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Wish me luck!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,322
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hi everyone,

Seven months ago I had what has turned out to be a successful ACDF for C4-6. My neck was collapsing from DDD and also, in part, because of an old auto accident injury. I am no longer having much upper body pain and the numbness in my arms and hands is mostly gone. No regrets about that surgery!

I had lumbar problems that included a herniated L5/S1 before the neck surgery, but those issues had to be put on hold until recently when I had another lumbar MRI and xrays. The tests showed DDD at L3-S1 but the L5/S1 disk is the worst -- it is herniated and mostly flat and is causing me a great deal of pain and discomfort. The tests also showed bone spurs/arthritic changes, some mild stenosis and moderate lumbar scoliosis that I've had for a very long time. The neurosurgeon reviewed the tests and told me that I would be a good candidate for ALIF (lumbar fusion) at L5/S1 when my pain, stability or mobility get to be more than I can manage.

Well, I am definitely not ready for another surgery and not convinced it is going to fix what's wrong anyway, so I am seeing a non-surgical spine specialist tomorrow to get his opinion. He is the doctor who discovered my neck problem and helped me find my neurosurgeon, so I'm hoping he can help me make sense of the issues with my lower back so I can think it through and come up with a long term plan. Anyway, thanks for reading this and please wish me luck. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated, too!

~kathleen (aka msmoto) :H


  • And it sounds like you have a very good plan. It is always good to get as many opinions as possible before deciding on treatment or surgery. I am so glad to hear of your successful fusion. It must feel really good to be able to hold your neck up with no pain. Good luck and please keep us posted.
  • I saw the spine specialist this morning and he made it pretty clear that the next logical step is an epidural steroid injection for L5/S1. I'm in the process of scheduling an injection for later this month. He expects that I will get as much as 75% relief, and if that happens, I will definitely be able to put off surgery for a couple of years, possibly longer. I've had an ESI before, for my neck, and it gave me relief for about a month. Here's hoping this next one for my lower back works even longer.

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  • I agree , good plan. Surgery has to be , last resort. My Anterior fusion L5/S1 was last resort and I believe it was worth it . I had another accident and Fractured the first fusion and then had Posterior Interbody Spinal fusion four months ago . I was going really well for three months after the Anterior fusion but still had a degree of Sciatic Pain that never left me and still do after the second surgery . Time will tell. Good luck and search all avenues. My decision was made from having a Discogram. Kind Regards
  • ALIF Surgery is definitely too serious to consider as anything but a last resort, so I've decided to try the epidural steroid injections and my first one is scheduled for next Tuesday, August 19th. Until then I am taking Ultram ER and it seems to take the edge off a little. ~kathleen
  • Kathleen. You are right try every other possible method before surgery! Please keep us posted on the injections.
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  • if the ESI only lasts a month maybe you can talk to doc about rhizotomy (nerve burn) which lasts about 1 year and sometimes longer.
  • Good luck with your esi....
  • Thanks painintheback and big cat! The ESI seems like the logical next step and I will also ask about the rizotomy if the ESI doesn't work for very long. I've had this herniated degenerating disc problem in my lumbar spine for 2 years and am really weary of the pain and discomfort. Take care. ~kathleen
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