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spinal fusion

I am new to this site and joined hoping to have a better understanding of spinal fusion surgery. My mother has been in chronic severe pain for over a year. She's had two back surgeries las year. The second surgery was to correct the first surgery. Now she has developed severe debilitating pain down her left leg, nubness and tingling to leg and foot, crippled looking gait (because the left leg just gives out from under her). Her life style has become that of laying on the floor with heating pad and pain medications just to "take the edge off". Today, from recent MRI, we were told she needed a spinal fusion. This has me a little concerned and of course wants her to have a second opinion. She, of course, wants relief NOW!!!!- which I can't blame her. I've heard horror stories about spinal fusion surgery and have always been told to not let her have this done. I am concerned, however with the chance of permanent nerve etc damage. I would love for anyones input on this surgery. I know no surgery is guarenteed but I feel like we're at the end of our rope!!! Thanks!!!!!


  • Hi, I can't comment on the relative merits of Fusion, except to say that I have recently undergone a fusion of L4/5/S1 mid February to address the failure of a previous Stabilization procedure 14 years prior. I have to confess that the pros and cons didn't really come to mind at the time, I just wanted closure on my last 2 years of issues and have great confidence in my surgeons. I am sure you have heard / seen many negative views / horror stories, however I think it is fair to say that on sites such as this we tend to hear more of he problem incidents than the successes, that's just the way it is. I am just over 4 weeks into my recovery, it's going ok at present, of course as with any surgery there are issues post op that need to settle, but I have every faith in this procedure.
  • Mmonroe: hi. There is lots of info here that answers your question. Suggest using the search function on the top of the page, with spinal fusion as the search term.

    Just be prepared for a very slow recovery, talking 6 - 12 months for a middle aged paitient.
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  • I heard all the horror stories about fusion and put it off, only to be in worse pain after a laminectomy/discectomy. I still have some daily pain, but nothing like it was prior to surgery and I can do most activities. I have my life back again now!

    Your mother's situation will be different to mine and everyone else's. Recovery after fusion won't be "a walk in the park" and it was 6-7 months before I felt "normal". However, I did fuse within the 6 month period but it took another 6-9 months before the fusion felt strong. There's no such thing as "instant relief" from fusion surgery - it takes hard work and total commitment. There'll be good days and bad days and bending-lifting-twisting restrictions for several months. My surgeon aims for 80% - 90% pain reduction. Most times we need to review the things we are doing and make changes. If I overdo things, then I pay for it with a pain flare.

    There are cases of non-fusion and if your mother goes ahead with the surgery, I hope it will go well for her.

    As Dave recommended, look up the articles on fusion on this site - they're very good.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • LizLiz Posts: 8,835
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

    - Detailed medical libraries of Articles and Videos that address almost every Spinal Conditions and Treatment

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    - Under the Resource tab, there is a section Doctor Advice Health Center which can be invaluable.

    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a Support System. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 International members and growing daily.

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    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the Private Message facility to contact any one of the Moderators on my team:
    dilauro , tamtam or liz

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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