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Is there any hope of recovery from spinal surgery?

PimbyPPimby Posts: 2
edited 08/29/2015 - 10:44 PM in Lower Back Pain
My first entry, I don't even know if anyone is listening. I had undiagnosed scoliosis & degenerating discs when i fell while climbing in Glencoe in Scotland 6 years ago.........and so began my journey of pain. I'm not doing well, i had xlif 2 years ago at left side to fuse collapsed lumber vertebrae with cage & artificial bone graft, this fusion pretty much failed & disc below collapsed. In January 2015 I had another xlif procedure from the right hand side to address this further collapsed vetibrae , i was then put on my tummy and had posterior lumber surgery to stabalise the 3 lumber vertebrae with titanium rods and bolts. My pain is worse, i don't feel as though any of this has been worth it, i have what appears to be some sort of flank hernia, a massive bulge at my right side which protrudes to the size of an orange as the day progresses & worse if i cough, sneeze, or laugh... (which i don't really do very much) my MRI, X-ray & CT scans all appear to be ok from the surgeons point of view. i'm 56 , depressed, in chronic pain, struggling at work, and hoping for a light at the end of this 6 year long black tunnel. Or is this my life now? Do i just have to get on with it, manage the pain....whatever that means, my life consists of struggling to & from work (pretending i'm ok,) home I lie in bed, no social life is only break i get, because everything else is pain. Im i expecting too much too soon? feeling desperately alone with this.


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,708
    please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

    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 growing.
    here are just some of the highlights that are available as tabs on the main spine-health menu bar

    spine-health main menu tabs

    conditions detailed medical libraries of articles and videos that address almost every spinal condition.
    treatment list of treatments to the conditions identified by spine-health.
    wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.
    medical articles
    pain forums these are the forums you will be using
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    videos index to all spine-health videos

    as a bonus, spine-health provides these patient forums. here you can meet thousands of people who understand and can relate to your situation. you will soon become part of the spiney family[/u] who provide comfort and the advantages of a support system. you are now part of this family that is approximately 27,00 international members and growing daily.


    - it is very important to understand the forum rules to make sure all of your posts[u] do not violate any of the rules.[/u]

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    i am positive any member, new or old will find this chroinc pain - step by step thread very valuable.

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    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

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

    I couldn't help but reply to your post. You poor thing, I totally understand how you must be feeling. Although I have not been through anything like you I have had two surgeries in four months and I'm looking at possibly one more in September which will be a fusion. I am a new member here and joined for support. Yes we are hear and yes we are listening. Please draw strength from knowing that you are never alone.

    Lots of hugs coming your way, and please feel free to private message me if you need to.
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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,430
    You may not see all that many here. Reason is that people generally register for this site because they are having a problem. When that ends up with surgery, a division happens. Those that had good success and are feeling really better tend to drift away from Spine-Health. So you never hear all about those positives. But those that had problems with surgery, more pain, more surgeries, that is what you hear the most about on the forums.

    So much of the long term view from spinal surgery is controlled by the patient. There are of course things that we can not control, but there is so much we can.
    • - Proper approved exercise- Proper diet- Adhering to all imitations and restrictions- Not over doing anything- Maintaining a positive attitude and approach
    Example of positive hop is in the area of sports. There are countless number of professional athletes, who have had, cervical, lumbar surgeries, dealing with stenosis, degenerative disc disease, etc They are still playing and close to be back to on top of their game.

    Its not always easy making sure things remain positive. It can be a lot of hard work. Its so much easier to sit back, do nothing, rely on pain medications to get through the day, have a lot of self pity, etc When things like that start to happen, climbing out of that cellar can take a lo of work.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • HI there, I happen to check in every few months....just to stay current on spine technology and what not. I'm a 2x MD at L5/S1 with permanent nerve damage. I can tell you I had success and while my surgeries were not as significant as your XLIF, I did have a lot of damage and it took quite some time to get my life back. I blew out my disc in August 2009, had surgery in September (2 weeks later) 2009....didn't get relief, in fact was worse and knew something was still wrong. Sure enough, MRI 3 months out indicated another large piece of disc was pressing on the nerve so after many opinions later, had 2nd MD in Feb 2010. Then 4 months before I felt any pain relief and at the 6 month mark post 2nd surgery, I remember I stopped limping. At about 7 months, I couldn't push up on my toe but if I started, could hold for a few seconds and eventually got strong enough to push up. I have significant nerve damage (no feeling in buttocks, left-perineum, back thigh, heel to outer toe). In 2012, spend 4-5 months with Physio because my back had become arthritic (symptoms seemed that) and my hip was in severe pain...I had protected myself so well after surgery, I was causing other issues. Fast forward....mid-2012 I remember the 1st good night sleep I got...and felt like a new person so decided to focus on my diet and walking and lost the excess 20lbs.....I can say that I taught myself to distinguish between normal 'getting older pain' and back pain. That was a key step for me....because I started to get caught up in my pain. I am living a relatively normal life...most folks that don't know, would never guess I've had back surgeries. I get severe leg and feet cramps each month and yes, still have pain that reminds me to 'be careful' but I am a success story. I hope this gives you encouragement to celebrate the little wins along the way v. looking for that one big "I'm better, let me get back to life" moment.

    I know people that have had spinal fusions as well that have done tremendously well and some...it took a few years before they saw the light. Keep positive, accept the help of others, and if it helps...I came up with some canned answers because the constant questioning of "how is your back?" got me so depressed. If I said fine, they'd wonder why I was down and not joining in. If I said not fine, I figured they'd be tired of me and think I was dramatic. So for most...my answer was "I'm not where I want to be, but better than I was"...it seem to work. This way people knew I was grateful they cared, and optimistic that I'd get better.

    Use this site...it really helped me think about my own situation and take snippets of others' experiences when I'd meet with my doctors and helped me ask the right questions and think through my healing. It is a journey....don't try to sprint it, know that your endurance and steady pace will help you complete the marathon of healing.

  • I guess if you put it in perspective, my surgeries were not nearly as significant as yours and my recovery was still a solid 3 years and that was to get me to where I could focus on getting back to my weight, social life, etc. I hope this gives you faith that 6 years...you are strong, very strong....I admire you and hope you stay positive and know you aren't alone.
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  • Thank you all so much for responding to my post. I can't explain how much i appreciate the kindness of strangers. I have been searching for a way to respond to people when they ask how i am....this has always troubled me as i want to and have had occasion to start crying when people ask me how I feel. So i really want to personally thank DNice for your comments particularly.... "I'm not where I want to be, but better than I was"............which i am going to start using immediately. I met with my surgeon yesterday and I was correct, i do have a flank hernia caused by trauma to the muscle wall post surgery....so essentially i have a part of my intestine protruding about the size of a grapefruit now causing a big bulge in my side, so i've to see a bowel specialist about this. Theres also a chance that i may need further titanium hardware to fuse the sacrum. So all sounding pretty hellish. I don't know if i will take the sacrum surgery as i don't think i can go through another big procedure & recuperation.....& fear of no guarantee. Everything I've had done to date has made the pain worse. I have some hope through reading your comments that i may in time have less pain, and that i am perhaps expecting too much too soon. I appreciate so much that you have all taken the time to read & respond, I am also grateful that I have somewhere i can come to when I need to talk to people who know & understand, Thank you
  • I can't help but wish you all the very best. Your story is so awful and I can certainly understand why it's really bringing you down. I'm trying not to follow your footsteps but I know how much of a challenge this is, even at my early stages.

    I know how important it is to stay positive, even after failure, it's not just false hope, it's the only way to get you through. It's not a physical cure but the more you concentrate on lifting your mental state, the less you will focuss on the condition itself which will seems to releive a lot of my pain.

    There's positives in every situation, they just need focus to flourish.

    Find opportunity in this. Do something new! Reset your switches: Art, music, a blog, study a new skill, learn a new language. Find something that isn't affected by your condition and nail it!! Achieve something every day and you will look forward to the next once again.

    Small herniation L3/L4
    Large herniation L4/L5 causing spinal stenosis and horrible sciatica
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