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L5 S1 Spinal Fusion

I have degenerative disc disease in my L5 S1 disc and my orthopedic surgeon is recommending a spinal fusion. I am in constant pain and need to figure out a solution but this is a big decision.

I am 33, extremely healthy, I still work out every single day as much as I can. Ride the bike at the gym, elliptical, light lifting, etc. My doctor says the fact that I am so healthy and take such good care of myself should make the recovery easier.

Id like to hear from anyone that has had an L5 S1 fusion or anyone that has considered it. Im most curious about the recovery but any additional info would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any input.


  • I would get a 2nd or 3rd opinion, as many as you need to feel comfortable. I just had an L4-L5 fusion at which time my surgeon discovered that sometime in the last decade or two, my L5 autofused itself to my S1 without my knowledge. My surgeon asked me if I had back pain because the disc that should be between L5 & S1 is completely gone (disintegrated) and l5 and S1 are now "1". I replied, "Sure! But so does everyone else!"

    Even with my problems with L4 & L5 that required a fusion, I never really had back pain. I had severe sciatica pain and terrible, terrible, muscle spasms from the nerves being compressed. You and I are young and we only get 1 shot at this short life. Make the most if it and do whatever it takes for wellness.


    quote=westcyde]I have degenerative disc disease in my L5 S1 disc and my orthopedic surgeon is recommending a spinal fusion. I am in constant pain and need to figure out a solution but this is a big decision.

    I am 33, extremely healthy, I still work out every single day as much as I can. Ride the bike at the gym, elliptical, light lifting, etc. My doctor says the fact that I am so healthy and take such good care of myself should make the recovery easier.

    Id like to hear from anyone that has had an L5 S1 fusion or anyone that has considered it. Im most curious about the recovery but any additional info would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for any input.
    L4-L5 Laminectomy & synovial cysts removal 5/2013
    Right total hip replacement 11/2013
    Left wrist basal thumb arthritis surgery 10/2013
    Left total hip replacement 8/2012
    Right Knee meniscus tear surgery 5/2012 & 10/2012
  • I wanted to comment on your post I believe right now being able to talk to someone that possibly might go through or had already gone through what I have and currently still are going through night help me too. I am 37 yrs old and have been married for 20 yrs and have a 15 yr old daughter that luckly I've been able to be a stay at home mom for her from the likes of my wonderful husband that has worked very hard at our business which has put him on the operating table for 2 seperate back surgeries which was the 1st one being a disctectomy and the 2nd was to repair the damage of the first surgeons mistakes. All in all he ended up with 2 level fusion L4-L5 / L5- S1 without the screws and rods his has turned out perfect considering what he can still do every day. We run a landscaping business that requires strenuous labor at times and believe it or not I was the head weedeater I regret the day I ever learned how to do it cause from that day on since I did the trimming so well he wanted me to do it before any of the other guys did it and I hae to say I'm 37 and my sweet husband is 54 and I've watched that man work circles around some of these 18 yr olds we've hired, and not bragging but so could I being a woman and all!!! Lol anyway I know I'm blabbing but getting to my point is I'm a very fit and healthy person never had health insurance till right before my surgery cause I had to get it. I've just never been a sickly person. But this is my story I've raised my daughter to the point in her life to where she wants to get as far from me as she can right now and I saw the opportunity to go back to college and I did. I loved school, well I do now can't say much for when I was my daughters age and in school but I have been going to college for 2 yrs getting all my prerequisites done for my BSN degree in nursing and was doing very well and I had been trying to get into the LVN program while I was taking classes just to get some experience and I was accepted in the program last aug 2013 and was so excited. Everything was just looking up for me and I might be hitting close to the fourties but I love my sports cars and had just bought myself a 2013 6 speed manual chevrolet camaro that I absolutely loved and babied and parked miles away from every store I went to but on Sept 17, 2013 one little 86 yr old lady that didn't yield at her light changed my whole world in 2 seconds I was leaving nursing classes that day and was heading to Wal-mart and wham!! I can tell you what granny was cruising across that loop to he to wal-mart cause she nailed me on the back left side of my car and instead of braking she pannicked and floored the gas and instead if hitting me and spinning me away from her she kept hitting me like a pin ball and hooked my left front wheel and drug me I to another truck head on. I've never been in a wreck and had only had 2 tickets my whole life and was terrified but to my amazement I look to where she was slowly pulling off the road and watched this little white hair lady pop right out of her car on a CANE! I was so upset and disgusted I wouldn't even get out of the car, I kept asking the officer if I could jus pull over on the shoulder like she did so all these people could get out of Walmart and he looked at me and said "Lola your not going anywhere and I told him I was fine to drive just let me get out of the way and yet again he said the same thing and he said for the one reason is that you don't have wheel or the tire on the left front side cause it was broke off during the wreck at that point I was really really scared to even get out and look at the car and to be honest with you I really wasn't thinking of my injuries but I had them. Come to find out I received a concussion and the initial impact from the side had knocked my spine from the L5 vertabra off of the S1 which is my tail bone for 2 months I was waiting on surgery and was not being released from the doctors so I ended up missing over 6 days of nursing school which is over the amount you are allowed and I had to drop the program which devestatsd me more than losing my car or being hurt it was something I had been working on for 2 yrs and now I'm having to put it all on hold untill I'm able to return plus knowing now I'm a liability cause when I do apply for a job as a nurse somewhere how secure do you think they will be relying on me to walk a 200 pound man to the restroom or to a chair? My life has changed considerably since this has happened and I'm trying so hard not to get depressed but you almost can't help it. I do find myself crying a lot and wanting to feel sorry for myself but I know I can't cause I am a strong believer that things happen for a reason and there has got to be a reason this happened to me. I have to look at the situation like that to make it through each day. But anyway I just had a posterior TLIF of the L5-S1 with the screws and rods on Feb. 17th which was just a week ago and am feeling pretty raunchy stil I'm also experiencing severe left leg pain on the side of my leg from my hip all the way down to the ball if my ankle and sometimes radiates on the top of my foot. My right leg is not near as bad but the pain in my left is enough for both legs cause the pain I'm having in my left leg now is 10 times worse than the pain I was experiencing before the surgery which I can honestly say right after the surgery I couldn't even tell you if I had legs or not it was so great not to feel that pain in my legs and then on the 2nd day post op my left leg started feeling really weird like it was getting really right and had no feeling and then when I got home the pain started and I hate to say this but it seems to b getting worse. I am so sorry I wrote a book but I can honestly say it's taken my mind off of my pain for the time being and I really hope this does subside some cause I would hate to know I had to go through surgery again if something has went wrong. I'm just ready to be me again knowing I can exspect to do everything the same but I just want to be able to ride in a vehicle with out having to stop every thirty minutes or be abje to push the shopping cart at the grocery store and not regret it when I got home or just to be able to stand in the kitchen and cook like I love to do woukd be nice. I've got my fingers crossed and praying that all this will ease up and I hope with what ever u decided on went well for u as well

    Thank y'all for listening,
    Lola Willard
  • I am in the same situation as you are. I am 37 in good shape and dealing with back issues. I have not had my surgery yet because I have to wait for the workman comp to approve, but when I do I will be having an L4-S1 ALIF w/posterior instrumentation. After talking with my surgeon this was the surgery he recommended to correct me. It scared me to death so I went and got a second opinion which I highly recommend. The second surgeon recommended the exact same surgery which was very comforting.

    Now it is up to me to actually go through with it. I weighed to pros and cons and the pros out did the cons. I am too young to let this problem stop me from living my life. Both doctors said because I am in good shape and have an attitude toward getting better one gave me an 80/20 and the other gave me a 70/30 recovery rate. For me I am going to take my chances of a full recovery.

    I wish you luck and would like to hear your thoughts.
    alif l4-s1
  • I had PLIF in December of last year on L5 S1 as had been suffering from sciatic pain in right leg and increasing pain over right hip. I wasnt at the point of daily agony but it was a standard of life decision that I made to have the surgery as it was only going to get worse, left untreated. I went into hospital Friday am and left hospital 2 days later on the Sunday. Surgery went fine and my pre-op condition/pain was instantly rectified.

    However, I have been left with severe nerve pain in my feet, from the upset nerves in my back, which I wasnt really told about pre-op. I have now been taking Gabapentin and Amiltriptylene since mid December and the foot pain is controlled but I dont want to be on medication for any lengthy periods. The plan now is to slowly reduce the dosage of Gabapentin week by week and if the pain is still there, increase the dosage again and try again a week later. The only trouble is that it seems to take a couple of week for the reduced dosage to be out of my system and then a couple of weeks to build it back up again to reduce the pain!

    Only you can make the decision for surgery and every story you will hear is relevant to the individual telling it. It doesnt mean that it will happen to you. I spoke to various people who had the same surgery before I had mine and they were all fine.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.
  • I had mine at 42 yrs old in decent shape in nov 2011, I was active right away. I had to wear a brace for 11 months, but by month 4 I was able to bowl (provided brace was on and I stopped at sign of any pains). I recovered very well, was back at work after 30 days but only could do about a half a day at a desk. better if I walked around. Was still stiff and had to sleep on heating pad until about 4 months ago, when I started a great joint complex. In fact I looked like I was going to need cervical C5-c7 fusion but I got better after taking the joint complex and ortho told me after last set of x-rays that it looked better than it did 4 months ago......I would wait if you can, but in my case the difference was a good thing after I had the surgery.
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