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Decision on Surgery

stevenyc7sstevenyc7 Posts: 18
edited 04/14/2014 - 12:21 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I just want to ask everyone how to decide on surgery? After a long time I finally got a diagnosis that will most likely require surgery, but reading forums you see so many people that have had surgery and are still in pain that is the same or worse as well as people that wind up having a 2nd surgery if not more. It is so hard to make a decision. Surgery statistics are good (numbers and percentage wise) but how do you decide? I just want to add that everyone that has had surgery feels better soon.


  • So it's really a personal decision and one you can reach in conjunction w your surgeon together. But for me, personally, I had already received a surgical 'yes' in January of 2013, but I wanted to try every single last non surgical option first, even if it was painful, expensive and invasive. By August, 2013, I had tried every last option and was still in pain and having nerve issues. So that is when I decided to go for a second surgical consult and new MRI. That dr appointment confirmed what I already was feeling: severe herniation and nerve compression on a worsening scale.

    So I had the fusion in December. But I will stress that everyone has their own reasons and you should only take into account your own medical situation and not other's.

    Good luck!
    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
  • MSGMSG Posts: 296
    edited 04/14/2014 - 2:23 PM
    Recommended surgery, but I did not want to have it done. However, I did see the neuro he recommend, so I could make an informed decision. Then neuro took one look at my medical records & said he would NEVER touch me, for 3 reasons:
    1. I developed 12 blood clots in my lungs after a previous surgery
    2. I've been on prednisone for 30 years (causes slow healing)
    3. I'm not exactly a size 0.

    My Ortho's respone was their are other surgeons, but deep in my gut, I just have a very bad feeling about it.

    My advice to people whenever this comes up is do your research, & go with what your gut tells you, it's usually right.

    Either way, we will support you, & once you make the descion it will be a huge relief. Good luck.
    We can't always control the cards we are dealt in life, but we can control how we play the hand
  • Qman2QQman2 Posts: 37
    edited 04/14/2014 - 2:39 PM

    Remember the reason for this forum, people who are having spine-health issues come here. People who are not having spine-health issues do not.

    Like Sarah, I tried every conservative option first including oral steroids, epidurals, and physical therapy but I was much worse after all that. The neurosurgeon told me that he would first recommend all the non-surgical options but since I tried that without success, he recommended surgery. My nerve pain was gone the first time I stood up after surgery. I'm just 3 1/2 weeks post op now.

    The way I decided was....

    1) my dad had the surgery twice, 15 years between each surgery, mainly because the surgical technique used in the first surgery didn't last a life time. It's been 28-29 years since the last surgery and he's done well.
    2) I couldn't walk without intense pain and could only last about 10 minutes before I had to sit down.
    3) The narcotic pain relievers did nothing for me.
    4) I work from home and after I got off work, I sat in a LaZ Boy until it was time to go to bed. Not much of a life.

    March 20, 2014 - L4/L5 Laminectomy and Microdiscectomy
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 04/14/2014 - 2:42 PM
    The decision to have surgery or not, is a very personal one.......I caution people to not undergo surgery in hopes that it is going to lessen their pain, because in many cases, the additional scar tissues forming can make it much worse than you could ever imagine.
    If there is nerve compression or a mechanical issue that can be repaired or relieved, then surgery is an option, but if your mindset is that you are doing it in hopes of pain relief, that is the wrong reason to have surgery.
  • For me, surgery was the route that I took after exhausting my other options like chiropractor, phyiscal therapy (for many weeks), medication, rest, etc. All of it had taken me just so far and when numbness and tingling began to occur, I knew it was not going to go away on its own. Also for me the decision was based on my lifestyle and my job. I do physical work for a living and could no longer perform the functions of my job and was in danger of losing it.
    It is not a decision I made lightly but one that I am glad I did. I am now 2 weeks post surgery and finally feeling like myself again. I had very good results with the operation and as long as fusion occurs as it is suppose to, I should be back to work in a few months.
    Personally I went with a neurosurgeon and did a lot of research on how he approached my condition ( had 2 levels of acdf) and once I felt comfortable with what was going to happen I went for it.
    Wishing you the best.
    Caly 8-)
  • this is something you need to discuss with your surgeon and your family but the surgeon is the one who will advise you the best. if they think so have them give you the reasons. this is not the place to ask people for advise about to have or not to have surgery. it is for you to make. once again, talk it over with your surgeon and then make a decision.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Thank you for your responses. terror8396 you are 100% correct, what I was looking for is what others went through (their story) before they decided. I am not looking for someone to help me decide.

    As you guys say my story is very personal and unique as well. I have days that I am at 90% as long as I don't do anything physical, pick up anything heavy, jump, or sit for too long. Not much of a life. The other days I am experiencing pain I can't even describe.

    Its a tough decision as I am not at the point where I cannot function, but all I can do is wake up go to work, come home, and do it all over again. I have also tried physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture of which only chiropractic has helped. I'll be doing some hard thinking in the next few weeks.

    Thank you all for your responses.
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 04/18/2014 - 3:21 PM
    Have you tried any epidural steroid injections or perhaps RFA? These would be appropriate next steps ahead of a fusion. You may get significant relief from either or even both and be able to postpone a fusion for a while longer. In my case, I had what my physician called "therapeutic disc injections" which was steroid injected directly into the disc. Very painful procedure, but it gave me the best relief I ever had. I felt like the clock was turned back five years -- which, for a spiney, is eternity. I had relief for 7 months over the course of three injections.

    I know you'll think hard and do what your doctor and you believe is the next step, but just in case you had only done the treatments you listed above, I know that a jump from chiro and PT to a fusion is quite a big leap.
    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
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