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Severe Lower back and leg pain

SirenSSiren Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello everyone!
I have herniations and tears at the L3-L4, L4-L5, L5-S1 levels, slight scoliosis, arthritis and a fractured tailbone that is not healing. NS wants to do ALIF. I'm unsure of this surgery. I am 27 with two children 5 and 2. I go to school full-time. Lately I have been having a heavy feeling in my legs. Its a dull ache all over like it is in my muscles. I have experienced sciatic pain and numbness- but this is different. I haven't talked to NS about this because he passed me off to a PCP doc until "I'm ready for surgery" which is VERY unprofessional in my opinion. PCP took me off soma (said he doesnt believe in it) and minimized the pain meds. This is a big problem for me- but I'm making it through. PCP doc was suposed to get me in for a third round of PT and to try some ESI's, but its been over a month and I haven't heard from him.
Anyway, if anyone has had this pain before or has had an ALIF- OR has any helpful info it would be a BIG help! Thank you in advance!!
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Comments

  • I was told that with an ALIF, they can't get to L3/4 easily...they have to go in from the side almost. My L3/4 was bulged badly and jutted out over my L4/5, but I was told they could only do the L4/5 with ALIF. My L4/5 was torn in two and had a chunk missing so I knew I had to do something. With the ALIF, they can get the disc out more completely and supposedly can get better fusion rates, due to that.

    I ended up having to have a PLIF 6 months later to fix the L3/4 with screws into L3/4/5. I kept having too much movement and wasn't fusing. One of the fusion cages at L4/5 moved towards the spinal canal. It's still sitting just next to my L5 nerve root.

    As for the ALIF, my incision is about 6 inches long vertical and about 2 inches over from my belly button to the left side. It was hard to recover, but I'm about 50 lbs overweight and had lots of drainage due to that. If I had it to do over again, I think I might have found a surgeon that would just do the PLIF to take care of all my problems at once. Supposedly, the posterior screws help tons if you have extra movement, which sounds like you do.

    Is there a way for you to get another surgical opinion before deciding? I know it's hard to do as most require a referral and takes time. You have to be in alot of pain and I feel for you. Hope this helped...if I can help anymore, just let me know.

    Hugs
  • I would suggest getting a second opinion before any surgery (as candle99 suggested). I have already had 3 surgeons tell me that they would not do a multi-level fusion at my age (30) because I was so young that I would most likely have problems down the road. One surgeon said that, at my age, multi-level surgery would pretty much guarantee that I would be applying for disability in 10 years. I only have three levels of protrusion, though, and I think most of my problems arise from L4-L5. I am getting a discogram soon as I have found a surgeon who has agreed to do one level if the discogram checks out.

    Good luck.
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  • Sorry - this posted twice.
  • Thank you for your comment! I had a discogram last summer....Prepare yourself mentally before hand! I'm not sure if you've ever had one and I don't want to freak you out, but I'm sure you've been told that it is very, very painful. However, it is worth it. The doctor will get a lot of good info. Keep me updated on what is gong on and thanks again for replying!!
  • Thank you for your comment! You have told me more then the surgeon! I'm going to try to get my PCP to refer me to a new surgeon as the one I "have" is not worth much. I am very, very tired of going through the pain everyday...it seems there is no end, and my body almost feels like it hates the meds! Hopefully soon, will find a doc to give me the right meds and the right surgery IF I even need it!! Thanks again!!
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  • I was going to recommend finding another opinion.
    There are generally a few schools of thought. Those that want to operate immediately and those that will suggest it but give you alternatives.

    If it makes you feel better, I went to 6 doctors before deciding to have my 2nd surgery which was a revision microdiscectomy. Why? I was getting conflicting info on fusion or revision.

    Neither was wrong or right, just different schools of thought.

    I would ask your PCP but also call your insurance company. Generally they have a healthcoach and can give you a list of OrthoSpine and Neurosurgeons in your area.

    The neuro surgeon sending you to pain management was doing so b/c "he" was kindly telling you he couldn't help you unless you chose surgery. It doesn't mean that there were other options but for ths NS you spoke to, this is his experience and he's giving you advice based on his training and experience.

    Finding a 2nd and/or 3rd opinion is important.

    Good luck.
  • Siren said:
    Thank you for your comment! You have told me more then the surgeon! I'm going to try to get my PCP to refer me to a new surgeon as the one I "have" is not worth much. I am very, very tired of going through the pain everyday...it seems there is no end, and my body almost feels like it hates the meds! Hopefully soon, will find a doc to give me the right meds and the right surgery IF I even need it!! Thanks again!!

    Siren:

    I'm in the early stages of healing from a ALIF on L5-S1, so I can't tell you much, I'm still in pain healing. lol. But what I read from yours the way your neuro tossed you off to yout PCP. I would DEFINATLEY get a 2nd opinion like others said and try looking at a Orthopedic surgeon too. I used to have a neuros, the term USED to, just make sure you do your home work well. You only have one back and you don't want a bad surgeon especially at your age and also try to look into alternative methods besides surgery. Only do surgery if its your last resort.

    See my new surgeon, I didn't know how we'll he was known till I went to the hosptial. Huge hospital in Atlanta, EVERYBODY knows him, gushes how good he is. One of the reasons I knew I made a good decision. Talk to family, friends, co-workers etc... and the internet. Like your current Neuro look him up and see if their any grades on him? Good bad, etc..... Good Luck
  • Siren said:
    Thank you for your comment! I had a discogram last summer....Prepare yourself mentally before hand! I'm not sure if you've ever had one and I don't want to freak you out, but I'm sure you've been told that it is very, very painful. However, it is worth it. The doctor will get a lot of good info. Keep me updated on what is gong on and thanks again for replying!!
    Ya, it is no doubt very painful but, if it done in right way than you get good results from it so, it is like if you want to get good you sometimes need to go through pain.

    Thanks
  • hiya my husband as DDD of the spine and is in pain all the time and over the last 3 months he been getting pain in the left leg and hips we went to the doc and he said that he as got something to do with his back and as now given him a walking stick to use as he some times falls to the floor when his left leg give way the pain in his leg is so bad that some time he as tears in his eyes but again all he is given is pain killers
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