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Any fusion success story to share?

Hi all,

I am a newbie here. I have been suffering lower back pain for 4 years by now. After first onset of sciatica, I was able to manage to keep the sciatica at bay for 3 years, although I still suffer back discomfort, mostly the back muscle pain/fatique. However the intense busy work in the last 6 months took its toll on my L5-S1, and the sciatica came back a week ago.

I can tell my condition definitely got worse as now both my legs have the burning feelings or tingling, although not very severe. There are also postures or positions that I had no problem with but now I do. Two nights ago, it was the first night I couldn't find a position to sleep without pain. And the MRI confirms it.

I am currently on day one of the 6-day steroid treatment (I guess it's the oral version of the epidural injection). My worry right now is that this time I won't be able to recover to a level that I can function reasonably like I did in the past 3 years. So the surgery came into my mind.

However, I was discouraged by my primary physician and neurologist. After reading the forum, I feel so depressed. Although before I came to this forum, I already knew that the spine fusion surgery is not like cataract surgery or appendectomy, whose risk/failure is pretty low, I still hold some slim hope that the fusion surgery can somehow fix or improve my condition so I am able to function reasonably well. Is it a false hope/expectation? Is there any good outcome/success story?


  • So far, so good for me. There are success stories out there but they get lost in all the horror stories. Unhappy people scream while happy people smile and enjoy the view.
    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
  • 33% feel better. 33% feel worst. 33% feel no change. Those are the exact words my doctor told me before getting my fusion. If your pain is something you think is manageable without fusion than I wouldn't do it. However if you are in so much pain you can't do anything but lay in bed and take drugs all day then go for it. But if it's just leg pain and your don't have pars defect or spondy then maybe loom into spinal stimulator. Works wonders for my sciatic née and SI joint pain.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Thank you sooooo much for your response! You guys made me feel not alone.
  • mznycmmznyc Posts: 4
    edited 04/07/2015 - 9:36 PM
    Hi All,

    I suffered with severe back pain for 15 years. I lost a number of years of my life copIng with excruciating pain that completely debilitated me and I'm one of those people who wear pushing through pain as a badge of honor. I tried so many treatments and therapies, multiple times, and nothing helped. Anyways, I'm not going to go into the details except to say I had a pars defect, spondylithesis , L-5 & S-1. I wanted to share my success story to give others hope. I saw Dr. xxxxx. . The key is getting the right diagnosis and having a good dr recommend whether surgery is right for you or not. And if a fusion is appropriate for you or not. Then it comes done to the skill of the surgeon and your hard work in following directions for your recovery and rehabilitation. Prior to surgery, I literally could not stand up for more than a few minutes before the pain was so bad I had to hunch over or go sit or lay down. Walking ceased at the 5 block mark and most of it was in pain after the first 2 blocks. My function was low and quality of life so low I had some pretty disturbing ideas on how to stop the pain. Life was a living hell. Now? Well, I can say I'm 70% better and I'm 5 months post-op. Healing ends at a year. I had to cease PT to have operations on 2 hernias and 1 sports hernia so after I can get back on my feet, I will be able to really strengthen my core and I bet get up to 90% improvement . It worked . My only regret is that I didn't do it earlier. So there are success stories, I'm living proof . After the surgery, I would lay and bed and be so happy that I had the surgery , I just couldn't believe my good fortune.
    I'm not very good at navigating this site. If you have any questions feel free to message me, I'm hoping I will get notification of that. I know I sound somewhat senile but I just had he triple hernia procedures a week ago so bear with me. I can't wait to get back to my athletic, active life style!! Thank you and good luck!

    Forum rules prohibit the recommendations of specific medical professionals
  • It's now June 2015.
    In Jan 2013, had L5-S1 fusion.
    Doc: "you were a different person"; friends : "like you came back from the dead."
    It's 2 1/2 years later. In the past 3 months the DDD has continued, pain returns, new surgery needed. will fuse all the L's.
    But For 2 years I had marvelous relief from 5-10 years of chronic pain.
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