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Had fusion surgery new herniations whats next?

cdfcaptccdfcapt San Jacinto, CAPosts: 1
Hey All,
New to this site and have a question.  I herniated L4-5 in 2010 and had a discectomy which gave me very good relief and was able to return to full duty (I was a Fire Captain)  I then re-herniated in 2012 and caused "Drop foot" to my left foot.  I had emergency surgery because of the deficit in my leg.  I had a posterior fusion at L3-4 and L4-5.  2 weeks after this surgery the doctor decided to "flip" me over and do additional fusion from the anterior.  Actually that was his plan to begin with both anterior and posterior fusion but at different times.  I am not clear why he decided to do them as separate procedures.  It is now 2016 and I am having severe pain in my other leg that has me using a walker at times because unable to stand on my right leg do to the pain.  Latest MRI shows new herniations above and below the previous ones.  I see the surgeon again on Tuesday.  Curious if anyone is aware if you can have another discectomy after a fusion or once you have a fusion all subsequent surgeries need to be fusions?  My concern is where does it stop from fusion to fusion?


  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 971
    edited 09/15/2016 - 7:08 PM


    What you are experiencing is a known issue with fusion surgery.  Once your surgeon fuses one or more levels in your spine the adjacent levels above and below the fusion tend to be more susceptible to herniation.  This is due to the fact that the stresses in your spine that the fused disc sections previously cushioned or absorbed are now only cushioned by the disc sections above and below the fused section... which is something they weren't designed to do.  That is... you now have a large section of your back that is a solid bone instead of a spring. Your doctor can preform a discectomy on the newly herniated discs... but unless you make some lifestyle changes you will likely reherniate those same discs again.  If you want to get out of this cycle you MUST make some lifestyle changes that ensure you stop stressing your back.  Your doctor probably didn't coach you on this but once you've had fusion surgery you MUST be "kind to your back" for the rest of life.   You may feel fine after your surgery recovery but the structure of your back is now PERMANENTLY changed from the surgery and the ability of your back to tolerate the stresses that it once did is no longer there.  So lifting those heavy fire hoses on to your shoulder... or sliding down the firehouse pole twenty feet and slamming down on the  floor are not things your back can now tolerate without further damage.   Lifestyle change is VERY key... THE key in fact... to long term success with back problems.

    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
  • MetalneckMetalneck The Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,778
    Well Stated!!  Bravo!

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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    hello cdfcapt !
    welcome to spine-health
    please click on link for helpful information!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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