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Anticipating 2 level laminectomy at L4-L5 in the near future

whackedbackwwhackedback Posts: 41
edited 10/14/2014 - 9:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Greetings to all my fellow Spineys.

This is my first post here, but not my first experience with back surgery.

My history is as follows:

2001: L3/L4 Laminectomy w/o fusion
2002: C4/5/6/7 ACDF w/ fusion
2004: L4/5 Microdiscetomy w/o fusion

I've also had some expelled disc material at L4/5 that has been kept in check by ESI shots (lasted until last month).

During the last weekend of September, 2014, I was sitting on the couch reading,and all of a sudden, I felt like I got shot in the lower back. The pain was intense and I could barely walk. It took a couple of days before I could maneuver with a cane. The pain finally dropped to about 20% of it's original value, but I still have almost total foot drop on my left foot. My left leg was my strong leg before this herniation.

Here's what's happened since.

1. Visited a new, reputable NS. Did not get off to a good start. He suggested that I use an orthotic device and use a cane and pain meds for the rest of my life. Said I would not recover from foot drop with surgery.

2. Saw the NS that did my original L4/5 micro. He feels that surgery would restore my foot to normal. Both L4 and L5 are compressed, causing the foot drop, so he suggests a 2 level laminectomy with out fusion. Any further surgery would require fusion.

For my health situation, I underwent heart bypass surgery in July 2013. As soon as I could I got with a trainer and started working out. With lower back issues, we've concentrated on upper body work. I'm actually more in shape than I have been in 20 years. I'm currently 50 years old.

So I'm sitting here, scared to pull the trigger on surgery. I just got hired into a new company, starting October 1st. Health insurance is not an issue.

I'm dealing with a lot of emotions right now, trying to decide the right thing to do. Since this foot drop occurred, I've been unable to play tennis or bowl any more.

I'm wondering if anyone has been in my situation, and how it worked out for them. I would also like to know what recovery was like for anyone else with a 2 level lumbar procedure.

Any ideas would be appreciated.



  • Good links. Can anyone share their recovery stories from multi-level Lumbar surgery?

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  • Six years ago I had a three-level (L3-S1) fusion and on Aug 14, 2014 I had a six-level (T12-S1) fusion. I may just be lucky, had an excellent surgeon or both, but my recoveris have been relatively easy and uneventful. By that I mean that I had no infection, no complications, no post-operative pain. I experienced some discomfort, especially this time when I could not get comfortable neither at the hospital nor at the rehab, but at home in my own bed and recliner I am fine. I should also tell you that I am following my Dr.'s orders to the tee. Also, my problem was mechanical-structural, with scoliosis, spondylitis and misalignment and fusion can take care of that but not back pain. The only pain I had was horrible sciatica, and could not stand or walk for any length of time. These symptoms are all gone now. So I had both fusions for the right reason. As you know, everybody is different and recovers at a different rate. This is my story.
  • I'm curious as to your age, and how long the recovery took. Anything special the doctor told you to do or not do? Thanks.

  • I will be 78 in December. After the first surgery, my surgeon discharged me at the 5-months check-up, I was doing quite well by then. This time, after two months I am still following the no BLT rule, but am able to do light chores around the house. Since I am retired, I can recover at my own speed. For Thanksgiving I plan to go up from California to Oregon by car, I will be a rider. We plan to stop frequently and I will be in a semi-reclining position.
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  • whackedbackwwhackedback Posts: 41
    edited 10/16/2014 - 9:27 PM
    Thanks again, K. My aunt was 85 when she had a lumbar laminectomy. BLT, bending, lifting, tugging? Not sure about the T. I'm just overly anxious. My surgeon is at EDIT, and I think this surgery is a bread and butter surgery for them. I hope I never have to have another. I've got too much titanium in my neck as it is.

  • My surgery was on 17 September where the doctor performed a bilateral laminectomy, facetectomy, and foraminotomies for decompression on the L5/S1 nerve roots with posterior instrumental fusion at L5-S1 . He also added in a L4-L5 Laminectomy for nerve root decompression as things were pretty bound up. I do think the safest thing anyone can say is that every case is different and most recoveries may have some similarities but overall they can be different. I wake up most days with extreme burning in my lower extremities. The best way that I can describe it is that my but, legs, and especially my feet feel like they are on fire with the pins and needle affect added in just for fun. Ice and pain killers are my best friend in the morning. There are some very extreme moments/mornings that I also take a 5 to 10 mg dose of Diazepam to help ease the nerve pain. I can usually get this under control after about an hour but the morning and evenings are with out a doubt my worst times. I spent a long career in the U.S. Marines where my back injuries came from, however I must say that it is very humbling to sit in a chair crying waiting for relief. Things will get better!! I know this for a fact. This is my 15th surgery overall and my 4th on my spine. So my humble advise would be to have your surgery if you absolutely need it. I was hard headed and put this surgery off way too long which made my overall tougher as my condition got actually much worse as time went by. I wish the best of luck in whatever decision you make. I just know recovery is much easier at a younger age. I am only 49 and this was a easy surgery for me but is by far my hardest recovery yet.
  • stands for Bending, Lifting, Twisting. Sorry about using the acronym without clarifying it, I guess I have been too long on this forum.
  • I spoke with my NS's Admin on Friday, she has scheduled me for a 2 level decompression/laminectomy at L4 and L5. The NS hopes that this will alleviate my foot drop on the left side. I feel like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I hope it works so I can get back to a normal life in the near future.

    I'll be renting a hospital bed (actually at a reasonable rate) so I don't have to go upstairs to sleep. I'm also hoping that I can still travel in order to meet family from another state at Disney Florida. I want my walking and endurance to be up to the task.

    Thanks for all the answers and suggestions

  • after surgery do you plan to travel to Florida? Make sure you clear with the surgeon the time it is allowed for you to do it. Also, do you plan to go by car or fly? It will be three months after my fusion when I plan to go from California to Oregon. My OS would rather have me fly than do it by car, we promised I will be in a semi-reclined position, surrounded by pillows.
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