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Surgery or not to surgery

New member here. My wife was recently diagnosed with Spondylosis of almost an inch L5/S1 and herniated disc L4 with leakage into L5. She is having severe sciatic pain. We have seen 2 different docs and all the same suggestions - fusion surgery. She had her first epidural steroid injection 2 weeks ago with only 20% relief. She is scheduled for a second this week. She can not get comfortable to sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a time. Currently on Neurontin, Xanaflex and Percocet for pain. No sleeping position gives her relief. We even bought a Tempur-Pedic mattresses with adjustable base. 

I have been reading thread after thread about people having problems with fusion surgery and not getting relief. It was offered to try a Laminectomy of L4 to remove pressure form the ruptured disc and wait for fusion as long as possible. Doc says her other disks are in great condition.  So the question I pose is, has anyone had success with fusion and glad they did it? 


  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 971
    edited 09/12/2016 - 7:10 AM


    Fusion can definitely help your wife get her life back.  Yes there are cases where complications arise but there are also many success stories.  Most of those with success stories don't hang around here on this forum once they get their lives back... so don't be put off by the horror stories you read here.   Recovery from fusion can be a tough road taking quite a number of months (think of it like healing a broken bone) but the result can be life changing.  I've had lumbar fusion surgery twice and both times the recovery was 12 months... plus but I'm no longer in pain and I lead a pretty normal life for my age.  I do pay particular attention to "being kind to my back" to try and avoid further issues or surgery. That is to say.. I no longer put extreme stresses on my back like lifting 50 pound suitcases or do spine jarring sports like running, baseball, etc...   Some reasonable lifestyle changes are usually a part of most successful fusion stories... 

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,510

    welcome to the spine-health forums.

    as harry points out, there are many success stories.  i like to think that i am, but frankly it might be too early to say that - my surgery was only 10 months ago. i feel great though.

    please click on the following link for some helpful information to get you started welcome to spine-health


    Read my story at Bruce - My Story
    ACDF C4-C5-C6-C7, and getting better every day
    It has been a process of healing, learning, exercising, and resting - and figuring out when to do which.

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  • Thank you both for sharing. 
  • I had fusion surgery a little over 4 months ago and am thankful every single day that I did!!!  I was off work for 5months leading up to it.  Recovery for me was quick and fairly easy, once I got past about 2 weeks out.  I'm considered young though for having this type of surgery (was not quite 40 when I had surgery), which likely helped my recovery.  I'm a teacher and went back to work in mid-August, just 3 months after the surgery.  Most days, I don't even remember I had surgery until someone asks me how I'm doing!  Once in a while, if I do a lot physically, I'll end up sore that evening...but nothing like the pain I was in before.  It's been an absolute miracle for me!
  • Shelley007,
    Thanks for sharing. My wife is just 41 so we also hope that she too will have a quick recovery.

    I think I am most worried that once the fusion it happens it only means more in the future. The radiologist that has been administering her steroid injections, said after the first typically people are back in 5-7 years for another. Being that she is young I hate to think this will be a regular thing. However, I recently spoke with someone who had an L5/L4 fusion in 2008 and has had no issues and no further surgeries. Stories like these help. 
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  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 971
    edited 09/13/2016 - 7:01 PM


    People who don't go back under the knife for a second or third surgery typically are those that adjust their post-op lifestyle to ensure they don't over stress or jar their back... and they also apply a regular exercise program to ensure a strong and healthy back muscle structure.    Hooking up with a good spine PT specialist and staying with it even once recovered... is as important as finding the right surgeon.  

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    You may be interested in reading, ...So you think you're ready for surgery. Let's go over a few things.....
    You can find by using search, upper right on page.

    You may also find it interesting to,use the search with your concern..ex..fusions...and you will also be led to the medical side of site with article and very informative videos!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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