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Mixed opinions from surgeon and pain mgmt

Background: 41 years of age and very active until 4-5 months ago. The pain was too much so I tried to rest instead of make my body stronger attitude. I have had back issues for 4 years+. L5-S1 herniated and L4 bulging. I've also been going to a pain management doctor. The steroid injections are no longer working so the pain mgmt. sent me to a surgeon THINKING the surgeon would do a discectomy. Wellll the surgeon rocked my world with I need a full 360 fusion. Mentally I wasn't ready until a month ago because he didn't explain the root of the problem, I tried an advanced steroid injection (Not sure the name) and It felt like gasoline on a fire. I made an appt with the surgeon who operated on my grandmother and he told me the pain clinic was treating me for the incorrect diagnosis. I have DDD (degenerated disk disease) and my L5-S1 is bone on bone. He recommends ALIF. OK so this is my ONLY chances to get better and feel human.. so I booked my surgery for Feb 24

PROBLEM: A few days ago I went to my normal pain mgmt. appointment. WOWOWOOW this woman has been treating me for 4 years. She is always full of positivity and knowledge. Not today. I told her what was going on and she basically told me I was doing the wrong thing and having the surgery will not help me live a pain free normal life. She said 90% of her patients have had back surgery and still have high pain levels. I know I will never be "pain free" but I don't want to rely on pain meds to get my though a day. AND once I have one fusion my spine will keep deteriating.

Please tell me some success stories or something... this woman freaked me out and now I am even MORE anxious about my surgery.



  • [Deleted User][[Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited 02/17/2017 - 9:21 AM
    Hi wanderluster. I recently had a laminectomy on l4/l5 Jan of this year (I am 35)  I can say I have been in more pain since surgery than ever before. I was injured at work last year and had been dealing with terrible lower back pain. I went through the typical motions of PT (no help) and the steroid shot (what a joke). I was given two options by the second opinion neuro surgeon. 1. Surgery and feel better 2. Live with pain and manage it with medicines. He told me that right after surgery my leg numbness should disappear and I should start feeling better. WRONG!!!! I now am barely able to function normally. I hurt 24/7. I just had a new MRI yesterday so the Neuro could see why my pain is worse. I have become extremely depressed because of not being able to do simple tasks such as put in my own pants. Anyways, after my back story, I will get to my point. (please keep in mind this is only 1 person's experience and everyone is different). Since I've had my surgery, the nurse from worker's comp has told me she figured I would be worse after surgery because back surgery is never a 100% a sure fire way to fix issues. I had another nurse tell me that she has never dealt with a patient who fully recovered from back surgery. (I side with your pain management ladyin terms of it won't automatically fix the issue at hand) It seems like back surgery is a hit or miss thing.  I've read a lot of stories in here to and I maybe have only read 1 or 2 success stories. I'm starting believe I should have never had surgery because the pain before surgery wasn't fun, but I could have managed it better than the pain I am in now. Please make sure you are 120% about surgery and hopefully you end up having an amazing success story!!!!! I want to read more of those so I can have hope my issues won't be life long. Just stay positive and optimistic if you go through surgery. Don't rush the healing process and be patient. Good luck! 
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561
    Most pain management people I know do not believe one should have back surgury unless nerve damage risk exists .  Problem is they often do not support the patient outside injections so the patient can be left having surgury out of desperation.
    But it is a fact your discs above and bellow a fusion will take extra stress which can cause issues .
    Also once you have chronic pain and are in pain management the odds that you have a surgury and it cures you 100 percent would be rare I would think.
    You need to understand all the risks, from surgury or not doing surgury.  But many people have fusions and go on with life , others have issues later from adjacent degeneration and for some unlucky ones they are worse after.

    Doing a surgury out of desperation vs risk of nerve damage is a slippery slope.  You have to make sure you feel sure surgury is the right choice based on facts
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
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  • Personally, I was fused at L5/S1 almost 4 years ago. I'm a 43 year old young lady. I had the same issue as you, bone on bone.  Disk completely herniated. I had no choice but to try the surgery, because my option was going to be live in pain, not work and take opiates. Not my style. If you trust your surgeon, I would go with his/her recommendations. The pain clinic doctor is not a spine specialist, they treat pain. 

    I have issues Sue's with on of my legs with numbness sometimes, but other than that my back feels great. I was a success. I know many people who have had successful back surgeries. There also the ones that aren't. It's a risk you have to decide to take. All I know, is I could not live like I was any longer. I figured if the surgery gave me a few good years.....I will take it!!  

    Good of luck with your decision.  I
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