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L5 S1 Spinal fusion - 4 weeks post op and feeling positive (my story)

ianleggettiianleggett Posts: 1
edited 05/17/2015 - 4:09 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

Hi Guy's,

In regards to my L5 S1 spinal fusion operation

I have seen countless posts regarding spinal fusion and some people have not had the best results and my heart really does go out to them as I know how frustrating it is living with back pain.

My pain used to come and go, when it was bad it was bad but when it was ok it was bearable but uncomfortable. Sometimes I wished it was just bad all the time as it would have made my decision for surgery so much easier! Prior to my surgery I had suffered from a bad back for over 6 years and had seen Physio's, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, done Pilates and seen witch doctors (I had seen everyone).

Luckily for me I had full private cover with the company I work for so I could see some surgeons without it bankrupting me. The first surgeon offered me injections which didn't work for me at all and in the end he told me that this is the best he can do for me as he believed fusion wouldn't be beneficial for me as the pain level I would get after would be worse than I already had!! I was truly gutted and very upset but I didn't give up and went to get a second opinion and chose another surgeon who solely specialised in spinal surgery. The surgeon was a nice guy but he simply wouldn't just operate on me, as he had to be sure that I was sure it was the right thing to do. I went back about 6 times before I signed up for the surgery and at the time I was going through a good period so I kept saying to myself, what am I doing, but I had to get something done.

I was quite terrified on the day of surgery but before I knew it it was all done and I was smashed out of my head on morphine. The second day I stood up and walked around, third day I walked a bit more and the fourth day I got into a cab and went home to rest. The second week and I was walking to the shops fine and it's now at the time of writing the fourth week and I am doing really well and all I am suffering is a little muscle pain which Physio should sort out in a couple of weeks. I am going back to work on Monday and I cannot wait to get into the gym and do some light cardio. So far and fingers crossed I have never felt so positive about my back and when I sneeze or cough I don't feel that shooting pain I used to.

This is my message to anyone thinking about surgery:

1. Get a second opinion
2. Try everything before you jump into it
3. Don't let people frighten you from getting a better quality of life. Don’t just look at level of pain, think quality of life. Most of the time my pain wasn’t too bad but it was everyday and it was running me down and changing my quality of life.
4. Don't expect the NHS to sign you up. They will only send you for surgery if you are to the point where you are incontinent or at a dangerous level. Surgery is not cheap and I understand that the NHS can’t just sign people up.
5. Talk to a surgeon that specialises in spinal surgery, not knee surgery or elbow surgery, SPINAL surgery :-)
6. Don’t listen to anyone but people that have actually had the operation done or is a professional in that field such as a surgeon.

I guess everyone is different and each case is slightly different so it does not work for everyone and I am no expert, I have just been through it that’s all.

Good luck guys and feel free to email me if you want me to answer any of your questions as I know how it feels to feel lost and alone with this issue when really you are not, it really is a common problem and you wouldn’t believe how many operations these guys do!

Take care

Ian Leggett

Ian Leggett



  • Hi Ian. I had the same surgery, without the fusion, 25 years ago. It was the best thing that happened to me at the time. I don't know why my doctor didn't fuse me at the time, but I guess he did the best he could do. I did pretty good for about 20 years, and then I started have more problems in the same area. I know in the future I will need more surgery in the same area, but for know I need to take care of my neck. I'm going in a for 4-level ACDF on May, 26th. As soon as I heal from that I will have another MRI, my 5th, to see what's going on down there.

    You gave some excellent advice on what to do, and what not to do. I agree with everything you wrote. I hope you continue to heal at a rapid pace, and I wish nothing but the best for you. Thanks for telling us your story. I think it will help some people to decide if they want surgery or not. Take care.

  • nreidnnreid Posts: 8
    edited 05/17/2015 - 10:11 AM
    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for your encouraging post. I am soon to be going for this surgery am as apprehensive as anyone would be beforehand.

    How are your pain levels now that you have had the surgery? Are you up and walking at regular intervals? Interested to know.
  • I am also in the UK. Unfortunately without private medical insurance. It took over 40 years to discover that my back hadn't formed properly in the first place. I wasn't in pain all that time just a couple of times a year and I would end up bent double with muscle spasms crying in agony. But during the past 5 years my back really deteriorated. It got to the point where before my surgery I could hardly leave the house and having very nasty falls where my G.P. was scared I would break bones. I had to wait 11 months for my op and that was on the urgent list. i had 2 cancellations. I agree with you they kept offering me an orthopeadic Dr but I stuck out for my Neuro surgeon. I am so glad I did after he had broken my spine fused it and released the nerves the pain in my feet has gone. I am just 3 weeks post op. I am older than you and had deteriorated physically so much that I know it is going to be a long haul.Thanks for relaying your experience and I wish you well on your return to work.
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