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L5/S1 Fusion Surgery for Sciatica? Who has had it?

Hello all,

My doctor has recommend a TLIF spinal fusion at the L5/S1 site. He did my 2nd surgery decompression and stabilization. 4 small screws and 2 small rods to provide stability to the disc. I have now had 2 unsuccessful surgeries in under one year. Mind you, I am 25 years of age.

My butt becomes on fire/numbness type feeling from sitting for more then 30 seconds to a minute, worsens the longer I have to sit. My legs usually only from behind my knee down are extreme tightness, electric sometimes, burning hot, cutting of nerves type feeling, stretching of the skin and so on feelings. Both of them. Not just one but luck of the draw and got bilateral herniation and nerve impingement. I have gotten worse from both surgeons. My current surgeon wants to do a fusion to allow for more room for the nerves, due to him saying I have flat back. And also have DDD and FBSS. He wants to remove the disc and do a fusion for L5/S1. He insists I am out of the box case which I definitely am and he wants to help me and also knows if i don't do it now, within next few years, i'll need a fusion.

The only thing this past surgery helped with was the lower back pain. For the most part that is much better but with the butt and legs worse, you get the point..

I read online many fusions being done for lower back pain but not much about people having a fusion done to help relieve sciatica pain (legs or butt)

I'm looking for people's input who have had the surgery done for sciatica and results/outcomes. I am very scared. I'm severely depressed all the time because of the pain. I am so young and it has ruined my life in every way possible. I want to have some sort of life. I don't know what else to do!

Thanks for your results/outcomes in advance.


Time is of the essence. Thanks all!


  • grammaof9ggrammaof9 Posts: 263
    edited 06/24/2013 - 12:53 AM
    Not sure what area you are from but you really need to do research and try and find a good dr. I went fir a 2nd opinion for L5//S1 since dr wanted to due fusion and neuro said 2 more shots since only had 1 and it worked for 5 days or so. Bot he then told me I definitely need cervical. C3 to c7. Tomorrow is my day. Having said that my advise to you is did you ever see a very good chiropractor . I went many places to try to avoid and I wish I was younger since if I would have starting see her I might not be in the position I am in now. That's just my personal opinion
  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 06/24/2013 - 1:59 AM
    nickrolando said:
    I'm severely depressed all the time because of the pain. I am so young and it has ruined my life in every way possible.

    If this quote is true why wouldn't you take a chance on the fusion? If your life is ruined in every way possible, then another failed surgery couldn't make it that much worse, and a successful surgery could give your life back.... I'd certainly go with the fusion.

    And I'm fused at this level, Originally they weren't going to fuse my L5/S1 due to time constraints in the OR, but due to severe leg pain, they went back in and did this fusion site (as well as some other things). It COMPLETELY eliminated the sciatica issues.... Unfortunately after some hard ware revision no where close to this level I'm not fighting sciatica again, but not nearly as bad.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
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  • I had a single fusion...but I have a double. i wanted L5_S! only but the doc said eventually the 4-5 will have to be done as it was shredded .
    anyway maybe it's the meds but I don't get what your question is simply because usually if someone is having neurological symptoms like sciatica then a nerve is pinched or whatever. My point if the 2 surgeries haven't worked why not give yourself time to heal and maybe get a referral for pain mgmt. Then get 2 or 3 opinions to see what's next for you in the future. I had the sitting issues too, that ornery S1 nerve ty. only a spinal cord stimulator helped with that.
    My sciatica is 100% worse due to radiculopathy. If the doc feels it needs to be done now I would ask ALOT of questions...
    take care
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,269
    edited 06/24/2013 - 3:49 PM
    I think that a huge part of the issues that you are having is that you have NOT given your body time to properly heal from each surgery and are looking at surgery again to eliminate the pain you are experiencing but that is NOT the reason for surgery. Surgery should only be done in the event of a structural /mechanical issue, or nerve damage in the spine- ie, neural compression that is symptomatic.
    Sciatica is simply an inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which could simply be a result of your two surgeries. There are several medications used specificially to treat nerve pain- which might be a much better option than persuing yet a third surgery. It might be time to visit a proper pain management center, and talk to them about your options in regard to managing the pain you are having, rather than consulting /considering undergoing another surgery.
    The other thing that you should really be doing is going through consults with at least two other spine surgeons,m ( at least one orthopedic board certified spine surgeon and one board certified neurosurgeon who specializes in the spine) with a current MRI or CT scan or better yet both of those tests, and ask them what they believe is the best treatment option that they would suggest before considering undergoing another surgery.
    If you think that the pain is unbearable now, what will you do if having a third surgery is also what you consider a failure due to not relieving the pain?
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