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lumbar spinal fusion- what really made you do it?

unable to bend, can't tie your shoes, no ability to clean your own house?

what really caused you to have the surgery?


  • Pain so severe that I couldn't concentrate on my work (I'm a doctoral student). I let it go so far that I was unable to walk for any distance and needed a wheelchair to get around.
    1/16/2013 Minimally invasive TLIF with rods, screws, and cage on L5/S1 joint to treat grade 2 spondylolysthesis, pars defect, degenerative disc disease. Dealt with chronic pain & nerve issues since at least 2007.
  • airborne72airborne72 Posts: 245
    edited 02/03/2013 - 4:19 AM

    This is a very difficult decision and it MUST BE your decision because you are the one who will live with (enjoy or endure) the consequences. There are numerous threads on this forum addressing this question. Do a search and spend several hours reading everyone's advice.

    The short version of my experience - a couple of decades of persisent pain that would on ocassion become debilitating; medical diagnosis of a grade one spondy; medical diagnosis of severe disc dissication (sp?) at L4/L5/S1; and ultimately the inability to run (my former passion). My quality of life had decreased to the point where I was no longer social and I struggled to work (use to drive about 1,000 miles/week). It finally dawned on me that surgery was my last remaining option, as I had tried all other interventions.

    It's a tough decision. Good luck.

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  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,345
    edited 02/03/2013 - 5:51 AM
    I tried very hard to avoid a spinal fusion!

    I suffered awful sciatica in both legs that would stop me in my tracks, and have me in tears some days.
    I got to the point where I couldn't stand more than about 5 minutes (probably less) without being in severe pain and couldn't walk for more than 5 to 10 minutes before I was looking for somewhere to sit down.

    Someone here, said that when I felt that my life was shrinking because of my pain, that would be time to do the surgery.
    That comment was very helpful because I was already at the point. I agreed to go and 'just talk' to the surgeon (who I had been refusing to see). When he examined me and saw my MRI scan he said that if I didn't have the surgery I would end up in a wheelchair and eventually incontinent. That made me decide to do the surgery, and had it about 3 weeks later! It gave me wonderful relief of my symptoms and pain.

    That was nearly 3 years ago. I had a 2 level ACDF 12 weeks ago. I didn't wait quite so long this time, but was still trying to avoid surgery!

    I advise that you do lots of reading to learn all you can about your diagnosis, the possible treatments and talk to others who have had it about their experiences. Then you will be armed to have the best informed discussion with your surgeon possible. Write yourself a list of questions as you think of them, and get someone to go with you to your appointment. Two pairs of hears will hear more than one pair!

    Good luck in your decision. :-)
  • the physical limitations had progressed to the point where i was useless. i couldn't feed my two dogs, had to sit idly all day surrounded by a house that needed attention, stopped grocery shopping alone without help, stuff like that. the pain increased while bending. now, sitting is really difficult.

    i found i would accept invitations socially, then cancelled as the evening was my worst time. i could plan no more than two tasks/ day by car. after the pulmonary embolism related to immobility from my first surgery, my feet swell after walking even short distances.

    i am scheduled for 3/4, as the neurosurgeon says it is the only remedy. the pre-op anxiety is only worsened by the pain mgmt. mandate to wean off my pain meds pre-op. sometimes, i just want to run away. but i have to do it..
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