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Finally decided to have surgery

Started by Weh1978 on 06/29/2011 6:20pm

Alright, I've been reading discussions on here for the past couple of weeks and decided to start one of my own. I've been having issues with my back for at least 9 years now. I was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis when I was 24 years old. My first neurosurgeon wanted to do surgery then, but I declined because I was so young and just had a baby. Over the years the pain has come and gone, but each time it came back it was worse. Over the years I would have back pain everyday, but nothing I couldnt live with.
Finally about 7 months ago the leg pain became really intense, and decided to do something about it. I have had a epidural injection( which didnt do much), chiropracting, physical therapy, pain meds. I finally had a MRI and went and saw a new neurosurgeon. And of course was given the news that surgery was really the only that would help with the problem. The bone is severly compressing my nerve, or like the doctor said its crushing it.
I was dead set against surgery before I went in to see him. But after listening to him, he sent me home to think about it and told me to research eveything, then i should make my decision. So thats what I did. I researched him, my condition, and the surgery itself. i discussed it with my family and coworkers( i work at a hospital). So when i went back to my doctor last week I told him i would go forward with the surgery but I was nervous as hell. He said he understood and he discussed everything with me, answered all my question, and help put my mind at ease a little bit. So I will have my surgery ( L4- L5, L5- S1 fusion, and replace my disc) on sept 15th. Anyone with thoughts or information please feel free to leave me a comment and I will answer back. Im a 32 year old mom of 3( 2of my own and 1 step) and just wish to be in less pain so I can do more things with my family.

thanks

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Hi Weh1978,

I had spinal fusion at the same level as yours September 2010 and am moving into the 9th month post operation. Was in the same worry as you after reading about patients' feedback online. However, if I don't go for the surgery, I have to continue sleeping squatting down and my quality of life went down the drain! I went through the bad, worse and worst part of recovering that I almost lost my spirit but I must say, the doctor and the nursing staff were very supportive and attentive to keep my pain level minimum.

My spine surgeon listed down a series of things I can't do during recovery period and all I did was just adhere to it. I took a full 3 months off work and I am doing great now, back to my old routine without pain. I also keep visitors and relatives away during recovery period so that I don't have to sit up for more than 10minutes. I did a lot of walking, increasing the duration which I could tolerate.

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Hi Weh. I believe you are making the right decision. You have to make a choice and see if your quality of life is being affected by the pain. I have had 2 surgeries since June 2010. A diskectomy last June, and fusion from L2-S1 in Jan 2011 with instrumentation. I had DDD and spondylolisthesis. I had the intense leg pain and was unable to walk very well, falling sometimes. A good surgeon like you have found is the most important thing. I am 37, and was a lineman for the phone company. I am now 6 months post op, and am getting better very slowly. My pain level in my back is lower, but I still am having moderate to intense pain in my left leg due to the 2 surgeries, I have scar tissue on my L4-L5 nerve root compressing it. I do aquatherapy 2 times a week, and a massage on the area once a week. All in all, i think I am doing pretty good for six months. Be patient after the surgery, as this not a minor procedure. It takes commitment to do all the right things, and some days it is very difficult to deal with the inability to do the things you are used to. But look positively to the future, don't try to overdo it. Go easy on yourself, and take every good day as a blessing. I will pray for a successful surgery. Carl

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Good luck with your surgery! Tell us all how it goes.

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Hi,
Sorry to hear about your back pain. I had the same surgery minus the replacement of the disk in February and I'm 17 years old. I'm now just over 4 months post-op and the nerve pain is almost gone, but the back pain persists. I had the same condition with the bone compressing my spinal cord. The surgery did wonders, but I'm still unable to do sports and running. I also had a major complication with a CSF leak 3-4 weeks post-op and it landed me on complete bed rest in the hospital for 4 weeks with many procedures and another surgery, but this is very uncommon so many weeks after surgery. But it usually happens in the OR during the surgery. I was wondering whether you had any radiating pain into your legs. Hope the surgery goes well!

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I wanted to wish you luck with surgery, I can vouch for your pain I've dealing with this upper back thoracic pain for some time now, and seeing doctor after doctor to find out what's wrong.I just had the RFA done on Wednesday! Praying this is the answer! Well take care and keep us posted!

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Hello Weh1978 ~ Best Wishes to you on your spine surgery. I am having mine 8/31/11. I am very nervous too. I am tire of living with pain and medication. I have a 10 year old son David and he is my world. It's sad when I can't join in running or playing without pushing myself and then hours later I can't move. The are doing a fusion on L 3 4 & 5. They are cutting in me on the front. My question to you is "are they doing that to you?" They have to more everything over to get to the front of my disc. They are dried out so they will replace them. If you get a chance you or anyone that reads this, please responed I would like to hear from you on the healing for the first few months, The doctors tell you only so much, I would like to hear everyday living as we are healing. Thank you and God Bless Darlene

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Before having full blown surgery, have you looked into minimally invasive surgery? Have you heard of pain mapping where they use a scope to see exactly what is causing your pain? I am so confused on what to do, but after researching so many sites, it seems very logical to first see where the pain is coming from and to see if the laser surgery would be a better remedy before having full blown back surgery.

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Thanks for all the comments they are very helpful. My surgeon gave me the different options on how to do the surgery. I told him whatever is the best way was the way wanted to go. So he's gonna go through the front of me. There will be a vascular surgeon to clear the pathway for him. He said he may have to flip me and put screws in my back but only if when he's in there he feels the bone is to wobbly or unstable. I'm very confident in my surgeon and have heard good things about him. I've been thinking about the surgery alot and realize it's the right decision for me. Even as I lie here in bed typing this on here I'm have burning in my leg all the way down into my toes. I did alot of housework on my feet alot today. Pushed myself more than i should have prolly. So I will check back in again in a few days.

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I understand open back surgery may be the only real remedy, but I was wondering if anyone has looked into places like Laser Spine Institute, Bonati Spine Institute or North American Spine first prior to deciding to have open back surgery. I would really appreciate your opinion please. I've been dealing with upper back pain all my life, but insurance in the past always declined to cover me getting an MRI. Then, in Oct. 2010, I had a flukey thing happen to me. I had shooting pain up my back and down my right arm. Long story short, I had a hematoma (bloodclot) out of nowhere compressing on a nerve, thus the shooting pain down my arm. The neurosurgeon removed it in less than an hour and everything is fine from the surgery, but my back pain persists. The MRI showed I have a cervical neck of an 80 year old and I'm only 50. I have a slightly bulging disc and some DDD and it's causing my back muscles to work overtime, thus the big lumpy trigger points all in my upper back. Nothing gets rid of it. I've been on hydrocodone for too long and now using a Ibup...patch which makes me barf for a couple of days.
I'm also trying botox injections tomorrow since the steriod injections did nothing. I may not have shooting pain down my arm, but IT IS debilitating and I am determined to get back to normal. So, I've been researching like a fanatic online and hoping for some resolutions. Can anyone advise? Again, I've tried every conservative therapy out there. My massage therapist who I went to weekly for like 6 months said something is really wrong with you because as many deep tissue massages you've gotten, the muscles should be loose by now. If anyone has looked into minimally invasive surgery, please share your thoughts. I would really appreciate it so much. Thank you.

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Hello Weh1978 ~ I read your latest post, you are having the same operation as me. I am going in August 31. I wasn't told about them fliping me over if they are unstable. I met my vascular surgeon about moving everthing over and I feel comfort with him. I will keep in touch on how I am doing and I hope you will let me know how everything is going for you too ( please). I read some others in our posts about laser inst. I really don't know about how helpful they are of helping us with our bones & nerves. But I would love to hear about someone who has had laser treatment done. I feel the more we learn the better off we all are. I pray all goes well with all of us. God Bless

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I don't know of anyone who has had the laser surgery. I'm not even sure they offer it in this area. I live near buffalo, new york. I'm nervous of the surgery but feel like it's the right thing for me to do. The past few days have been painful. I decided to wait til after the summer was over for a couple of reasons. One it cuts the risk of infection down and also I would like to try to loose a few pounds. But trying to be active has it's challenges. sometimes I push myself a lil to hard and end up paying for it with pain in my legs. Also here is a tip for people having surgery: a nurse friend of mine recommends that the night before surgery u wash the area they r going into, with Dove Gold soap. scrub the area but not to the point that the skin is raw. This will also help cut down the risk for infection. Check back with u guys soon. Thanks again for the responses

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I had laser surgery and my recovery time was seriously one week. I feel like I did when I was 18.

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Hello Falson ! Your message was short, but sweet. Could you be more specific. ... What type of procedure did you have, where you went, or what state it was in...???. I've been poring over this site for a week now (from the supine position for the last 4 days) and am as desperate-yet-determined - as is everyone else on these pages.

I've been looking for information on minimally invasive laser surgery, and some days am inspired, and other days down right horrified from what I read on the various Laser Institutes. The orthopedic surgeon last told me that other than trying the steriod injections again, he could offer me nothing. He felt that surgery was a 50/50 at best option for me, and would not recommend it.

MRI Findings: DDD/bulging discs @ L-4-L5-,L-3-L4, 4-5 - 5mm broad-based protusions at both levels, w/ 20% stenosis, bilaterally, worse on the left.
Bertolotti's Syndrome

I am grateful that while my pain is a 7/10 today, some days it is just a 3/10 - a nagging constant reminder that I can't live my life the way an employee,wife and most important, a parent should..

I can say that today I have refused myself ANY meds in the hopes of clearing my depressed apathetic state of mind, and the laser institutes and their miracle promises that yesterday looked so hopeful, now look ridiculos with all their mind-blowing advertising... really ?? Do highly respected doctors really have to advertise like this.. "sales-y" and "fine medical care" just shouldn't go togeter, I think.... Would love to hear from anyone that is in the "I can't live like this anymore, something's gotta change" but hasn't yet exactly figured out what to do. Tried PT, 3 rounds of cortisone injection, yoga, hydrotherapy, anti-inflammitory, chiropractor ... Hmm...going to call an accupuncturist next week. I'm an otherwise fit 44 year old, who could stand to lose 15 pounds... ANYONE with any thoughts, comments, suggestions... would love to hear from you.

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Dsparks695696...what is your diagnosis? I have 4 buldging discs (L2, L3,L4,L5) 1 herniated disc(L5/S1) 3 discs are drying out (L4-S1), and the herniated disc (L5/S1) is impinging the s1 nerve, it also says facet arthropathy at (L4/L5). I do not have any spondy's of any type or scoliosis. I will be seeing a neurosurgeon this week and was just trying to find someone with similar diagnosis and what they are having done. I am thinking I may be in for discectomy and fusion, but am not sure until I talk to the surgeon.

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Hi everyone! I'm counting down the days to my surgery. My pain has been pretty bad lately, so much so I had to call the doctor to get something a little bit stronger to take. I usually would either suffer thru the pain or just take a tylenol with codeine3. I also tKe neurontin, although I'm not sure what it's doing for me. So the doctor upped my intake of that, gave me a steroid pack, and prescribed me percocet. I'm allergic to loratabs so it's a lil difficult to prescribe some pain meds. I find I'm in the most pain when I first wake up and at the end of the day after being only feet all day. But lately I'm hurting all the time. Surgery is set for September 15th. I'm nervous but am comfortable in the decision that I made. I just want a life I can live to play with my kids.

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Hello Cld1974 ~ sorry this took so long to get back to you. Yes I too have 3 disc that are dried out and hernated. But mine have a tear in them ( the cushing between the disc) They are going to go into me through the front. They will replace the three disc with a cage and put in some sort of bone mass in it to fuse together. I am glad they are not taking it from me like they did with my cervical operation 2 years ago. That was pretty painful. So Aug 31 is the big day. They said it will help me with my spine falling apart. The only thing I don't like to hear is this will stress out the top & bottom disc. who knows if this will solve my issues but it's worth a shot at it. I am so sick of pain patches & pills. Write back Aug 31 and I will let you know how it all went. God Bless

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Hi Dsparks.....Thank you for replying. I wish you the very best outcome with your upcoming surgery. Were you diagnosed with any type of spondyliosis? I know that is a finding that can require the fusion part of the surgery. When I had the appt with my neurosurgeon, she suggested a microdiscectomy. She said that I was a borderline case though. She would do the microdiscectomy, but wanted me to continue doing some more epidurals and physical therapy first. Ughhh. The physical therapy is very painful for me. I come home and need the next 2 days to recover from the pain from it. I got another epidural last week and did not get any releif from it either. The neurosurgeon also ordered some additional tests. She ordered a CT of the lumbar spine, an MRI of the Thorasic and Cervical Spine due to hypermobility of my lower legs when she hit them with the little hammer thing, and additional X-rays of my lumbar spine looking for any movement of the spine when bending forward or backward. So I will go back next Friday and see what she thinks of the additional information. I know the MRI said that I have additional disc issues up in my neck. I am not sure really what the other information will give her additionally though. I just wonder if your doctor gave you options of microdiscectomy first or did he/she go right for the fusion? My doc did say the fusion was possible depending on additional testing results. She also mentioned the same thing that if a fusion was the option there would be possible problems later on with the discs above or below the fused area. I just want to get something that may possibly help the pain that I am in daily so that I can get back to life. Keep in touch, let me know what you think and definitely let me know how you do with your surgery. Feel free to email me personally or keep replying through this tread. christinaleigh@comcast.net

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Hi Dsparks.....Thank you for replying. I wish you the very best outcome with your upcoming surgery. Were you diagnosed with any type of spondyliosis? I know that is a finding that can require the fusion part of the surgery. When I had the appt with my neurosurgeon, she suggested a microdiscectomy. She said that I was a borderline case though. She would do the microdiscectomy, but wanted me to continue doing some more epidurals and physical therapy first. Ughhh. The physical therapy is very painful for me. I come home and need the next 2 days to recover from the pain from it. I got another epidural last week and did not get any releif from it either. The neurosurgeon also ordered some additional tests. She ordered a CT of the lumbar spine, an MRI of the Thorasic and Cervical Spine due to hypermobility of my lower legs when she hit them with the little hammer thing, and additional X-rays of my lumbar spine looking for any movement of the spine when bending forward or backward. So I will go back next Friday and see what she thinks of the additional information. I know the MRI said that I have additional disc issues up in my neck. I am not sure really what the other information will give her additionally though. I just wonder if your doctor gave you options of microdiscectomy first or did he/she go right for the fusion? My doc did say the fusion was possible depending on additional testing results. She also mentioned the same thing that if a fusion was the option there would be possible problems later on with the discs above or below the fused area. I just want to get something that may possibly help the pain that I am in daily so that I can get back to life. Keep in touch, let me know what you think and definitely let me know how you do with your surgery. Feel free to email me personally or keep replying through this tread. christinaleigh@comcast.net

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Well I'm counting down the days til my surgery. It's a month away. I'm going to get fitted for my back brace this Wednesday. The pain has been pretty bad lately. I feel like I have taken a bunch of pills lately, even tho it's not the case. But sometimes it feels like they don't really do that much to releave the pain. Well I guess there isn't to much to do but just wait for the surgery date to arrive. I have my good days and my bad ones. Still a little scared about having this done, but know it's for the best.

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You are making the right choice for surgery but you should be prepared for it. I had l5-s1 fusion March of 2011 and am doing Pt 3x a week. Most of the leg pain is gone, but still have pain in my low back, not like it was before but still some. I am still pretty restristed to what I can do and I definetely loose it some days. I the old me back and its just not happening very quickly. It can play real mental games so be prepared. I went in total pain for almost a year and worked about 5 months at my job which was the cause of my back injury. Workcomp played games with me until I attained an attorney and then things changed. It was very rough for me. I had to be detoxed off morphine after surgery, was on it for 6 months prior to surgery, so I went thru horrible withdrawls for abut 3 months on and off. My pain management drs were great but that made my recovery even harder. I am now currently getting off the last of the narcotics, which is hard as well. I have been switched over to Ultram for inflamation/pain. I do take muscle relaxor only before bed and lyrica as well. I am getting better but very slowly, VERY SLOWLY! Good luck to you I hope your surgery is a success and the pain is minimal afterwards. Stay strong and postive and you will get thru it!!!

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Well its been a long time since i have posted on here. I had my surgery on September 15th 2011. I am doing well. I still do have my bad days, but overall I am extremely pleased with my results so far. I have been back to work since the beginning of december, and go to physical therapy once a week. I also do my exercises at home( i do slack sometimes). I do continue to take pain medication, but not as much as i use too, or even as much as they prescribed for me. I do think I should be able to come off of them eventually. I did just recently stop taking my neurotin, for the second time, but we shall see how it goes. I still have some leg/ back pain, but im still in the recovery phase. We all know it can take up to a year for your body to heal completely. I also understand that I will never be pain free, but I most certainly and way better than before my surgery. I am pleased with my results as of yet, and I think I made the best decision for myself, and look forward to recovery more. Feel free to post in my response, or ask me any questions you feel u need to ask.

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Wendy, I saw your post prior to surgery. How are things now? You should be approx 4-5 months out from surgery. How are you? What did you have done? Let us know.

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Hi everyone, Its been an extremely long time since I've been on here. I thought I would put an update on here. I am going to be having a second surgery in about a week from now. I was doing well up until a couple of months ago. I was finally off pain medications and everything. Then one night I woke up in terrible pain, in my back and down my legs. The doctor is going to be putting a few screws and rods in my back. Going to be 3 levels. The lower level on my prior fusion, hasnt quite fused how the doctor wants. So to give me more stability, hes doing the surgery. Am I happy that I'm having more back surgery so soon, no. But am I happy I had the surgery in the first place, yes. I understand that I wont ever be pain free, and I'm ok with that. I'm just hoping that with the second surgery, I will be able to get back to enjoying things with my children. I will try to keep posting on my progress, and if anyone has suggestions, questions, or just some input, please comment on my post. It's always nice to here what other people going through the same thing have to say.
Thanks a bunch
Wendy

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