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1 or 2 level fusion

After 2 years of trying different methods to relieve my lower back pain i have finally been given the go ahead for surgery. I have torn and herniated discs at L4-L5 and L5-S1. A discography was the last thing i had done to confirm it was both discs giving me the pain, I would never have that procedure done again even if i was paid. The surgeon hit my nerve with the needle 4 times at L4-L5 and 5 times at L5-S1!!!
It's a different surgeon offering to do my fusion and has given me the option to have it done it 1 or 2 stages. Go for the L4-L5 first then wait a little while before doing L5-S1 or go for both in the same day.
What would you do if given the choice?
Without struggle there is no progress


  • I did both at the same time. Very rough surgery for me. One year later I did the next level which was DDD at the time of the first surgery but didn't create pain on discogram in the beginning so dr said leave it alone. Wish I had done all 3 at one time. Back surgery is a serious surgery and I hated missing work for 3 months at a time. After last surgery in 2010 I was good. Now 6 years later I'm faced with L 2-L3 worn out and causing issues. 3 injections later my dr said let me know when you want to fuse it. I told him I was going to hold off as long as possible but today I couldn't sleep due to nerve pain in leg. It never ends. Good luck with your decision.
    TLIF L4-S1 2007                                         TLIF L3-L4 2008                                          TLIF L2-L3 2016
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 732
    edited 01/07/2016 - 2:07 PM
    That's great that you have a surgeon that has given you the choice... most don't. Fusion surgery is a MAJOR surgery and recovery is a rough road as Kbragg has said but if you leave a level that has a problem you are faced with struggling with the nerve pain from that joint in addition to trying to heal and recover from the surgery on the other joint. You also run the risk of permanent nerve damage on the untouched joint. Also important in fusion surgery recovery is the type of procedure the surgeon uses... some are easier on your back muscles and internal trauma versus other. Hopefully you will have a discussion with your surgeon on the different procedures and options. To help educate yourself you should review on this site some of the different write-ups and videos on fusion surgery options.
    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
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