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L4 L5 Fusion

From: nowasober1 - on 04/21/2011 5:39am

This my first time posting here so forgive me if I do something wrong. I am a 53 year old female who has been having back pain for many many years. I see a pain management doctor, as well as a rumatologist and a orthapedic surgeon. Right now I take Hydrocodone every 4 hours for pain. Walk with a cain and truly am in constant pain. A couple of months ago I had an MRI done, and they discovered I have two fractures in my lower back. I have not had any trauma of any kind, they just kind of appeared there. A week ago I hade a discogram and they discovered the pain was coming between L4 and L5 and now want to do a fusion. I have done a lot of reading, and have a friend how had one done and she swears by it. I am really wondering what kind of a recovery process it is for the fusion. We are Military so not sure what they will cover either. My friend who hd it done had home health aide that came in and help. Is that really neccessary? One more thing...I have set a goal for myself that at this time next year (summer of 2012) I want to be walking at least 2 miles a day, and being able to exercise and do a little housework. Right now I am lucky to be able to take the dog out to go pottie and back again. Anyway any information would be helpful. I appreciate it. Michelle.

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on 04/24/2011 11:22am

I had a fusion at l5-s1 on March 8 2011. It was a little rough, but you can get thru it. You will need some help first 2 wks but I am 7wks out surgery and feeling pretty good. Started PT which is helping so much. I do not regret having the surgery. I am some pain but nothing like before surgery. Each day gets better and yes I will have some bad days and that is alot due to pushing my body too hard. Good luck to you keep me updated on what you do.

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on 04/24/2011 3:23pm

Hi Michelle!
I am new to this as well... Saw your post and had to sign up to reply. I am almost 2 months post fusion surgery at L4 and L5. I am also a VERY active female at 41 years old. I was teaching Spinning, and Zumba, and walking... etc. but had to stop with frequent pain in the left leg., neuropathy in the foot, .. blah blah blah. Anyway ... I am back to walking 3-4 miles per day (NO pain at all) and taking just Tylenol as needed. Started physical therapy 2 weeks ago and the only thing that hurts is my butt! HA HA! I highly recommend the surgery if you get a GOOD and EXPERIENCED surgeon. It will change your life! Good luck and I hope you get some relief!

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on 04/25/2011 1:44am

Hello nowasober1,
Welcome to spine universe,you will love this site.First of all let me tell you i had an L5-S1 spinal fusion exactly one month ago and i think i am doing pretty well.There are good days and bad days and i really believe recovery is individualized.I did have a traumatic fall in June 2009 that injured that disk along with 2 in my neck(i am awaiting recovery in my back to then get surgery on my neck),it has been a miserable almost 2 years in pain,i can not imagine being in pain as long as you have.I did try every conservative measure prior to the surgery,and i was also very active and in good health too.I have heard that some people have a real hard time in recovery and need a lot of help when they come home.The first 3 days in the hospital were very difficult(this is not a surgery for whimps),but you have to remain strong in your mind that you WILL get better.I was up on day 2,sent home with a walker,never needed it.I have stairs in my home,first few days were hard getting up and down,so my family brought my food to me.I started walking in my neighborhood with my dog on day 3 being home,and i am able to walk further and further every day now.Still have a lot of muscular pain and weakness,but my back definitely feels more stable now,and the pain and weakness in my right leg is gone.I do have a little pain and numbness in my left thigh and hip area,but that is where they took the bone graft from,it is getting better.All i can say is do lots of research,make sure you have a good doc you can trust,and make a list of pros and cons of doing the surgery vs.not doing the surgery.I wish you the best .
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy

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on 05/26/2011 9:55pm

could use some advise from anyone. I had a fusion l5-s1 on March 8 2011. Found out Arpil of 2010 about the tear in my disc. Tried epidural shots, therapy, progressive got worse until it was so unbearable. I am work comp case so.... took from september until march till they gave in to surgery. My therapist thinks this may be some of the reason I am progressing slowly. I am very tight, back and my legs, actually alot of my body. I'm getting very fustrated and down at times. I am currently taking norco as needed and its needed more since therapy, muscle relaxor only in evening, as we know hard to take those during the day. I just feel like I'm still in pain, can't walk very far, can not sit in one position very long and laying on my back forget it! I use my heating pad in morning and evening to help with tightness. I do not think my surgery was a mistake at all, but this recovery is soooo hard. I cry at night just totally pissed. Any advise anyone can offer, PLEASE

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on 05/26/2011 11:30pm

Hi Breadgirl,
I had the exact same surgery 2 weeks after you,and yes all this is normal,especially since you started therapy.My back is very tight too and sometimes pain is unbearable if i sit to long.Keep doing stretches and ice it too,alternate with heat.My problem is also m neck so some das are real bad,i just cry.Hang in there,we will get better.
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy

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on 05/26/2011 11:48pm

Hi breadgirl,
Also want to say,no you did not wait too long.Actually your period of time between injury and surgery was relatively short compared to many people who wait years for surgery.I was injured in June 2009 and i am glad i did not wait much longer,we have a very good chance of a successful recovery,but remember you will never be back to pre-injury status,that is a given.My doc told me i will always have pain,and now i understand why he said this.You will have to modify your life style from here on.
Second ,i wonder why physical therapists are handing out this kind of info,they are not doctors,so take it with a grain of salt.
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy

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on 05/27/2011 7:44pm

Thanks for replying Nurse Nancy. I guess this is so much harder than I ever realized it would be. I think I am just mentally drained. I guess waiting almost a year for surgery isn't long but seemed like an eternity to me. I really love my PT, she takes great care of me and I guess she just saw me suffering for so long before surgery and feels I'm in such bad shape right now. Very week all over and not progressing as I should. I think some of it is fear of pain. I lived on morphine for 6 months before surgery and had to be brought down off that after surgery and let me tell ya, that has been horrible too and add the surgery pain in, wow I'm about to loose it,. I had horrible withdrawls and was given meds for it, but somedays seemed like nothing helped. I like my surgery alot but he is in Chicago Ill and deals with alot of professional athletes so the average me comes in and I think he has a hard time with my drive and motivation, which can be not good at times. I guess since this is work related injury I don't think I will be given ok to go back, well at least I don't know. My job is physical and pushing and pulling up to 300lbs. I also have a bulging disc in my neck and my l4-l5 is torn but since the disogram only showed I had pain at the lower level they only fixed that one, but l5-s1 was blown to bits. I just am afraid of being released to work, who knows its all so far away, but on my mind. I know I need to concentrate on my recovery. Thanks for your advise and good luck to you!!

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on 05/27/2011 8:02pm

Hi Breadgirl,
I am happy you like and trust your therapist,that is very important.Wow,your whole scenario is so much like mine.Work injury,bad neck too.I also had the discogram which showed some defect and degeneration at L4-5,but discogram was only positive for pain at L5-S1.I asked my surgeon if they could just operate on L4-5 too while in there but he said he could not.I also have been in really bad pain the whole last week,my whole back including thoracic spine.I am now wondering if our pain is coming from disk above surgery site.Well i see my doc next week,i will discuss this with him,but i sure ca not imagine going in for another back surgery any time soon,especially since i have to get my neck fixed too.One thing for sure is i know now i can never go back to my work as a nurse.I was curious,what do they have you taking for pain now?Have you applied for social security permanent disability yet?
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy

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on 05/27/2011 9:12pm

Hi Nurse Nancy, you can call me Maryann, I work for a bread company hence the name breadgirl.
I was wondering too about some of the pain I have and if its the other disc, gosh I pray not. I feel like you I can't imagaine going thru this again :( Currently I am taking norco 3x a day, but I don't it causes drowsiness, so I take as needed. I am also on a fentyl patch, muscle relaxor and clondine(for withdrawls). The norco works pretty good, but makes me sick to my stomache so I must have a full stomache to take it. My PT thinks I need to get off the drugs. I get light headed there sometimes so she had me watch a pen with my eyes as she moved it in front of me. She said my eyes are not fluently moving so I guess I'm drugged up, but honestly I don't take alot, trying hard to get off it, but I still need it. Just such a fustrating situation and scarry at the same time. What are you taking for pain??

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on 05/27/2011 9:16pm

Nurse Nancy, also I am currently getting workmans comp and will continue to until they figure out if I can go back to work or not., I also have an attorney because I am holding my work responsible for my injury. My work has paid all my bills including surgery. So I'm thinking when my Pt and surgeon says this is as good as she is gonna get then hoping there will be a settlement. I do not know what I will do with the rest of my life, will need to go back to school and find a sit on my butt job. who knows

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on 05/28/2011 10:36pm

Hi Mary Ann,
I currently take Tramadol and ex-strength tylenol for pain and i reserve one Vicodan 5/500mg. for pain in the evening.I am in pretty bad pain most of the time especially because my cervical issues are getting so bad,i just suffer because i don't want to take more drugs,i don't like the side effects.Sometimes i take a half a flexiril too.You have to find a pain regime that works for you and that may include using a little narcotics.You will have good days and bad days.My work comp pay ends in one month since they only pay two years in California(sucks because i just had surgery).However i did get approved for long term disability from my work and i am in the process with an attorney for social security disability.At this point i can't even imagine doing a desk job with all my neck issues.I will be praying for you.
Nancy

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on 05/28/2011 10:38pm

Mary Ann,
I forgot to add i also use Lidoderm patches.
Nancy

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on 05/29/2011 2:32pm

Nancy,
Sounds like we would be quite a pair. I've heard of other people useing tramadol as well, Norco works pretty good, I do cut it in half, it makes me sick and makes me feel goofy as well, so I try to take just enough to take the edge off. I use the heating pad right when I first get up and in late evening that seems to be working. I don't use much ice, love, love the heat! Wish I had a hot tub cuz I think that may help. May be thinking about getting one. I use flexeril as well as xanaflex. I rarely do during the day cuz it causes me to knock out but it really helps me sleep at night for few hours. I am doing PT 3x a week, how about you? Glad to hear your getting the long term disability, it would just add insult to injury to be sitting around miserable with no income coming in. I'm not sure what will happen with me, I know my dr. will see after September how I'm doing and about trying to return to work but I would assume there would be restrictions, which means I couldn't do my job and why would I want to go back to a job that tore 2 discs in my low back and a bulging disc in my neck. UGH! I've been with my company for 9 yrs now, so I'm thinking they won't accomodate restrictions and let me go. That is where my attorney says settlement comes in, what my percentage of disability is and all that. I don't know If I would qualify for social security disability and I've heard you must have an attorney alot of times to get it, pretty sad huh? I guess I'm trying to stay positive as I'm sure you are, but it gets hard some days. I see my dr on June 6 for three month check up and want to discuss some of pain I feel and worried the PT is putting strain on other disc above the one which was fixed. Who knows, don't you feel like you don't know what kind of pain you feel sometimes? I get so paranoid and afraid of this surgery happening again. So what is the problem in your neck and what are your plans for it? Its really nice talking to someone with similiar issues it helps, hope I'm helpful to you. Take care and have a bleesed Memeorial Day.

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on 05/30/2011 3:37am

Hi Mary Ann,
I see my doc next week and he will then request physical therapy too,when i had my accident at work i put my arm down to break the fall and ended up herniating two disks in my neck.Constant pain,with numb fingers and my hands go completely dead at night,it actually wakes me up.I am not sure how long i have to wait for that next surgery after this one?
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy

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on 05/30/2011 10:45pm

Nancy,
Feel so bad for you. Dealing with surgery is enough, but to deal with more pain has to be very hard. I do have a question for you, I feel like I have the baby blues. Have you felt that way after surgery? I'm not one to cry but seems like I can at the drop of a hat. I guess its been a long haul for both of us and I think I'm just mentally exhausted. Thinking about you, take care.

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on 05/31/2011 2:34am

Hi Mary Ann,
Yes,that is normal,consider that you literally just shocked your body,and it messes with your hormones amongst other things.I think i just cry sometimes because not only am i in pain,but i mourn the loss of my old body.Today was actually a good day,i had my whole family over for memorial barbecue and i did pretty well,pain was minimal.I will say a prayer for you.
Nurse Nancy

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on 05/31/2011 7:30pm

Hi Nancy, glad to hear you had a good Memorial Day and that you were feeling good. I guess sometimes we get a good day mixed in with all the bad. Glad to hear I'm normal with the emotional stuff, what starting to make me think I need meds for it. Hope you have a good week, keep in touch on how your doing. Thoughts and many prayers to you

Maryann

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on 06/01/2011 2:12am

Mary Ann,
Many people with chronic pain also suffer with depression,it almost goes hand in hand,and i do take an antidepressant for that,so don't feel bad if you need to take something.
Blessings,
Nancy

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on 06/01/2011 2:12am

Mary Ann,
Many people with chronic pain also suffer with depression,it almost goes hand in hand,and i do take an antidepressant for that,so don't feel bad if you need to take something.
Blessings,
Nancy

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on 06/01/2011 5:39pm

Nancy, I wa on morphine for 6 months prior to surgery and I've been thru hell to get off it. My pain dr has weened me down but still had withdrawls, very rough, so adding another drug in my system is the last thing I want to do. Good luck to ya and have a great week.

Maryann

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on 10/17/2011 8:18pm

hi to all I just wanted to ask bread girl if they used screws and rods and are you wearing a brace. Im getting ready for the surgery in nov 28th I have had a broken back for a few years. just curious about how long was everyones surgerys. thanks for the comments and info.

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on 10/24/2011 9:36am

My husband is having a decompression and fusion on l4-l5 he is in surgery now been there since 7:10 this is his 3rd back surgery he had every test all summer but the tear wasn't found until the discogram then surgery was set for today I have been catching him from falling daily sometimes few times a day he has a walker with seat but doesn't like to use it in the house last night it was really bad he couldn't get off the couch had to help him then his legs were like jello couldn't stand or walk I was holding him up hoping this will be his last surgery

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