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For those of you who have had L5/S1 fusion

What was your reason for having it done? What were your symptoms? 

Did any of you have it done for lower back/butt pain without any major nerve pain in the legs? 

How many of you had lumbar spinal instability, and how was that diagnosed? 

Sorry for the italics, I can't get it to turn off. 



  • Hi star0210

    My last surgery from TLIF L4/S1.  I had had two previous surgery to deal with severe herniation and nerve pain in my legs.

    I have always been aware and told numerous times that most surgeons will not operate just for back pain, so I was not expecting any pain in my back to reduce really.  My main issues were the leg problems and the sleep deprivation these caused on a nightly basis (also through the day of course)

    I was diagnosed via my MRI results and then by myself keeping notes for my surgeon about continued or new symptoms between visits

    To remove the italics just try clicking the 'I' button just above this typing box (some systems are different)




    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015
    L4-S1 TLIF with decompression June 2017
  • I  had l5 s1  fusion 2 yr ago after 5 yr of leg and back pain.  dr thought it would more likely help leg pain rather than back pain.  I got opposite  result    My disc there was completely worn away, and back ache was awful..Glad its gone.  leg pain is from herniation and nerve damage.

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  • ToddsBackAgainToddsBackAgain Massachusetts Posts: 8

    Hi Star,

    Friday, I am getting a two level spinal fusion- S1 -L4. My leg pain is intermittent, any type of lifting, twisting, bending causes me pain.  I've had the same disc rupture 3 times in less than a year. So, my hope is that back pain will subside and I can get back to a normal life. 

  • Thank you for the replies.

    Todd...best wishes on your surgery. I hope it's a huge success and relieves all of your pain! 

  • BitzicatBBitzicat PhoenixPosts: 74

    Are you asking because you're trying to decide on surgery?

    I am one year out from PLIF of l4/5/s1.  I had spondylolisthesis which only would have continued to slip further.  For me isurgery was voluntary because my pain had reached a level that I couldn't do anything without pain. Because of my age (71) I did not want to "wait and see" since I knew there would come a time a surgeon would not touch it.  I still have minor pain and numbness but I'm back to playing golf and doing more than I could before the surgery.  Exhaustion stays with you a long time. The best thing I can recommend is get in good condition first; it helps you immediately after surgery to do the rehab.  Bottom line, I would do it again......

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  • Hi bitzicat...yes I'm trying to decide whether to have surgery or continue to put it off.

    I had a laminectomy and discectomy back in 2011 and 10 months later I re-herniated the disc. It's no longer herniated. L5/S1 is pretty much bone on bone and what little disc material left is bulging and compressing the S1 nerve root. The facet joints at that level are also rubbing against each other. L4/L5 is also bulging and compressing the L5 nerve root. It still has good disc height though. 

    Two neurosurgeons have said I need a fusion. I've been putting it off and managing with TESI's and RFA's for the last several years without the use of narcotics/opiates. However; these procedures aren't lasting as long as they used to. 

    I have numbness, tingling, burning in my left leg and foot and occasionally the right and also numbness in my butt. But there is no significant nerve damage happening. 

    So bottom line is I'm on the fence. 

  • BitzicatBBitzicat PhoenixPosts: 74

    How do you know you have no nerve damage?

    I too have numbness in my left leg and butt but I got that after surgery.  Have assumed it was nerve damage and permanent.

  • I had an EMG nerve conduction study last week. 

    Showed old damage but no active damage. 

  • waltfwaltf Austin, TXPosts: 19

    Hi Star,

    I see from your other posts that you have had numerous RFA procedures and that you are also considering a Spinal Cord Stimulator.  I just wanted to let you know, if you do not know yet, that once you have a SCS implanted you will most likely no longer be able to have any more RFA procedures.

    Most SCS systems do not allow any kind of strong magnetic, electric or electromagnetic field anywhere close to the system. Examples of what is not allowed are: diathermy, electrocautery, MRI, RF ablation, and therapeutic ultrasound

    There are newer SCS systems that allow MRI under controlled circumstances with specific types and coil strengths of the MRI system and the type and duration of the scan itself, etc. but, as far as I know, they do not allow RFA procedures.

    Just wanted to let you know that if you go this route you may be giving up RFAs as an option, but as always, double check this with your medical providers to be sure.

    L5-S1 Discectomy
    L4-L5 Discectomy (four times)
    L4-L5 TLIF Fusion
    L3-L4 Posterolateral Fusion
    Revision L4-L5 Posterolateral Fusion
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