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Wait for a second opinion or just go ahead with surgery

bpiesikbbpiesik Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:02 AM in Lower Back Pain
I haven't been suffering as long as it seems some people on this board have, but I've been having back and sciatica pain down the back of the left leg since last June.

My pain usually comes on if I only stand or walk for more than 5 minutes. I've had to go to the ER twice if I stand or walk too long because the nerve's have become irritated and won't calm done.

I've tried physical therapy with minor results. My Doctor finally sent me to a orthopedic surgeon thinking that a possible cortisone shot may be the answer. Chiropractor did nothing, couldn't even crack my back.

While at the Orthopedic Surgeon we determined that I do have some loss of feeling on my left foot and some various other places on my leg. I can feel pressure but when he ran a spur over it I didn't feel any poking. I also have hyperreflexia in my legs but after doing an EMG they have detected that was probably just normal for me.

After taking X-rays the dr found that I have genetic spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis. After doing an MRI it was determined that I am at 50% slippage so technically still a Grade 2.

The dr gave me 2 options. Can live with it and just manage the pain or have surgery, put a new disc in from the front and push the vertebrae back into place and then flip me over and fuse it from the back (Not sure if that is the same as a 360 fusion or not.)

As I can't even coach for soccer this spring I am seriously thinking the surgery but feel that I am being smart by just wanting a second opinion which I can get into see until the end of May.

Last Saturday all I was doing at supper was grilling burgers and my back flaired up so bad that after 3 hours of trying to get it to calm down my wife took me to the ER where they gave me some pretty potent pain medicine. My back has still been pretty irritated since and feels like there is a nail being pounded into my spine by my lower back/butt area.

I am having a difficult time managing work and family life with this. Today I was only able to work half a day and had to go home because my lower back was just throbbing. It has still been sore since Saturday and my lovely 5 year old oppositional defiant girl decided that this morning wasn't the proper time to go to school and I had to have drag her carry her out of the house to the car.

With all of this pain lately end of May seems like a long, long time away. Should I just forgo the second opinion and schedule the surgery?

Thanks for reading my long winded message.


  • It is never a good idea to have a surgery on the strength of just one doctor's opinion. In fact, I have heard that some insurance companies will not pay for surgery if you don't get a second opinion. My former insurance company waves the copay if you are getting a second surgical opinion.

    I also reccomend that your second opinion come from a neurosurgeon. Two of my three back surgeries were by the same neurosurgeon and he was awesome. I make this statement based on the advice of my internist's former associate.

    Please keep us posted on your decision about the surgery and how you are doing.
  • I too would wait and get the second opinion. I have had three and if I knew then what I know now, I would have tried many more things for treatment. I bought an inversion table last night and after one day I was relieved of so much pain. I understand everyone is different but I would sure try everything else first. Best of luck.
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  • You mention you were going to try injections but dont mention if you had injections yet or not,

    If you have not been seen by a pain specialist and tried multiple injections with then pt once injections took place to see if that helps, Then it would be premature to have surgery and i am suprised any dr would even recomend surgery without a person trying pain management 1 st,

    Best to find a good pain specialist now for as far as you know even if you decide to have the surgery often the pain specialist is there to help with pain during recovery,

    Because most surgens do the surgery and you are lucky to get a 2 week script of pain meds from them and after that too bad so sad!
    They tell you well go see a pain specialist because they dont deal in long term pain treatment!

    So you might as well build some sort of relationship with the pain dr now and if you are lucky he might even save you from having the surgery!

    Good luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Decided to wait but did get get on the waiting list if by some chance that there would be a cancellation.

    Did see my PCP today and after he took a look at the MRI images. I did ask him about the injection and he agreed with the Ortho Surgeon on an injection wouldn't get rid of the pain since there isn't any inflammation. My Ortho isn't quite that harsh with the so sad. He doesn't subscribe them but worked closely with my physician after the ER to determine treatment. But of course as his is an ortho, they still think there initial after there name are G.O.D :)
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,348
    Before having spinal surgery or for that matter any surgery, it is always good to get a second opinion. You want to make sure that you have two medical professionals looking at the same diagnostic reports and coming up with the same action plan.

    I always vote for trying all the conservative
    actions before going in for surgery. But thats because I am not a medical professional. There are so many times when surgery is foremost. That generally happens when you have disc impingement on a nerve root that can led to long term damage.

    I understand what you are saying about getting it done know so you can get back sooner. Sometimes that will backfire. I think it may be more beneficial to miss one season, event, whatever and wait until you are ready to go back to doing the things you did before.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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  • Well some good news. The 2nd opinion dr office called and they can get me in next week. I'm so excited I could jump up and down if it didn't hurt so much.
  • all massive operations with long and unpredictable out comes .always get a second even third or forth opinion when considering elective surgery then only have the surgery when all else has failed .trust me spinal surgery is no fun at all .my life has been destroyed from the age of 30 {now 46 in a few days ] all i have known is pain a suffering and its not likely to get much better ,.ALIF surgery is what i had last dec and believe me it was hell i am still recovering from it and its slow and painful work its changed my life yet again .and not for the better .avoid surgery as long as you can .that's my advice others may tell you different
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • :D :D :D :D Hi! I had a l4-l5-s1 fusion om Jan 5 2012 and have not regreted it!I feel so much better now! I suffered from sciatica for about 2 yrs and was miserable.Could hardly walk at time and had that damn burning sensation from my lower back down to my ankle.Was so hard to work and live like that.My surgeon gave me the option of intensive therapy and shots but never thought twice about it.SURGERY!I am now 4 mos post surgery and all is fine except for just a little ache in my tail bone.Have been back to work now for 5 weeks.I wouldnt hesitate to do it again if needed.Just get a really great surgeon like mine and all will be fine.I finally getting my life back together again and I can WALK again pain free...hope this helps..any questions..please feel free to ask
    Thanks Matthew
  • Bp,

    Just a little insight, because I fought that battle, of surgery, no surgery, etc...???

    Here was the bottom line for me: I did try all non- surgical treatments like: PT, medications, stretching, injections, etc, etc. Nothing worked and I began to consider surgery.

    I got 3 different opinions before I went with the fusion as an option.

    Good luck, and hang in there. Please feel free to IM me with more in depth questions and I will be happy to help. Thanks,
    Left foramina stenosis of L3/L4 (retrolisthesis)
    L2-ilaic revision fusion ( loose screws) with a laminectomy at L3 (cage at L3-L4)
    (PLIF) -@ L4/ L/5 - S1 (cage at L4/L5)
  • you mentioned they were going to also go in through the front,

    that is a very intense operation,

    grade 2 is usually treated with conservative management,

    definetely keep seacrhing for treatments,

    heat pads for circulation, at home decompression belts, learn spondy exercises they help,

    I have grade 2 and so far have managed to get by with the above methods,

    I don`t work full time,

    and ad soon as i get home it`s constant therapy to ease the symptoms,

    surgery is not something you want to go into easily,

    there have been many people who have come out worse,

    at least with home therapies your risks are minimal,

    and you tailor them to your limitations,

    just my two cents.

    Live to Pray
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