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Spinal Fusion "to have or not to have, that is the question?"

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:33 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi, I'm interested to hear from anyboy who is either considering spinal fusion or has had spinal fusion. Also, i can't seem to find any figures with regard to the percentages of success.


  • I had my two level fusion with the other stuff last December. At 7 months out I dont feel I am a good person to ask as I am not completely healed yet. But wanted to welcome you and say good luck. Also you need to put a little more info on what you are looking at.
  • thanks for replying. i was begining to think i hadn't registered properly. So your 7 months post op and i guess not feeling great as your comment. My team here in the UK seem to be leading me down spinal fusion of L5/S1 but it's my decision. I want to see actual results from people having it done. There must be some results somewhere. I'm only 39 and have 2 young children so i need to think very carefully about my options. Hope your better soon. One thing i always think of is that there is always someone worse off than you. Take care
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  • to add to my original message. I'm 39 and 2 years post op of a discetcomy on L5/S1. i'm still in a lot of pain and unable to work as i have a white collar job. I take a vast amount of medication every day which is affecting my tummy. I have recently been on a Pain Management programme that i found very useful. I'm now at a crossroads and do i start to push 4 spinal fusion. There is some great information on here but i would like to hear peoples actual experiences both good and bad. Also, can anybody help me with finding out statistics on the success of spinal fusion. look forwarding to hearing from you.
  • im also from the uk, im waiting for discetomy app, had x-rays, 12 months pt, mri and nerve block injections under cat scan. just found out i also have osteoarthritis in facet joints.
    been on this merry go round of the wonderful NHS system for 18 months, dont feel i have gotten any further than when i began this journey, still in the diagnostic stage to find root cause of pain.
    tried just about every med u can name, still not totally pain free, looks like i will have to leave my job, worked so bloody hard to get where i was in it, but hey, im still walking.
    fusion is only option for me, just wish it was over and done with already.
    my quality of life sucks, thats why im ready to go under the knife, good luck with ur decision, only u can make that choice, keep us posted :H
  • flippin eck sounds bad. my quality of life sucks 2. Have u been on a Pain Management Programme? they are good espically with helping in the head department, dealing with pain, coping stratergies.

    i ended up having emergency surgery after the hospital left me for 3 weeks with clauda-equina syndrome and now have permanent bladder damage. Make useful a real pest to the team. I've lost everything including my wife of 11years. It's a real mess.

    take care

    I'm neil btw
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  • sounds like u been through much more than me mate, cant get to c pain management, doc says hosp needs to refer me and hosp says doc needs to. makes me sick when i work in health profession, don't even start me on that subject lol.
    im very sorry that u have lost everything. life stinks sometimes but u sound like a fighter. u will make many friends here, what part of the uk are u from ? im from sunny Devon where it rains 6 days out of 7 and on the 7th it p....s down.
    take mate and keep on fighting :D
  • sorry youve had so much trouble.
    the question is how do you define success?
    if fusion is done to stabalize spine and not cure pain and spine is secure but pain increases is it a success?
    only the surgeon can give you a percentage pf success prediction on chances of success for reducing pain in your situation.
    after looking at peoples comments here on spine health i'd say only 50% got pain relief from fusion. i had 2 fusions and got no pain relief.
    for pure pain relief maybe spinal cord stimulator has better % of pain reduction....maybe 70%
    good luck

  • That is the real question you need to answer for yourself. I have just spent quite a bit of time trying to find some statistics for you. The various studies I found define success by fusion rates, which is not what I think you are looking for. I found passing remarks about fusion not solving 100% of a patient's pain.

    I think I recall my surgeon stating 80-85% of patients having lumbar fusion were better off than prior to surgery.

    Many people who have fusion do so believing that it will "fix" their situation and they will come out pain-free. They are the ones who are disappointed with the results. It is important to know that fusion will not restore you to the way you were prior to the onset of your injury or pain.

    You have to decide what options you have and whether you can go on the way you are. I resisted fusion for over three years because I kept thinking there must be a better way. But specialist after specialist kept telling me there was not, nor was there anything on the horizon that would replace fusion. When I could no longer stand for more than a minute or two and I was driving down my driveway to get the mail, I realized the time had come.

    Each person has to make this decision for him or herself but it must be done with eyes wide open, knowing what fusion can and cannot do for you.

    xx Gwennie
  • Hello I had L5/S1 fusion back in April. It is different for each person. I knew going in that it wasnt a cure. I cant tell you how much it has helped me yet to tell you the truth. I have good days but it seems right now I am having more bad ones. I had trouble with my recover. I have been dealing with alot of swelling. It is something that you have to choose for yourself.
  • Hi Glassback,

    Why are you having or needing fusion. What is the problem and where is it?

    I had spinal stenosis and I saw four or five surgeons before I chose who I was going to entrust my one and only spine to.

    The first four told me that I needed fusion and only one told me what I wanted to hear, which was, as far as he was concerned in my case, fusion was not the right way to go and he chose spinal decompression. I am now 5 months post surgery and after 5 years of chronic pain through the sciatic nerve down both legs I am now almost 100% pain free. I suggest that you get more opinions before you proceed. After all it is your body and your own responsibility.

    John B.

    Medical History

    Suffered almost five years of progressive spinal stenosis using pain management procedures with regular epidurals and subsequent Caudal Epidurals with contrast and 'C' arm guidance with increasing frequency.

    February 2009
    Preoperative Diagnosis- Chronic Multilevel Bilateral Lumbar Spinal Stenosis with Recurrent and Persistant Chronic Radiculopathy.

    Operative procedure
    L3-4 Bilateral Hemilaminotomies and Foraminotomies with nerve root decompression.
    L4-5 Bilateral hemilaminotomies with Foraminotomies and nerve root decompression.
    L5-S1 Bilateral Hemilaminotomies, Foraminotomies and nerve root decompression.
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