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Facing back fusion and surgery to relieve sciatic pain

Hi, my name is Pam.  I've never joined something like this before, but after reading some of your comments, I thought perhaps I could relieve some of my apprehension.

I'm facing L4-L5 fusion back surgery and also to relieve my sciatic pain.  I'm absolutely terrified.  I wanted the surgeon to just do a microdiscectomy to relieve my sciatic pain, but he said I had a herniated disc and that the L4 & L5 were unstable and moving.  He said if he just corrected the sciatic that it would most likely make the discs worse and more painful.  He said it would be hard to do surgery in the future because of the scar tissue created from the microdiscectomy.  I'm going through the pre-op procedures now, lab, EKG, chest xray, and a pre-surgery physical by another doctor.  Then he will schedule the surgery.   I'm still wondering if I'm doing the right thing, or if I will be worse off.  I think I've done so much research that I'm scaring myself even more.  I just would like to know if anyone can give me any advice on whether or not to have it done.  Just in their opinion of course.
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Comments

  • Hi pam, I had l5 s1 fusion in november as they were very unstable and I had awful painnin my and struggled to walk sometimes. I too was worried after an earlier op 9 years ago. However im so glad I did it, I recovered really well. No pain, I was driving at 3 weeks, doing most household chores by christmas. Im back full time at work, just get liw backache when I overdo it or sit too long. I kmow many people have awful recoveries,  however there are good stories too,. Good luck, Annette
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 901
    edited 02/23/2017 - 6:55 PM

    Pam...

    In my view your doctor is right... a discectomy will only resolve your sciatica and not solve your spinal instability... fusion surgery is the best long term solution.  I've had 2 fusion surgeries and the recovery can be a tough road but in the end it is worth it.

    Harry - 64 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
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  • Thank you Annette and Harry.  Annette, your experience sounds hopeful, but Harry, you're scaring me.  Sounds like you've been through a lot.  The broken screw issue seems to happen frequently.  I suppose I'll just pray and hope for the best.

  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 901
    edited 02/24/2017 - 11:37 PM

    Pam...

    We all get scared and nervous before surgery... it's normal and perfectly ok.  I found that the actions that helped to relieve my anxiety was to have a doctor that I had full confidence in and who will patiently listen and fairly respond to all my stupid questions.  Also I found that my anxiety was further relieved by learning all I could about my condition and treatment.  This site is a great place to start and has tons of info and experiences... I'm sure there are other sites... I also like to use Wikipedia.  Having a strong positive attitude is important for your recovery along with lots and lots of patience... and above all follow your doctors instructions 110%.  Reading and talking to other people on this site who have had simiiar experiences can also be very helpful in your recovery.  Hang in there... chin up... you're doing the right thing.

    Harry - 64 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
  • mkellenmmkellen New YorkPosts: 10
    Did you get a 2nd opinion? I would highly suggest doing that. If you have a neurosurgeon now go to an ortho or vice versa.  
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  • Hi Pam,sorry to hear about  your troubles.  I had a double level fusion  at L4/L5 and L5S1  just 5 weeks ago with decompression and revision and including bonegrafts. Previously,  I had 2 separate discectomies and several lots of epidurals and facet joint injections none of which were successful.After the discectomies I felt very disillusioned with my surgeon who seemed to have lost interest in his work and was really negative about whether I would ever improve. I got a second opinion from a recommended surgeon and its a totally different story. Whilst it's early days following the most recent surgery I have to say I am so glad that I went ahead with it. I'm 43 years old and the thought of years  ahead dealing with chronic pain was dreadful. I work with dogs and horses and had to give up doing the horses 2 years ago and thought that was it forever. The 1st 2 weeks after the fusion were fairly tough especially as I had a reaction to the morphine they gave me in surgery but now 90 percent of my leg pain has been resolved despite the surgeon saying he couldn't free all the nerves due to previous scar tissue and I am walking so much straighter and my limp is nearly gone. My back pain is down  to a dull ache unless I do something silly. Today at physiotherapy I rode an exercise bike ( yippeee!) and did some things that wouldn't have been possible 6 weeks ago. I'm walking a mile a day and increasing it each day. I just wanted to let you know that it can be ok and whilst it's a bit soon to say mines a total success it's definitely better than I was. We'll  always have to be careful with our backs once there are weaknesses there but it doesn't mean we can't have some fun too. Oh , and I'm off all pain killers now too which worried me as I've been on them for the last 3 years solidly and 10 years on and off. It's possible I need a fusion at C2 /C3 and I would definitely consider it now after this experience. Good luck and i hope you get some answers and resolution !  Ps, sorry for the essay !!!!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    Hello bbsphoebe!
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Sue
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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