I just want to start by saying that my surgeon has always been more conservative when it comes to surgery. That's something that I really like about him. My most recent surgery wasn't performed until I tried a number of other treatments and it wasn't done until it got to the point where additional nerve damage was of major concern. He said that many surgeon's would have opted to fuse me at that point given the lack of disc space from L3-S1 with L5-S1 being the worst. He looks at fusions as a last resort so we opted for a 3 level Discectomy and Laminotomy/Foraminotomy. He told me that I would need a fusion in the future but hopefully not for quite some time. I'm just over 5 months post op and my most recent MRI showed Re-herniation at L5-S1. Basically it won't be long until my vertebrae begin rubbing together because what little disc space I had left will be gone. He's recommending a one level fusion but said that he could get the job done by doing a TLIF rather than a different approach that is more invasive. My goal is to avoid surgery if at all possible. He said that it's very painful once it becomes bone on bone. I knew something was wrong because my back pain and spasms have become increasingly worse. He said that eventually the bones will fuse together on their own but it's a long process, and again it's very painful. I have severe scarring from my last surgery so I do not want to have another one. He also said that because of the shape my other 2 discs are in I would be looking at a total of 3 fusions over time. I've already had 2 spinal surgeries so I'm not convinced that a fusion would go very well.
I apologize for the long post but has anyone had their vertebrae fuse together on their own? And if so, was it a painful process?
Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
Discectomy L5-S1 2002
Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014