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Decision time

popsppops Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:46 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
I've been diagnosed with DDD at L5-S1 and L4-L5. L3-L4 is mild as far as DDD is concerned. Fusion at L5-S1 and possibly L4-L5 has been recommended.
I've been thru the gammit of conservative treatments i.e. PT epidurals, facet injections etc...
Meds taken are vicodin and flxeril at least twice a day.
I'm not allowed to take vicodins at work so I have to fight thru the pain to quitting time.
I cannot sit or stand for over 30 mins. which makes traveling to my job and performing my job difficult. I have a desk job.
I'm at a point where I have to make the decision of having suergery or not. My biggest concern is L3-L4. It's my understanding that having a fusion will increase the stress at that level and I'm afraid if I have the recommended fusion, I'll wind up needing L3-L4 fused. Then where does it end?

I've been on short term disability twice in the past 2 years. The pain improves to where it's more tolerable, but when I returned to work after 2 month's, the pain begin to increase again.

Have surgery or go on permenant disability?
Any opinions or suggestions would be appreciated.


  • This site is FULL of information on the many, many treatment options that are available. Fusion Surgery and Permanent Disability are the absolute last straws as far as I am concerned. And I can tell you for sure that if I had been able to get through the day with taking only vicodin and flexeril twice a day I would not have considered ANY surgery. Especially not Fusion. Fusion surgery can leave you paralyzed and in diapers. And STILL in constant horrible pain that is not relieved with much stronger drugs. It should NEVER be taken lightly.
  • permanent disability as the damage to my spine and other health problems ment that holding down a job was not an option ..yes i miss work and all that goes with it but my health is more important .and as it happens i made the correct decision because over the years my back problem has got so bad i am in pain all the time and cart sleep ..i was an electrician and there is now way i could do that job .even a desk job is out of the question due to other health issues like hyperhidrosis and TOS and the fact that i can only were short and tee shirts and crocs due again to pain ans discomfort .
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  • I have what you have and a whole lot more and I am refusing surgery (at this point) b/c they can't give me any better than 50/50 shot it will work and the pain will get better. It's not worth it to me to hop on that cycle..b/c I'm scared if we start fusing something, there will always be something else and though I'm 37 and they say my back is easily 50-60 years old...what will it look like when I hit 50 if I start letting them fuse this and that? Now, this is only my very own personal position. Many people on these boards have had simple or complicated multi level fusions and have done very well and would do it all over again! So, this is your decision...not ours, not your family, not your surgeon, but YOUR decision and YOUR body. God bless you to make the right one for you! We are all here for you.
  • To have fusion surgery is not an easy decision to make. There are no guarantees as to results. Myself, I had spondylolisthesis, slippage of a vertebrae over the top of another, that made my spine unstable. I am better than I was before fusion. BEFORE fusion, I was incontinent, had horrible spasms that would put me on bedrest and unable to sleep for several days, and I would only be able to walk a few feet.

    As far as disability, right now you wouldn't qualify as you are working. SS looks at whether or not your condition will prevent you from working at any job for at least a year.

    Best wishes to you,

  • Hi pops,I have had two l back surgeries, without much luck. My best advice to you is get at least a second opinion before considering any back surgery. If you can take enough time off to see if that will help you before having surgery, I would look at that option.
    Just remember as someone before me said, SSD is hard to get approved.
    Best of luck and keep us posted.
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  • I am recovering from an L5/S1 Fusion right now. I had it on 8.30.10
    I have been through the whole gamut when it comes to procedures. My Doc is very careful and moved very slowly, trying everything else first. I am bit of a research nut because of my profession as a Dental Hygienist, and so I am always reading medical journals and research on everything, so when it came to my back, I am no different. I went from wanting an ADR to wanting a fusion. I was so against a fusion to start with, that I wouldn't even consider it.
    Understand that I already have four fusions in my Cervical spine. It was an emergency surgery that had to be performed to save my life. People say that when they look at me, they can't even tell, by my mobility that I've had a fusion, much less 4 level. All of my health problems stem from an auto accident.
    One of the biggest things I can tell you about fusions is that it totally depends on you and your medical condition. We each are completely different and that is why there are so many different out comes. Some people who have fusions will suffer the rest of their lives because their spines were so far gone when the fusion was done, and it's very possible, that 1) they had a doctor that isn't a great fusion doc, 2) The doctor didn't pay attention to all of the conditions that were going on in that patient and used the wrong type of fusion for that patient, 3) Fusion was the wrong choice 4) there was no good answer for that condition 5) the patient has not healed all the way yet, and is still experiencing the healing pain and is feeling like the surgery was a failure because now they are in worse pain 6) the patient didn't follow doc. orders and started to do things sooner than they should have and ruined their fusion.
    I'm sure there are many other reasons why people are unhappy with their fusions. But those are the ones that come to mind. Once I had done all of my research, I knew exactly the right kind of fusion for me, which doctor I wanted to do my surgery, I was aware of what kind of pain I was going to have after surgery, and am prepared for how long I am going to have that pain.
    I am being realistic about the time frame it is going to take me to totally heal, and what that means for me. I know that a fusion doesn't make me 100% new. But I also know that I chose the best thing for me and my condition. I will have pain for at least 6 months. It will slowly get better, but there will still be pain. So far, it hasn't been as bad as what I suffered with for the last 3 years though. But it still hurts. I think fusions get a really bad rap because of the reasons I gave you. But there are a lot of great fusions out there. And sometimes, a fusion is a good idea. Sometimes it's the best idea, but you have to figure out, which one, and you have to find a really really really good doctor that does a lot of them and knows what he is doing. And don't believe the web sites. They all lie! They are advertisements, they tell you what they think you want to hear.
    I am more than willing to share with you what I have learned. It is a hard thing, and sometimes a scary thing to make this decision. But after working my way through it for 8 months, I know I found the right thing for me.

    Good Luck!
  • I also have DDD. Have had laminectomy in 2004, Fiusion L-4-5 2005.

    I understand your concern for it to progress to another level, that is what has happened to me. I now need a fusion at the adjacent level L-3-4. As my surgeon told me, we can fix it, we just don;t know how to stop the progression of the stress to the other levels.

    Live with it until you can't deal with it any longer, have explored all other options, epiduarals, caudals (they work sometimes) and pain meds.

    Most likely, you will decide to have surgey. I am going for round 3 on 11/26.

    Good luck to you.
  • What about an ADR for the adjorning levels to that which you have had fused? I know of lots of other people that have had that done successfully. The only area that I have heard that is not a good area to have an ADR is the L5/S1, mostly because there isn't enough movement in that area and if you put an ADR there, you get too much movement and have facet problems and more pain. But there are many who have had it in the L3/L4 or higher levels. Also talk to doctors that do both ADR and Fusions. You will get a better rounded view point from them about whether this is a better surgery for you. But do research by reading the reasearch, not just advertisements. This is an important surgery.

  • I have not had any surgeries either and as of now my dr do not reccomend it except one. needless to say I am not going to have any as of now. do you get on here during the day i have been tryinjg to find some people who are on during the day. I am a bit young to 49 with ddd in my neck and lower back, and spinal stenosis in both and scholiosis in my lower left side of back.
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