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Lumbar fusion and Final reason why you decided to have one.

Hello. I am 39 years years old active mom with 3 kids. I have suffered with low back and sciatica for 7 years. I had a microdiesectony on L5 S1 area 4 years ago which took away sciatica completely. Since then I get flairs of leg pain here and there. My most recent flair happened 3 months ago with severe back pain. My most recent MRI shows severe stenosis in L5 S1 and a torn disc in the L5 and L4. I had injection about 3 weeks ago too the pain away immiatlly. The pain is coming back and I am over this. Spinal surgeon said to hold out as long as possible. However I can't do much like stretching, walking for longer than 5 minutes without the pain coming on. When is time to just have the fusion. My doctor said I will need one eventually it's  just when I can't take the pain anymore. I am also experiencing groin pain and surgeon said that is for the L5 nerve. 



  • Hello Terry

    Welcome to Spine-Health!

    Sorry for all that suffering your going through

    Hang in there,many members here have been wherr your at and can help with advice!

    Please use the link below for more information about and in Spine-Health

    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • Each person has there own tolerance level for pain.  If you feel as if everything has been done and you're still miserable, then I think it's time to have a serious discussion with your surgeon AND family.  Surgery can be life changing.  You need to be aware of what the pro's and con's are, but your family needs to know the support you will need post operatively.  It's a big decision to make.  I'd also suggest getting a second opinion from another doctor just to make sure everyone is on the same page.

    Best of luck!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
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  • Surgery is a very huge decision.  At the end of the day it's you and your family's choice. What's right for some isn't right for all and vice versa.  I had a fusion at L5-S1 done in December.  I had exhausted all my options and the pain meds weren't helping my quality of life.  It went EXTREMELY well til about May when radiating pain poked its' head back in the picture.  Turns out I got what's referred to as adjacent level disease.  The level above is now herniated and pressing on the exiting nerve root.  I was told these things happen and my surgeon and I and my wife and son talked about the complications that could possibly arise from the surgery.  Do I regret having the fusion? Not at all... Good luck to you and your family!

    Ankylosing spondylitis, moderate lumbar spinal stenosis, spondylolthesis L5- S1, 5mm disc protrusions T6- 9 with minimal cord compression, cerebral palsy of the right side

    PLIF fusion L5- S1 with decompression and hardware Dec 7th 2016
  • My decision to have ALIF fusion surgery (last week) actually came about after I landed in the ER. I had actually scheduled a fusion earlier in the summer and canceled it because I was feeling better. Then, one night I rolled over in my sleep and felt a shock go down my leg. The pain increased rapidly and quickly  until I decided to go to the ER because I couldn’t use the bathroom and every breath resulted in unbearable, shocking pain. Over the past 6-9 months, I have been living off steroids and pain pills in order to lead a normal life. I decided I didn’t want my life to be like that anymore and was willing to try the surgery. I would recommend not to have the fusion surgery until you are absolutely certain you want to do it. The recovery is harder than anything I have ever been through but I am hopeful it pays off. Good luck to you. 

  • I know this post is a couple of months old but will answer since I feel it is important.

    I also has a discectomy at that level. Then 3 years later, the sciatica returned even worse. After many injections, and after I was told they were a waste of time because there was no disc left, and I could no longer put any weight on my left leg without it feeling like an ice pick in my back, I started shopping for a surgeon.

    But since I smoked, the 1st 2 said no way! But knew one who would. I went to him, and it turned out he invented a fusion device, and it was very successful. Within 2 years, I was back to doing Zumba (maybe shorter time...it's been 5 years now)

    However....now, things are cascading upward, which is common. Now my thoracic is absolutely killing me, and pain is through the roof again. I had slight pain there before but now it's horrendous. So...although the fusion was successful, you will NEVER BE PAIN FREE.

    Something to think about.

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  • The decision to have lumbar fusion was, in a sense, already made for me. As I was beginning to lose the use of my legs.   I recall at the time that dealing  with numbness from the waist down was even more difficult psychologically than dealing with the considerable pain.  Of course as we always say--every case is different.

  • Every single comment so far is right on.  I had TLIF L5-S1.   I waited until I started to have motor problems in my leg.  The sensory stuff is painful and annoying but the motor stuff is serious.  You don’t want to become less functional at a young age.  Also choose your surgeon wisely.  Have a long discussion with him about what to expect in the short and long term.  Also there are risks involved so make sure that you have your finances in order in case you need to be off work longer than expected. Lastly speak with your family and know what resources are available afterwards.  As for me the surgery went well.  My trouble started 6 months later when I became more like a person.   The bone torque of my fusion is causing me moderate to severe daily pain.   I have scoliosis too.... so it’s  complicated.  My sacrum is taking the extra load and gets quite painful.   You need to gather info/ make a pro con list/ and plan for the future.   It is life changing.   Good luck

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