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After first L5-S1 fusion, new issue, please help if you know

Started by scottL on 04/12/2010 4:26pm

I had a lumbar fusion in 2007 at the L5-S1, which seemed to work for about the first 6 months. Over the course of the past year to year and a half the shooting pain came back except this time down both legs vs just the left side prior to the first surgery. A recent cat/Mri/Flew Xray showed the disc above the fusion is now herniated. The pain is substansial and I am at the end of my rope. I go back to my Neurosurgeon on April 15th and I can only hope he will fix it since medication is not working. Has anyone had this happen and if so, is the recovery about the same, worse or better? Any help or feedback is appreciated so much. I have been waiting for 3 months now to get in to see him and am so nervous nothing can be done. I was also wondering it that considered a re-fusion or new, anything you can tell me is helpful. Thanks to everyone.

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Have u tried physical therapy, exercising, chiropractic care? I would tryb anything and everything under the sun before getting another surgery again!!!! Decompression therapy might help ur herniation. Anyway, take care and keep me posted on how ur doing!!!! *hugs*

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If I was mobile I could do all that but the pain is to the point where sitting, standing and walking are painful. I own a small construction company so i do more exercise probably in one day than most people do in a week. I refuse to see a chiropractor just based on past experiences prior to my first fusion. No trust there :) I am hoping someone who had this happen responds otherwise I guess I'll find out on Thursday what he can do. Thanks for responding though.

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Sorry I couldn't be of more help to u scott, keep me posted as to what u find out at tbr dr on thur. Take care:)

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google emWave it has helped me they are not cheap but well worth its weight in gold if you ask me

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I had the same issue with the pain in my legs, and also I had the same fusion. The L5 S1 was only fused back this past November, and I felt better for a little bit. However, I started to feel the pain in my right leg first (which is where the pain was before fusion), and then my left leg started getting worse and worse. I was finally told that the screws that were inplanted were not holding (since I am a server, my job is very active with a lot of lifting), and that I "overfused". I had a decompression surgery back on March 10. They were suppose to remove all the extra bone growth that was pinching my nerves again, and also put in new screws that would support me being active yet once again.

I will say it has only been 5 weeks after my 2nd surgery....but...I feel even worse then before. I woke up in severe pain, and they are telling me I have a lot of nerve damage. I wouldn't wish this pain on anyone. I have trouble walking, sleeping, going up stairs, or even going grocery shopping.

I have also tried and tried to get another opinion, to no avail. Not one single doctor will examine me, since I had surgery less than 9 months ago. So my advice.......GET A 2nd OPINION!!!

I was told it was common in the long run for the disc above the fusion to have trouble, because it has took on more of the "work". It creates more wear and tear to the disc above or even below the fused one, which can create more problems down the road. This creates having to have another new surgery on the other disc, which sounds like you have to undergo. I wish you the best, and let me know how your apt goes.

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Hi Scott
I also had a fusion at this level, which went well but the pain didn't completely go, so 2 yrs after the initial fusion they removed the instrumentation - that gave me relief for 14yrs. 18 months ago it all started again - the pain - I now have herniated disc at L4-L5, stenosis, and some other problems. I am waiting to see the surgeon again (been waiting since Sept and don't see him until June)! I understand the pain and frustration you are going through, it isn't uncommon for this to happen, as by strengthening one area this puts more pressure on the next, hence the disc rupture.
I take Advil extra to help with the stiffness in the am. and Demerol at bedtime to help sleep, this takes the edge off but only last for about 3 hrs, and I can't take Demerol for more than 3 consecutive days, so I take it for 3 days and off for 2 days.

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I had the same sugery about 23 years ago. laminectomy and spinal fusion. it did help me at the time but I had broken my back and had compound fracture at that level.
After spending 3 months on a striker framen(what they did back then in 1984) I left hospital without any surgery, only to have to have it 4 years later. I was at the point in my life where NO pain was worse than what I was experiencing at that time.
Now I have been told that I need another fusion above the level of my last surgery. the doctor also told me that another fusion will also eventually cause the level "above that" to have the same symptoms or problems in about 10 years from now.
I think that you should definatly try perhaps an ORTHOPEDIC for a second opinion.
especially since your fusion of the bone seems to be the cause.
I was told by my orthopedic to quit smoking at least a month before he operates on me.
Do you smoke by any chance?
They say if you smoke your bones will never ever fuse.
Also,are you wearing a back brace? that seems to help me the second that i put it on.
They gave you one I hope.
good luck

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PS. dont you love the people who think exercise and chirorpractors can actually make the pain go away??
I hear that all the time.
DUH

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Sandy, chiropractors are experts in the muscular/skeletal system and as such, are experts at treating b ack pain. Exercise has been proven to REDUCE pain, both may not dimish a person's pain completely, but when used in conjunction with eachother, can help to reduce ones's pain levels!!:) have a great weekend everyone!

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I mean no offense to chiropractors, but when you have a compound fracture, like I had, no chiropractor would even touch my spine! this I do know. I have been to many. 3 to be exact, and they all wouldn't adjust anything but my neck. Of course they did take X rays first. They are great doctors and 2 are good friends.
anyway,
Did not mean to offend you chiropractors.

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PS. I was really refering to people who refer you to chiropractors. as if we never tried that angle!!!
DUH

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While scott and u have tried chiropractors, not everyone has. Thus I recommend chiro's to everyone before surgery is attempted:)

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While scott and u have tried chiropractors, not everyone has. Thus I recommend chiro's to everyone before surgery is attempted:)

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I would suggest trying aqua therapy. I been doing it for a month now. I haven't seen any improvement but it does take a lot of pressure off when you are in the water.

For the people who have gone through with fusion, do you regret going through with it and would you recommend it to others.

I myself is contemplating with a L4-S1 fusion. I am 30 years old and tried pretty much everything. I am with this injury for over 2 years now. I also tried a L5-S1 microdiscectomy to relieve my leg pain but have not seen any improvement. That procedure was 3 months ago.

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Phil, I in a way, wish I never had MY fusion surgeon surgery!! It may have been beeter to just deal with my severely weakened leg muscles and horrible nerve damage pain in my legs. Now, my back has these "popping twangy pains" when I try to roll over ion bed, get up from a laying down position, getting up from a sit down position, and even sumtimes walking. I never had this pain before my surgery, and I have had it since 4 weeks after my surgery and I'm now 9 weeks post op and it hasn't gone away and its debilitating!!|My nerve damage pain in my legs began around the same time, 4 weeks post op and now 5 weeks later, it is worse than before surgery. Those are my two biggest issues of why I wished I never had surgery not tp mention that within 11 years, most ppl who have undergone spinal fusions will require more surgeries.

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Phil,

I had a spinal fusion on my l5/s1 back in November. I would honestly say that if I was faced with the decision again..I would definately do it. I have had complications but it is because I think I injured myself afterwards. After my surgery I was able to get up and walk around right after my surgery, and my legs felt amazing. I had severe leg pain for about 2 years before the procudure, and I tried everything. Chiro, water therapy, steroid injections, physical therapy, etc. However, I was still falling out of bed when I woke up in the morning, because my legs would just give out on me.

I am actually the same age as you, and I was at the end of my rope as far as dealing with the pain. I was tired of feeling like an old lady :) All I wanted to do was to be active again, and quit being in such severe pain (which is why everyone probably decides to go ahead and have the surgery), so I went through with the procedure. My advice though is if you decide to go through with it, just make sure you have time to take off after the surgery and don't rush the recooperation period. Hope this helps, and hope eveyrthing goes well.

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I had a four level lumbar fusion in 2008, within 6 months the disc above the fusion herniated, I wasn't told about this risk before surgery but when it happened I was told that it was quite common, if they fix that one the one above that goes, its a domino effect. I am going through the same thing right now. Its very frustrating when all I have been through with this, it happened again. I wish you luck with this problem.

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If you don't mind me asking... do you have to have another surgery? I am going to see my surgeon tomorrow since I am still having complications. I was also not told that the disc above would have probelms with the added "work", but now my L4 looks like it is already bulging. I am almost to my 6 month post op from my fusion surgery, and only 7 weeks post op from a decompression surgery. Just curious...since you are having complications too and we both seem to have had our fusion around the same time. (had my fusion done on November 11, 2009) Also may I ask what problems you are having right now?

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Now you already done fusion so now movement is restricted.but you can do further damage.see now think it is a
artifical sacralization.you have to learn yogic lumbar programme with probs.which is avalable in pune only. we can try if you want through mail.

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Hi Everyone! I have had two fusions! 1 in my neck a 3-level C3-C6. Then 1 level at L5-s1. Surgery no fun but for the most part had a great success. Nonetheless had a bad fall down a mountain due to work comp and now have 3 new disc bulges in my lower back. Due to this I have ongoing intermitten pain and tingling down arms, and constant pain in my low back with intermittent pain into hips sometimes both.
1. Has anyone you tried Disc Replacement?
2. Also MAKE SURE YOU GET DISCOGRAM BEFORE ANY SURGERY. This shows the surgeon WHICH DISC is the TRUE PROBLEM with the pain down your arms or legs. If they operate on the wrong disc, often times sooner than later you come back with worse pain> Why? Well it was probably wrong disc in the first place.
3. Since my first work comp injury 1995. I have been dedicating to working within healthcare. I have met several doctors, been to several seminars and learned so much. One thing for sure is that ADJACENT SEGMENTAL DISC DISEASE DOES HAPPEN, However, from surgeons themselve they say 10+ yrs you may need addtl surgery. NEVER HAVE I HEARD 6 months etc. Now, those of you whom have had microdisc, laminectomies, etc well thats just a prelim to a potential fusion or disc replacement.
4. For about 8 months I worked for an implant company. This is a manufacturer of the implants that the surgeons use to fuse or do disc replacement, VERY IMPORTANT> Make sure you ask your doctor if he uses Inter-Operative Monitoring in surgery. SOO SOO SOO IMPORTANT> I didnt have it on my l5-s1 and i woke up with screws pressing on the NERVE WORST PAIN OF MY LIFE. A week later in the hospital they identified this and they had to go back in and reposition the screw. Luckily with aqua therapy and commitment to building the core, i had a good outcome but the SCREW CAUSED ME TO HAVE NUMBNESS DOWN A NEW LEG. This leg was great before surgery and due to the screw I had 1 month of weakness. 5-6 wks post op I was healed.
So for those of you who do have new pain, IT MAY BE:
1) implants/hardware is compressing on the nerve, so it just needs to be repositioned
2) MAKE SURE YOUR DOCTOR USES Inter-Operative Monitoring or DONT GO UNDER KNIFE!!
seriously, I met and did some work prev with a company and it taught me soo much! Also make sure they are certified and experienced, Many of you wouldnt know this as I didnt when I had surgery but my experience taught me alot now that I can help give to all of you! Check outwww.pronerve.com I believe the site has info and you can print info and show your doctor. They dont bill doctor usually they bill hospital or insurance company. I have seen the differences with surgeons who USE Inter-Operative Monitoring and WHO DONT!
3) CHIROPRACTIC/POOL THERAPY; Every chiropractic technique is different. Now I am lucky to have adjustments since I am post 3 yr for neck ad 2+ for my back although some chiros are little leary of touchin my neck. Their is a chiro I know in Orange who has this new chair that can help those of you with pain. I think its called PRO ADJUST. Im sure a few others have this, but for those of you who have not gotten relief from traditional chiro, try this. Main Place Chiro in Orange, Dr Tim Doering. He super nice and many of his patients have not had to have surgery. Maybe its luck of the draw.
4) For those of you who failed surgery less than a year POST OP -- DONT GO BACK TO YOUR DOCTOR FOR SURGERY!!!!!!!!!! Hate to say it, but from 15yrs of my experience ive NEVER HEARD OF patients having a surgery this soon after the first one. Sounds like either it was wrong disc they operated on, or you may have done too much after surgery to cause a new injury. I could be wrong as im not a doctor. Please LOOK UP DRS that do DISC REPLACEMENT. and go see two others.
Yes many doctors do not want to see patients immediately post op as they dont want to have liability of the other surgeons, but their are some who have seen several failed backs that I know of. Try looking up Dr Todd Lanman he is in Beverly Hills. Also Dr Darren bergey in Rancho Cucamonga/Colton. I know for a FACT that both of these doctors have seen failed backs and both do Disc replacements and many doctors in others have said they are very good surgeons
Also look up Dr Jacob Chadokiewitz he is in Beverly Hills/LA area. He is a neurosurgeon but has seen several failed backs but he has some other treatment NOT FUSION that has helped people in pain.
Im petrified for having another surgery as I know of the issues with adjacent segmental disc disease. I have tried even despite intermittent pain at building the core, pool therapy, interferential pain device to avoid surgery. So far soo good. If I was in soo much pain again, I would BEG to have DISC REPLACEMENT and if their were any queestions as to why they couldnt I would DEFINATELY SEE DR CHADOKIEWITZ - NO FUSION.
Some drs dont believe in discograms and some ins companies dont either and dont want to pay for it. I had it for both my surgeries and i know several other doctors that do it and I had a good outcome and the other doctors that do I have heard good things. THese doctors ALSO USE INTER-OPERATIVE MONITORING>>
Due to my horrible experiences I know their was a reason for it, I can help educate all of you. I hate hearing all of you in pain and I promise if their is anything I can do to help you I will help you.
We all are people with genuine pain and need to bond together to ensure we can help others and have a happy, as pain free as possible life.
May all of you find the help and the right doctor and attain phenomenal outcomes!!!

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Hydroexercises might help. It does help me. It strengths the low abdome muscles and the floor of the abdome. The muscles sustain much more de spine discs. I feel no pain anymore. Only if a miss classes for some days. Good luck.

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If I was faced with going through spinal fusion again I would, though now some 14 years later I have developed new problems, for the most part it was worth it. It now appears I may be looking at disc replacement, awaiting an MRI, things here in Canada are so slow - it's been almost 1 yr since I sought medical help. I must agree with the aqua therapy, I do find that it helps, some days I can hardly walk but after some movement in the water it eases off. As for chiropractors !!! never would I see one again, the last one almost crippled me - I was in agony for weeks.

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I thought I would check back and give an update and respond to what I'm sure everyone meant to help as answers. As far as chiropractors. I went once and when he told me " He can cure me" I got the heck out. That was after my insurance was checked of course. I would not trust anyone who can make such bold claims. I did talk to a friend of mine who's sister is one and she told me that she wouldn't even touch anyone who had the surgery. Too many liabilities for her practice which is sad. Maybe they can make you feel some relief but due to our tort system, why would they risk it? I won't go on my soapbox about health care next lol.
I went back to my surgeon who thinks I have nerve issues with the hardware. He has told me he would not recommend going in again due to the risks being so much higher. He sent me for another MRI and some sort of Catscan( different than what Ive had before) which showed I had the 2 above and one below now herniated as well. They also said the 3 discs in my neck that are collapsing are the causes of my atrophy on my left side.
The cause of all this is a fall I suffered in 2000 on my head at a aprk with my children. I fell off the rings hanging upside down( 6 inches) and blacked out for about 15 minutes. I am not sure how it did the damage in my lower back as well as my neck but I am assuming that was the cause.
So, at this point I am just heavily medicated. I have started scuba diving to help get some exercise. I live within 3 minutes of the Atlantic in Florida so I try to swim everyday. It is like the most relaxing feeling when you are floating in salt water but painful as heck when you get out. Its a catch 22, I feel great in the water and worse when I get out from the movement.
No surgeries planned at this point till the pain killers dont suppress the pain beyond what i can handle( which is a very high threshold). I appreciate all your comments and would not wish this on anyone else.
I am sure someone just starting this situation is thinking, " Would I have the fusion again?"..Answer- YES, The pain before with the nerves pinching was beyond anything any human can handle. This is pain now BUT I don't feel like driving my truck off a bridge to get relief anymore. Best of luck to everyone of you!

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