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New and waiting for medical clearance

Hello, I am a former spectator on this site who just joined because if I successfully pass my medical clearance pre-op evaluations, I will have surgery on Oct. 18. I am 61 and was first diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis two years ago. Conservative treatment (I.e., non surgical) failed to improve my level of function and I was given referrals to neurosurgeons. It took almost a year for me to muster the gumption to follow through with them. My latest MRI shows severe stenosis at L4-L5 only, with "redundancy of the cauda equina, reflecting the degree of severity." I am not completely sure what that means and plan to ask at my next appointment but I suspect it's not a good thing. Grade 2 spondylithisis (spelling?) was also noted and plain flexion-extension X rays confirmed movement of L4 on L5, so along with a decompression laminectomy at that level, fusion with instrumentation was recommended. I have fair pain control with Celebrex, Aleve, and/or Tylenol extra strength; what I take largely depends on what I think my stomach can tolerate that day and how much I think I will have to be on my feet. I cannot stand still upright for much longer than a few minutes without mounting pain and my ability to walk varies but has slowly diminished over the past year. I have minimal sensory symptoms, only transient pins and needles either on the outside of my right calf or sometimes on the tops of my toes, but what finally pushed me to pick up the phone and make the neurosurgeon appointment was a progressively worse feeling that my legs were no longer going to support me and sometimes stumbling when I did walk, when there was nothing to stumble over. While I don't yet have a visible foot drop on close neurological testing, I did have "signs of denervation" on my EMG's two years ago and after getting the results of the latest MRI (August 2013) I was told that repeating those now would likely just be a waste of time and money because it would not add anything to the indications for surgery, which were felt by both neurology and neurosurgery to be unequivocally clear. I do have some concerns that my PCP does not fully grasp them, however. She cleared me without a hitch when I had knee surgery several years ago but now she has punted me to a cardiologist. I'll be posting a separate thread seeking input from other people on their experiences with the pre-op work-up; I just wanted to introduce myself and express my appreciation for all the on-the-fly education I've been able to absorb as a lurker on this site. I'm a little nervous about the problems many people report after surgery but what keeps me moving forward with this is a fear that if I don't do anything now under controlled conditions, I will find myself having surgery under more urgent or emergency conditions when the remaining space in my spinal canal is finally obliterated. My neurosurgeon says right now I only have 15% of the normally available space left and advised that I would have to have surgery sooner or later. Sorry this is so long!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 09/25/2013 - 8:40 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

    Here are some you should take a look at:
    Read before you post
    Tips for Newcomers
    Understanding the rules

    All of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

    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:






    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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