very active - run, swam and cycled and have really tried to live a fit and healthy lifestyle. I have always had a little bit of back pain, but put it down to my job (primary school teacher).

Last summer I developed back pain I couldn't ignore, which developed into me not being able to stand for period longer than 10/15 mins or walk for longer than 10mins. This has been ongoing since the beginning of september 2012. I simply adapted my life and cycled everywhere, sat down frequently and gave up walking! Now at times I can't stand for longer than 5 minutes without my leg getting cramp and foot going numb. However, I still ensure the pain and sit down frequently when out and about. Not really what an otherwise fit and healthy 32 year old should be doing...

My doctor referred me to physio with sciatica in October. This did nothing to reduce the symptoms and I went back in January and he sent me for an MRI scan which I had in March. He than rang me the next day as I had 2 slipped dics (L4/L5 and L5/S1) and moderately severe stenosis, they were concerned about cauda equina syndrome. I was then urgently referred to the NOC (Oxford) and saw a consultant last week who has advised me to have a spinal fusion.

This seems like a very drastic surgery! When I look online the posts from the US seem very positive about the outcomes but the UK posts the reverse. I am worried about making the wrong decision. While I can't continue not being able to walk, I don't want to make the wrong decision and not be able to reverse any changes I make...

Any advice would be much appreciated!


  • For what it's worth, I'd suggest getting a 2nd opinion before proceeding. In my experience surgeons tend to err on the side of caution and look for less invasive measures before considering surgery. I myself have had a fusion at these 2 levels carried out mid Feb, and the recovery is taking longer than I had hoped for but is heading in the right direction. Prior to surgery, I took almost 2 years trying less invasive procedures in the hope of a solution.

    Perhaps your surgeon feels surgery is the only solution given your MRI etc, but I think I'd want a 2
    nd opinion to back this up.

    Good luck to you,
  • poissondppoissond Posts: 5
    edited 04/13/2013 - 10:50 PM
    Thanks for your reply!
    That's what I plan to do. My surgeon is getting a second opinion himself as he wanted to speak to someone on his team that has a special interest in younger people developing degenerative diseases (stenosis) and will contact me next week. But I want to speak face to face with this other consultant. I have also been recommended a neurologist which I would like to meet, so hoping for 3 opinions...

    How long did you have to wait for surgery after you decided it was the treatment you wanted? Is 4 months a normal wait time?
    Did you get the low down on the success rates of your surgeon? and the surgery?
    I also wanted to explore other treatments, but have been advised that physio won't have much impact as my stenosis is moderately severe and the discs are pretty destroyed.
    I have already spoken to a highly recommended Oestopath and he seemed to think surgery may be the only solution but will review my back next week. Any experience of oestopaths?
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 04/13/2013 - 11:27 PM
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

    - Detailed medical libraries of Articles and Videos that address almost every Spinal Conditions and Treatment

    - The Wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - Under the Resource tab, there is a section Doctor Advice Health Center which can be invaluable.

    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a Support System. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 International members and growing daily.

    - It is very important to understand the Forum Rules to make sure all of your posts do not violate any of the rules.

    - As a new member, it is helpful to understand the 'makeup' of these forums, how to make posts, tips on adding images and much more. You should read Forum FAQ

    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the Private Message facility to contact any one of the Moderators on my team:
    dilauro , tamtam or liz

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • My previous surgery in 1997 I didn't meet my surgeon until the morning of the operation, it's a long story but ultimately I underwent 4 months of exploratory procedures before an MRI was taken, and received a call from my specialist as soon as the results were reviewed and told I needed surgery and it was scheduled for the beginning of the following week! This time around the decision to proceed with surgery was made after I met with my surgeons colleague who specialises in the more complex, remedial, cases. I met him December 5th 2012, and was told to expect surgery early January. However because I needed to have both surgeons in attendance, it was difficult to schedule and finally surgery took place Feb 16th. I chose my current surgeon after I needed a second opinion, and was given his name by a friend of my wife, who recommended him. There doesn't appear to be much information publically available on specific surgeons and procedure success rates in the UK, however what gave me comfort was that my surgeons colleague who would be assisting in the surgery was recently ranked one of the top 3 orthopaedic surgeons specialising in lumber surgery in the UK in a survey conducted by Tattler. He was also,validated by my physiotherapist.

    I haven't had any experience of osteopaths.

    Good luck with your meetings, I agree it's important to meet face to face and have the opportunity to discuss things at length. Make sure you have your questions written up, it helps when time is of the essence and it is easy to forget things when you feel under pressure.
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