Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

Any GOOD Spine Fusion Stories?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:21 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am bummed. Been dealing with a couple ruptured discs in my lower spine. My fault. Do not know what number they are, just in my very lower spine. After two years of pain meds (I am up to Oxycontin from my Pain Management Dr) and a failed epidural (4th one), I went to a Neurosurgeon. Did the rehab thing too.
He showed me my MRI film. Not good. Not only do I now have two ruptured discs, I have a third severely degenerated/-ing. He said I need a spine fusion. He also said before he does surgery, I must get a second opinion. I thought that was kinda cool? He said if he does the surgery, I would be in the hospital a couple days and up to six weeks in a back brace? I wear one now half the time! He comes very highly reccomended.
The more I think and read about it, the more paranoid I am getting. My mind is already trying to talk my body outta doing this!! I am only 39!!! Why ME?!?!
I can manage the pain 85% of the time with the meds. 15% of the time if I sneeze or breathe wrong, I am in miserable pain for up to six weeks.
I am not reading about too much success here? I am scared I may be worse off after the surgery. I guess I am just scared...
Anyone had a good fusion with a great recovery and no regrets??????


  • You will see a lot of people talking about their problems following surgery because people without problems don't have anything to talk about. :) Don't let that scare you. Most back surgeries are successful, and really, that doesn't mean the people posting here have had UNSUCCESSFUL surgeries, just that they're experiencing something uncomfortable and wish to get other people's views or support.

    Yes, you're only 39, but you will see 20-something's in here that have had multiple surgeries. Why you? Why NOT you is also a fair question.

    All my best to you. Continue reading and you'll see many success stories that should encourage you.
  • Saw your pic with your dog! I had to take mine to the E.R. Vet a couple months ago. He was diagnosed with lower back pain and inflamation!! We were both laid up at the same time on pain meds and such. They say it is a common problem with his breed cuzz they have such a long back. Plus I am sure yours likes to sit upright all the time?
    What a pair we are (Scooter and I)...
  • advertisement
  • Hi, I'm only 39 and I had a lumbar fusion on June 24th.
    Tess is right, you are only reading the stories with problems because the ppl without problems usually dont bother writing anymore.
    My fusion went along perfectly. I'm not gonna lie, theres a couple weeks where you are in alot and I mean ALOT of pain to the point where you wish you never had the surgery. After that though, I could feel myself getting better and stornger each week. It's been 5 weeks now and I have virtually no pain and can walk a mile a day. The only pain I have is after I walk the mile my hips get a little sore.
    My incision healed perfectly with no infection or irritation.
    Not everyones surgery is bad, trust me.

    Best Wishes,

    Christina :)
  • but they were expected, after all this is my 13th orthopedic surgery (wrist, elbows, shoulder (twice), knee (3 counting replacement) and this is the second one on the back. So yeah, it hurts and you tell yourself "Why did I do this?" and then you have those moments (sometimes only a few of them) that you don't hurt and you know why you did it.
    I am down to pain pills only at bedtime - to make up for all the sitting, walking and mess I have done during the day.

    Don't give up it does get better and then we all know why we did it.
  • I had lumbar L5-S1 fusion in mid may. Friday I go for my 3 month check up. After that, P.T. because I have been under a no lift, bend or twist order (BLT).
    My sciatia before the surgery was severe that at times I could not stand or walk for longer than 2 minutes. Now, I can stand and walk with 98% of the pain gone.
    The problem of the surgical pain is still with me and I am told that it is 6-12 months before complete recovery.
    It is true, the pain immediately post-op
    is Horror movie quality. I am not going to lie. Now, I still have major issue with lying down and getting up in the morning. Extreme, stiffness but the recovery time is improving.
    I would say, get the surgery, your young and should have your life back. A year of recover is long worth the years of continued pain IMHO
  • advertisement
  • Well, I thought since I am doing so well that I would tell you about my recovery. I had a 1 lvl. L5-S1 360 fusion on June 19th. I was in the hospital for 2 days. I spent the next week in bed and slowly started getting up and walking around. I can walk about 1/2 mile now. I might be able to walk more, but I really do not want to jeopardize my recovery. I am doing very very well. I am doing much better then I ever antisipated. My back doesn't hurt. Thats the first time in 15 years! 15 long years!!! I am only a month out so I hope everything stays the way it is, but if I keep doing as the NS said I believe I will do very well. I have to stop myself from doing too much because I feel so good. I did have an internal stitch that sneeked out and almost gave me an infection, but I caught it in time and it is about 80% healed. Not to jinx myself, but I'd say that I am a success story. I know that it may not be a complete fix in the long run because of my age. I am only 31yrs. old and my NS predicts that I will have problems with my other levels above and below the fusion, but for now I am going to live my life to it's fullest. I haven't been able to do that in a very long time and I will appreciate every pain-free moment that I have. If I have one or two years of quality life before the other levels start to bother me it will still be the best decision that I made and it is worth every penny.

    I wish you all the success that I have had and thank everyone for being there when I needed them.

    With Love,
  • My story is one of near 100% perfect recovery, and if you click on the link below you can read about lots of members good surgical outcomes :)


    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • Hi Aviator & my other Spiney Friends! We're home from Montana/Wyoming & I feel soooo much better now, at 24 weeks-so this whole ordeal seems to be more & more "worth it" as I heal...saw my NS this week for x-rays & there's more new bone, so that's good...pain still daily, but mostly weak muscles now & "shifting loads" as the fusion area "sets-up" and the other levels are called into action...all normal, all OK (accord to NS) Leg/foot nubmness is less, surgery sit pain is almost gone & hip marrow punch misery is GONE, thank the Lord! :) That was a buster!! So was the 1st month..& of course it was Misery City right after surgery..but that's all expected & they give you great meds...

    So Aviator, re your query: I have no regrets. I may have "traded" some types of pain for others & my back will never be perfect again (of course) but looking back to January & assessing myself NOW, I am soooo much better AND better-off (spine is now straight, bad disc is gone & new bone is filling in, etc) than b4. So take stock, do your research, talk to people & your docs & then LISTEN TO YOUR BODY...As Cosmic says, "live life to the fullest" & if your back pain is preventing you from doing that, go for the fusion---it has allowed me to return 80% to my former life (and @ only 6 months out, I am expecting greater progress as time goes by) and I feel better each week! :)

    Caution: It's a VERY SLOW recovery, tho--& you must give it TIME...but you are young & strong, you should do just great!

    All the best--keep us posted~

    ~~ Lakeside
  • Welcome back Lakeside. I hope your hubby let you ride up front for some of your trip.


    I am the prime example of a slow recovery, but I have recovered. After being fused throughout my lumbar region, I went a whole year without any real, significant recovery. I'd push myself until I felt discomfort and then stop. I never seemed to be able to go beyond a certain point. However, in the last 3 months I pushed and pushed the discomfort and found that it went away soon after I exercised and walked. From walking only a few tenths of a mile in April, I regularly walk 3 miles non stop at least 5 days a week. I can now lift or bend with no pain, and I can even stand for some time without discomfort. Will I ever be like I was before the fusion? I doubt it but thats because I now have 10 screws, plates and rods in me that weren't there before.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • I don't at all agree with those who assert without any evidence whatsoever that:

    1) Most spinal surgeries are successful.

    2) Most people with successful outcomes don't bother to post.

    Don't be mistaken. Do your own research and you will find that the medical community does a negligent job of correlating statistically across time surgeries to outcomes. In fact, nominal evidence is at best mixed when it comes to correlating major spinal surgeries to improved pain management.

    In my case, I was an avid athlete and strong going into surgery. I was sold the most optimistic outcome for a spinal fusion at C5-C6 2.5 years ago when I had experienced a elevated cycle of pain. At UCSF, a top spinal institute with tremendous experience, the head of neurosurgery essentially guaranteed exponential relief in pain. For one of the few times in my life, I did not do detailed due diligence and trusted these "experts".

    Well, the surgery caused massive pain that continued unabated for up to a year, nearly destroying my career and ability to support a family. The surgery was a "success". Why? Because I had a successful "union" and was physiologically "perfect", with an ordinary post-operative spine. My doctors ostracized me when I didn't get the desired outcome. Other UCSF doctors expressed amazement that I was counseled into a fusion so quickly...and advised pain medications to deal with a life of pain.

    Well, on my own, not taking any pain medications, I did heal, in defiance of what the medical geniuses predicted. I am now running and playing soccer. I keep in touch with professional athletes who had fusions and get issues from time to time. It never is the same once you have something as dramatic as a fusion.

    No doctor can explain why I was in pain in the first place. So many have theories that absolutely contradict one another. None can cite me statistically decisive studies that with mathematical conviction portray fusions as a good means of pain management. Suffice to say, from everything I have read and studied, fusions are an unquantifiable gamble that can make you better, do nothing, or really make the pain a lot worse. Fusions really are proven in order to prevent paralysis or prevent further skeletal deterioration...which warrants their use...but are unproven for pain management.

    Sorry, but my anecdotal experience is that most people do not get the pain results they need with fusions. Most wind up getting more surgeries and are on increasing dosages of pain medicine, falling into a slippery slope of increasing medical care.

    I also hate to say this, but most positive outcomes I know involved people who were very healthy and strong to begin with. It's one thing for an athlete who suffered a trauma blow to get this versus a person who has developed pain over many years and is not physically active.

    To summarize, my fusion did nothing to change my condition. Thank God I am now back to pre-surgical levels and cycles of pain, where I can live a high quality of life. But, I went through sheer hell just to struggle to get back to where I once was.

    Do your homework. I really mean it that you should study this and ask hard questions. Above all, you have to find a skilled and honest doctor, as a good number simply are not proficient in fusions and dispense them as if they were routine surgeries. Suffice to say, new doctors I am meeting who operate on athletes almost to a man tell me that this is one field of medicine that is plagued by bad doctors. It is absolutely an carpentry endeavor where slight mistakes can cause painful consequences in an area of the body filled with nerves.

    This area of medicine is not deterministic in terms of pain management, particularly when it comes to soft tissue issues and fusions. It is a gamble.

    I got lucky. Nobody still can tell me what happened. Time, God, and luck were on my side.

    Best of luck to you as well. Do what you have to do, but be informed.

    Cheers, Mate
Sign In or Register to comment.