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L5-S1 Fusion ??

gewggew Posts: 1
Five months ago I started having severe pain down my right buttock into calf and great toe numbness. It's ironic that the pain usually starts in the afternoon, I have tingling,burning and a sensation that water is running down my leg almost all the time. Neurosurgeon says I need a R/ laminotomy-facetectomy-foraminotomy-discectomy- placement of L5/S1 interbocy cage and L5/S1 fusion. Have a protuding disc with narrowing putting pressure on the nerve root. It seems like a big surgery to fix this, the question is will the pain be gone afterward. I had a surgery 2 years ago to remove a cyst pressing on L4/L5 nerve root and was pain free until now.
I can't work when the pain starts, if I sit down the pain subsides. The minute I stand the pain is back. I'm 65yo, looking at retiring anyway, but want to work a little bit to supplment my income, I'm a nurse and will have to work the floor. I'm getting a second opinion on 6/24, I just can't decide what to do?? Any thoughts or words of wisdom. Thank you
Gail, undecided


  • it sure sounds like a situation that wont get better on its own. or may get worse! you're getting a second opinion. as a nurse you've probably researched the credentials of the dr.

    if second opinion says the same i'd go for it unless you feel you can live with the pain. let us know what 2nd opinion is. best of luck
  • gwennie17gwennie17 Posts: 2,912
    edited 06/17/2016 - 1:08 PM
    You are in good company. There seem to be many nurses on this board with various spinal problems. Seems to be a profession that is particularly hard on backs.

    I would suggest you get a second opinion from an orthopedic spinal specialist. I found that the neurosurgeons wanted to do quite a bit more surgery than the orthos I consulted with. It seemed like the orthos were more willing to do the least amount necessary with the acknowledgement that I might need more surgery in the future, whereas the neuros seemed to want to do everything to prevent future problems, if that makes any sense. For example, one ortho was willing to just try a laminectomy and all the others said they would do a one level fusion, whereas both neuros I consulted with said three to five levels. I was amazed at the difference between the two specialties. You may find the same thing, or at least you will find out if they are in agreement!

    Fusion is a BIG surgery with no guarantees. Well, the surgeon will give you statistics, but there is no way to predict how you will do. Your recovery can take six months to a year. As you can see from reading through older threads on this board, there are many people who have had this surgery with less than satisfactory results. Many people enter into it assuming they will come out "good as new."

    Have you looked into a relatively new procedure called AxialIF?

    It is new enough that not that many specialists are trained in the procedure...but you might want to check into it to see if there is one in your area.

    What you describe (with the pain starting when you stand and going away when you sit) sounds like typical symptoms of stenosis:

    Fusion is a big decision. I would not rush into it and I would get several opinions before you make a decision.

    Good luck...I know how hard it is to reach a decision.

    xx Gwennie
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  • hi, for the past 6 months now i have had severe pain from my dum down into ym limb in my calf and akilees tendon and heal..so severe im hobbling and can hardly walk. i have seen a specialist who did all tests including pin prics..my pain he has stated is 5 plus...lol which means nothing to me all i know is it is extremely painfull. he says i have a s1 radiculopathy prolaspe disc which has cracked and slipped. i had a cat scan yesterday..and i am being refered to a neurosurgical team for their opinion. in the mean time i have never been given pain relief i was just using paracetamol, for a month i have used my fathers tramadol none of which touch the pain...i wanted to know if their is any pain killers any1 can recomend and any exercises..plus i have a 2half yr daughter, i need some sort of mobility..can any1 help???????????????
  • oh forgot to add that was informed by another doctor to refuse the surgery, as the the percentage of recovery is suppose to be quite low...does any1 know how true this is?? and that also alot of people have been left in a wheel chair forever?? finding all this info pretty scarey, and would like any information reguarding it all thanks..
  • Gail and Anne and welcome to the forum...you will find so much support and understanding from the wonderful members here.

    Now , Gail , how did that second opinion go...what did you find out? Have you decided on whether or not to have any surgery? I can tell you this , surgery is not a cure all to the problems that you face....and there is no way to guarantee 100% that the surgery will be a success.....so , it basically comes down to you looking at your life , how it is affecting your life and then you and the doctor decide the best course of action to take. Ultimately , to have surgery is a very personal decision and one that only you can make. I must point out to you that you will read a lot of stories here on the board and most are stories of members with on going problems but what you must remember is that when a person comes here in pain and looking for answers and then some where down the line they get better , whether through surgery , PT , meds , etc. they tend to move on and quit posting. There are success stories , both here on these boards and elsewhere....so don't base your decision about surgery solely on what you read here.

    Anne , first off I would suggest to you that you not take someone else's prescription...besides the fact that it is against the law , it could potentially be harmful to you. It is better for you to be seen by a doctor , even your family physician , and get a med that will work for you , that is prescribed for you and one that can be monitored for your safety. Plus , if for some reason the med doesn't work then you can let the doctor know so that maybe something different can be tried. There are a lot of members here and we are all on different types of meds and what works for one might not work for another , we are all different....please do see a doctor and get something that will work for you. As far as surgery goes , well , I would say about the same thing to you that I said to Gail....it is a decision that only you can make. See how this is affecting your life and then talk it through with your doctor....getting a second opinion is often a good idea as well.

    I wish both of you ladies the absolute best and if there is anything that I can do for you then please just let me know. Please do update us on how you are doing....we are all here for you and you do not have to travel this path alone....take care....Miki
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  • anne1971 said:
    oh forgot to add that was informed by another doctor to refuse the surgery, as the the percentage of recovery is suppose to be quite low...does any1 know how true this is?? and that also alot of people have been left in a wheel chair forever?? finding all this info pretty scarey, and would like any information reguarding it all thanks..
    Was he a doctor of veterinary medicine, or something?? I can't imagine a doctor saying that to you! Chances of ending up in a wheelchair as a result of surgery are so small as to be practically non-existent. The actual spinal cord stops at about the L1 level (waist height on most people). At the level you're talking about, the nerve could be damaged but it is not like one is facing paralysis.

    I would imagine the surgeon is talking about performing a discectomy to relieve the pressure on the nerve. I can't quote you statistics, but I believe the success rate is quite high, over 80%. For the other 20%, they end up needing a second procedure to correct the pain.
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