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Surgery now seems inevitable

1411wayne11411wayne Posts: 8
edited 07/12/2015 - 9:36 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Saw orthopedic surgeon 10 months ago. He felt surgery was not appropriate then. Report said significant disc space collapse extending from L2-L-5 with lumbar spondylosis L5-S-1. foraminal stenosis but no significant central canal stenosis. He wrote that surgery would entail L-2 to S-1 decompression fusion. My complaint was lower back pain radiating around my left buttock, making it difficult to sit. Medication made symptoms tolerable. He felt I should continue with multiple injections and use of narcotics. I had numerous rounds of PT. have tried chiropractic and massage therapy which helps for a day.

12 weeks ago more problems started. I noticed when I got up I had pain going down left leg. This continued and then I realized lots of pain about my left hip. This became so intolerable that I had
emergency epidurals and then two weeks later trigger points injections. High level of pain continued. Pain management PA suggested I check back in with surgeon for re evaluation.

Of course it took 6 weeks to get in for appointment. I am on hydrocodone 10mg 5xd and fentanyl patch, 25 every 3 days. I have been unable to do my daily walk for 1-2 miles for the past month. This has always been my personal stress relief but it causes too much pain now.

Can anyone tell me if there is a way I could get surgery without having all the levels done, at least all at once? Since my problem is on one side, buttock and hip and leg, could surgery at one level help? I have read surgeons do not want to do multi level surgeies. Could doing one or two surgery levels give me some relief? I would love to avoid surgery but it's become intolerable. My name on this board should be 'terrified'. I hate to ask for help but I'm begging now. Appointment is Friday.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 07/12/2015 - 9:37 PM
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
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    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I know the exact pain your talking about. Feels like someone stuck a screwdriver in your hip, it shoots into your groin and straight down the top of your femor to your knee cap. I had the same thing and it was my SI Joint. Does that describe your pain?
  • sandi123ssandi123 Posts: 456
    edited 07/13/2015 - 3:15 AM
    I always consulted with at least two, and often three or more surgeons to see if they agreed on what needed to be done and why. If there was a difference of opinion, then I asked questions about why there were different recommendations .
    When it comes to spine surgery, you really want at least two concurring opinions on the need for surgery and what type needs to be done.

  • 1411wayne11411wayne Posts: 8
    edited 07/13/2015 - 9:30 AM
    Thanks for the input. I think I am worried that the surgeon will not want to operate due to the multiple levels of degeneration. I know I cannot go on this way, taking the meds but still unable to live my life. Unfortunately I am on a Medicare Advantage HMO where the primary doctor must give referrals. I plan to consult another surgeon but I have to go through the process. I know, mistake to go on Medicare Advantage HMO. If anyone is doubting that medical care for seniors has worsened, think again. I know, off topic. Does anyone know of any proceedure to avoid spinal fusion with all my back issues? I'm looking at anything, even cutting nerve to get rid of the pain. Has anyone had the multi level surgery I am probably going to have? thank you.
  • That's what I was trying to relay to you. It may be your SI Joint causing the problems. To answer your question there very well may be. Just like the other poster suggested you may want to get another opinion.

    Have you been to good pain management Dr.? It may be possible they can perform a RFA procedure. Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) is where they cauterize the ends of the nerves.

    There are alternative to a surgery that big. I wish you the best.
  • Thanks Iceman. I have had the RFA on the left side and all it did was make my leg numb, buttock still hurt. I am really unsure why I went down hill so fast with my leg and hip more involved. Has anyone out there had two separate surgeries instead of all at one time which I know is a very serious surgery? I hate to think of being fused from L2 to S1 but if you cannot keep the pain away, I am really searching for alternatives. Has anyone had their sciatic nerve worked on so that it does not cause so much pain on one side of the body?
  • Wayne, sounds like you mind is spinning and rightly so. I had extreme nerve pain from a herniated disc compressing my S1 nerve root. I know that pain very well, went through my whole mid section all the way down my leg and foot, couldn't sit, walk, even laying down hurt and it happened very quickly. I'm 6 months post op and still haven't recovered 100% yet. I was at my wits end and tried everything to avoid surgery but it was necessary in the end and I'm glad I did it. I'm not a doctor but I can tell you that your pain is most likely caused by the nerves being compressed. If your doctor is recommending doing all the levels at once, I would probably follow his recommendation. I can't imagine going through the surgery again unless I absolutely had to. I would rather have it all done at once and start living my wife again. You can always get a 2nd opinion but it might take time with the HMO and referral process. Good luck and keep us posted!
  • Thanks Kevhead. I agree that the nerve is probably compressed but what tests can be run to prove this for a surgery. What surgery did you have for the SI root pain? Please advise as I would like to see if the surgeon has a way to investigate. did you have a discogram? The HMO deal is crap. I called the office today and asked about another surgeon for a second opinion. I was told I have to wait until the surgeon makes his pronouncement on Friday. Only then will they refer for another opinion which means at least another month for an appointment. This is why I am trying to do some legwork myself. I just cannot wait another couple of months to get a solid plan for surgery. Would appreciate hearing what surgery you had so I can look it up. Thank you much.
  • Hi Wayne,

    I had a fusion done at L5/S1 with hardware. My disc had collapsed and compressed my S1 nerve root which caused all of the pain I had, and sounds similar to what you are going through. Except you have some more levels that need to be stabilized it sounds like. You can go through an EMG which would test your nerves, I didn't have a discogram. My Ortho surgeon was certain of my issues after seeing the MRI. The EMG did nothing more than prove what my surgeon already knew so I had to endure a ton of needles and poking around. Wasn't fun, but if you are seeing a good surgeon he should be able to diagnose things accurately for you. Try looking him/her up on healthgrades or vitals. They are good websites that have patient reviews.
  • 1411wayne11411wayne Posts: 8
    edited 07/14/2015 - 5:42 AM
    Thanks Kevhead. I am hoping he can talk about a surgery which is less than what he originally described. Problem is no way I can keep going without being able to exercise or drive in the car for over 15 minutes.
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