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Fusion Surgery for DDD? Any experience? Any Advice?

Dear DDD fellow sufferers:

I am heading for a second injection for my DDD.  The pain is overwhelming me because 1. my neck is a wreck, 2.  I have an Immune Inflammatory Disease and when I have a flare of inflammation every joint in my body lights up in pain like the 4th of July.   I just stopped an inflammatory attack with 8 mg of Medrol last night.   

No doctor wants me to take larger doses of Medrol, since it is a corticosteroid, and we all know how dangerous the side effects are.

But 8 mg Medrol did stop the inflammatory attack, so now I'm back to my 'regular' level of pain.  Yeah, there's regular pain and super pain, it turns out.

I tried to use meditation and relaxation but I just could not make it work at 1 am.  So I took more Medrol.

MY QUESTION What can you share about fusion surgery for DDD?  

In my past I have had four surgeries on joints that worked because they relieved my pain entirely:  Surgery on my left thumb, Surgery on my right shoulder to remove a bone spur, arthroscopic surgery on my left knee to remove a piece of meniscus jammed in my knee joint, and most recently a laminectomy on my Lumbar spine at L3-4.

So I have had total relief of pain with those surgeries.

I guess that isn't the promise with a fusion for degenerative disc disease?

Any thoughts, experience, please share.

Regards, ElaineD

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Comments

  • Elaine

    I am sorry you are going through all of this, I hope you can get this handled with the injections.

    I had fusion surgery in Feb. 2018 C4-C7 after surgery I was pain free for about 6-8 months, some of the pain has returned, but still much better than before surgery, I know several people that have had cervical fusion surgery, none of them are pain free, but all of them are better than before surgery. I really don't think there is such a thing as pain free after spinal surgery.

    Chip

    challenger
    Spine-Health Moderator


  • I agree with Challenger. Spinal fusion surgery often doesn't get rid of pain entirely but it can help. I had a fusion on my L5 S1 the end of October 2018. I do have some numbness in my left foot and calf from surgery but it is slowly getting better. The numbness really worried me at first because I didn't know this was a common occurrence after this type of surgery so just be aware of that. I'm told the numbness could go away completely but could take awhile.....awhile can translate to weeks, months or even years fyi. 

    After surgery I have noticed less nerve pain which is great. I still have back pain but it feels more like post surgical pain still at this point. It isn't the same kind of back pain I had before surgery.

    At 3 months post op I'd say my recovery was going well. My bone is fusing well. I was given the green light and my restrictions have been lifted by my surgeon (within reason). 

    3 weeks later I started yoga (surgeon said that should be fine) for beginners and I did the best I could but not push it, my muscles are pretty tight. Well, I think I must have pushed it too far without realizing it because I'm in pain. It started slow, just a small pang in my lower back, nothing major. Now I have a hard time standing long enough to make dinner. Sitting is hard. By the end of the day I'm hurting bad. I'm worried I might have broken a screw or something, I don't really know. I have an appointment tomorrow to see my surgeon. I'm hoping he can shed light on what's going on. I have xrays less then a week old for him to review. I wish I knew what I did. I feel I had been pretty careful.

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  • Good luck at your appmt tomorrow. Please keep us posted.

  • Well, the thing is, I had a laminectomy on my spine, which is spine surgery.  But without hardware, only a small incision and taking the pressure off the nerve at L3-4.   So this was a spine surgery that worked 100%.  No more pain.

    But I understand that the spinal fusion for DDD is 1) much more invasive 2) involves 'hardware', and 3) is unlikely to stop all of the pain.

    I probably have several more injections before my orthopedist even begins to consider surgery.

    I do think I'll ask for another EMG, since the last one, on my arms and hands, was in 2012, I think.

    I just wish there was a simple surgery like my laminectomy on my spine.   Well, while I'm 'wishing' I could throw in World Peace, and millions of dollars for all of us, right?

    To be continued.

    And dear Challenger, I hope all is well.  So scary to think that your surgery could be undermined by Yoga practice.

    Do keep us posted.

    Regards, ElaineD

  • Hi ElineD

    I understand the thoughts and fears you are going through. In 2005 I had part of a disc removed (same spot as the fusion last year). It did help with a lot of pain I was having but I was never pain free but manageable with shots. It was when the shots stopped working and I tried acupuncture, physical therapy numerous times and pills that I finally caved to have the fusion done.

    Now, update on the pain I have been experiencing lately. My doc did not see anything out of the ordinary on my xray. He is thinking it sounds like I have a lot of inflammation (likely brought on by yoga since the timing matches ). He perscribed me an anti-inflammatory. He said if it doesn't seem to help in a couple weeks to let him know and he will order a MRI. Otherwise I will see him in another month. 

    I am so thankfully nothing seems broken. Soooo sososo thankful. I'm praying these meds will do the trick and I will be back on the road to recovery

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  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 318

    I've had several fusion surgeries and the results were mixed. One helped for a few months but pain returned and the fusion was redone. Others had no effect on my pain while the last few surgeries have helped immensely. IMMHO, the skill and knowledge of your surgeon and how you deal with recovery may have a lot to do with my results but I have no proof of that other than my recollections. It sounds like you are well into your "due diligence" analysis of the surgery. Best of luck! Jerome

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