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Help! Making the decision on spinal fusion??

For those of you who don't know my story, I am 21 years old and have suffered from spinal issues for almost 3 years. The problem I am having now is a collapsed disc space at L5-S1 that's causing a lot of pain. My leg is losing function and giving out and on some days I use a cane. Last year, I had a discectomy for a severely herniated disc, which seems to be the cause of the collapse. What I'm wanting to know is has anyone had any problems or complications with the fusion? Has it helped you? I know the risks, but I'm just wanting a few personal experiences rather than just reading from a pamphlet or website about it. I want to be sure that I'm not going to regret having this surgery! Tell me all about your experience if you've had one! I would really appreciate it! I see my surgeon Thursday to make the decision and set a date for surgery if we decide for it. My surgeon thinks it will help, but he wants to leave it up to me.

Oh, and I also wanted to know if any of you were able to get handicapped stickers/signs for similar disabilities. If so, is that something my surgeon would be able to do for me? I know I'm asking a lot of questions, but any answers are appreciated! :)
Lauren Davidson


  • I'm 24 and had an ALIF at L4/5 and L5/1 3 months ago. I'm very happy with my decision to have the surgery. All of my pre-op back pain is gone and I only have some minimal leg pain left. I can walk a few miles a day or ride a recumbent bike for 8 miles, which I never would have been able to do prior to the fusion.

    You may be able to get a temporary handicap sticker for while you recover, but I'm not sure a permanent one would be necessary. I purposely park as far away from the store as I can because walking is the best thing to do when recovering from spine surgery.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 02/12/2014 - 4:29 PM
    I was bone on bone at two levels . I had a decompression as well as fusion at L4-L5-S1 seven weeks ago and I'm doing really well. I had so much compression that I was 1.5 inches taller after the surgery! If your issues were like mine, and due to the bone on bone issues as well as bad discs, you may benefit from the fusion. Are you having a decompression as well? I am 34 by the way.

    My surgeon has a policy where he will NOT approve any disability permits so I knew it wasn't an option. However, I work for a very large company and was approved for on-site medical parking when I return to work, for the first two months I'm back. They don't want me slipping and falling on ice, so they're partially covering their own butt, but it's fine with me!
    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 glad the surgery helped you! I'm pretty sure I've decided to have it. I think we're setting the date tomorrow. I was just worried because I've heard stories of people getting fusions and then just having to have surgery after surgery. So I just needed to know that there are success stories lol
    Lauren Davidson
  • Yeah, it's basically bone on bone back there. He did say I also show signs of degeneration. I'm going to talk to him tomorrow, but I may as well have the surgery for the hope of it working. I can't live like this my whole life!
    Lauren Davidson
  • Successes are out there, but the failures are usually easier to find because those folks are louder. I also worried about the possibility of having to have L3-L4 fused in the future, but I've also heard some people have been able to defer additional fusions by taking great care to lift and bend correctly and alter their lifestyles. I'm going to take each day at a time and cross that bridge if I need to. I hope you are able to get some relief-
    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
  • Hello!

    I am 26 and had a fusion at 25-- great decision for me. I had a fracture and a herniated disc and my left leg was pretty much hopeless, I couldn't straighten it, the pain was unbearable and it would give out at times. I did not want to undergo a spinal surgery at my age but there was no other choice- I needed it! I feel so much better and although I still have pain at times it is nothing in comparison to what I had before the surgery.

    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
  • I had a tlif in July 2013. I have a lot of pain issues, but my surgery forbit's intended purposes worked. I had a 6 month temp parking tag, I just now got a 5 year renewal. I use it most of the time because it is so cold and icy here in ny. My biggest struggle is fatigue. I cannot shake the fatigue and have to decide for myself what I can spend my energy on.

    I really did not expect to be on pain meds this long or for my body to still be weak. I returned back to work at 3 months due to disability cover ending. I do not consider myself a surgical failure.
    40 year old mom
    Tlif July 18
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