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New here - preparing for 2 level lumbar spinal fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi everyone :H

I came across this website months ago when surgery started being talked about for me. For a while, it was looking like I'd be losing my job and thus my insurance, so I put it far to the back of my mind, not to worry about. Last week, though, I found out that I've been extended for a year, so I can keep surgery on schedule! Now, though, that's about a month away and I'm getting a little nervous to say the least!! :SS

Here's my long story if you'd like to read:

In late 2002, I started getting sharp pains in my lower back, right side, after I bent over one day and could hardly stand back up straight. I was in the military at the time. They did x-rays and sent me to PT. I felt better, but a few months go by and it returns, worse than before. Another x-ray and more PT. I was feeling a lot better after the second, 8 month PT run, and then I was in a car wreck - someone rear ended my car while I was stopped at a light and they didn't even break (my car was the breaks). To top it off, I saw it coming and tensed up. This was in May, 2005. Since then, I have had non-stop chronic pain in my lower back, right side, and all the way down my right leg. Right before the accident I got out of the military, but still had insurance because I was married to a military guy at the time (but we were in the process of divorce). They finally did an MRI and found two herniated, degenerating discs. Doctor was pissed they'd never done an MRI before considering my repeat complaint of pain and said that it's more likely than not that this was a problem BEFORE the accident and that the accident just made it worse. I have herniated discs and degenerative disc disease at L4/L5/S1. I did injections at that time and they didn't help at all. I lost my insurance shortly after the failed injections, so I just had to "suck it up". I did a lot of moving during this time and had only short stays at jobs and never long enough to get insurance until 2007.

Mid-2007 I started seeing a chiropractor. That helped A LOT, but it was a temporary solution to a permanent problem and all it was really doing was putting a band aid on the pain. It helped, but it cost so much to go and I just couldn't afford it. The end of 2007, I went to my primary care doctor and he sent me to get an MRI and after getting the results he sent me to a neuro. Neuro was shocked that I'd been in pain for so long and not been treated, but understood that it was because of no health insurance. We tried PT which made things worse, he said the injections would be a waste of time, and he tried some medications to help manage the pain. Some worked a little, some not at all. He wasn't sure surgery would be a good option for me because my disc is only sticking out a tiny bit and scar tissue could stick out further. I'm guessing he was talking about having the budging part shaved off rather than a fusion or disc replacement. At any rate, he sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. After getting my history and looking at my x-rays and MIR, he said that I've tried everything I can and I'm STILL IN PAIN. He was even MORE shocked than my nuero that I'd lived with this pain for so long (I have a high pain tolerance!). He said that if you're still in chronic pain after 6 months, there's a good chance that it's just not going to resolve itself. I've been dealing with this for over 3 years and it's clearly not going away.

He suggested a two level spinal fusion and sent me to a class that his practice offers about it. I learned a lot in that class! I really do like my surgeon and neuro and feel lucky to have them! It's hard for me to feel comfortable with doctors, but I feel really comfortable with both of them. At any rate, he wants to do a two level anterior/posterior spinal fusion at L4/L5/S1. To note, I'm 27. Typically doctors DO NOT want to do surgery on someone my age, even my surgeon said this, but he said there are some cases that it is needed and mine is one of them. I can't agree more.

Right now I'm taking Lyrica (225 mg/twice a day) and naproxen (500 mg/twice a day) for the pain. It's barely keeping me going as I'm still sitting at about at 7 or 8 in pain each day right now. I'm just waiting to have surgery and trying to learn/educate myself as much as possible before I have surgery!

Sorry this got so long. I look forward to interacting with everyone here in the coming months before and after surgery :)


  • You sure have been through so much and I'm amazed that you withstood so much pain. Is the Naproxen and Lyrica doing enough for your pain, and has your doctor ever prescribed something stronger? I don't know how you do it. I really hope this upcoming fusion helps you. I had a one 7 months ago but it hasn't help much, and neither did the surgery before it. I hope you have a good outcome out of this and have a successful recovery. Please keep us posted on how you are and we look forward to hearing from you. Take care
  • I have been prescribed other medications: tramadol/ultram (allergic), hydrocodone/APAP, and percocet. The hydrocodone didn't help, just made me sleepy. The percocet helps a tiny bit, but I can't work while taking it. So, I take neither since I don't see that much of a benefit of taking them. I don't feel that the naproxin helps much at all and am going to stop taking it this coming month in preparation for surgery. If anything the Lyrica is what is keeping me from excruciating pain.

    I've been on Lyrica for a year and I wasn't sure if it was helping me, so my neuro had me go off it and see if it is really helping me. Well, I did and I wanted to DIE. I was in so much pain, it was unreal. I almost asked my boyfriend to take me to the ER! Instead, I started taking Lyrica again and by the next day I was starting to feel better. It certainly doesn't make the pain go away, but it helps a lot. Right now I'm at about an 8 and I'm guessing it's just been this really cold weather, but boy does it suck!
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  • The cold's wreaking havoc on me too. I can feel all the titanium in my back :O I think a long acting pain medicine might be helpful to you. I'm on Fentanyl, and it doesn't alter me in any way and when I drive, I feel comfortable. It's the other meds that make me drowsy and I won't drive after taking them. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to get used to it, and when you do, you can't tell you're on Fentanyl. The one way you can tell is when the level drop and you feel the pain more. Then it's time to put the new one on. You change it every 3 days, some do every 2. There are a long list of long acting meds your doctor can choose from, but I only have experience with this one. This type of medicine can help you until your surgery comes up.
  • :) hi! :H and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i am on 300mg of Lyrica daily and find my leg pain to be improved greatly. you are so smart to be doing your homework about your surgery. :? be sure and drop by the "Back and Neck" surgery forum for info on after-care and other ideas. good luck! Jenny :)
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