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Considering L5 S1 fusion

I am considering having an L5 S1 fusion done to relieve constant back pain caused by a degenerative disc.

I'd like to hear from anyone that has had an L5 S1 fusion. How did the surgery go, recovery, etc. What is the success rate of this surgery?

Thanks in advance for any input


  • I'm fused L4-S1. Going into the surgery I was told to expect a 70% chance of relieving 70% of my pain. Keep in mind the purpose of a fusion is to stabilize the spine, any pain relief you get is a bonus.

    I'm happy with my decision to have the surgery. I'm 3.5 months out and feel really great. I have no back pain and minimal nerve pain, which can take a year or more to heal. The first week was rough, but once my pain was under control and I was able to walk, I started feeling a lot better.

    Walking is the key to recovery in my opinion. The day I was discharged my surgeon told me to walk 3 times a day, 10 minutes each time and by week 3 or so I was walking 2.5+ miles a day. I'm still on restrictions in regards to what I can lift and bending/twisting, but I'm definitely seeing progress.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • Relief of pain is not the goal of surgery. My surgeon told me it was a byproduct but he would not fuse me to address pain alone. The nerve problems justified my surgery and I was granted pain relief to some degree. The nerve was damaged too long and never recovered though. Three years later I now have a SCS to help block the nerve damage. I would not have fusion just for pain because the odds don't support it. Also, surgery is the last resort when all else fails and life is bleak without drastic action. That's where I had to get mentally because there just aren't any guarantees, except that after one fusion.....more are likely.
    Yesterday I found out that my ACDF c4/5/6 from 9+ years ago has now presented issues with 6/7 /t1 and the cat scan is next week to help decide where to go from here. Fusion just pushes the problems to surrounding levels over time I'm afraid.
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