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Surgery or not

Precious BamaPPrecious Bama Posts: 34
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Do any of you know what will happen to my back if I do not have this fusion. L4-5 is deteriorated and L5-s1 is collapsed and I have had a cervical fusion and laminectomy at L4-5. I chose to do epidurals because I am so scared of this surgery. I am borderline osteoporis and turning 60 on Monday. Will I continue to have more problems with these two discs or what? Thank you all for any advice you can give me.


  • are that the problems you are currently having with your back are only going to get worse. If you've exhausted all your other options and nothing seems to be working then the fusion will be your only choice on having any good qualiy of life. I too have had a cervical fusion as well, so my lumbar fusion was my second fusion.
    Dont let fear crowd your judgement. When a fusion works, it gives you back your life.

    Best Wishes,
    CHrisina :)
  • have you had two or three opinions?
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  • doctors youre seeing telling you this is your last option? Is this why youre so scared?

  • It's really scary deciding to have surgery, but I keep hearing about people who have put it off, and put it off, and when they have eventually gone ahead with it, they wish they'd done it years ago! I'm in the same boat myself, my L4-L5 is degenerated, the previous stabilisation surgery has failed, so I had 2 choices. Stay as I am and probably never improve but very likely get worse, or opt for a corrective surgery and fusion. I know the risks, and I know that there is no cure and I will always have some pain, but I think it's worth it to try and get back some quality of life. I don't know what the situation is with patients who suffer from osteoporosis, but if that conditions worsens as you get older, you may not even have the option of the surgery at a later date. So as long as you have had at least 2 opinions, I would go for the surgery. That's what I just did today and I have finally decided to go for it. I won't lie, I'm terrified, but we just have to stay focused on a positive outcome and getting some quality of life back.

    Good luck with whatever road you decide to take. Take care, Spicey

  • Brenda,

    Happy Birthday! <:P <br />
    As you read all the posts of having a surgery or not fear of the unknown is normal. How many opinions from Docs and Surgs do you have? Do they all point to surgery? Have all conservative methods been exhausted?

    Mine surgs (3 opinions) all said either live with pain or have the surgery. I wanted my life back (no pun intended)!!

    I am 9 weeks post op and slowly getting better. I only need to take Naproxen Sodium 400mg sometimes 1 or 2 times daily. Granted my activity level is nothing what I was before the MVA, but it is improving.

    I knew the risks going in as do you and I felt the risks were worth the rewards. Being in dibilitating pain for another 30 years would be no fun at all.
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  • Hi Brenda,

    As the other respondents said this is a serious decision between you and your trusted surgeon. The reason I add my comment is because you mention you age almost as a deterrent. Since I am over ten years older than you, let me share with you my thoughts.
    1. Once we get older, our bones show a lot of degenerative changes which means that they only get worse, never better. So we don't always have the same choices as younger people.

    2. Providing we are in relatively good physical shape, our chances of recovery are not worse than for younger people. I had a three-level lumbar fusion on 5/1/08 and it couldn't have gone any better. I did not experience the post-operative pain as most people here did, and my recovery has been very rapid and uneventful. Most importantly, all my pre-surgery symptoms are gone. So yes, this old girl is doing real good!

    If you have any questions PM me.

    Wishing you the best for making this very important decision.

  • I posted this recently - hope it helps...

    Pro’s and Con’s of Surgery

    I first posted this on the old forum so thought it might be helpful to some people now on the new forum.

    Many people question surgery and wonder what the advantages and disadvantages are. I have summarized below what I think are the pros and cons of surgery but I want to state that these are only my views as a long time back pain sufferer who has had two surgeries and is now back-pain free. Please just use this as an additional source of information in your information-gathering exercise but at the end of the day you should make a decision based upon what you and your doctor(s) agree is best for you.

    In my mind, surgery should always be seen as last resort as it is usually irreversible.

    (Not all of the following pro’s and con’s apply in every case)


    - Remove completely, or significantly reduce, current pain levels. This is thought of or recognised as the most obvious reason for having surgery but it may not always be achieved, however the following point must also be considered – the two really go hand in hand.

    - Stop the condition from getting worse and causing increased pain or disability. This is often overlooked but is a significant benefit of many spine surgeries. For example, DDD resulting in foraminal stenosis, a fusion ‘fixes or locks’ the fused joint (stabilises the joint) so that any further disc degeneration will not cause the stenosis to come back.

    - Removing the risk of permanent nerve damage, if the condition is impinging a nerve. Conditions which impinge a nerve can cause permanent nerve damage if the condition persists for too long. Surgery will remove the nerve impingement thus remove the risk of permanent nerve damage.

    - Fix a structural deformity, e.g. scoliosis. Usually there are no other options for significant deformities, other than surgery.


    - Lengthy recovery period. For most of us, the recovery period from spine surgery is longer than we ever imagined. It is common for patients to be off work for many weeks to several months, and for full recovery to take up to a year or more.

    - There are no guarantees that the surgery will reduce your pain, although there is a very good chance. However, don’t expect to feel 100% perfect again, especially if it is major surgery like a fusion.

    -There is a small risk of increased pain/complications – things can go wrong, or your condition could be far worse than thought before surgery. Occasionally, patient’s pain levels are worse after surgery than before.

    - In case of fusion surgery, additional stresses can be placed on adjacent discs – this slightly increases the risk of problems with those discs in the future.

    - Standard surgical risks associated with any surgery.

    - Expensive (not a problem if your insurance is paying).

    For the right condition, at the right time, surgery is absolutely appropriate and can give back a quality of life that was not possible by other conservative pain management options. However, surgeries can also be performed on patients when surgery is not the most appropriate treatment option – sometimes with terrible outcomes. This does happen.

    The decision to have surgery or not, is not an easy one and all the other associated points commonly talked about on this message board should be considered, e.g. getting second opinions, exhausting conservative pain management options first, etc. Do your research / due diligence.
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • below is a link to a spinehealth article that describes disc degeneration and the usual path it follows, you can also google Kirkaldy-Willis degenerative cascade for more information as this is a well established phenomena,


    hope this helps you understand and good luck with your decision,

  • I just happened to think of something. My mother who is 86 had stenosis in her lower spine. She had surgery five years ago to correct this and alleviate her sciatic pain. She is doing great no complications and very active on her own.
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