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When do you know it's time? Debating and look forward to your input L4/L5 Fusion


This site has proved to be very helpful and provided me a lot of really good information so I'm looking for additional input.

Long story short - L4/L5 moderate to severe stenosis, some degenerative disease between the vertebrae, slight bulge on one (4 MMs). Overall the rest of the spine looks great from an alignment perspective.

My pain is primarily top of glute to back the knee. The pain isn't constant and I cannot track back (to modify my activities) to what sets it off. The pain I experience is like jolts of electricity going from the top of the glute to the back of the knee. Sometimes the pain is top of glute to the back of my knee both legs, some days one leg. There are times when it hurts to move, sit, or cough. Some days are actually good and I feel really decent and have good sessions at the gym (nothing crazy).

The recommendation from an Orthopedic and Neurosurgeon have been consistent; fuse L4/L5 and decompress the area. This has also been the consensus from physicians that I have had review the MRI.

So, I called my Dr to schedule the surgery on 12/8. Since I called I had a really good 7 days. This weekend has turned out totally opposite; pain, weakness in legs while walking, painful to get in SUV walking altered because of the pain.

Im 46, great health and active.

The thing that I find myself coming back to is; is it time now or do I wait? Im an executive and this time of the year is a slower time for me thus the reason I selected December. The surgeon said depending on the pain control/meds I should expect to return to work 3-4 weeks at my office and able to take calls a few days after surgery.

Realizing that I haven't went through this; when do you know it's time? I realize it may be different for everyone but, I find myself 2nd guessing do I or don't I. Some of that debating may be driven by my I cant imagine a 4-5 hour surgery, followed by 2-4 days in hospital, followed by home for a few days. I don't think I've been "restricted" for any time period and it drives me crazy to think of being non mobile for awhile.

Any insights are appreciated.


46, Good health, active.


  • Well, for me I opted for a microdiscectomy in February lat year and tried to avoid a fusion. Since I had a pars fracture in my spine, it seems that I really had to have the fusion, but I waited, recovered, swam an ultra marathon swim, and then started to actually have problems walking, I noted that I was limiting all my activities and making a lot of choices around how my back might cooperate. So by the time I hit the surgery table, I pretty much didn't have a life anyway. 10 days later, I'm moving better than I have in months. I honestly wished I had done it when it was first suggested to me, except that I was not so fond of surgeon number one. I did actually switch surgeons, which turned out to be pretty tough, but I work in health care, so I had a lot of background stats that the public don't really have. (infection rates per surgeon etc). If it's a slow time it might be best, because imagine all that pain coming during a not slow time and ending up having to have the surgery then. always better in my opinion to get it while yo are still strong then when you've been laying around for a while due to pain...
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