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L5-S1, Surgery options. Help! I need your opinion please.

Sally711SSally711 Posts: 156
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi- I am a 38 yr old female with a herniated disk. I am not overweight, and was very active and athletic prior to my injury.

Going to see a neurosurgeon in a week, Sept 8th. I am scared, feel like a little girl again, on a deserted island!

All the information-- this will be one of the most difficult choices in the world for me, all I do know is that I can't live like 'this' anymore.

GP says "all you need is this surgery", and made the appt. with the neurosurgeon. Refuses to discuss any other option with me. except more medications.

As I stated above, neurosurgeon appt Sept 8th, and a naturopath on Oct 11th. Both to gather as much information as I can manage!

What is your experience with your L5-S1?? Any help is greatly appreciated.

I am sad there is a need for this forum. I am grateful that this one exists!



  • Hi,

    I recently had L5/S1 fused due to slipping vertebrae. When they got in to do the fusion it was discovered that the disc had deteriorated so that was replaced with a spacer. This is my 3rd fusion. I am fused L1-S1. Before my fusions I had done physical therapy, cortisone injections, etc with no luck. All my fusions have been successful in that they fixed the problem that caused the pain and weakness, etc. Not to say I am not without some pain. Its a long recovery but I feel well worth it.

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

    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.
  • 3 weeks ago tomorrow I had a micro discectomy at my L5-S1. I had a severe herniated disc, that progressed fast. I lost my ability to walk in a few short days and surgery was my only option.
    I am only 27, and usually very active in biking, swimming, aerobics classes. This injury has basically brought my life to a halt, for now. The recovery seems very slow and gets frustrating, but I could not believe how much better I felt as soon as I woke up after surgery. My surgeon is very confident that I will have a full recovery, as long as I let my body heal and I continue to rest and not push the limits.
    I was VERY anxious, nervous, and terrified of having surgery, but luckily, all went well and I would highly recommend having surgery if that is what is recommended.
    I wish I would have had a few more options or time to prepare and think things through, but at the same time I was very thankful that everything happened so fast that I didn't get to think about it.

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  • My first back surgery was a laminectomy, followed by 3 fusions. They recoveries are long but the surgery worthwhile. Just take it easy and follow your doctor's instructions. I started out walking and then returned to swimming when the incision healed. Eventually i was able to ride my bike. I was very active before surgery so that helped in my recovery. I have continued to be as active as possible. It takes time and a lot of determination but it can be done.

    Good luck!! Let us know how you do.

    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.
  • My L5-S1 disc herniation was addressed with endoscopic surgery.

    The doctors made 2 perforations in my side and used flexible plastic endoscopic instruments.

    No bone was cut, no muscles were cut, very very minimal collateral damage. When they finished, they closed the perforations with 2 band-aids.

    It was the procedure with the most benefit and least detriment that I could find, so I went for it. I am glad I did.

    I know I will be a low back issue person everyday for the rest of my life (I am 39) and accept I might need more and bigger surgeries in the future. For now however, I am pain-free, happy, and doing ok!

    I would encourage you to aggressively advocate for yourself.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I am 1 month l5/S1 micrdiscectomy and mine was in my surgeons top ten surg not that bad but it will take time to heal I'm still sore and L foot is numb your nerves heal last if it's a bad herniation all the shots and therapy in the world won't help I was scared too of the unknown but think I made the right choice please feel free to post me or private message me with any of your ? And I will try to help :-C
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  • Did you have a 1 level fusion? If so, I don't get it. I have had 2 , 2 level fusion 25 years apart. came home after 2 nights in the hospital. Used a walker for 2 days only and had a visiting nurse every day for 2 weeks to check my incisions and blood pressure. Your Dr sounds like a total DB and I would absolutely think about going to someone else whom isn't a liar and who will give you a disable sticker!

    Ps and I am not some kid, I am pushing 60 and have had my share of medical problems
  • Hi Sally. I had a L5 S1 fusion with disc removed 5 weeks ago. I have had very little pain since the op and was walking a mile on the treadmill 3 days after the operation. The physios said my level of fitness greatly helped my recovery - I was walking 7 miles a day and doing an hour of cardio boxing on the Xbox each day. I am now walking around 5 miles a day on the treadmill and am not having to take painkillers. The op so far has been a great success for me as the problem I had with the vertebrae moving and making my muscles spasm so I couldn't sleep in a bed for over 5 years has now been sorted. Mine was definitely a mechanical problem with no nerve pain so having the fusion was felt to be the only solution (I had tried alternative treatments: osteopath, massage, pilates, physio etc). I have to say the operation was nowhere near as bad as I imagined it would be and I am very glad I decided to give this a try!


  • Hello-= and a monstrous Thank you to all who posted to help me navigate this 'ocean' of information. I have more reading to do for sure.. hard to sit upright too long though!

    Another question-- did your doctors, the neurosurgeons, specifically know what surgery you all needed? I mean, I see in above posts that endoscopic surgery, microdiscetomy, and fusions. Did you all make those decisions on your own???

    I cant' tell you how much I appreciate this site, and you all for your feedback. Thanks!!!
  • I also have the bolt screw from fusion site to pelvis and I think that hurts like mother a mother-fucquer. ( sp. Don't want to sound like a trash mouth/ gutter girl) I was always triple joined and could do ridiculous things with my legs. Now can't even cross leg over other leg. Pathetic. Feel the bolt and it hurts at various times a day. You feel the same thing and it will get better right.. Please say yes and don' t BS me. Would rather deal with the truth.

    Wrote you a great PM last nite and being the retard that I am, lost it and was too tired to rewrite it. .I am the worst typist and am a fab talker on the phone.. If you want to chit chat or just vent, give a call at 305(933)1800. Would love to whine, laugh, talk skiing, etc. Whatever works for you. Absolutely do not want to appear as a creepy stalker, not my style. Feel well, stronger every day

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