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Petrified!! Recommended fusion and decompression L5-S1!



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 04/02/2014 - 12:27 AM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • thoracic spine painthoracic spine pain Posts: 566
    edited 04/02/2014 - 3:05 AM
    Your condition is common and there are a number of articles on this site about L1/S5. It is a common operation and because your spinal cord does not run through this part of your spine there is little chance of paralysis. There are also some things you can try before you have a fusion.

    Here is another link as well as the one Liz sent you.


    I haven't had surgery because it's my T4 thoracic vertebrae that moves and is too dangerous to operate at that level for me. Long story.

    How I got most of the pain to stop was to go to a sports physiotherapist and she tapes my T4 vertebrae, shoulder and scapular back into the correct mechanical position. It is instant relief when she pushes it back in and tapes it so my muscles don't spasm it out again. What my physio and I are both hoping is that my muscles will gradually learn to hold my T4/scapula/shoulder in the correct mechanical position by themselves.

    You need to ask your specialist about the joints, discs and vertebrae on top of L1/S5.

    After a fusion the next joint up has to take more pressure and some people need another surgery to fix the one on top. Bit like dominoes really.

    It is up to you - at least you have a chance of an operation and many people on this site have had the same operation so they will be able to advise you better than me. You can use the search button right at the top of the page to look at posts by people who have had this operation - just type in L5 S1 and a lot of posts should come up. They may be able to help you make the decision.

    You should do a lot of research of the pros and cons of operating. There are many articles on this site and the web about this condition. Good luck with whatever you decide to do, normally they only operate after all conservative treatments fail.

  • L5/S1 isn't really used much in the movement of the spine, so if you are needing a fusion, that's the level you want it on. I'm fused L4-S1 and having the surgery is the best decision I could have made. The first week of recovery was rough, but overall not nearly as bad as I expected. I'm going on 6 months post-op now and I am completely pain free. Sure, I may have problems in the future and need another surgery, but it's a risk I felt was worth taking.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 04/02/2014 - 7:11 AM
    My fusion was the best thing I've done for myself. I know that sounds strange, but I was also depressed, unhappy and miserable ALL the time. I had no patience and could hardly move or be active in my kids' lives. Now at three months post op, I feel like a new person. The pain is totally different. I can live better now.
    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
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 04/02/2014 - 3:21 PM
    Hi, I'm also a mom but my kids are much younger and I needed a 2 level 360 degree fusion. The op is invasive but as long as you've done your homework and chosen your surgeon and hospital carefully, as well as tried ALL of the less invasive treatments first, you should be ok.

    Really take your time to look into these things though. You have to -NEED TO- have confidence in your surgeon and his/her team. I even brought my dad to my second consult with my surgeon so he could be grilled by my VERY protective father ;)

    Recover and post op pain are rough. Empower your kids as helpers and let them know that you are doing to need to do lots of laying down and quiet -still- games with them instead of rough activities.

    Hope you feel a bit more assured. Take your time with this decision. Once fused, there's really no going back.
    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 just wanted to say thank you for all your input. It makes me feel at more ease with everything.

  • Big Daddy JimBBig Daddy Jim Posts: 10
    edited 04/04/2014 - 3:51 AM
    Hi there Trina. Very similar to STEVET above, I recently had an L4/L5 spine fusion. My operation was performed on March 26th, 9 days postop. My pain meds are now down to Vicodin (1 tablet 5/325) every 4-5 hours. So, that's telling others that my pain is now around a 2-3 at times a 4 when I do some walking. Pretty doggone good for 9 days. I'm thinking by this weekend off the meds totally, but don't want to do it too soon. I'm going to start my longer walks today, since the snow has now cleared, didn't want to fall (that would be disastrous). I too, had so much pain that I couldn't do anything but complain and feel miserable, and take it out and everyone around me. Long story short, had MRI which showed this issue, had it taken care of last Wednesday morning, and VOILA no pain at all in the right leg - totally pain free. Oh boy, gotta love the feeling. The only slight pain I feel is from the muscles being worked on in my back, but really only a bothersome type of pain. I really, in my mind, feel that the hardest part of the entire process is NOW. I am a marathoner and an avid hiker, but I know that I better not bend, twist, and/or lift anything over 8-10 pounds for 3 months. That is going to be the tough part for me, not the operation....that was the welcoming part - believe me. Nothing can beat nerve pain. Good luck in whatever you decide, but if you decide on this fusion make sure that you tell your family and have them take care of you this time, not vice versa. You need to pay attention to all doc's orders. You will be better off in the long run.
  • bookcatbbookcat United States Posts: 66
    Speaking from experience, I can say that lumbar spinal fusion surgeries can really improve mobility and quality of life. It is normal to feel upset and worried when you are facing surgery. It's especially hard when you've been healthy and very active. Some ways of helping you make the decision are to get a second opinion and to exhaust conservative measures like PT/nerve root blocks.

    My own lumbar fusion surgery experiences have been very positive. The recovery requires some discipline and realizing that I wanted to give my spinal column the best possible chance to heal helped with this. What helped me cope with both the decision and the impending surgery was doing lots of online research, talking to other people who've gone through the surgery (your surgeon will have the names of some patients willing to talk with you), remembering the reasons for the surgery and the hope that things will improve (they may not if you decide no surgery), and preparing ahead of time. This site has an excellent list of questions to ask and how to prepare for surgery. I am now looking at an ALIF at L5-S1 but am doing everything I can to postpone it, as I have had 3 major and one minor surgery in 17 mos, all necessary and some emergent. I have a degenerative spinal condition so I have been unfortunately one of those who need additional surgeries.

    Good luck, Catherine
    PCIF C5-7, PLIF L4-5, L3-4, L2-3, L1-3, L5 nerve root blocks
    PLIF L1-3 6/13
    ACDF (C5-7) 8/12
    PLIF (L2-5) 2003/05/08
  • How are you now? Did you go through the surgery?
  • Why it may have some problems in the future and needs another surgery?... I have back problem too that doctors suggest a surgery (L5 S1 TLIF) but im sooo scared to do the surgery.
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