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Saw Neurosurgeon, still confused!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
:S Myself and my family met with the neurosurgeon who is going to do a 2 level fusion on my back. I have only slight sciatic pain into my buttocks, no leg pain - yet. According to the doctor I have a L4-5 herniation, L5-S1 collapse with stenosis of the spine. She wants to do a laminectomy and a two level fusion. When asked if I will get worse = she says yes. I was originally scheduled for Nov 12, but have moved it to March - more time for me to recover since I work for a school.

My question, for those of you who have had this done, would you go through with it just based on back pain alone? OR, would you wait until the sciatica or nerve problems start before you get it done? I am 46 and an avid hiker and can still get around pretty good, but the days after exercise I am miserable with back pain and taking pain meds daily. @) I guess I am just freaked out by the horror stories I read here, even though I have read some of the good thread success stories. Any opinions really, really appreciated. :D


  • I would not go through a fusion just for back pain. Maybe you should get a second opinion?
  • This was a second opinion. First doctor who was an orthopedic surgeon told me my MRI "was ugly." The back pain is constant and really driving me nuts! ~X( I guess I am just hoping for some sort of solution to this other than the pain pills.
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  • If I were you, I would probably see another NS. In my case, the pain was so intense and the MRI showed the herniation was so bad that I had no other choice but immediate surgery. Until you are convinced, you need to keep asking if there are other options. I am glad you have some flexibility for when you can have it, if you need to, because you can at least prepare.

    I wish you the best,

  • Hi emt,
    Just giving my opinion, if I was you I would go ahead with surgery now. If you wait till you have leg pain, then you could set yourself up for permanent nerve damage. I had a laminectomy with a fusion at L5-S1 with a rod and screws on the left side of my spine. I waited till I had sciatica going down both legs before I did anything, andthe MRI showed my disc was collapsed. I am a success story so far. The sciatica is gone, I still deal with numbness sometimes but I know that it will take a while for the nerves to heal from the before surgery aggravation, and then the surgery. I, like you, was so worried about going through with surgery, but am so glad and thankful that I did.
  • Thanks so much. >:D< Anybody else with opinions - it is so helpful to hear other people's stories and experiences. Gar - my whole motivation for proceeding with the surgery is to PREVENT the sciatica from getting worse and "nip it in the bud" before it gets to that point. From what she said, it would only be a matter of time before it happens.
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  • I, too, would suggest a second opinion. Fusion surgery, to me anyway, is the last resort. I had back problems for years, but it wasn't until sciatica was so bad I couldn't walk for days at a time that surgery was considered. I would try physical therapy, epidurals, chiropractors, etc., first before doing anything as radical as fusion surgery. Just my opinion. Blessings to you.
  • Hi,

    The forum does not show the real picture of successful surgeries. Most move on with active lives. However I am one that had emergent surgeries. You need to ask yourself if you can accept that a fusion may or may not control your pain issues.

    I am one that although the fusion stabilized my spine it did not work for decreasing pain. So even now I am in pain even with my SCS implant. I am more functional now because of the fusion and SCS. Probably would have been bed ridden for the rest of my life without these surgeries.

    My suggestion is to look at alternatives to managing the pain IF the fusion is not necessary for stabilization and mobility. IMHO, from my experience.

    Take care of you,

  • I had a fusion at L4L5 due to serious Sciatica, and near foot drop. My right leg was pretty useless. The pain was horrible, I could never sit up straight without horrible shooting pain down my back, my foot was so weak I couldn't drive, would trip on it sometimes, etc... They moved my fusion up to the day after I saw my doctor after my reherniation. Sometimes when it's necessary, it's necessary. You could give it a SHORT amount of time, and see how you do then. You don't want to go through surgery yet if you don't HAVE to, but you also don't want permanent nerve damage. My sciatica started in my buttocks and it took about 6 months to spread down to my foot.
  • I agree with getting another opinion from a neurosurgeon. I consulted with 7 surgeons before deciding on surgery. I have a ruptured disc at L4-L5 with a fragment compressing the nerve root. I have had sciatic pain in my right leg since May '08. The opinions varied, but I was shocked by one of the neurosurgeons account of my situation and recommendations. She recommended a partial laminectomy to relieve Spinal Stenosis and stated need to not only decompress (R) side, but to do the other side as well to prevent herniation . I left the office totally stunned and depressed. A CT Scan and x-rays were ordered to confirm the Spinal stenosis and check for spinal stability as she also mentioned fusion. Well the Ct Scan showed mild to moderate Spinal Stenosis and my Spine was stable. None of the others had this recommendation and felt my spinal stenosis was insignificant to the the issue. I feel it is important to get as much information as possible before going forward with surgery. I am scheduled for a Microdiscectomy Nov 4. Good Luck .
  • I guess a third opinion would not be a bad idea, I just hope it does not confuse me more! 8} My main question though was has anyone here had the surgery for just back pain and minimal sciatic pain? I wanted to know if they were successful in getting pain relief with the fusion surgery.
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