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lumbar fusion surgery-questions, questions, questions

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:33 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello. I am new here. I have been plagued with severe back pain for years following multiple car accidents. I have tried every non-surgical method with no success. I finally got an MRI last month and got referred to a neurosurgeon. He said I was a good candidate for surgery. The surgery he's going to do is a transforaminal interbody lumbar fusion. He has explained the surgery, but I'm not sure about surgery because I fear the surgeon may accidently sever a nerve and cause permanent paralysis.

I know that is unlikely. But I still fear just about everything about this surgery. But I am so sick of being in so much pain all the time. I lose sleep for hours at least 3 times a week. I am willing to go with surgery after my neurosurgeon showed me the images from my MRI. I have a herniated disc, torn ligament, nerve damage, and spinal stenosis. What I can obviously see, which is the exact area of most of my pain and my worst pain. I basically have no disc space at my lowest lumbar vertabrae.

Any advice or info or experience? What can I expect?


  • it's smart to be causcious . ask your surgeon how many times he's severed a nerve. i did. he said in 1100 back surgeries it never happened....pete
  • Hi

    I had a TLIF May 2008 at the L5-S1 level. Prior to this I had discectomy/laminectomy twice on the same level with little relief of pain. I am not sure what your situation/MRI looks like but you have every right to be informed of any and all possible side effects or potential problems. You are very wise to visit this website also because there is alot of good information.

    I would ask you to please make sure you get a second opinion prior to any surgery. Have you seen another neurosurgeon?? I saw three different neurosugeons and they all agreed I needed this fusion.

    Also have you tried or are you seeing pain management? I had several nerve blocks/epidural injections. Some lasted for months, some only days. They kept me going and I was able to work until this last surgery.

    I am tired every alternative possible to relief my pain prior to surgery. I also tried chiropractors, had accupunture (which helped but was too expensive) and months and years of physical therapy.

    Good luck and again, please get a second opinion prior to any surgery.


    9/05 - Lamiectomy/disectomy L5-S1 with 4 bone spurs removed.
    11/06 - Laminectoby/discetomy L5-S1.
    5/08 - TLIF L5-S1

    Also have moderate herniation at L4-L5 and mild herniation L3-L4.
    Spinal Stenosis L4-L5

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  • I have tried every non-surgical treatment. My life is wrapped up in pain.

    What is the average amount of recovery time? What is recovery like?
  • Hi Mel1

    Well I was in the hospital for four days. First day/eve of surgery bedrest and cath for urine, IV fluids, not much pain.. Good pain control. Second day postop cath removed, IV stopped eating, drinking peeing on my own. Tough getting out of bed, but I kept moving and just asking for pain meds. Day three ok. Home day four.

    I had alot surgical/incisional pain for about first two weeks had to take meds every 4-6 hours, but then started getting better day by day. I have to say by the third month I had no back or leg pain and was thinking that I was back to my previous health. BUt I started with leg/nerve pain again. Numerous tests, nerve blocks, nerve med trials I am still having pain. NO where as bad as prior to surgery. I was on dilaudid and fentanyl patches prior to surgery. I now take Vicodin and neurontin, so much better.

    I know the though of surgeryis scary but the pain is awful. I am so sorry you are going through this. I know if feels like NO ONE understands escpecially family (they dont unless they go through it). The mental anguish as well as the physical pain is hard to describe to people who have never had pain.

    I would say that my TLIF was succesful for reducing my pain, but I am still having intermittent nerve pain.

    I hope this helps. Please let me know how you are doing.

    Good luck and Good bless.
  • Thanks Diane. Where is your nerve pain? Was it there before surgery? I keep reading here different posts and it seems like almost everyone who has had surgery has multiple surgeries and I'm worried that having a surgery is going to lead to another surgery. I have nerve pain down my legs, but with my severe (level 8-9) constant back pain, it doesn't really bother me. My boyfriend, who is extremely against back surgery, would be the one who would be taking care of me post-op. My mom is going to take my kids for as long as I need her to. I'm not sure what to expect out of my boyfriend as far as the care and support I'll need after surgery. He is a big part of my anxiety about having surgery.
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