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L5-S1 Fusion Advice

Hello Everyone!! I am new to this forum but I need some advice. I had a Microdiscectomy in November 2012. My doctor recommended that I get an L5-S1 fusion and Coflex the 2 above. I chose not to do that because I am only 33 years and I am an Officer in the U.S.Army and I am worried this can effect my career. After the Microdiscectomy sugery I felt better and began working out and jogging again in February 2013. I passed my APFT in April 2013 and really felt better. Then in May I went for a 5 mile jog and really starting feeling pain, soreness and tightness, after a few weeks I went back to my doctor and he said to me that I need a fusion and this type of stuff will happen the rest of your live because I have no stability. My discs in L5-S1 are degenerated and the 2 above it are pretty bad as well. The Discectomy was done to relieve a severe herniation that was entangled in my neve causing leg and but pain as well as numbness in my foot. I have a friend who is also a Nurosergon but lives in Miami but she says NO FUSION!!!! I'm too young and that my doctor is just being aggressive. My back always hurts, I cannot play with my 3 year old, I'm going white water rafting and I am nervous. I have an appointment with the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida for a 3rd opinion.

My question.....Will I have a good quality of life with an L5-S1 Fusion? Will I be restricted with working out, playing and rolling around with my kids etc. Can I maintain my level of fitness by the Army standerds with this procedure!!! I am so scared and I don't know what to do!!!! any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!!!


Isaac Figueroa


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • While I can't tell you how a fusion would affect you personally, I am a month out from mine and I expect to make enough of a recovery to still compete at a high level of activity. I should also mention that I am only twenty three so I don't think age is really a factor. It means I have to be diligent about my recovery and I can expect other levels to degenerate in the future possibly. You clearly have two conflicting opinions so its good you are getting another opinion because you don't want to rush into surgery. Your personal situation may be different but it seems to me people with this fusion can live very active lifestyles, and that is what I also hope to achieve. Take care!
  • I actually had a PLIF 5 years ago and have been playing tennis (competitive and social) the past 4 years. Going through with the PLIF allowed me to be active again after suffering from nerve pain for several years. It took a good year to allow full healing and fusion, but that year was so worth it. I am now recovering from knee surgery with a lateral release and hope to get back on the court. Hopefully a fusion will work for you like it did for me.

    Good luck.
  • I had my L5 S1 fusion in June of this year. You can find my post from yesterday and see what I had to say. I think the best thing I did was have physical therapy within 2 days of my surgery. I am 72 years young and I'm doing much better than I thought I would. I had P/T at home for about 6 weeks and also a home health nurse that came as well. All have discharged me. My surgery was both anterior and posterior..The surgeon went in from the front with a neurosusrgeon and thru the back is where he put in the rods and screws. My surgeon also ordered a bone stimulator for me to use 30 minutes a day. I understand that these stimulators are programmed to use up to 9 months. Some people get off them sooner. It depends on how quickly the bone graft is taking and how well the fusion is doing. I walk a lot, do my exercises just about every day. I only have one issue and that is that I sometimes feel that I can tell that there is hardware inside me when I arch the back or turn. Other than that I'm great. I'm seeing my surgeon again in about 4 weeks. Good Luck to youi
  • My suggestion would be to do some research and find out who the best spinal surgeons are in your area, and seek a second opinion. Some doctors are more surgically aggressive than others. However, that doesn't mean that you don't need the surgery that is recommended. I'll be having a lumbar fusion soon, and was also very unsure. Once I consulted with the second surgeon who is amazing, I felt much better about things. Second opinions are always good in cases where surgery is on the table.
    Up coming Lumbar Fusion at L4/L5

    My blog: livingbendy.com
  • I agree about more than one opinion. I had the same diagnosis from 3 surgeons. Two of them I did not have a good feel for but the 3rd I got a good feeling when I saw him, have confidence in his. I also did a lot of research before I chose a doctor to do my surgery. Get 2 or 3 opinions before you decide to have the surgery. My surgeon also sent me for a discogram prior to my surgery. This procedure was in addition to x-rays & MRI's
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