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New to forum but not new to back trouble

Hi all, I'm Craig. I've had trouble with my back since my mid-teens in 1975. I had an emergency laminectomy in 1988 which restored use of left leg which had been lost upon the rupture. However, I've continued to have muscle spasm episodes, referred pain in hips, buttocks and down the outside of both legs. I occasionally have foot drop and knee-buckling on my left side. I experience nearly constant pain in my lumbar region and take large quantities of ibuprofen to manage the pain. I also have very intense, though usually brief, jolting pains that feel a lot like an electrical shock. These happen at any time, including when motionless in bed. I am on 3200 mg of gabapentin to deal with the jolts which, prior to this medication, would spark a full-blown muscle spasm episode for days to weeks. I use hydrocodone when the pain level exceeds Ibuprofen's capability. I am very conservative with it due to risk of dependence and usually break the tablets in half-dose sizes, with about 5-10 half-doses per month on the average. I also have flexeril for severe spasm episodes but seldom use it due to the drowsiness it causes.

I have sought conservative measures (physical therapy, chiropractic, dry needling, therapeutic massage, etc) for treatment ever since the emergency surgery in 1988 but have gotten to the point of willingness to consider a surgery that has now been recommended following a series of injections this summer to isolate the source (L4-L5) of the constant lumbar pain. I have a significant retrolisthesis at that level in addition to bulging discs in many other areas and loss of disc space. I also have a tear of the annulus at L5-S1. The neuro emphatically stated that this surgery is not addressing other neurological symptoms but only to isolate the joint and relieve that particular pain. He also warned of possible complications including a worsening rather than improvement in pain and mobility levels. I am confident that my condition is probably nowhere near as bad as some of you and that all of you can identify with my situation. I guess I'd just like to hear from some who've already had a fusion (single-level) at L4-L5 to help me have proper expectations. Thanks.



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