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spinal stenosis, bulging discs or degenerative disc disease - surgery?

Started by activewannabe on 05/31/2017 9:54pm

I was wondering, for those of you who've had surgery for the above conditions, what was the impetus to finally get the surgery (if it's presented to you as a choice) and how are you doing now? I was diagnosed with congenital spinal stenosis (i think "congenital" because i was only 45 at the time) and i have three bulging discs which makes the stenosis situation worse. my last MRI showed "Multilevel discogenic degenerative disease, especially at L4/L5 where there is large disc extrusion. Severe facet joint degenerative disease L4/L5 and L5/S1. Grade 1 anterolisthesis of L5 on S1. Findings produce severe spinal canal stenosis at L4/L5 and mild to moderate at L3/L4. There is significant neuroforaminal stenosis L4/L5, left greater than right." it sounds pretty bad but i have been fortunate because other than a back spasm recently, which was painful but i was okay after some muscle relaxers for several days, it's been mostly an achy lower back and sometimes achiness down the backs of my legs. But i get epidural shots about 2x a year and i have modified my life a lot. besides the achiness getting tiring and my wondering about eventual side-effects of the epidurals after so many years, there is a Lot i can't do. carrying even 1/2 gallon of milk for a block will start to cause the leg aching. I used to go on long hikes but the last time i did that i found it caused achiness that didn't fully go away. i used to run but i was told i shouldn't. i don't think i can do any kind of sport that can put pressure on my spine. I can't wear heels, even low heels, and for a girl, that's depressing. sometimes standing for too long will cause achiness and weakness of my legs. i was told by my drs that an operation is up to me. it could help and there are a few different types that could be done, but of course there are risks. I'm 55 now. i was mostly asymptomatic for the first 5 years, other than a few back spasms. i think operations are best when the patient is stronger (and probably younger is better) so for that reason also, i've been thinking more about it. but I'm not in severe pain (i know i'm very lucky about that) and it's manageable, so for that reason i think it might not be a smart thing. I do have concerns about being worse afterward. I knew someone who had a back operation and there were still always problems and i've heard that sometimes these surgeries don't help and should be avoided unless it's a last resort. any information or advice is appreciated. thank you! Also, besides the 2x year epidural and muscle relaxer after a back spasm, I only take ibuprofen occasionally and am trying to avoid having to take opiods.

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3 Responses


Hello, and thanks for sharing your story with the Community!

Spine surgery is a truly personal decision, and we think being informed about all your options will help you move confidently in whatever direction you choose. Also, having clear and realistic expectations of what surgery can/should achieve for you is also essential to making a decision that aligns with your goals.

With that said, we'd like to share two articles with you that we hope will be helpful as you weigh this important decision:

( When is Spine Surgery the Next Right Step? )
( 5 Questions to Ask Your Surgeon Prior to Back Surgery )

Please keep us posted on what you decide to do. We wish you success with whatever treatment you choose!


I wonder if you ultimately chose surgery, or not. Your situation at the time you posted sounds quite similar to mine, now, and I would love to know what route you chose. Hope you post a response. Thanks.


I had the surgery in April 2019 , I was very fortunate not to have pain but my legs where and still to a piot weak not as weak as before but walking without a cane is a chore, I was told i have all you had but mine went smoothly doesn't mean the same for everyone