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davedave Posts: 860
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I've been very concerned as of late with all the new people appearing seeking advice and the recommendations are to get fused. Surgery is not a magic bullet, especially fusion. I'm constantly reading on here of people wondering why they are not better after having surgery. It takes a long time to recover from back surgery. It takes a long time for conservative methods to work. Treating the back is a long and arduous rode to travel, whether you opt for the conservative route or surgery. For those considering surgery, I've included the following link for you to review so you can start the process of becoming better educated:


Please, take the time to read this report. It has a lot of excellent information in it that might help some of you make a better and more informed decision as to the type of medical care you need and deserve



  • I believe the only reason most of us came to this site was because we were doing our research on-line! Several doctors have told me I need surgery. I came to the message board to get the courage from others experiences so that I can follow through with doctors recommendations. I can do all sorts of research and still not quite understand exactly what I am reading. It is my doctors job to explain it to me. I do not take surgery lightly, but in the end, I need to trust that the experts know what they are doing. It is very stressful making the decision to have surgery and I doubt anyone wants to jump right into it.
  • I came across this site doing research myself. My PCP insists I need surgery. My neurologist doesn't agree. PCP again insisted I need surgery. I see a neurosurgeon next month... and I'm sure he will have yet another opinion.

    The problem with me is, I don't want to have surgery. Not yet anyway. I'd like to try all other non-surgical options first. The way my PCP made it sound, I was making a terrible decision. He had me second guessing myself to the point I almost changed my mind. But my PCP is not a surgeon, nor a back specialist. And even if the NS recommends surgery, as long as nothing is life threatening, I still will hold off. And even then probably even seek another opinion.

    I'd like to let everyone know, that you have all been so helpful with my questions, and helping me to trust my decision not to have surgery. It's a great relief to know that I have a choice when it comes to my spine, and that I have support here no matter what route I chose.

    Thank you all!!
  • Do you really think anyone on here is just "starting the process of becoming better educated" as you state? I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE SURGERY. I, as has everyone else on this site, have been doing my research. I am not an expert in spinal surgery. I have learned a lot about surgery during my research. However, I am not a doctor and I must trust those that have spent years becoming educated in this field. Unless, of course, I plan to go to med school. I have had several opinions, all the same. What do you expect us to do when we are told by many doctors to have spinal fusion?
  • I dont think people come in here and listen to complete strangers tell them what to do. People come in here for more information. Its all fine and dandy to sit in the doctors office and listen to him describe the surgeries etc. but its much better to go to the people who have been in your shoes before, who have had spine problems before and be able to talk to them and hear their stories to help you make a more educated decision.

    Christina :)
  • I looked through the fusion aspect of the "Burton Report" this is nothing new. There are many many other good sites on the WWW.

    After suffering for the better part of 10 years- I knew that I had serious problems. I only have 1 option at getting my life back and this is it. Yes I really want to have the surgery. I want to get this behind me and get my life back.

    My surgeon told me that about 90% of fusion patients are considered successful. With my instabilty issues I will feel better immediately. If I can start walking without pain and weakness I will consider my surgery a success. If in 15 years I need to have the next level fused or a ADR I will.


  • Obviously, you are having difficulties understanding what I wrote. Please do not put words in my mouth or my posts. No where do I say don't do something. If you want to go and blindly have surgery without understanding what it may or may not accomplish, thats your prerogative. I for one needed to understand what my surgeon was trying to accomplish with the procedures he was performing. A good surgeon is more than capable of explaining what they are doing and why they are doing it.

    What does someone do when they get differing opinions? It is up to the patient then to query each differing opinion why that is the best treatment. Coming onto SH and asking the question is stupid.

  • I disagree. A lot of people come to this forum for medical advice. This is my opinion.

  • It sounds like you have done your due diligence. Whats your problem with what I said. No where do I say not to do something. All I said was to research your own condition.

    Good Luck.

  • I think that some people are being a little unfair to Dave. I believe his intentions were good and not ment to demean any one. It just shows that he is concerned about the other people on this site. I waited 5 years before I decided to have my fusion and even then some members wanted me to wait and get another opinion. I appreciated their concern and politely thanked them. I did not take it the wrong way.
  • If you don't like my words, fine. Obviously, I'm not talking to you. My advice is not off the wall like telling someone to have surgery when you have no clue as to what is going on. If you don't agree with my opinion, then just bypass the thread. I get the feeling that I am not entitled to my opinion. Sounds like a really progressive forum where differing opinions are not allowed.

  • Thank you. At least someone gets it.
  • You are entitled to your opinion just like everyone else. I see that you have had several surgeries the last one with hardware removal. That sucks and I bet you would like to keep at least one person from having to go threw that. I know you are just trying to help others and maybe if they reread your original past they would see that too. Good luck to you and keep posting!

  • Deciding to have the fusion was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I remember very well walking into the NS office and telling him straight up I do not want surgery. I was there to appease my GP who felt I needed to go. My NS told me in that 1st visit that only 80% of back pain sufferers need/or would benefit from surgery and we would do what ever we could to go a non-surgical route. I was so happy to hear that. It ended up taking me 16 months of pain and 4 MRI's CT scans EMG/NCS and countless x-rays before I tearfully agreed to have the fusion surgery. It was not an easy thing to decide. My NS told me at the stage I was we would see about a 70% improvement and that that was pretty good. However, the longer I waited, the longer I allowed my spine to remain unstable the less chance of a good outcome. When I finally saw the seriousness of my pars defect and what might lie ahead of me I went for the fusion. It was about quality of life for me and I would do what I needed to to make it the best I can. I am only 36. I have a lot to look forward to and I hope in the long run the fusion was the best route. It's not like you can just go sign up for one cause you think you need one. I relied heavily on input from both my doctors and really looked at the pros and cons and I made the best decision for me. I'm still VERY early out (at 2 weeks today) but I can already tell a difference. Everyone is different and not all treatments are for every BODY. The reason I frequented this site was to have a sense of comadary with people who knew/know where I was coming from in my "back chronicles" I didn't come here to make life altering decisions based on what a lot of strangers said. This place has been a huge comfort for me and I am glad it is here. I see where you are coming from Dave but in the end it's really up to the professionals and each individual. It just really stinks that so many people have these back and neck issues. My heart goes out to everyone who lives with it. We are kindred spirits and it is good to have a haven like this one.

    just my two cents.

    Kelly Jo
  • I for one understand what Dave is saying, and to some point I agree. It is not wise to take the information given by members here as fact, because none of us are trained medical professionals. It is easy to build friendships here and for us to want to share our experiences and want to help. But it is also easy for us to cross the line and tell someone that it is okay to do something that we have no business giving an opinion on. I have probably been guilty of this as well as a lot of members here.

    For example, check out the thread today about stockings for preventing bloodclots. There is a wide range of experiences, and it would be easy for one to take from that thread that it is okay to remove the stockings that their trained doctor has prescribed. Especially if you are looking for "permission" to remove them. All of us can justify a wrong to seem like a right, that is just human nature. (This example in no way is meant to put anyone down or make members defensive. Please don't react that way.) I am a person who had a massive blood clot that then resulted in pulmonary embolisms. Because of that experience, my advice would be much different than those who were sharing their experiences of remmoving their stockings. The bottom line though is that our physicians are the ones we should be asking. Is it okay to share experiences? Absolutely, and this gives a lot of us comfort and reassurances when we are worried about things. I learned a lot from this site when I was first starting with my neck problems. Some of what I was told was not true though. When I took the information back to my surgeon, he just laughed and said get off the internet. On the other side though I learned things to ask my surgeon, things that he didn't bother to mention that were relevant to my situation. Without the information gained here I would have not known what to ask.

    So if we are a support group, that is wonderful. But please remember not to let any of the members here replace your physicians.

    Dave, I value your opinion on things here, and you have never led me wrong. Thanks for bringing up such a serious topic. We all need to be reminded to do our own due diligence and seek opinions from qualified people.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • You are correct Carrie. I'm one of the unlucky 5% who has some minor nerve damage from my surgery. That is one of the risks you take when someone moves stuff around. I'm improving every week and am confident that everything will level off within the next month or so. I will never be 100% and I except that, but where I am now is a 100 times better than where I was a year ago. If I had gone into this ordeal with blind acceptance, I'm sure I would be very upset. There are no guarantees with surgery and its possible you could end up worse than before the surgery. I for one consider myself one of the lucky ones cause I'm able to do my honey do list around the house, play golf (need to wait a few more weeks), and basically live my life with minimal difficulties.

  • I was one of those people going into surgery with "blind faith". I will admit that I really just trusted my surgeon and said let's do it. He told me I would be off work 2 weeks. I had been through several other surgeries, and frankly thought it would be just like the others. Get sliced open, remove the problem, suffer with incision pain for a few days and get on with life. Well, man was I wrong!

    I wish I had found this site pre-surgery the first time around. But I didn't. Would I still have had the surgery even if I had researched more? I feel I had no choice so yes, I would. But I would have done things a little differently had I known what to expect long-term. spine surgery is serious stuff and Dave is right, we need to research and get several opinions before making such a major decision.

    Just another round of my .02 cents, for what it is worth.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Okay, I'll just say it:

    You all ROCK!!

    I'm very happy when I read things that make me stop and think and truly evaluate my decision making process - both sides of the equation - both sides - I know it helps me make better informed decisions!
  • I posted a thread on the old board very similar about people giving advice on medications such as how much is appropriate to take. We do not "know" who we're talking to and it is irresponsible for us to claim to know more than the doctors. Sure, there isn't any substitution for the human experience and I myself have taken a great deal of comfort in the fact that I have people that have been through the same thing to talk to. There is, however, a difference between helpful hints on how to get around after surgery or what to ask the doc pre-op and asking if you should HAVE surgery or not.

    Like Dave and Cindy, my surgical results were anything but stellar. I DID my research and didn't ask for advise from laymen before surgery and it still went all wrong. There is no magic cure folks and what works for one person can go very, very wrong for another. Only you and your medical professionals can make the determination based on your medical findings and what will help YOU lead the quality of life that you need. Our role here as members of this board is to be friends and mentors- not substitute doctors. I will call it like I see it, however, because I think surgeons are pretty unrealistic when it comes to things like healing times. The people here can be helpful in that way because we've been there, done that. I don't know many neurosurgeons that have had the surgeries that they perform, do you?

    Dave, I think people come on here and ask others to help them with their decisions because they are plain scared (weren't we all?). They see a lot of experience in us and think that we can push them where they want to go but may not have the courage to pull the trigger alone. While I agree that it's not right to give medical advise I wouldn't go so far to call those who ask for it "stupid". It's up to us, as experiened surgical patients, to urge them to do the research (like you did in this post) and make an informed decision. I get your point but demeaning them is not going to solve the issue- people will continue to come on here asking for us to make their decisions. Perhaps you can post more often on those types of threads, giving them links to follow, urging them to get another opinion or whatever else fits the situation.


  • Griff,

    You are right, stupid is not the right word to use. The gist of the point is still valid. I think its great when someone asks what do they need to do prior to surgery and compare notes as to what worked for someone else. What happens is, a lot of people go to the extreme (and I've read a lot of posts) and start asking for advice from people unqualified to give it.

    I've been on this forum for a very long time, over year. I have made well over 1200 posts on the previous forum. I've always tried to temper my responses without going over the line (I'm sure I've slipped my foot over a couple of times). This is what was done for me last year when I was new and faced with all kinds of doubts about my upcoming surgery. The big thing last year, no one ever said do it Dave, it worked for me. Instead, everyone was very supportive, urging me to educate myself on my condition. My Surgeon was great in explaining everything to me, but it still does not quell the butterflies that one gets prior to a major decision.

    This is not the first time that I've started a thread like this and every time I do it, I get blasted. I appreciate the support from those of you who think like I do. I'm not trying to start a fight here, but rather raise awareness.


  • I agree with you that patients need to get 2nd and 3rd opinions when it comes to spine surgery. I felt you were suggesting that we don't do our research and just jump into surgery. I think that anyone who has found this site must have come across it while doing research. I do appreciate your links to other information that I may not have come across.
  • Dave,

    I must say that I sincerely respect and appreciate your initial post. I went to the website that you posted, and I vehemently agree that - whether out of sheer frustration with the health care system or whatever - people frequently "jump the gun" in terms of one alternative versus another (more suitable) one. I did this myself in some instances.

    Always, more information is better (although that "more" information is not always accurate information, admittedly). I've lived with low back and bilateral leg pain for 7 years, and have had epidurals, narcotics, PT, a spinal stimulator, and 2 surgeries. Unfortunately, all along the way, I've received mixed - and often conflicting - advisement from PCPs, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and pain management docs. And so the need to find a more immediate solution and fix is very often forefront - what you are saying here is that one needs to get the most information possible, and then to stop and consider all possible alternatives and their associated consequences.

    I agree with you 100%. In fact, I believe that I did not need a spinal stimulator, but needed a fusion. Had I had better and more timely information over a year and a half ago, I would have avoided a needless surgery (in my humble opinion it was needless - time will tell). It seems to me (solely from my experiences anyway) that the reason that one often gets conflicting opinions and/or varying diagnoses from different professionals is that the treatment of back and nerve pain is still much more of an more of an art than it is a science (perhaps this is more accurately stated that the treatment of back, neck, and nerve pain is still a quite subjective matter). This is in no way to disregard the wondrous things that surgeons can now do to heal those who are afflicted, but to say that we still have a long, long way to go here.

    One thing that I would say here is that, as it relates to the inherently subjective nature of the treatment of back/neck conditions, treating professionals so very often forget to manage the psychological aspect of the condition. There seems to be universal agreement about the mind-body connection, but so very little is really done to prepare people psychologically for what they will encounter after treatment (particularly surgery). I found this to be true in my case - I don't believe that I was psychologically prepared for the post-surgical (recovery) stuff that I have experienced to date. Recovery is not easy.

    Best wishes and good health to you and to everyone on this post.

  • Let me ask you this. How many medical opinions should a patient seek before we accept what the doctor is telling us? What if two doctors say surgery and a 3rd says PT. Do we get a 4th and 5th opinion. I would think that insurance would put a stop to it at some point. I would gladly get several opinions, just wondering if it is practical. I got referred to 2 NS by friends and other doctors. Both NS suggest surgery. Do I need to keep looking until I find a NS that tells me something else. I don't want to have surgery, but nothing else has helped. I want to go back to my "normal" life. I do not look forward to the road ahead. I don't know what more to do. I have researched, sought out the best surgeons in my area and followed through with physical therapy and even checked out the "Burton Report". What more can I do???
  • Hi Crash21,

    I think it's all quite simple in the sense that everyone needs to decide for themselves to what extent they need more information and/or professional opinions. Unfortunately, no one can make this decision for you (people can support and help, of course, but at some point YOU need to be satisfied that the best alternatives are now in front of you - and then you can decide which is best).

    What Dave is saying is that - before making a decision, one should have the most - and best - information possible.

    I wish you all the best! :)

  • I appreciate this post Dave. For I had not heard of the burton report. I'm one of those that came here for info to inform myself of all the alternatives that people have taken before decideing if surgery was right for them. I'm going in for my 2nd oppinion next Tuesday. I'm not afraid of having surgery if thats what needs to be done. But I'm also a sceptic & a realest. Sceptic because I know that the medical profession has become a cash cow to some DR's. A realest to the extent that I know that I have no other choice but to put my faith into a Dr. I feel I can trust & the good Lord above. I'm more concernd with the recovery time & financial impact to my household than I'am having the surgery. I know you can't put a price on your health.
  • That is a terrible story. I'm sorry. The fact that a non-spine OS damaged you is terrible.

    I hope things go better for you.

    PS/ I spent the evening going through every link of the burton report- I will probably go back in a day or 2 and get wrapped up in it again. There is some interesting info in there. I was wrong.

  • Crash,

    Decided to edit my long diatribe and just give you my opinion. You could see a dozen doctors with recommendations all over the place. Opinions are just that opinions. What makes one opinion better than another is when you are presented with the why to that opinion. If you're told, you need surgery, one would hope they would also explain their reasoning why they think this is the best route to take over other options. Doctors have so many patients these days and they're constantly doing battle with the insurance companies that sometimes they forget to explain the details.

    I hope you find the answers you are looking for.

  • davedave Posts: 860
    edited 06/20/2016 - 10:28 AM
     Don't feel sorry for me. I have edited the post above, so everyone may not know what you are talking about. After reading it over, I thought my point was getting lost in my own personal sob story. My original OS meant well, just think he was in over his head. Hindsight is 20/20. My goal now is to get people to think and ask questions before they act. There is no turning back once you start down the path of surgery.

  • Dave
    Just went on to chirogeek and it is THE coolest site!!! Wish I knew about it earlier. Thanks for the info!!!

  • I have chirogeek already. Another useful site.


  • I was with you when you started the thread on the old site.Was just wondering when this one is coming.Can't agree more with you,and don't really understand why ppl are getting mad.
    So many new members are popping up with questions such "How much med is too much?" or "What exercises should I do post op?
    "Should I have a fusion or MicroD?".This is my favorite "Can someone explain my MRI report?"....
    Don't know about you,but I don't believe it'd ever stop.
    Well, hope you are having a good day,including not being blasted anymore...

    Cheers,G. 8)
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