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Just hoping somebody can provide me with input on my situation. I was decompressed and fused in 2010 from L2 thru L5, T11-12 in 1993 and C5 thru C7 in 2008. I was doing fairly well until several months ago but things gradually went downhill with constant moderate low back pain, pins and needles in both feet and legs left much worse then right, and leg weakness especially noticeable when climbing stairs as well as various urinary problems gradually worsening.
EMG conclusion: #1. There is evidence of paroxysmal bilateral root involvement, #2. Evidence of chronic left sided L5-S1 muscle changes consistent with chronic denervation.
MRI: L5-S1 - Minimal posterior bulge is present. Moderate /severe right and mild / moderate left facet arthrosis is detected and no central canal stenosis. Moderate left and mild / moderate right neural foraminal stenosis is identified.
There is edema in the deep posterior paraspinal fascia at the mid and lower lumbar motion segments and dorsal to the upper sacrum.
My Surgeon has mentioned the possibility of the need for a L5-S1 fusion but first wanted me to have facet injections for both diagnostic as well as a theraputical approach which I did with minimal short relief and I also had a caudal epidural injection recently with no relief at all.
I am do to revisit my Surgeon who performed all three of my sucsesful past surgeries at HSS in NYC and will probably do whatever he advises which I believe will be another fusion at L5-S1 but am very nervous about having a 4th lumbar segment fused.
I have managed to keep fairly flexible and keep working by spending 1 1/2 hours every morning swimming and doing various aqua exersices with my local hotel pool membership but am afraid of another fusion being the straw that broke the camels back.
If anybody out there can provide me with any insight on my situation itg would be GREATLY appreciated.
Thank you very much


  • spoulos58sspoulos58 Posts: 5
    edited 10/09/2015 - 8:41 PM
    I forgot to mention that with the leg weakness my left ankle, knee and hip are constantly spraining, especially the left ankle.
    Is this caused by the muscle weakness?

    Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
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    Liz ...Spine-health moderator

  • Wow, you've had a lot of fusion with great success. I would say the L5S1 area doesn't typically have a whole lot of flexibility anyway, so it may not change your abilities much, but I imagine your surgeon would have a better idea.
  • Well, you have a ton more experience with this than I do, but I did have the L5-S1 fused last year after a major rupture and nerve root compression. Unfortunately due to several factors, my issues weren't fixed in time and I have what looks to be permanent nerve damage/weakness in my left leg/foot.

    Obviously, I don't have all the other levels fused that you do, but I will say that I don't feel like I've lost any real flexibility with this level being fused, so you might be surprised. To me, I'd rather lose a tiny bit of flexibility over life-long weakness and loss of ability to walk. I'd ask your surgeon how much flexibility you would realistically use.
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • I think what I am hearing you say is something I worry about too: how lucky can we be to have had such amazing success with fusions? What if this next one is just one too many? I have had two..L4/5 in 2004, L3/4 2014. My Third will 10/23 L5/S1 with hardware removal.

    My fellow spiney, there are no guarantees. Not for this, not for anything in life really. So how do we, spine suffers cue up to surgery after surgery? You already know this answer! The same way you did surgery number one. Prepare your life and body, be optimistic about your decision and employ a positive approach to healing. I call it pop! I think when you employ pop you can only find success. Prepare, optimism and positive.

    Now, that said..I'm not a ridiculously happy person who doesn't appreciate the fact that no amount of pop can prevent mishaps, things can go wrong. But I can relay that there are no studies showing that multiple fusions equal increase in chance of mishap. Driving a car is dangerous, but the more you drive doesn't make you more prone to accidents. Quite the reverse actually, you become a better driver and more experienced to survive and anticipate other drivers and hazards. I think the same can be said for fusion surgery.

    I would most of all encourage you to talk to your doctor and tell him/her your concerns. The doctors will be able to predict the probable outcome specific to you. It would be of benefit to the members of the forums to hear how you do. I wish you luck and hope to learn you had a favorable and healing outcome.
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