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Excited but not excited L3/L4, L4/L5 possibly L5/S1

Nickster_1969NNickster_1969 Posts: 2
edited 09/22/2015 - 10:50 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm excited to have the above surgery in November but extremely terrified. I can't take the pain any longer and want to be able to walk more than just a couple of blocks at a time w/o debilitating pain.

I don't want more fused than necessary but don't want another surgery if avoidable so I ask this question.... How much less movement does a person have after L5/S1 fusion. I have read that there is little movement to begin with so would I be losing that much more if I had all 3 fusions done as opposed to the 2? Would the recovery time still be about the same?

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  • The more fusions you have the less motion can become of that, but everyone is different. You will still need to be very careful with your back whether or not you have surgery. Ie No heavy lifting etc. Good luck.
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 725
    Dear Nickster

    As Kay noted the more fusions you have the more the reduction in flexibility. If I was in your shoes... I would try to ask the surgeon to limit the fusion to 2 levels. WIth 3 levels you end up with a VERY LARGE lumbar section that will not only limit your flexibility but also put HUGE pressure on your remaining L2-L3 disc which will put you at high risk of herniating that disc as it wasn't designed to cushion such a large lumbar. I guess the other thing to think about is that the more levels you fuse the higher the risk that one level doesn't fuse. Despite all of the improvements over the recent years in fusion surgery there is still a fairly high rate of non-fusion or fusion failure... just read some of the blogs here... there are plently of falied fusion stories beyond mine. You can never go backwards once a fusion is done... whereas doing a decompression or discetomy only... still allows you the option to go for fusion surgery later if things go wrong again. But.. the BIGGEST thing that can help keep you out of pain and more surgery is BEING KIND TO YOUR BACK. No more heavy lifting or heavy impact on your back for the rest of your life... it's those very things that got you to this point in the first place. Like it or not your life style will have to change going forward if you want to stay out of surgery and more pain.

    Recovery from fusion surgery is very patient dependant but you can plan on months... not weeks. In my case it took 12 months to feel 100% again after my fist surgery and I'm at 8 months and counting after my second surgery. Age is definitely a factor and for some young people they they can bounce back in just a few months. PT is also an important factor as there is a lot trama to your back muscles in the surgery and these must recover via exercising in addition to the bone fusion itself. As others have said fusion surgery recovery is a marathon not a sprint... listen to your body... take it easy at first... and definitely follow your surgeons instructions and advise above all.

    All of the above is just my two cents from my personal experiences.... NOT professional advise.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • Thank you Kay. I don't do any heavy lifting as it is. My biggest problem is doing normal everyday activities such as walking more than a couple of blocks at a time and house cleaning.

    Hvills - My doctor is focusing on L3/L4 & L4/L5. He doesn't think that the effectiveness of the additional fusion of L5/S1 would out weigh the added surgery & recovery time. I've been wearing a brace for the last few weeks which helps take some pressure off my lower back. I don't hurt as bad when I first get out of bed but as the day goes on, I still get the burning pain even with minimal bending, stooping, walking etc. but not sure if it's L4/L5 or L5/S1 causing the issue.

  • Yes, that rots with your everyday functioning. I go back and forth with my limitations but have given up a lot of my previous life and that won't get better! I am on a good spell but has taken me months after Cauda Equina symptoms to get to my baseline. I get burning pain also. I think it's from inflammation around the bad discs. Also, my piriformis and Gluteus Maximus muscles are very tender/tight so I just finished with PT and now have a home program. That can be the cause of a multitude of back pains! It never ends! Yoga is wonderful also!
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