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don't know what surgeon means when he says "good candidate for spinal fusion surgery"

I saw a neurosurgeon last year at this time.  At that time I had a lot of pain and some numbness but not numbness and tingling every day and the pain was not always that bad except on some days when I over did something...like stood too long..for example. 

I'm just wondering if anyone knows what a surgeon means when he says you are a good candidate for surgery...I'm very frightened of having a spinal fusion at the L4/L5 level of the sacrum (lower back) but I spent Canadian Thanksgiving mainly laying in bed resting and icing and taking a mild pain killer/ anti-inflammatory...it is not working that well anymore but I have not been prescribed strong pain medication and I don't want that anyway.  The numbness and tingling in my feet and arms is worse for me anyway. 

I am 65 and maybe a bit overweight for my small bone structure.  Also is there anyone who has had a good result from this type of fusion surgery.. 
Thank you for any comments. 
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1

Comments

  • dalewarren123ddalewarren123 Michigan, USAPosts: 104
    I'm having a decompressive laminectony and  fusion L1 to S1 in two weeks.  My doctor said I am a good candidate for surgery.  For me he ment I needed this surgery and I am healthy enough or not a lot of other health issues that could complicate the surgery.  I have back pain when I stand or walk with nerve pain going down both legs.
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,510
    edited 10/11/2016 - 12:00 PM
    ariel51

    welcome to the spine-health forums.

    that is a great question to ask you your surgeon.  even a simple call to the office should get an answer.

    as dale says, it probably means you are healthy enough, the rewards will be big enough and your condition is not overly complicated, as some of our fellow members.  not all of our members are good candidates because their conditions won't be "solved" with surgery.

    you might want to read the success stories! that i have been tracking.

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

    Bruce

    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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  • AllijayAAllijay NHPosts: 36
    edited 10/11/2016 - 2:21 PM
    Hello Ariel-I just had an L5/S1 fusion and decompression on October 3. I've been dealing with a worsening back problem for 5 years with various treatments & doing Pilates on a reformer which I think is the only thing that's kept me upright & walking around these last several years. I did have a facet cyst removed that was pressing on a nerve 2 years ago. I did ok after that and got on a more serious fitness program including using a treadmill, stationary bike, swimming as well as Pilates and focusing on weight loss.
    Last October, I developed a pinched nerve at the L5 level and it's been downhill from there despite continuing with my fitness program.
    I'm 67 and after being patient with my resistance to surgery & trying alternate treatments, my surgeon told
    that I wasn't going to be going to in to have surgery when I'm 86 years old. That made me realize that it was now or never. I'm glad to be on the other side of the surgery and while still very early in recovery, I know I made the right decision. The only decision left to make.
    I think my outcome will be very good and realize it is a long process and a huge commitment in our lives. 
    Wishing you all the best as you go forward in this process.
  • victorrvvictorr Tampa bay,FloridaPosts: 18
    Hi Ariel,sounds like spinal fusion to me ,but what's important is that you're in good shape for the surgery,good luck with everything.
  • Ariel51AAriel51 Toronto, OntarioPosts: 5
    Thanks everyone for your answers and encouragement.  I have never posted in any forum about issues like this but I am happy I posted the question here and that people are so supportive.  I have a lot of fear around having any surgery like this but I don't want to spend another Thanksgiving weekend where I end up in bed because I've done too much and this leaves me in pain....and when I say I've done too much, it isn't that much at all...so it is frustrating..
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  • Ariel51AAriel51 Toronto, OntarioPosts: 5

    victorr said:

    Hi Ariel,sounds like spinal fusion to me ,but what's important is that you're in good shape for the surgery,good luck with everything.

    Thank you so much for the encouragement.

  • Allijay said:

    Hello Ariel-I just had an L5/S1 fusion and decompression on October 3. I've been dealing with a worsening back problem for 5 years with various treatments & doing Pilates on a reformer which I think is the only thing that's kept me upright & walking around these last several years. I did have a facet cyst removed that was pressing on a nerve 2 years ago. I did ok after that and got on a more serious fitness program including using a treadmill, stationary bike, swimming as well as Pilates and focusing on weight loss.
    Last October, I developed a pinched nerve at the L5 level and it's been downhill from there despite continuing with my fitness program.
    I'm 67 and after being patient with my resistance to surgery & trying alternate treatments, my surgeon told
    that I wasn't going to be going to in to have surgery when I'm 86 years old. That made me realize that it was now or never. I'm glad to be on the other side of the surgery and while still very early in recovery, I know I made the right decision. The only decision left to make.
    I think my outcome will be very good and realize it is a long process and a huge commitment in our lives. 
    Wishing you all the best as you go forward in this process.


  • Allijay said:

    Hello Ariel-I just had an L5/S1 fusion and decompression on October 3. I've been dealing with a worsening back problem for 5 years with various treatments & doing Pilates on a reformer which I think is the only thing that's kept me upright & walking around these last several years. I did have a facet cyst removed that was pressing on a nerve 2 years ago. I did ok after that and got on a more serious fitness program including using a treadmill, stationary bike, swimming as well as Pilates and focusing on weight loss.
    Last October, I developed a pinched nerve at the L5 level and it's been downhill from there despite continuing with my fitness program.
    I'm 67 and after being patient with my resistance to surgery & trying alternate treatments, my surgeon told
    that I wasn't going to be going to in to have surgery when I'm 86 years old. That made me realize that it was now or never. I'm glad to be on the other side of the surgery and while still very early in recovery, I know I made the right decision. The only decision left to make.
    I think my outcome will be very good and realize it is a long process and a huge commitment in our lives. 
    Wishing you all the best as you go forward in this process.

  • Hi Allijay, I'm 3 days ahead of you having had my surgery September 30! It sounds as if I had a very similar surgery to yours plus the removal of 2 cysts. I'm doing really well but wondering what is 'overdoing it'! I walk really well... frustrated a bit at the bending, lifting and twisting restraints! But must be patient! When is your follow up visit? I can't get in until Nov, 16 which is almost 7 weeks so cannot start PT until after that. My interest in getting on this site was to see if anyone could give me an inclination as to when it would be safe to fly. Any ideas welcome!
    Am still having some nerve pain in my leg but doctor told me that is quite normal after the trauma of surgery. Are you also experiencing that?
  • AllijayAAllijay NHPosts: 36
    edited 10/12/2016 - 3:08 PM

    Hi Vamtaa -congratulations on your progress so far. I find each day is better than the one before. I’m trying not to overdo it and listen to my body telling me to take it easy, especially the twinges, soreness and nerve pain in my leg & toes that I still have intermittently also. I have my 2 week follow up appointment next Monday, October 17 so am not worried about pain that I’m experiencing unless I feel something really weird where the
    fusion was done. I’ve read the nerves take a long time to heal and I’m being patient. I want to get better so much.

    My walking is improving each day, from feeling stiff and off balance the first few days (and using a walker!) to now moving around slowly but more easily. I do believe 4 years of using my Pilates reformer in addition to the fitness exercises I’ve been doing the last two years helped with flexibility & to get me more fit for
    the surgery and now recovery. I am also wearing a corset back brace when I’m up and about which is very supportive and comfortable.

    Please follow the restrictions given you. I’ve learned to do a lot of things using my feet instead of bending down or over and turning my whole body at once instead of twisting my torso. And definitely lighten the load when lifting. My instructions are nothing heavier than a gallon of milk which, to my surprise,
    weighs about 8 lbs! Do you have a grabber-it's very helpful to pick up things off the floor, open lower drawers, even load & unload the dishwasher (although I'm using the top shelf only right now) and put laundry in the dryer.

    As for flying, that will be up to your doctor to determine. It does seem a long wait for your follow up appointment but you could call to ask specific questions in the meantime. I’m not even allowed to ride in a car for 2 weeks and maybe won’t be driving until the end of the month. I was told on discharge to please call the doctor’s
    office with any concerns or questions. They want to know what you need to help you recover.

    If you have any other questions or want to share your recovery, please feel free to ask me.
    This site was a great resource before the surgery and great support now that it’s behind me!

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