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Not sure if I need or want surgery

rmrrm Posts: 1
edited 11/21/2015 - 2:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I've had a recent MRI that shows :
Multilevel degenerative spondylosis, with grossly mild to moderate canal stenosis. There is marked encroachment of the left lateral recess at L3-L4 with neural foraminal narrowing that is most conspicuous at L3-L4 and L4-L5 on the left.

I have multiple pain symptoms which change from day to day. But the pain in my right leg near my knee and down my shin is every day. It gets worse with walking or standing. The pain is achy, but becomes sharp when I put my full weight on my right leg.
I have very tight upper front thighs and groin. The area is very tender to the touch and the muscles hurt when massaged deeply.
Sometimes I get really tight when standing or walking, and my butt (periformis) really hurts. I do get pain down my leg like sciatica but mostly after walking or standing for a time. The pain is mostly in my right leg, but it sometimes goes to my left leg.

In March I was able to walk without pain, but standing for a long time was uncomfortable with a dull ache in my legs.

I can stretch my legs, and back. I can do exercises to relieve some of the tightness, but it comes back qulckly when walking or standing.
I now use a cane, and that is hard. I am thinking I'd need a scooter to get around.

I have osteoarthritis in my hips and knees as well. AND have had injections for pain management. I've also had epidural shots in my back.
They worked somewhat, but not completely. I'm due for another shot in my back.

I wonder if back surgery would alleviate my pain and inability to walk. But I think my problem is complex and not clear cut. The thought of complex back surgery and the pain of recovery terrifies me.
Thanks for any comments.


No one on the Spine-Health patient forums is medically qualified to provide any advice or recommendations on any diagnostic test. However, the following key words can always be applied.

  • MILD Treated with conservative measures such as Physical Therapy and mild medications. Many times these situations can be cleared up and the condition can be resolved.
    MODERATE Some more treatments may be needed, ie Spinal Injections, Ultra sound and stronger medications. Always a possibility of more aggressive treatment if the conservative measures don't help
    SEVERE Need for stronger medications. The requirement for surgery may be necessary

As there are no medical professionals on the forum side of this site. Therefore everything you read is based on the personal experiences and/or research done by the individual member. Comments should never be taken as pure medical facts. You need to discuss this with your doctor. They are the only ones that can provide you with detailed information about you, the patient.



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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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
  • my personal experience is with two back surgeries,. I did have epidurals which helped to restore function to my foot after i lost function, but honestly right before my fusion I was considering a walker to help me get around. The day of surgery I was able to get up and walk with just using a brace, and I found the pain of recovery to be much less than the pain I was in every day trying to walk around. I really felt I had no choice since life kind of requires that I walk. Prior to surgery, I went to several neurosurgeons and had several opinions (all of which were actually pretty much identical.) My surgeon who I eventually chose was able to articulate what he hoped the surgery would do for me, and what he wasn't sure about. He was able to tell me that surgery would be expected to improve my condition, he just couldn't tell me by how much. So those are the kinds of things a surgeon should be able to tell you. If they feel after looking at your films that surgery won't help, they are usually really straightforward and refer you to more pain management. There aren't that many near surgeons in practice compared to family docs etc so they are not in general out there trolling for business.... so I always feel I can expect them to give a fairly appropriate answer. They can also tell you if they feel your situation is complex. I'm a nurse and basically every patient i've met feels themselves to be complex. (It's happening to YOU and it is often the worst thing thats happened,) I felt my situation was super difficult and special, but my surgeon reminded me that my films looked "and but fixable" and that he sees stuff like this all the time., which allowed me to also trust him a bit. Good Luck to you.
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