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Lumbar disc replacement l5-s1. Pros and cons

edited 02/21/2015 - 4:39 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,
I have had chronic back pain for two Yrs. sciatica was awful for months, but has largely resolved. Some numbness and tingling in left foot and big toe if I do too much. Much more mobility now than even 6 months ago. However, sitting remains very hard. I cannot sit reliably for more than 1.5 hrs. Lots of lower back pain extending into buttocks and leg above knee.... Diagnosis is degenerative disc disease with midline herniation and bulge.

After Physio, accupuncture, kinesiologist, chiro (never again!), pain specialists, etc, I am looking at surgery. Various meds tried. Have read lots of contradictory findings on disc replacement at l5-s1. Would love to hear from others on pros cons of this surgery, particularly your ability to sit. Would also like to know if anyone had gradual improvement (like me...so slow, but 2yrs later I can sit more than 5 min) and was able to avoid surgery?
Many thanks


  • adreynoldsaadreynolds Posts: 32
    edited 02/21/2015 - 9:22 PM
    I have just had my L5-s1 fused. At one of my appointments with my surgeon I asked about replacement after researching it and being quite excited. He just said don't do it. Said they are falling out of favour around the world. From what I understand it is a lot harder to replace the l5-s1 disc than the levels above. A big con is also that if it goes wrong the surgery to fix it can be life threatening. It had worked for some though. There is a dedicated forum elsewhere on the net that you might want to check out for more information. My condition was very similar to yours and after 7 years my pain has never got better. Just went up and down but was always stopping me doing things and ruining my enjoyment of life hence my decision to have surgery.
    TLIF L5-S1 09/02/2015
  • edited 02/22/2015 - 5:42 AM
    Thanks adreynolds. Indeed the replacement is controversial, more so in the USA than in Europe. I'm in canada.
    How are you doing with fusion?
  • I too considered the Disc Replacement route as a means to remedy my situation. However , after consultations with several
    Surgeons it was determined that replacement wasn't a viable option given my circumstances.
    So, I elected to have double level fusion. So far at 6 months post op , it appears to have been the right course of action.
    I'm almost back to ALL regular pre surgery activities.
    I just should have done it sooner, as I was a candidate for this procedure years ago.
    About me: 52 yo HWP active male.
    Bilateral L5 spondylolysis L5 with grade I anterolisthesis L5-S1.
    Stable multilevel degenerative spondylosis contributing to mild canal
    narrowing L2-3 and L3-4.
    360 ALIF & PLIF L-4 - S-1 on 8/11/14
  • Thanks, glad to hear your fusion went well.
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