It has been 3 1/2 years since I had l4 - s1 spinal fusion. The surgery went perfectly and recovery was fairly easy. I have had no pain in that area since the fusion took. I was told by my doctor that I could return to normal activities within reason. I am 53 and walk regularly and take Zumba twice a week. I do not jump or move as much as some of the other people in the class but am able to raise my heart rate while still having fun. A couple of weeks ago I was puttering about the house when I felt something happen in my lower back. Within 24 hours I was laying flat on the floor in extreme pain and unable to lift my left leg without assistance. I had an MRI and the result is a herniated disc between l3-l4. After 6 weeks I still have leg pain on the inner thigh and numbness around the knee but it is alleviating and working its way back up my leg. I had a cortisone shot into the affected area last week to no avail. Because of the hardware in my back right below the disc, the doctor was unable to inject directly into that area. He injected into l2-l3 with the hope that the medicine would trickle down. It did not work. I am now in physical therapy.
My doctor has assured me that the herniation will eventually go away and chances of it happening in that spot again are very slim. He has not considered surgery at this time and said he would not even consider it until 11 weeks and no lessening of the pain.
My physical therapist has a different view on the situation. She has said that the herniated disc is a common event on people who have had the same surgery as me because of the limited flexibility in the area below the herniation. There is extra stress placed on l3-l4. She also said that even if this does go away, chances are very high for more herniations and eventually I would need surgery. The surgery would most likely be a fusion of l1-l4 because the herniations would work it's way up my spine If they were going to do a second surgery they would do l1-l4 so they would not have to go in and do it a third time. She said that at that time my ability to bend over and tie shoes and similar actions would be extremely limited.
Has anyone else experienced the same situation as I and what has the future brought them. Right now I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Do I keep going on with my life thinking if I move this way or that I will have another herniated disc or do I believe my doctor that I should be able to go on as before and as long as I stay healthy and keep a strong core I will have little or no risk of a herniation? I would love to hear from people with the same situation.