I am a 45 year old female with back issues. I had ACDF surgery on March 11 to much success. The pain that was in my shoulder and arm has gone away and I was very happy with the doctor, a neurosurgeon.
While my neck and arm had become a big problem over the past year or so, my main pain issue has always been with my lower back. For the past 15 years or so I have had pain in my lower back gradually increasing to the point where I can't really do anything without aggravating it. I can't sit in a regular chair- because my butt bone (for lack of a better word) hurts so much. If I garden (light weeding or raking) for 15 minutes I feel very bad pain and have to get in the recliner. Occasionally I have that very sharp pain in the center of my butt that goes down into my leg. Once or twice a year my back "goes out" where I can't stand upright at all for a about a week.
I had my neurosurgeon look at the MRI from my lower back during my last visit and he said he could do the same thing to it that he did to my neck: fusion. He immediately picked out the problems area L5-S1 and explained what was going on.
I was a little bit taken aback as when I originally got the MRI two years ago, my doctor at the time, an orthopedic, said just to keep an eye on it and acted like it was no big deal. My neurosurgeon suggested that he take x-rays during my next appointment to see if there is any change from the past MRI. He wanted to schedule another MRI, but I want to cut down on costs.
At first I was thinking, "no way, no how." But after his news sunk in, I started doing research and the possibility that I can be pain and narcotic free within a few months is very appealing.
I have been taking narcotics, off and on, for about seven years now for lower back pain and am tired of being on them. I have had PT and saw a chiropractor with no relief. Soma and Norco is all that provides some relief. I've tried to stop taking them all together but the pain is just too bad. I can't tolerate steroids so have never gotten the shots.
Right now I am in a *good* situation to have additional surgery (deductibles have been met and I have already gone through all the requirements for short term disability). I am a high school teacher, and I've been thinking, heck, go ahead and do it. I can return back to work second semester (start of January) and will be pain and pill free.
BUT I know it's all not that simple. I know there are no guarantees but from what I have read, if the surgeon can accurately pinpoint the causes of pain, there is a much better chance of a successful outcome. I do trust my surgeon, but of course they are making a ton of money on every procedure.
What are your ideas? Recommendations?
My MRI shows bulging, dessication, degeneration, and bone spurs at L5-S1 with a small amount of stenosis. What is your opinion? I value anything you have to share- I have gotten so much useful information from this site and am grateful for your insight.
I'm sorry for rambling- I used to be quite active but every single year I find myself doing less and less and less due to lower back pain. A return to *normal* life would be amazing.
3/11/13 successful ACDF
7/13 inconclusive discogram
Currently in PT for lumbar pain