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Does anyone out there have just one surgery and feel better?

breitsdbreitsd Posts: 19
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have to admit that I agonized over whether or not to have my first discectomy in Sept/2008. I don't think that I even considered participating in a forum like this because I trusted my doctor and after surgery I thought I was cured. I didn't need the support.

I reherniated the very same disk six months later, and had another discectomy. Surgery didn't go as well, but I still believed that I was cured. 9 months later, I had a L5-S1 spinal fusion and still am not able to sit comfortably. NOW, I am starting to get discouraged and honestly I'm feeling a little sorry for myself. I find myself desperate for information and insight that my doctor hasn't been providing, so that's how I came across this forum.

I would have thought that my scenario was pretty dismal until I spent a fair amount of time reading other posts. My situation is no where near as bad as many of you whom I have read about. My heart goes out to all of you who are still suffering.

I do have to wonder, though, if the demographics of this forum are skewed in terms of surgical failure vs. success. In other words, are there people out there who have surgery and it's "once and done" and that they wouldn't bother participating in this forum, so you don't see much about great success in this forum? The other thought that haunts me is whether or not the pathology of these spinal issues is that once you start down the surgical path, that the issues just keep coming and coming. I originally thought I was in the first group (once and done), but now after three surgeries, I can't help but wonder if I'm destined to keep adding to my list of surgeries like so many of you.

Again, my heart goes out to those who continue to suffer. I just wish I could also hear about successes (even though it may depress me a little because I now realize that I'm not in that group).




  • I think that you are right in the fact that many success stories aren't on the forums. However, I have had many NS tell me that although fusions are necessary they do put extra stress on the other levels which can lead to more surgeries down the line. I am so sorry for your continued pain. I wish I could help more. I am sure others will have more insight.

  • Sorry to hear that you are still having issues after your third surgery.
    I think that after a microdiscectomy there is a strong chance if you start doing too much too soon because you are feeling so much better, that you can reherniate the disc.

    I am 2 and a half weeks after my first spinal surgery which was a decompression of three levels and fusion of one level in my lumbar spine.

    I have certainly heard very positive stories of people who have success although do take care of how they treat their back.

    I am very hopeful that I will be one of those, although have been warned that I have issues in my thoracic and cervical spine and will always have trouble with my back. I really hope that my sciatica will be sorted.

    It can take a very LNG time to get the full benefit after spinal fusion.
    Hope that you will continue to see improvement from yours.
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  • jasoncamaro69jjasoncamaro69 Posts: 84
    edited 03/09/2013 - 8:03 AM
  • Many people who have successful surgeries are out living their lives, not spending time on a forum. You are correct in that premise.

    One problem with back surgeries is that many people do not revise their lifestyles after recovering from that first surgery. They continue with the very same behaviors that may have caused the initial problem to begin with.

    There are MANY reasons for the situations you describe. Many people who enter into spine surgery do not have realistic expectations of the outcome. Some people go in thinking they will have the surgery, recover, and then will be "good as new"...that the back will be just like it was prior to the onset of pain or injury. These people are bound to be disappointed.

    A fusion that is allowed time to heal properly and is exercised properly will actually end up stronger than it was prior to surgery. Many people with fusion are able to go on and do everything they could do prior to surgery. Are they completely pain-free? I would doubt it.

    Without a doubt, many more spine surgeries are performed now than was common a decade ago. This may mean that the proper selection of patient for a particular procedure is somewhat lax. For example, many people have discectomy or MicroD at the first instance of back pain. Sometimes it is done before there is clear evidence which disc is the pain generator. This very well may turn out to be a surgery that does not end up feeling successful...ie, the patient remains in pain!

    This subject is so incredibly complex. A potential patient really needs to do his or her homework. He needs to be very careful in the initial selection of a doctor. If surgery is recommended, it only makes sense to get several opinions before going ahead.

    Once surgery is completed it is up to the patient to carefully follow all instructions from the surgeon and to take recovery and rehabilitation seriously. Too many people think that once surgery is completed and they have "recovered," they can engage in all their old behaviors without consequence. Generally, this does not work out well for the patient.

    Of course, there are just some situations where one mechanical problem leads to other problems in the spine. Sometimes a patient cannot do much to stop the cascading effect. But sometimes things can be corrected and further damage can be prevented.

    I remember very well being in a therapeutic pool prior to having back surgery. There were several slightly older adults in the pool as well...and one was saying to the other "Do you know anyone who has just had ONE surgery?"

    Then recently I was having a nerve block. There was a nurse who had been working there about a month, and she asked me the very same question. From her experience that first month, it was her impression that everyone she had met was on his/her second or third or fourth surgery....

    The important thing for you is to be aware of the problem and to do everything you can to keep your back healthy and strong. This includes all the usual things that we learn for good health, in general...eating nutritious food, keeping a healthy body weight, exercising and particularly, doing exercises to keep the back and core muscles strong and in balance, drinking plenty of water, etc. Then we need to be very aware of body mechanics and good posture. We need to think ahead and resist the temptation to help a friend move, or lift something we know we have no business trying to pick up, etc. More back surgeries are not inevitable...bu, at least part of the equation is genetics.

  • Gwennie said everyting I had been thinking and did so very well! After surgery it is so important to "hold up our part of the deal" so to speak, by maintaining a good body weight and making sure our core muscles are strong. For me, I also have to learn that I need and must ask for help. I am a bit of a "doer" and "over achiever". I am small, but I tend to want to do things by myself, rather than wait until someone else is available to help, such as moving patio furniture, carrying heavy boxes from the attic, for example. I also had a habit of climbing on top of counertops, etc, to get something I couldn't reach and jumping off, rather than taking the time to use a step ladder.

    But, there are also those, who, for whatever reason, are "one and out". My husband is one of those. 10 years ago, he had a lumbar fusion, and has been fine, without any issues or pain. About 3-4 years ago, he had a cervical fusion. Again, "one and done". He has a bit of numbness in his index finger, but other than that, no other issues or pain. So it is possible. Ironically, he is very different than I~doesn't really eat healthy, doesn't exercise, really doesn't think of body mechanics, has an office job and and isn't very active. But, each time, "one and done" go figure :)

    I know for sure that as I recover from this fusion the precautions I am taking now to protect my back will becoome lifelong habits! Good luck, Shari
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  • This is a good topic. Those of us that hang around the forum, know when people feel better they don't post. They are living life. I suffered from herniation to L4/5 in June of 2006. I had decompression laminectomy in Aug 06. My recovery was slow due to infection. But once over that hurdle, I was great. I was conscious of my back and took greater care when lifting, bending etc. Then my crazy 70lb puppy yanked me off my feet in Jan 08. That reherniated my disc at L4/5.

    My opinion is definitely one and done is possible. I think I would be great to this day if not for the dog. And yes, she is still my dog. I love her dearly. Fusion or no fusion LOL. I do have to add, I lost 110 lbs between my first surgery and last. So that may have been a contributing factor in my good health. I quit smoking too. But once weakened a disc may always be susceptible to further injury.

    Best wishes,
  • I'm a one surgery and done spiney at this point. Though my one surgery was a big one in that I had 2 level open TLIF. I had herniated my L4/5 and L5/S1 discs a few years ago, but had little or no pain until late 2008. And by late 2009 the herniations were so severe that fusion was basically my only option.

    I am now at a bit past 6 mos post-op, I feel like there's little or nothing I can't do, and my OS even said if I wanted to go back to softball he wouldn't stop me. But...(and that's a big BUT!) I have chosen to find other outlets and activities because it's just not worth the risk for me.

    But I am very active now and am one of the rare ones that can say I have no pain. My doctor jokes that it's just my abnormally high pain tolerance, but I really do not have "pain". Sure if I sit too long in an awkward position or a bad chair I feel a little tight. But a minute up and walking and it's gone. I haven't taken so much as a tylenol, much less anything else, since early Nov of 2009 (my surgery was Oct 5, 2009).

    I walk daily, go to the gym regularly, and now that the weather is nice I am even hiking a lot on the weekends (up to 8 miles a trip) with no pain, and very, very, little achiness or stiffness.

    Gwennie (and everyone else) is right that so many with success stories aren't around anymore, and that is true to some extent with me. Prior to surgery I was on the computer chatting and posting constantly. Whereas now I'm working my normal job pain-free, and being active. But I check in from time to time because I have made many friends here, and because I try to make sure that as one of those "success stories" I stick around so people do know there is hope and life after back surgery.
  • I had a MicroD op over 2 years ago and my back is feeling great, so I am hopefully in the "once and done" category although I don't think I will ever be able to completely stop worrying that I might injure it again.

    I was in sever pain for 6 months after rupturing my L4L5 disc whilst giving birth to my son, but now 2 years on I have managed another pregnancy and delivery without any back issues aside from the usual aches and pains.

    I don't know if I am just lucky or if there was anything I did or didn't do that gave me a good outcome. I was fairly careful after the op but I had a 6 month old and a 2 year old to look after full time so I didn't wrap my self in cotton wool either.

    I have kept up with my stretches and pilates and try to exercise regularly on an eliptical cross trainer, I find that really gets the lower back warmed up without any strain. I have given up running and I don't think I would risk skiing again so I guess I have changed my behavior a little.

    I wish you all the best with your back issues, I remember only too clearly how debilitating severe back pain is and that it is hard not to let it get you down mentally as well as physically. Good luck to everyone on the forum,

  • I am one and done for now with a cervical fusion. Immediately got rid of nerve pain. With 2 level lumbar fusion, I was one and done for almost 18 years and I had 4 children. Now I was 19 when I had it done--that may have a lot to do with it.

    I know that I will probably face another cervical fusion one day and I am now facing another lumbar fusion, but we are all different.

    Gwennie and others have stated it perfectly--we must hold up our end of the deal and take care of our spines!
  • Hi there,

    I do know people that are 1 and done. I have met 5 people and one of them has been good for 10 years with just some occassional pain.

    I think the others said it right.
    Unfortunately, not all the doctors are upfront with recovery instructions on the microdiscectomies.

    I was told some basics the first go around.
    The 2nd go around, I wasn't even taught how to get out of bed until I had been up and to the bathroom several times.

    So, the one key I've learned is to ask what is and isn't smart in regards to activity. Then, add 20% buffer. For example, I was told no driving until I was off pain meds. Well, this go around, I was told no driving until 6 week appt. I was told to keep the driving to 15 mins 2X/day max. But I try to avoid driving as much as possible so I still don't drive everyday.

    Anyhow, I'm optimmistic I can be 2 and done but like others said, I know I'll always have to be aware of the future and know I may face more problems.
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