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May Need L5/S1 fusion after getting L4/L5 fusion

Hi Everyone,
I am new to this forum and looking for some guidance and information. I had a fusion on L4/L5 in 2007 after 3 prior discetomies on the same level over 3 previous year. Over the past year I have been experiencing worsening leg pain and a few incidents with signifigant back pain. I finally got another MRI done recently which showed the L5/S1 disc herniation that was there previously has enlarged. I went to a phsyicatrist and had one epidural injection done. As I have been this route many times in the past, I didn't have much faith in it but I know how the system works with insurance and things so I have played along. The epidural injections only gave me relief for 3 days, and it hurts like crazy the night of it. The psyiatrist got in contact with my prior neurosurgeon to discuss my case and she called me tonite. To be honest I wanted to go see the neurosurgeon from the beginning to talk to, but in the spine center office you have to go first through the psyiatrist. He remembered me!! He said he can discuss option with me, but believes I will need to extend the fusion to S1! Yikes!!
So my question is to all those out there that have had this done or have had a 2 level fusion. Wandering what it's like, recovery time, mobility after..... All those things. Very nervous, but my other fusion went really well and I was expecting so much worse then it actually was. Thanks to you all.


  • I just had my two level fusion 20 days ago. I had severe problems at both levels and so far, with the exception for the incision and incision-related pain, I dare say that my back pain and leg pain, as I previously knew it, is gone. The operation and 4 days in the hospital (because I had a 360 fusion) were miserable but so far so good. I am fairly active with two young children and with the help of my husband and nearby family, I have been healing quite well.

    The only "problem" I am currently dealing with is bone graft site pain.

    My pre-fusion back pain was also not helped with the traditional ES injections. I'd only have relief for a few days.
    I hope you are able to find support and guidance on this site- it's full of lots of people who have been through a ton of different back/neck surgeries
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • Hi,

    I am fused from L1 to S1 and also have both SI joints fused. Like you I had to have L5/S1 fused. All my fusions relieved the pain involved with them. Recovery is slow and you have to be patient.I returned to work 3 weeks after all my fusions but the SI joints which required me to be partial weight bearing for 3-6 weeks. I was able to return to swimming after my incision healed and that is the best exercise I have found. I am a life long swimmer and the feeling of weightlessness is wonderful.

    Everyone heals at their own rate. Mobility is limited and physical therapy will help with getting back with the correct strengthening and stretching. You know what to expect since you have had other fusions and the need to have a grabber and a safety bar on the shower and everything at counter top level. Forget about wearing socks and wear slip on shoes. Elastic waist band pants.

    Follow your doctors oders. Good luck and let us know how you are doing.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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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
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