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Failed Fusion

From: frankiehammy - on 09/14/2011 7:56pm

Hey all,

4o-something year old high school Calculus teacher here, and I had a fusion done about 4 years ago and haven't been the same since. The vertebrae just didn't come together like the docs promised they would and I have been in awful pain since. Not easy to bear when you are lecturing for seven hours a day! I want to get this fixed, but I will not get another fusion. Any suggestions?

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on 09/15/2011 10:24am

I was offered Fusion Surgery thee years ago. I declined it, having seen too many people go though it , and the very long recovery, only to be worse off afterward,

I live on pain meds all the time. Better be a drug addict than undergo suregry that makes things worse!

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on 09/15/2011 6:04pm

I can't use medication too frequently though. I work in a high school, and I shudder to think what all of the kids would say if they saw me, "popping pills". I would surely lose my job. I need some surgical input.

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on 09/23/2011 2:18pm

Hi Frankie, Do you live on the east coast near NY? I will only keep this up for a few days. Please tell me who you are. I don`t use that email much but I will check it for a few days. I have some Ideas for you. My thread on here was Failed back surgeies are the% right over 310 comments my first post. Samk

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on 09/17/2011 11:00am

Frankie, I feel for you.

I was offered Fusion three years ago, but declned it for the very reasons you state.

There is NO guarantee that the vertebra will fuse and that leads to further surgery. I've seen it happen in several cases.

I've learned to live with the constant pain of spondylolisthesis and to accept that my life is limited by it.

It's all one CAN do......

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on 09/19/2011 12:57pm

I've been offered lumbar fusion, cervical fusion, disc implants and a morphine pump. I have declined all. I can't and don't work because just doing my hair to go to the store is painful. Surgeries fail 60% of the time and pain medications stop working after three months if you stay on them without varying the medications. All that said, after 20 years of pain I choose biofeedback as it never fails and requires only practice using my brain. I do yoga for range of motion and frankly it's been my savior. Pain and I have become friends and I listen to it; when it says stop I do, when it says lay down I do, etc. Of course if your fusion is failing you might have to have it redone or repaired, but whatever you decide you should get a second and third opinion because you can make a more informed choice about what is good for "you." All the best to you and your health.

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on 09/21/2011 8:42pm

Biofeedback, never heard of that. I've been looking for some different spinal treatments, and laser surgery has caught my eye. What do you guys think of all that? Thanks for your inputs.

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on 09/22/2011 3:10pm

It is comforting to know that there are others in the same boat as me. I am 38 and just starting to really go downhill. I am grateful that I had a chance to live relatively pain free until about 35.

I too am exploring a range of options other then surgery to keep myself going and hopefully have some sort of quality of life in the next 30 to 40 years. Sometimes when i think of my back holding on for another 40 years I get upset and emotional. People that don't have pain don't know how it can impact the mind. It's like a slow disintegration of the soul. It hurts, and it hurts others around you.

For what it's worth I have changed my life radically since I was diagnosed with a buldge in L5 S1, and Spinal Stenosis, and Scoliosis (which I never had when I was young and which is getting worse). I am also pretty certain that I have Spondylothesis (sp?) because my lowest vertebrae is situated a bit forward as confirmed by my chiropractor and also the pain management specialist. I abused my back many a time in the past, and was laid up in bed. I used to just shrug it off until age started to play a factor. I ran for years 40km a week and I am convinced that this put 15-20 years on my back as I started to re-injure it then. I guess I never thought I'd get old. What I wouldn't do to get that time back and do things right!

Here is what I am doing. I quit all wheat, dairy, gluten, alcohol and caffeine. I believe these are the things that aggravated and destroyed my health further by contributing to dehydration and loss of vitamins and minerals in the tissue and I think that the caffeine and alcohol I was consuming was causing my body to leech nutrients from my discs and joints. I also make fresh vegetable and fruit juices 1-2 times a day. I am researching the use of Vitamin C in high doses for pain management. I also ingest ginger, turmeric, and eat amazingly healthy with little protein. I am also taking a multivitamin and am going to explore ways of aligning my hips to alleviate my neck pain and also yoga. If the yoga poster in this thread could offer some suggestions or an email I would be grateful for any advice.

Here is what I have noticed so far. In a month of doing this my pain is "different". It is still there, but seems to be moving more from the lower back to the hip. The reason this is happening is that I am able to crack my lowest vertebrae now because the swelling has gone down significantly in my lower back muscles from my improved diet (research anti-inflammatory diets). I used to always feel like I needed to crack my lower back, but rarely could I do this because the area was stiff and usually swollen from my diet--sounds crazy I know, but it's not. It took me 2 years to pinpoint my diet was causing added swelling around my joints. Look at the muscles in the lower back--they are a mass of tendons that will knot up without the proper nourishment. Look at the north american diet--it is filled with crap--this will have an effect on everything from mental state, to nerves and ligaments and muscles.

I know that surgery is necessary for certain people, but I hope to avoid it until absolutely necessary.

I wish everyone the best of luck in dealing with this Leviathan we call pain.

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on 09/22/2011 7:26pm

Interesting idea... I never really thought about diet. I eat really well though- I am old-fashioned light that. Alcohol on only rare occasions too.

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on 09/24/2011 6:32am

There have been some interesting comments here, suggestying many ways of coping with this monster named pain......

Unfortunately, there's no, 'one-size-fits-all, ' solution. We al find different ways to cope with our pain.

Fusion surgery will NEVER be an option as far as I'm concerned.

I live on painkillers - and, as someone mentioned, having to amend the doseage of these drugs as I become accustomed to them.

I'm fortunate in having a brilliant GP, who listens to everything I tell him and does his very best to tailor my treatment to suit me. Though, treatment isn't exactly the right word; more like sustaining me in my never-ending situation.

I think that the best any of aus who have aspondy, or a similar condition can do is to maintain contact with on another through such mediums as this.

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on 09/26/2011 10:02pm

I agree- no fusion for me! I've got a consultation soon with doctors who do laser surgery.... i'll tell you guys how it goes. I gotta do - got a math test to write!

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on 09/26/2011 11:22pm

Now living on painkillers, dont you think it can do affect on your life and body if we just keep taking the pills over and over every year? I have spondylothesis and scoliois too and im 23 years old. I try to avoid much of pain killers but lately been in severe pain and my doctor doesnt want to do anything, going to a chiropractic on wednesday!! Good luck frankiehammy!!

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on 09/28/2011 6:58am

Guy`s I had fusion done last July the Pain was unreal from the surgery. I felt then and now I was told I wasn`t fixed with that, I need two more fused. I CAN`T say no for much longer. One of my feet is now is starting to hurt from lower spine. I`m on lots of meds so I can walk, I`m up half the night from pain. Look at my old posts I said never,Now yes I would do it again. This is NO life for anyone to live. Sam

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on 09/28/2011 9:57am

Fusion, laser surgery......I think it all amounts to the same thing.
Let's face it, guys; when your spine is falling apart, there's no hope......It's a day-to-day existence of pain and drug-dependancy......

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on 09/28/2011 11:07am

Hello fellow chronic back pain sufferers! Three years after a bad fall and passing out from pain a number of times I went for a L4 L5 S1 lumbar spinal fusion with double discectomy, triple laminectomy w/fixation of 6 screws and 2 rods. The decision to get the fusion did not come easily. I tried just about everything, Chiropractor, actupuncture, physical therapy, yoga, swimming, all kids of meds....... I also talked to many people that had had successful fusions. One woman said she just moved with no problems. Another did two full triathlons a year, and many other positive stories. The stories i read online were mostly negative because if you were feeling great you would be on the pain/back boards...right?
Well I'm over two years out from my surgery and in daily pain. I swim just about everyday, it's the only thing i do that i can get close to pain free! I warm up with a running motion for about 20 min in the deep end then go onto leg raises and other movements with ankle resistance (not weights). Then go onto a few laps of just breaststroke kicks. Then continue to warm up with very slow Total Immersion free style stroke. Total Immersion is a somewhat different technique that uses the propulsion of your whole body with each stroke. No twisting at the waist. I gradually build up speed once i feel myself getting and staying in perfect form. When i start to feel tired i start to lose form so I stop in the deep end with a noodle/kickboard under my arms and just let my legs hang and feel my whole back stretch out. I do the last 16 laps at a very quick pace and stop and then start again when i feel im losing form.
I swim about a total of about 1 mile a day. But, the minute my feet hit dry land the pain creeps back in. Those 2 or so hours in the pool...pure bliss....i feel strong and i could take on anything.
I havent been able to work since the surgery. I live a lone so each day is a challenge I have to plan my days around how i'm feeling at that particular time.
I have been to a Pain Management Dr over the summer. Tried the series of 3 spinal injections from 3 different angles all of which couldnt penitrate the fused area. The injections are done with an xray type machine and the Dr can see from many angles....he said i had significant scaring from the surgery that he "thought" could be causing my problems. He gave me some info to look at for a spinal cord stimulator. Just like the surgery...it could help, as it has helped many (Jerry Lewis) but there is always the risk that it would...or it could cause a whole set of other problems. It's all a crap shoot.
Take in all the information you can...good and bad. See a few different Drs for different opinions. Orthopedists, Neurologists, Spine Specialists.....Then when you are totally confused (lol) take a deep breath close your eyes...and listen to what your gut feeling is telling you.
Good Luck!!!
Denice

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on 09/28/2011 11:40am

Neecy. I have no option but to follow the advice of my GP.

I've suffered the effects of spondyolisthesis for more than twenty years. I know that I have a displaced vertebra, that it is the cause of my ongoing pain. What I DON'T know is which vertebra is responsible.
I've had X-rays, I've had CTs and MRI. Never have I been told where the problem is.

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on 09/28/2011 5:12pm

Crowston-boaler

.
5 hours 30 min ago.

Neecy. I have no option but to follow the advice of my GP.

I've suffered the effects of spondyolisthesis for more than twenty years. I know that I have a displaced vertebra, that it is the cause of my ongoing pain. What I DON'T know is which vertebra is responsible.
I've had X-rays, I've had CTs and MRI. Never have I been told where the problem is.

Have you seen any other type of Dr besides a GP? There are always options, but it also an option not to choose one.

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on 09/29/2011 8:20pm

Hey all, thank you for the responses. I went in for a wonderful consultation at a laser spine center in Tampa, Florida, and am very happy with what I heard. Very little recovery time (1 hour!) and only a half-inch incision. I am excited for surgery... sounds like a weird statement!

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on 09/30/2011 5:34am

Great!!!! Good luck!!!
Let us know how you are doing.!

Denice

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on 09/30/2011 8:33am

It seems that everyone in this forum is in the USA. I'm not wishing to demean our British National Health Service, but sometimes, it seems, patients don't have the access we need in order to fully understand our diagnoses.
For instance; I'd like to actualy see my MRI imagees - but I don't know how to gain access to them. Results of such diagnostoics are sent to one's GP in written form; he/she doesn't receive the images (or perhaps that should be copies of them). That menas, of course that we don't get to see the images.
I don't think it's asking a lot to be able to actually see the condition of my spine, as shown in the diagnostic images. After all, it is MY spine.....!

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on 09/30/2011 9:44am

Maggi....you have mentioned GP a number of times, have you been to a spine specialist like a orthopedist or neurologist?? each Dr you see, or physical therapist should see the written reports AND films.Dont know how your healthcare system works where you are but if you paid for the tests (including insurance) you should be able to access them. Call where you had the test done and ask for copies of the reports and films! You wont really know what you are looking at but then you can bring them on each Dr. visit.

Denice

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on 09/30/2011 10:40am

My GP (Gemneral Practitioner) is my immediate health care advisor.

I was referred to the Spinal Unit of our local hospital three years ago when the pain from my spondy became constant and the prescribed meds were no longer helping.
I was examined by a consultant (professor) of spinal health. She told me that I had an advanced displacement of a vertebra at the lower left spinal column. That was ALL she told me - apart from saying that she'd have to operate to ease my discomfort. She gave me to understand that it would be a simple operation, with a minimal recovery period. A microdiscectomy was how she described it. I knew someone who'd recently had that operation and she told me how much reelief it had brought her. However, the consultant wanted me to have an MRI just so that she could be certain of the degree of vertebral slippage.
I had the MRI some weeks later and had to see my GP for the results - which were sent to him, not to me.
All he knew was that the consultant wanted to see me again to discuss the results.
I retuirned to teh hospital and was seen this time by a junior spinal surgeon, rather than the consultant. He told me, with no explanation, that the surgery I'd actually need would be a full fusion. I'd have three months in which to decide whether I wanted to go ahead, he told me.....
I researched the procedure - online and by speaking with three people who'd undergone it. The outcome seemed uncertain, to say the least.
So, I saw my GP, told him of my decision - and he agreed 100% that I shouldn't go ahead with fusion surgery.

So, here I am, three years on, living on pain meds and experiencing varying degrees of mobility.

MY GP has never received any kind of report from the hospital other than a written copy of the consultant's diagnosis. No images were sent to him of the MRI.

Here in the UK, we don't pay for any diagnostic procedure, unless we pay into a private medical insurance scheme - which I can't afford. Ergo; I haven't been able to see my MRI pictures.

And, yes, I WOULD understand them. One of my cousins is a radiographer and she's taught me to read diagnostic films.
That aside, I'm not entirely ignorant, when it comes to medical matters. Having had so much illness in my immediate family, I've made it a priority to learn as much as I can with regard to the conditions that have afflicted my family anmd myself.
If one can get beyond the jargon, it isn't so difficult to decipher given a modicum of intelligence.

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on 09/30/2011 12:11pm

Maggie Crowston, I really wish you would shut up about the I take drugs and more drugs and there is no hope anyway story. Stay on your drug diet and don't get it fixed and see you in your whell chair when your nerves are ground into nothing by your disc deteriorating. or your disc slips further and cuts it in two. also until you have had a fusion or 2 you really can't offer much advise to us that have. obviosly your problem isn't as bad as ours! As far as the calculus teacher, if you don't have a failed fusion repaired then see you in a wheelchair also. I get really tired of people giving bad advice like they know everything the Nuerosurgeon does. Use your brain and look at the options, Either fix the problem before you loose the entire disc and the space is gone for your nerves and they are rubbed down to nothing and really be in pain you probably won't be able to endure at all. or don't and sit on your butt until it's permanent. That's about it on the options. By the way Maggie Crowston. If your Gp never saw any images how can he make any informed decisions. All you do on here is try to convince people to get more and more and more drugs. sounds like your GP is a drug addict also. Think about it, does any surgery come with a 100% gaurantee. I've never heard of one. Maybe we need Nuero and orhopedic Surgeon's with your "Modicum of intelligence".

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on 09/30/2011 12:39pm

Joey...Well said !!!

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on 09/30/2011 12:42pm

For a start, bobbie; I've never gone on and on about my drugs. I've on;y ever mentioned that I need pain meds to keep going.
Nor have I actually ever said that I'm happy to sit on my butt and let my condition deteriorate.
I've consdidered the advice I've been given. Isn't that all any of us can ever do.....?

You miss the point I was (trying to) make concerning wehat our GPs are gvien by way of diagnostic information in the UK.

They receive a full, written report from whichever consultant we have seen.
The lack of images shouldn't be a problem to a cognizant GP.

For your information, I have consigned the wheelchair to which I was consigned three years ago to the garden shed, in which place it gathers cobwebs. I realsied that I was relying on it far too often and resolved to stay OUT of it for as long as I'm able.

All I was trying to illustrate is that there is a difference between the information about one's condition that is available in the UK and what is available as routine in the USA.It simply isn't easy to obtain such records as MRI images here as you seem to find it.

Please don't insult me by condemning me to the hinterlands of those who might - maybe for good reasons - have given up.

I get on with my life the best way I am able.

If I'm not permitted to ask a question - such as how can I actuallty get to see my MRI images - without being insulted by being written off, then I wonder why this forum exists.

The truth is that there IS no, 'cure,' for spondylolisthesis. And those of us who've decided against having major - and uncertain - surghery are NOT quitters. We've simply weighed all in the balance and decided that the risks - based on sound evidence - aren't worth taking.

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on 09/30/2011 12:45pm

You're right Joey. This is a failed fusion thread. Maggie, you never had a fusion and don't plan on getting one, so you really have no idea what any of us are going through.
Enjoy your drugs Maggie.

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on 09/30/2011 1:54pm

I do NOT enjoy my drugs! Let's be clear on that point if nothing else.

I didn't realise that this forum was exclusively for those who've had a failed fusion. I thought it to be for anyone who suffers from spondy and has considered fusion. My mistake, obviously.....!

You state that I can't understand the pain of a failed fusion; but I'm the one who - according to your philosophy - is a fool for not agreeing to go through fusion.
If the after effects of fusion are so bad, then am I not the wisest for NOT having it.....?

You think me content to stick to my drugs - which, incidentally have little effect now - not understanding what it's like to go through a failed fusion - but in my own way, I DO know what it's like to be in pain ALL THE TIME.

Please, don't imagine that it's in any way easy to be needing a drug just to keep going.It's FAR from easy. If you can't see that and have just a little understanding, then maybe you're so contained within your sphere that you've forgotten anything before it......

By the way; my name is spelled MAGGI; it's not MAGGIE.

If you want to shout at me, or insult me, you might get my name right......

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on 09/30/2011 2:52pm

Guy`s when The Pain Get`s so bad the meds don`t work anymore that`s when you move on to surgery. I did and will again. I`m still on Oxy cottin 90mgs 2xs aday and every 4hours oxycodone 15s 6 times aday. Plus 5 other things that is with Surgeries with 2 more fusions to come. So if this helps please don`t fight help each other. We are all so sick of being in PAIN. Sam

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on 09/30/2011 4:02pm

Nevermind

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on 09/30/2011 6:05pm

I agree with Sam227, PILLS just help for an hour sometimes and thats all, why should we take medicine all the time where there is side affects or makes us sick like i mention before on this post!! Everyone is different some people are so use to taking meds and some people just tired of medicine like i am and ready for surgery! Im 23 years old and diagnoise with spondy, scolios and 6 damage nerves already!!

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on 09/30/2011 6:52pm

Wow wow wow guys, no need to start a flame war here! Everyone has their own ways of coping with the pain. Let's get back to rational discourse.

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