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L3-L4-L5-S1 fusion

Kathleens-backKKathleens-back Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Lower Back Pain
On August 2, 2011, I'm having spinal fusion of L3, L4, L5 and S1. After the CT scan and MRI, the doctor found more than expected.
Spinal stenosis, arthritis, degenerative disc, herniated disc, bone spurs, my L4 (I think it is) that shifts back and forth on it's own, S1 is calcified and a numb left leg eith severe nerve pain in the bottom of my left foot. I also will be needing the cervical spine surgery in about a year or two. I also have fibromyalgia.
I'll be using a walker and be in the hospital for almost a week.
When I get home I'll be climbing 3 stairs to get into the house and a flight and a half to get to my bedroom.
Has anyone else had problems at this level and it seems like stairs and going to the bathroom will be major issues. Also, I don't want sex to be a thing of the past.
4-6+ hour surgery is only part of my fears.
Anyone with a simlar surgery?
48 (3 days after surgery)
Work at Michaels Arts n Crafts and a traveling nail tech
Married mother of 2, 17 and 23


  • Kathleens-back, I am sorry to hear about your condition. I haven't been able in 15 years to find relief for basically the same symptoms and I am in agonizing pain daily. I have had 3 surgeries, one laminectomy to correct 2 herniated discs, then another surgery years later to have a spinal fusion, then one more surgery to basically attempt to reduce the continued pain I feel in the same areas you have your pain. I will certainly pray that your outcome is much better then mine and many others that are in this forum. Some people seem to get decent results with the surgery and others are trying to keep from taking their own life due to the ongoing agonizing pain. To answer your questions, initially stairs and going to the bathroom will be two of the more difficult things you will do post surgery. The bathoom issue is worsened with the pain medications post surgery (morphine). I just pray you are one of the lucky ones who pull through the surgery with decent results and your pain levels are reduced. One thing you have already done which is a benefit that I never sought out until now, is chatting with other people facing similar issues and utilizing them for support. I hope my message doesn't scare you but i would not be a good person if I lied to you and told you things will go great. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict how anyone will come through surgery and whether or not their body will react better. I am pursuing additional surgical procedures and pain remedies simply because my current situation is difficult. I wish you the best!!
  • Hi,

    I am fused L1-S1 and have many of the other issues that you have. I had 3 separate fusions over 4 years to take care of all the stuff going on in my back. I have had success with each fusion. Its a long recovery and you need to be sure you listen to what the doctor tells you as far as restrictions go, such as lifting. I live in a single level home so stairs were not an issue. Usually you have PT before they release you from the hospital and if you tell them you have stairs they will help you with that.

    Yes the bathroom is an issue too. I have a higher toilet (they come in 2 sizes) but you can get an "extension" if you think you will need it. Again talk to an occupational therapist in the hospital.

    Walking the first couple of days was a real challenge. There I was, having placed 2nd in my age group at the Ironman Triathlon World Championships and I couldn't walk down the hall even with a walker. Of course each day gets easier. First to the end of the driveway, then the end of the street and pretty soon you are walking miles.

    I got a long handled shoe horn but mainly wore clogs except for long walks. Socks are over rated. I have a grabber too, very helpful. Be sure you have loose fitting pants, elastic waist band is best so no zippers or buttons in your incision, if they are going in the front. I have had 2 surgeries in the front and 2 in the back. should have had zippers put in.

    Be sure things you use all the time are accessible and not in low cupboards. Same with clothes in bottom dresser drawers.

    I was in good shape and had done core strengthening for years so that helped. Be sure you do PT to get your strength back and also have the scar tissue worked on.

    Swimming is really good for the back. Being weightless feels wonderful.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions. You can always PM me.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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  • I didn't have to give up sex. :)))

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • I had laminectomy and L4L5 fusion on 6/2. I felt really good right after that surgery and was home a few days when all Hell broke loose. Over the next 2.5 weeks, pain started ti increase down my left leg and side to the point where I could not walk for more than a few steps before passing out.My doctors told me I would get worse before I got better but this was a "worse" that seemed like something was VERY wrong. I was deteriorating fast. I demanded to be admitted to the ER where the nexct 3 days a battery of tests was done and finally a dural nerve tear was discovered during an MRI. I have never known pain like that. It literally took my breath away and I would feel faint. It rendered me a cripple as I could barely get to the bathroom. Eating was in bed on my right side only and I stopped eating for the most part so I began losing much needed weight. Touching the incisions on my back sent electrical shock waves down my left buttock and leg and I felt like I was suckered punch in the rib cage, I KNEW something was very wrong and it was. Many tests were dine and the dural tear was found. Recovery from a dural tear is pure HELL! Mine is now fixed but the hospital stay and the position you must stay in for 4 days with drains and tubes coming out of you is mind-blowing. I really felt I was not going to make it.

    Now I am almost 6 weeks from the fusion surgery and almost 4 weeks from the dural tear surgery and I am now left with the initial pain I had before any surgery. I see my surgeon in 3 weeks but he tends to sugar coat things so I am wondering what everyone else's thoughts are. I was under the impression the sciatic pain would be gone or greatly reduced once the nerves were uncrimped. I am not seeing this as yet. Is 6 weeks from the fusion still too early to judge whether the fusion surgery is a success?

    I am pretty bummed out right now. I cannot sit for more that 10 minutes and lying in the fetal position gives most relief - which does not allow me conduct my life very well - I am very active.

    Am I bein gtoo impatient? If this is normal I will chill out but right now I am not a happy camper. :)

    THahnk you
    Lee Ellen
  • Holy crap! I feel like I've been punched in the stomach with the responses I've gotten but I'm so glad I was told this stuff straight, thank you all!
    I guess I've been hiding my head in the sand about this thinking it's "just another surgery". I guess I don't really want to think what my life will be like post op or in the long run what it could be.
    This really takes a lot if soul searching. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers, I'll be doing the same for all of you.
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