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Anyone regret surgery?

I know I'm posting a lot tonight, but I'm just lookin for support. I had scoliosis of 52 degrees lumbar spine and it was getting worse. So we decided it was a good time to get it done. I had mild to moderate pain prior to surgery with my back... But now it's like way worse and I regret getting surgery and wish I never would have done it. Not only can I not take care of my 3 year old like I want.. I wake up like I'm 90 and throughout the day I struggle. I wish I would have just left well enough alone.
28 F. Chicago. Fusion from t-12 l-4 from scoli in June 2013. Torn bilateral hip labrums. Arthroscopy to fix labrums January 2013 and march 2013. SI pain from hip surgery Lupus, RA, antiphosphidlipid antibody- hypermobility syndrome ( Marfan syndrome)


  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 01/21/2014 - 4:03 AM
    Loaded question

    Hi, this question will get you a whole host of negative replies from people who regret their surgeries, due to the way you asked it. I personally still feel really good about my recent decision to do my fusion, and I am feeling much better.

    I think it might be of some benefit for you to look for positive, proactive support, instead of looking for agreement amongst other people who also feel regret. If you surround yourself with other people who are negative (even over the net), you won't feel better. In fact, you may only increase your unhappiness. Maybe try to find constructive and active ways to reach out for support. Do you feel terrible? Yes. Acknowledge that but then decide to actively reduce your pain.

    I really feel for you as a young mom. I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old, and I know exactly what you meant about waking up "feeling 90" and not looking forward to the day. Taking care of children requires a lot of energy and even an able bodied person gets tired taking care of a child.

    I was able to find relief in therapeutic disc injections, prior to my fusion, and for the first time in years, I could actually play at the playground with my child, instead of sitting on the bench, watching my mother play with my children. I hope you can also find some way to manage your pain that allows you enough pain relief to enjoy your child the way you have been missing.

    But really stay positive. If you continue to try new therapies, you may eventually find something. But staying positive is really important.

    Best of luck
    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
  • I'm going back and forth about this regret now before the surgery (3w) from today. I think the only thing that is helping is I know I've tried everything. I've done the PT, stretches, every pain medicine and none of that helps. I've also tried every SI injection, facet injection, had nerves burned twice (that hurts!) which none of that is good for you. And am finally making the decision to do this. Which everyone has opinions about.

    But I think it is a matter of being positive afterwards. Which I tend to think I'm a positive person, but I will freak about every little negative thing, but I want to be better.

    I know that right now I'm not so positive b/c right now before the surgery I feel 90! I feel like I can't do anything and wear tennis shoes to my professional job w dress clothes and suffer through the day b/c pain meds don't work. So I'm really hoping this is the fix. I'd even be ok w reduced pain at this point. And suffering through a recovery to hopefully be "normal" later.

    But I'm 30 and no kids so I imagine that is hard and frustrating when you have children and you have those responsibilities and feel like you're missing out on things with them.
  • So many people have their own reasons for loving/hating getting surgery done. There are so many variables such as procedure done, level of ability with doctors, not fixing the true reason of pain, being told the truth before surgery, etc.

    That being said, I feel I would be in better health now if I did not have the procedure done. For three months after surgery I felt great! The best that I had felt in a long time. I believe I rushed getting back to work too fast and did things I probably shouldn't have which caused a whole different kind of pain I have now. I feel my surgeon did what he said he would do and I did get the relief he advertised. Albeit, not for long.

    The pain I have now is worse than the pain I had before surgery. Plus, I am much more limited now than what I was before surgery. However, I will not let the pain dictate to me what I'm going to do. I still do as much as I can with my family, go hiking in the Smoky Mountains (which I pay for dearly afterwards), clean the house, walk the dog, etc.

    My family knows that when I'm hurting more than usual I have to back off of activities. They all understand that and help me out when needed. Positive family support is so important. Most people who have a supportive family usually have a better outlook than someone who doesn't.

    I sincerely hope you get to feeling better soon!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Absolutely not. I'm still sore and achy, and definitely not 100%. But SOOO much better than pre-surgery.
    Compressed Discs/DDD - L2/L3, L3/L4
    Major Herniation - L4/L5
    Bulging Disc - L5/S1
    "no healthy 24 year old's back should look like this without a major trauma"
    MicroDisc L4/L5 Nov 7, 2013
  • Yes, I wake up achy and stiff, but I'm only 4 weeks post op. My neck finally feels like it can handle the weight of my head, whereas before, my head always felt too heavy. What I thought were arthritis aches, my ns explained today that it is just the muscles learning how to work the right way. Said my aches are very normal for 4 week post op.

    Prior to having this surgery, I was advised by both my neurologist and my neurosurgeon that if I fall, I could be paralyzed. That reason right there makes me so glad I had the surgery.

    2013-4 Level ACDF C4-C7 herniation with severe spinal stenosis at C4-C5. .Bulging disk at L3-L4, and L4-L5. Herniation at L5-S1. As of 8/29/14 Bulging disc at L2-L5-S1 and disc protrusion at L3-L4.
  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 01/21/2014 - 1:36 PM
    I just had to laugh... I still sport the tennis shoes and professional attire.... not every day, but many.... still, even though surgery didn't help my "style" it did give me a much better quality of life. Not sure when your surgery was, but I know I had months of pain... hang in there.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • I'm so happy I had my surgery. I went from having no life and living on Norco and Neurontin to being a normal 24 year old. I have no back pain and my leg pain is no more than a 1 or 2 out of 10 now. Sure, the first few days after I regretted the surgery, but I followed my surgeon's orders and feel better now than I have in over a year.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • patrain17ppatrain17 Ottawa area, CanadaPosts: 103
    Do I have pain everyday? I sure do, but so did I before surgery. Can I do everything I used to? Absolutely not! But in my case the decision was easy. Not doing anything woul've a meant a slowly painful and boring life because of disability getting worse or a sudden death. Since the surgeries, I've had to learn to live with my limitations and my daily dose of pain, but in return I still can walk and I don't have to worry about anything happening to me that could leave me completely disabled or dead. I didn't have a choice, but I guess things turned out OK. Always being positive is a big part of being happy and well even though things aren't always perfect.
  • garycdewittggarycdewitt Posts: 51
    edited 01/21/2014 - 10:51 PM
    I too don't have many if any regrets about my lumbar fusion(s). The recovery is still ongoing. I'm still having a lot of muscle aches. I can't lift anything. If I stub my toe, the muscle pain puts me on my knees. But, this pain is nothing compared to what I was going through before as a couch potato.
  • I'm about 3 1/2 months postop from a 3 level fusion. I still take a couple of Norco a day, but can sit and stand longer each week. I sat thru an entire restaurant meal last night which I haven't been able to do in years! My best advise is to research your surgeon and get the best one possible. It really makes a difference.
    Artificial disc at L5S1 for 10 years. Had 3 Level lumbar fusion and Laminectomy on Sept 27, 2013. It was an OLIF (Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion) with cages, BMP, rods & screws. Norco, Plaquenil
  • I just wonder if you did too much activity post op. I haven't done a thing and feel great. No regrets, 7 weeks out, off pain meds. My doc insisted this is where people miss the mark. They start feeling great, over due it, then damage it and it never can heal properly then. The 2nd day I was in the hospital he came in and looked me in the eye and said "You look like you're gonna be a problem for me with too much activity- not now, but 2 months out, so I'm telling you DON'T screw this up. You are gonna feel great like you can unload the dishwasher- YOU CAN'T!"

    Guess what? I feel like I could not only unload the dishwasher, but like I can rearrange all the furniture and redo the whole house!! But his stern face keeps popping in my mind and everyday I know I'm getting better...thanks to his direct approach.
    Just turned 50
  • I'm so happy to hear a lot of people on here don't have any regrets!! I guess the difference is, I wasn't dealing with bad nerve pain prior to surgery which makes a difference!! My surgeon is wonderful. Best around I think. He didn't give me restrictions because it seems like the ones who do take it way to easy can end up not doing better too. I also can't sit still. So I am sure I did way to much, but I was told it was fine! I was told that I could even lift my 40lb son after surgery! To do what my body told me. So, all in all... I guess I like the optimism out there.. And having a pitty apert for myself won't get me anywhere. Thanks all for your replies!! Here's to trying to find the positivity in all this!! Everything happens for a reason right?!
    28 F. Chicago. Fusion from t-12 l-4 from scoli in June 2013. Torn bilateral hip labrums. Arthroscopy to fix labrums January 2013 and march 2013. SI pain from hip surgery Lupus, RA, antiphosphidlipid antibody- hypermobility syndrome ( Marfan syndrome)
  • I agree with the majority, The road to recovery may be a little rocky, but I now can walk with out having to stop after 5or 10 minutes. I still have lower back pain and pain in my butt ( and its not my husband!!). I now know that I have to listen to my body and not over work it. Take care.
  • Funny because I was really feeling down today. And when I saw this post I said oh yeah time to have a pity party and cry about how I regret the surgery and am still in pain 2 months after surgery and have been frustrated because I went from a beast working out all the time running around with my wife and kids to a fragile wimp. BUT after reading all of the other comments and seeing how you guys all are so positive and had more "work" done in their surgeries than I did... well I felt kind of stupid and a little cheered up at the sametime so thanks DANIGIRL... I think I feel
  • thoracic spine painthoracic spine pain Posts: 566
    edited 04/01/2014 - 12:06 AM
    I didn't mean to post this on this thread. It was part of another post.
  • My first post and I can already see I'm in the minority re the subject of regrets associated w surgery. I'm 51 years old, single mother to 11 yr old w autism, and we live on a small ( very small ) farm. In Feb of last year I had a two level lumbar laminectomy w instrumentation and a three level cervical diskectomy and fusion - at the same time. Before surgery I had pretty severe pain daily and work just did me in, but at least I COULD work! My functionality is terrible, pain increases w activity, I'm out of money, depressed, in pain all the time. I want my old life back.
  • Sometimes I question it as I still have pain and still take several Norco a day. Right now I have a bad cold and with every sneeze I feel like I am herniating. BUT.......I just went for a long weekend with a bunch of friends to New Orleans. Both days we walked a good part of the day. Once for 2 or 3 miles straight.

    I remember a vacation I took in August. When sightseeing I had to sit every block and standing in line was awful. I had to get up from the table 3 or 4 times at dinner.

    So, no I don't regret it. And I'm sure I'll continue to improve as it's only been 4 months.
    Artificial disc at L5S1 for 10 years. Had 3 Level lumbar fusion and Laminectomy on Sept 27, 2013. It was an OLIF (Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion) with cages, BMP, rods & screws. Norco, Plaquenil
  • im so glad i read all these positive posts. i was/am having a hard time today because im having a rehernation scare (hoping its not) and i really needed to see these posts.... it reminds me of how much pain i was in before surgery...altho im in alot of pain now,i did enjoy the past few weeks of feeling better ;)
  • Does anyone know what the treatment would be for me? Pain for two years. Neurosurgeon appointment on March 3. Nervous. My signature has the MRI results.
    L5-S1 Moderate Sized central disk herniation. Degenerative loss of disk space height.
    L4-L5 Small central disk herniation
    L3-L4 mild diffuse disc bulge
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    edited 02/04/2014 - 4:53 PM
    My surgeries

    • - 4 Lumbar
      - 3 Cervical
      - 2 Complete Shoulder replacements with implants
      - 2 Complete Hip replacements with implants
      - 1 Cataract surgery due to numerous Steroid (ESI) injections
    I needed all of those surgeries. Each one of them corrected a serious problem I had. If I did not have those surgeries, I do not think I would have been physically here to respond to this thread.

    My only regret was that when I was young and foolish, I did not pay enough attention to the restrictions and limitations that the doctors told me about, I did not keep to a healthy diet so as to not add more stress to my spine, and in general I decided that I knew better. If I didnt do all those negative things, would I have had all those surgeries? That is such a difficult question and I doubt if I will ever know the truth.

    But if anything, I can warn others that ignoring what is being told to you to keep a healthy spine, PLEASE pay attention to what is being said.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • dfhughes57ddfhughes57 Posts: 32
    edited 03/16/2014 - 6:59 AM
    I am about seven months post op from a L5-S1 fusion, at this point my pain is worse than prior to the surgery so if you ask me now my answer would be yes I do have regrets. But another 5 months at say 1 year post op I am hoping this will change to no regrets, and that is the problem with you question it depends where people are and at what point they are with their recovery. And remember everyone heals/recovers at a different rate some in 6 months others could take 2 years.
  • And don't want it, but I've read a lot of posts that say that surgery is not done to reduce pain, but to correct a "structural" issue for lack of a better word. I've also read a lot of people did not realize that going in. It seems strange that if you correct the structural issues that you shouldn't expect pain relief. I can't really think of any other surgery you would have where you can't expect pain relief
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • dfhughes57ddfhughes57 Posts: 32
    edited 03/16/2014 - 10:59 AM
    MSG said:
    And don't want it, but I've read a lot of posts that say that surgery is not done to reduce pain, but to correct a "structural" issue for lack of a better word. I've also read a lot of people did not realize that going in. It seems strange that if you correct the structural issues that you shouldn't expect pain relief. I can't really think of any other surgery you would have where you can't expect pain relief
    The residual is caused by the structural problem with the vertebrae, for example a disc pushing on the nerve, the damage caused by this could be permanent or for the lucky ones clear up after a couple of months to possibly years, but the structural problem had to be fixed before it caused even more damage.
  • MSG said:
    And don't want it, but I've read a lot of posts that say that surgery is not done to reduce pain, but to correct a "structural" issue for lack of a better word. I've also read a lot of people did not realize that going in. It seems strange that if you correct the structural issues that you shouldn't expect pain relief. I can't really think of any other surgery you would have where you can't expect pain relief
    I think it's just a way to avoid making promises they may not be able to deliver. Reading this thread and others here it's obvious that surgery relieves pain for some people. If the official goal is to fix a structural problem the success rate is going to be a heck of a lot higher than if the goal is pain relief. Call me cynical but I think this is more about surgeons than patients. Under the new philosophy surgeons can tell people they have a high success rate. For pain relief the figure would be much smaller.
  • Hi

    I missed the post as to just what surgery you had done or your neck or spine. It does sound like you were doing things to soon & over doing it. I can't imagine lifting a 40 pound child after any surgery of any kind. Doing to much to soon may be why your having so much pain. Were you offered physical therapy after your surgery?

    I have absolutely no regrets having this surgery. I was 61 years old when I had the surgery 21 months ago. It was done in two stages, the first front/anterior to put in cages & other hardware in. A month later the back/posterior surgery to put in the other hard ware, pedicle screws, & rods. The hardware is bolted into my pelvic bones. I have a 19 inch scar down my spine, fused from T2 down to S1. If I had not had the surgery, my collapsing lumbar spine would have eventually completely collapsed & I would be in a wheelchair the rest of my life. I had major pain before the surgery & managed on Motrin 800 two or three or four times a day, muscle relaxers as needed at night. Those first couple of weeks were quite rough. I was in the hospital 10 days & a post op care facility for 3.5 weeks. No regrets going to the post op care facility, I know most people do not want to go to one. If your insurance will cover it, I recommend going as they are trained to help you. You have care around the clock. You do not have to worry about getting your meds on time,they help you to the bathroom, help you shower, bring you your meals etc. You get your daily physical therapy. This makes it a lot easier on you & your family.

    I was told when I had this surgery, not to lift more than 5 pounds the first six months. Absolutely no housework of any kind that meant, dishes, no laundry, no sweeping, no vacuuming, etc...zero housework. You find out pretty quickly they are right you can't do it, it hurts & is uncomfortable. You do not want to do anything to hurt yourself during the recovery time. Picking up a coffee cup hurt my all down my spine. After that six months it was very painful to pick up more than a couple of dinner plates & put them away.

    You get tired easily, this is a big surgery & it takes two years for the spine to fully fuse. You don't want to over do it & hurt yourself.

    I went off the narcotic pain meds at 11 weeks. I did OK, just had to be careful what I did & do my home physical therapy. I got tired easily those first few months, rested & napped a lot. I still get tired even at 21 months post op. I rest off & on during the day. The heaviest thing I pick up is my little old dog to put him on the bed at night...that is uncomfortable sometimes. I avoid picking up anything heavy or moving anything heavy.

    Many people get very depressed after this surgery & that is very very normal. This is something to discuss with your regular doctor. At about 6 weeks post op I would find myself in tears every morning. My daughter, a nurse took me to see my doctor. My doctor said this was totally normal & not to worry about it. That made me feel so much better just hearing that. I was given a prescription for a low dose antidepressant which made me feel so much better.

    Just the past 6 months or so I can manage going shopping with my husband at Costco or Walmart for groceries. I consider this as walking exercise. I do not push the cart if is more than half full & has heavy things in it. My husband loads the groceries & brings everything in the house & helps put it all away. This usually does me in for hours or the rest of the evening. It can be quite exhausting.

    I no longer have the pain I had before the surgery. After the surgeries, it took some time with the recovery, I am at zero pain from the surgery. If not for the arthritis & plantar fasciitis I would be pain free. The only time I can say that I really have pain is if I lift my arms over my shoulders to put something in the higher cabinets or hang clothes in the closet. Or if I do a lot of bending over cleaning house then I get sciatica pain.

  • I have had 4 surgeries within 5 yrs. (2005-2010), fusions, revisions, a fracture, etc.....ending up with 4 rods, bridge, cages, tons of screws...fused from T-10 - L5-S1. I also had a DVT and PE 10 days after surgery, lucky to be alive today.....
    I had such intense nerve pain that was so debilitating that I couldn't lay, stand, walk....I could just sit. Today, I don't have that nerve pain, thankfully. BUT.....I have pain from the waist down, issues with leg weakness, nerve pain in buttocks, pain that goes from buttocks, through hips, thighs, knees. I can't stand for more than a minute, As walking is nothing to so many, getting up and being on the go is normal. For me, I have to think about every step I take. I know if I have to walk for more then 15 minutes tops, I have to take a wheelchair. I can go downstairs but climbing up my legs are so weak. I have pain sleeping can't lay down flat....NEVER. I walk bent over, and a cane is always at my side.
    I'm disabled....not where I wanted to be. But the nerve pain I had before the surgeries were at a very severe level that the surgeries had to be done. Couldn't live with that kind of pain. .. I used to work out 6 days a week, 1+ hrs. a day. Great shape. Today, workouts are slim to nil, the pain controls the workouts. I've gained way too much weight from being inactive.
    In all fairness though, I have to say I have had other issues as well. 25 orthopedic surgeries (includes the back surgeries), shoulder, many knee surgeries on both legs (2 partial knee replacements ), many foot surgeries, 2 plates in right foot. I was told that the reason my back is so unstable is due to Ligament Laxity. I believe this to be true because I literally blew off the back of my kneecap replacement when my leg popped out, and my toes have shifted severely, after trying to correct them surgically have failed.
    Positiveness is the best medicine, but not always there. But again...would I do the back surgeries...Yes, because that nerve pain was so severe I couldn't move......
    I do take pain meds/gabapentin daily round the clock.....
  • Not all back surgery is alike.

    Some back surgery is a slam dunk -- you lifted a piano, and pop - you have a single herniated disk at L5 that is radiculopathatic (it causes a radiating pain down the leg). Surgery is very likely to help the pain.

    Some surgery is necessary -- you have been in a traffic accident, and now have spinal instability from a spondylothesis (discs slipping front to back) of C4-C6 that results in severe cervical stenosis. This surgery is necessary to prevent paralysis.

    Then there's degenerative disc disease. You're 55, back pain brings you to the doctor, and an MRI shows moderate lumbar degeneration at L4-S1. You've been in PT for 12 weeks with little improvement, you're taking Soma and Norco 10 x 4 q day, and you doc is worried about "addiction". Discogram is inconclusive. He recommends discectomy and fusion at these two levels as a pain

    Surgery is not so straight forward in this case. There are still plenty of options not yet discovered, and opiates are still at a low level. The doctor's uncomfortable in writing opiates -- well, there are plenty of other doctors. You're having the pain, not him.

    Let me tell you about me.

    I've had cervical DDD since my 20s, with bulging discs, foramenal occlusions over 90% at some levels, and limped along for 15 years on Tyenol #3 until that pain got worse. I was using 8 Percocet a day, and my doc was uncomfortable with prescribing, when I was evaluated for a 3-level cervical fusion (in 1994 and I was 44 years old) I saw three surgeons. The first two wanted to operate. They gave me a 75% chance of improvement. They wanted to go right away. Eager beavers.

    The third surgeon provided a lot more information. 75% chance of improvement yes. But did I know in that other 25% chance, my pain could worsen? And did I know that within 2 years, I'd have a 90% chance of blowing an adjacent disc? Then I'd need fusion at another level, which would reduce my head movements by 80%. I'd be disabled.

    He told me "if you're having surgery for pain control alone, it was a mistake. Find a doctor who's not afraid to treat pain for as long as you can. If you were 20 years older, he said, at 65, I might consider doing this surgery. Come and see me in 20 years if you need me."

    Well, I haven't gone back. Since then, I discovered the world of interventional pain management -- pain is tolerable with annual or semi-annual procedures, like medial branch RF ablations, stronger opiates, cognitive based counseling, exercise, and a host of other coping mechanisms.

    Surgery is a last resort. It is often irreversible -- there's no going back. Question your doc... why surgery now? Will this help? What will happen if we try more conservative therapies? Make sure that you investigate all avenues of chronic pain relief before you commit to surgery.

  • philnoirphilnoir Posts: 52
    edited 03/28/2014 - 9:00 AM
    Anelsen -- in 1994 I was in my middle 40s.

    You know, with all the state legislatures filing "patients bill of rights" and "pain is the 6th vital sign" legislation in the past decade, it is more unethical NOT to treat pain.

    There are of course many modalities for treating pain, but sometimes opiates are necessary. Any doctor who makes an a priori decision "opiates should not be used for chronic pain" is not being completely honest. I have found that many surgeons feel this way, but enlightened interventional pain physicians don't.

    And, yes, I know I've been fortunate in finding the right physicians. If there's any secret to my "success" in pain treatment over the past 30 years, it has been to educate myself and to treat my physicians as paid consultants who help me determine the proper course of treatment. I always suggest, I always ask questions, I always discuss, and sometimes I argue. It is my right -- after all, it's my life, my body and my pain.

    best wishes.
  • Big Daddy JimBBig Daddy Jim Posts: 10
    edited 03/31/2014 - 12:55 PM
    Not being facetious or anything, but here ya go Surgery or Live with 24/7 excruciating pain only controlled by medication that screws you system up. Uh, I elect surgery. Nice easy answer.

    I have had a left broken femur surgery, ACDF (C5-C7), Laminectomy on my L4/L5, and the other day (last Wednesday) my L4/L5 fused with a degenerative disk. Each and every one of these were painful while getting better, but it's only temporary. I believe, if there is an alternative, rather than legal and/or illegal drugs doing the trick - get the surgery. After reading a lot of these posts on the internet, including Facelift (facebook), those folks will bring you down, scare you into not getting the surgery, therefore remaining in pain for the remainder of your life. Me, I want to enjoy the rest of my life and want to get back into running those marathons (1 year is the goal). I'll be baaaaaaack!
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