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Time for another major decision..... Advice???

rekeenfanrrekeenfan Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi All,

I have several issues going on. My pain has always been left sided, and I had a L5-S1 fusion in 2006. Hardware has been removed, but the fusion site aches terribly 100% of the time, and my left leg/butt symptoms have returned. Now my left butt/leg/foot are hurting just as bad as my right. Problems are two-fold: BMP was used for the fusion, and it has continued to grow and protrude into my nerve root on the right side at L5. My L4 is degenerating, and re-creating the left sided pain that the original fusion was supposed to repair. I am thinking through the possible scenarios, and here is what I can come up with:
1. Bone Spur Removal and L4 Fusion to hopefully relieve the pain in both legs. Is this going to leave me with twice the terrible back-ache at the fusion sites? I am dealing with SO much pain in my legs and lower back, I guess I am willing to give some to get some. Has anyone had problems with continued growth of BMP after a fusion? And are there any suggestions on how to help with the chronic aches of the fusion??? I have had 8 surgeries on my lower back (Fusion, SCS, decompression, etc) so I am hoping they will go in through the front for this one. I would love to hear anyone's thoughts or similar experiences as I make this monumental decision.



  • Hi there, sorry to hear of your continued pain after so many surgeries.
    I too am facing a redo of my fusion just 8 months out and it is so hard to decide what is the right, logical and best next move. I know your struggle.

    What percent has your surgeon giving you on the L5 bone spur removal/decompression relieving your LBP & leg pain?

    On the L4 fusion, what is the DX / purpose of fusing that level, I see you mentioned degeneration, is there other issues @ at that level?

    Have you gotten other opinions? Definitely, if possible get 2 or 3.

    I see you mentioned you have a SCS, has that not helped? Just curious as many surgeons & my PM doc keep throwing that option out there for my leg/nerve pain. I understand from your post that you have overgrowth caused by BMP, just a question, again I am unfamiliar with SCS, can the SCS be adjusted to help with the bilateral leg pains you are now dealing with?

    Having faced 8 surgeries, you know how personal of a decision surgery is.
    Do you have a support system, spouse, family, church, etc?

    One consideration on an anterior approach, if the spurring is posterior, not sure if they can access them via the front. I had a stand alone ALIF and anterior spurring was drilled out, but my posterior osteophytes were left behind.... a nice token, a reminder if you will, of my back pain!
    The theory was restore disc height / normal lordosis, & posterior stenosis & spurs would be a non issue....

    Wishing you all the best in your pain relief quest.

  • these new symptoms with your surgeon? The reason I ask is because you mention that you were "thinking through the possible scenarios" - is this something you have thought through yourself, or with your surgeon's advice?

    If it was me, I would discuss your issues with your surgeon. Perhaps request some diagnostic tests to find out exactly what's going on, what your options are and what the prognosis/outcome is likely to be. You may also want to get a 2nd opinion.

    I'm really sorry that you're having continued pain and that, after already having had 8 surgeries, you don't seem to have had effective pain medication to reduce the level of pain you are currently in. Can you find out if your doctor would be willing to try different pain medications or a combination thereof just to see if these would help you more. And what about, for example, attending a pain management programme, physio or hydro therapy - have you tried anything similar and did it help?

    If you have discussed it all with your surgeon and another operation has been recommended, then I really hope that if you do need another operation that it will be your last one, that it is totally successful and that you go on to enjoy a better quality of life - in a lot less pain!!!!!
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
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  • Hi, thanks for the reply!

    Surgeon thinks the removal of the bone spur will relieve all of the pain in my right leg. L4 seems to be just degeneration, I am having a discogram tomorrow to confirm. In regards to the SCS, I can only tell you that my experience was a nightmare. They installed the unit, and the dorsal (upper spine) lead moved. So, back in surgery a week later to fix that problem. The battery, wires and all other hardware was incredibly painful, and it caused much more pain than it ever helped relieve. I had the SCS for 12 months and had it removed.

    I have the support of my family, my co-workers (yep, still working!) and friends. I thought I was at a place where I could handle the pain forever, but now that both legs are in pain I have to find some relief.

    Thanks again!
  • Hi Sue,

    Yes, sorry if I was not clear. I am working closely with a great team, and we have been doing a lot of diagnostic testing to make sure we are heading down the right path. I have had epidurals on both sides, which gave me a few days of relief. I am having a discogram tomorrow to see what's up with L4.

    I also have an appointment with the University Hospital's Pain Management Center next week. I am going to see what they can offer before I commit to any more surgery. I don't know why things got so bad so quickly, but I am really hoping to find an answer. This wonderful rainy weather here in MO has really been helping with the pain & the mood!!!! :)

  • First up, good luck with discogram tomorrow! Of all diagnostics that was my worst. I hope you have an experienced discographer and that it goes smoothly and as painless as possible.

    Second, Thank you for sharing the issues you had with the SCS, sounds awful!

    As Sue said if surgery is what's next for you I too hope 9 is the charm!

    Keep us updated.

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