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Fusion after L5/S1 disk replacement

Mindy579MMindy579 Posts: 36
edited 11/12/2015 - 8:00 PM in Lower Back Pain
Hi all I'm new to this site but wanted to see if anybody could share your similar experiences with me as I'm confused on what I should do. I'm 36 yrs old and was diagnosed with DDD at the age of 15. After years of back pain and trying everything to manage it with meds and physical therapy , I decided to go ahead with surgery. I had the choice of doing an artificial disk replacement of L5/S1 or a fusion. After discussing pros and cons of each with my orthopedic spine surgeon we both agreed on the disk replacement surgery which was done 09/2014. The surgery definitely helped with my sciatica pain down my right leg and I did feel my pain was lessened for a few months after surgery. I'm wondering if I had the relief for the few months because I was in a back brace and wasn't allowed to really do anything except do my walking a few times a day. After a few months my back pain came back full force. I've had an MRI and a CT but because of the metal of the artificial disk it makes it very difficult for them to see the artificial disk. From what they can see with X-rays, MRI and CT the disk looks great, placement is perfect they say but now I'm told my L4/L5 is pretty bad and my L3 isn't that great. I've seen an orthopedic surgeon who reccomends we fuse L/3-S1 and just be done with it but I've also seen a Neurosurgeon who says we should just fuse L4/L5 and but said there a possibility that they may have to go back in later to fuse L5/S1 but we won't know until we do it but he also says just fusing the 1 level would be a less invasive procedure. I'm seeing a pain doctor who thinks my pain is coming from my facet joints so we are trying the facet joint injections. I had the first set of injections just on the right side L/3-S1 and had really good success with it in fact I couldn't believe how great I felt the morning after my injections. The relief was short lived and everyday the pain gradually came back a little bit more and I also noticed I had a good amount of pain on the left side after my injections. I just had my second set of injections and this time he did the facet joint injections on both sides L/3-S1 this past Monday. I had some relief for a little bit right after the injections but Tuesday morning when I woke up I was HURTING badly and today is Thursday and I'm still so sore and I always keep getting these twinges of shocking pain just randomly in the right side of my back. I go back on November 30th to discuss the radio frequency ablation. I'm so confused on what to do and who's really right. I'm scared to death to go through another back surgery (I was scared to death to have the first one) but I am young and have 2 sons and just want to be able to live a semi-active life and not be in pain and not have to take pain pills everyday (which is why I decided to have the first surgery done) but I'm still in the same boat. Anybody experience anything similar to my experiences? I would love to hear any info you can give me. Thanks, Mindy


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I'm afraid I'm not going to be much help but I wanted to say hi as I'm also 36, a mum of 3 - 1 boy & 2 girls - and I'm sort of hoping for a cervical fusion or whatever surgical procedure I am offered. I have 5 prolapsed discs in my neck, lots of nerve damage and spinal cord impingement. I've just had a new MRI & I'm waiting for my neurosurgeon to get in contact......I'm panicking like mad...has the MRI showed massive improvement so I'm not going to get any help even tho I feel worse, is it going to show its inoperable....(last appointment my surgeon was worried due to scale of damage) because it's been 3 weeks & I've heard nothing!!!
    Anyway sorry you were asking for advice and I've just rabbitted on about me!!
    I wanted to ask how you coped after surgery with the kids, did you get much help? Did your husband cope??
    I wish I could give you good advice...the problem with spine surgery is that often one is never enough!! I suppose if you need them all doing, would it be better just to do it?? I honestly understand your confusion but please keep us posted on how you are and what you decide.
    Look after yourself Mindy and I hope to hear from you
    All the best
    Kirsti x
    Kirsti x
  • DelhiMandiDelhiMandi Posts: 2
    edited 11/13/2015 - 10:34 PM
    Hi all , I am 21 years old and also suffering from lower back pain, and I met with neurologist he suggested to MRI scan and totally bed rest, I am very confused about my health with very fast pain. My MRI report is saying L5-S1 disk is moved from his actual place, so you meet with neurosurgeon, I am disturbed and meet physiotherapist and he suggest traction keet and belt and take rest continued 3 months. I am doing as he suggested , regularly used traction and belt and now to good and fell free with pain.
  • Hi Kirsti sorry to hear you are going thorough this as well. Everything went really well after my surgery. I waited to have it done until my kids were back in school from their summer break because I knew that I would be able to rest better without all the noise and commotion. I live in Michigan and my dad came up from Florida for a few weeks to help since my husband had to work during the day. The kids and my husband coped very well. My husband did have to help me shower because I couldn't bend at all but I just waited until he got home from work at night to do this. I actually bounced back very well and pretty quick from my disk replacement surgery. My boys are 8 and almost 11 and my oldest has Aspergers and is like a little adult lol they were both very helpful to me during my downtime. Hope this helps and hope you get some answers soon. Keep us posted. I will keep you in my prayers. Mindy
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,436
    Welcome to Spine-Health
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  • Hi I'm having a hard time figuring out why I am pain when I was doing so well after my surgery. I was going to PT twice a week, going for walks, and keeping up with house chores for months then, one day woke up and couldn't walk without sever pain in my back and down my left leg. Called my Ortho surgeon and after he's been weaning me off of my pain killers now I feel like I am going backwards in my recovery. I just got back from a cat scan to see if my fusion isn't holding cause they only did the surgery from the front. I'm just so confused and can relate to what you are saying. I am 39 and was a runner, played softball, and very active and now I've been stuck at home for a year and a half when my warehouse job was my life. I just want to get better and I'm wondering if there is any way this could just be something smaller where I don't have to have surgery again.... This has changed my life in so many ways including my relationship which makes it even more stressful. I was just seeing if anyone has this same situation and could shed some light on this. So Mindy I feel your concern about having another surgery and I'm sorry this is happening to you. I was wondering if a neurologist or an Ortho surgeon read your scans cause I have learned that they read them differently so you might want to look into that. I am blessed to have an uncle that can get my scans to a neurologist as well as my Ortho surgeon already getting them.
    Melissa McCarron
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,436
    Welcome to Spine-Health
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    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Wow reading all the stories eye opening. I injured my back at work over 10yrs ago. I was 36 with 3 children a very active and social life. My companies doctor did nothing for 6mths Codeine and acupuncture, I put on 30 + kilos. Pain just got worse and I had bruises everywhere. I was not happy and changed doctors. With that an MRI was ordered and appt set up with neuro surgeon, I have sciacta pain to my toes on left leg and to my knee right leg. My butt and left leg have numbness at all times. No surgery has happened for me I have opted to have it I just need to lose alot of weight but pain is the factor. I am on alot of medication prescribed by a pain management specialist. 3600mg Nerve Blockers, 200mg Anti inflammatory, 20mg Diazepam, 20 MCG Buprenorphine patch, 20 mg Oxycodone, Paraceatamol 1800mg Codeine phosphate120mg Doxylamine succinate 40mg. I was never a person that was on regular medication let alone all this all with warnings don't drive or operate machinery lol I feel like a legalized drug attack. Let alone the immune system becomes immuned after being on the same medication for such a long time. But in saying that I become brave at times and not take anything but I succumb to the pain and when I do I feel it working a noticeable difference. I have had cortisone injection into the spine via CT Scan it was the most painful experience I had ever had lol my hubby said the screaming coming out of that room was chilling. Was pain free for 8 days OMG was glorious but it didn't last long therefore I was not a candidate to have that again. So surgery is my only option. I have seen 2 surgeons one wants to go through my back and put rods either side of spine, the other doctor is younger has more modern ideas he wants to go through my stomach doing the same putting rods either side and being I have already had 3 C Sections and a massive hematoma size of a football removed many years ago believes this option better in the long run. I am already 18% WBI after the surgery that will go up. I want the surgery one thing that I can not handle is sciatica pain it is cruel and it has effected my whole family as I am not the person I was I can't do what I use to and feel like I am a burden. My daughter was 6mths pregnant and would get sciatica pain she was like how the hell have you dealt with it for this long. I can not walk, stand, sit, for long periods of time and lucky to get 3hrs of sleep a night. I know my limitations but most of all I know I will always have back pain that is a fact and I can deal with pain it is the sciatica pain I have trouble with it can really bring out the bitch in me. And being a work injury it comes under Worker's Compensation and dealing with Insurance drs etc. So yes my fight has been and still is a long one. But goodluck to all, it is good to have a place I can come and vent LOL
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,436
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 118
    I've had fusions done via my back, via my abdomen, and via my side. By far, the fusion through my back was much harder to recover from while through the side recovery was amazingly easier. If I were you I'd talk to a couple more surgeons to determine your best option.
  • Thanks Jerome I will do that :-)
  • SpinSpinSugarSSpinSpinSugar Posts: 15
    edited 11/27/2015 - 8:44 PM
    Forum Rule:
    5.06 You agree not to post information that is considered to be formal medical advice.

    Your post contains wording that may be considered as giving medical advice. It is very important that everyone understand that
    there are no medical professionals on this site, so therefore any comments are solely opinions based on personal experiences.
    They should never been taken as medical fact.

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator
    I design your spine
  • When your back bone is not working properly then you'll take rest and do exercise regularly because disk replacement is last choice, if your disk replacement is not successful then your problem are increased than you not move easily any where , so disk replacement is last option.
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