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MT Lady
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Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 969
   Posted 10/26/2011 10:12 PM (GMT -6)   
Brought with a list of questions and my husband, for another pair of ears tongue . After reviewing the MRI, he told me some things look worse than what he saw on Xray. The stenosis, his word is "horrible" at L5/S1. The disk at that level is practically flat. L4/L5 another disk degenerating, bone spurs, stage 1 spondylolisthesis. Also DDD at L3/L4 and L2/L3. If he was to do surgery, he'd do it at two levels, L4/L5 and L5/S1. He's quite confident in his abilities, yes pretty cockey and I guess one would want that in a surgeon. He does approximately 6 of these procedures a week.
Thankfully, the horrible pain I had last week has subsided. Pain isn't gone, just not like last week. I wish someone had a crystal ball and could tell me if I don't have surgery, what the future holds.
I do still plan to go see a neurosurgeon to get his opinion, have him review the MRI.
Thanks again to those of you that shared information with me.

Screaming Eagle
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Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 10/28/2011 3:14 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello Mariam!

Yes!..Well!…that is the million dollar question isn't it! smilewinkgrin

I'm glad to see that your getting a second opinion on the fusion surgery. I had the same area fused as well! The recovery is a very long process (10-18mo)…so even after the surgery it may take several months before you will know if it is a success.

There is a chance if you don't have it, you could very well do more damage, and to the point that it could be permanent, but I really don't think there is really a way to know this for sure. However, if I may talk out of both sides of my mouth…with stenosis there is the possibility that you can damage the spinal cord. Once that happens there is no undoing that kind of damage. It really seems to be a gamble, and could be a serious one at that.

I do suffer from FBS, and to tell you the truth, I'm not much better than before my surgery. One other idea is that you may be mechanically fixed, to the point, that you will not do further damage to the spinal cord, and then still suffer life long pain because of nerve damage. This is really something you will have to ask your surgeon. All I know, is that one would be wise not to be eager for lumbar surgery. It should be the very last resort. If you need it, then get it done.

I have a good friend at work that has the same back pain in the same area, and we have watched him deteriorate to the point that he is starting to drag his foot. It is a very good possibility that if he keeps putting off the surgery, he could wind up dragging his foot for the rest of his life. I also have another friend at work that did just that….and now he walks with a limp, and dragging his foot. He will never recover from it.

No one here can tell what to do. All we can do is to share our experience with you. Keep doing research on it. We will support you no matter what you decide to do! It's a very tough decision to make, and I have been there before. I will need the same surgery in my neck one of these days, and I can tell you I'm not looking forward to it either.

I know this may not of helped you much, and I wish I could do more for you, but the fact is no one knows for sure. Take your time with it, and if you decide to get it done, then remain as positive as you can be about. Again we will be here for you, so drop in anytime for support and or suggestions.

Take care,

Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

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Retired Mom
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Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 10/28/2011 6:25 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi from RetiredMom,
I too had the L5-S1 fused (and should have had the l4-5 done at the same time)....they want to do that one now, but I'm not going for it!   I have found (like SE) that I did not fuse like I should have and now have FBS.  I do, however, respond very well to RFA after several weeks of increased pain!  I always feel like I'll NEVER do it again and then the pain level just drops about 3-4 weeks out from the RFA.  It's like the nerve fights until it dies for a while.  It comes back about six months later and then it takes another six months for me to get up the nerve to go through with another RFA. 
I mention this to you because you are in a position to really change your life...one way or another.  Only you can decide.  Knowing what I do now, and with all of the post-op pain, I have to admit I would probably have done the same thing under the same series of events again.  I do NOT want to do it again though because it is a serious surgery that you simply cannot be prepared for.  I do know people from both sides of the spectrum.  Some are now well and doing great and others are worse.  I guess I just traded one set of problems for another.
I hope you will find the absolute BEST surgeon (and I am a firm believer in the neurosurgeon) if you have this done.  Surgeon skill is imperrative to your recovery.  If you do have this done, be prepared to have help with your most basic needs for a while.  I was expecting to return to work that same year, but I have never been able to work another day in my life.  I have even had to hire someone to vacuum/mop the house for me now.  Keep every Dr name, date of apt, record, report, x-ray, or test result and put it away just incase you need it for reference later.  I had to file for Short Term Disability, then Medical Retirement, then SSDI.  It was a very difficult and challenging process and my record keeping helped a great deal. 
All my best!
TLIF L5-S1/failed, Pituatary disorder w/HGH deficiency, Fibro, Failed Bladder Surgery & Nissen, GERD, OCPD, GAD, MDD, CFS, TMJ, Migraines, Pre-glaucomic, HBP, Idiopatic Reactive Hypoglycemia w/Diabetic reaction to HGH, Bi-lateral CTS (surgery related trigger finger), Edema, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, Peripheral Neuropathy, Plantar Fascitis, Tibular Tendionitis, Adult Onset Flat Feet & much more.....

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 816
   Posted 10/28/2011 7:08 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello, Kathy here and I agree with SE and RetiredMom, one thing you are doing is absolutley a good thing, and that is getting more than one opinion.  I believe that is one of the best ways we have of making what are usually life changing decisions.
I had a lumbar laminctomy back in 1998 and that was a total waste of time and money, the neurosurgeon who did the surgery was in a office with several other neurosurgeons.  In 1997 I saw a different ns in the same office who told me not to have the ll, I needed to lose weight and exercise more.  At that time I was still working full time and my job required a considerable amount of walking and standing, getting in and out of sewer manholes, in and out of ditches, that kind of thing, I got plenty of exercise.  Also at that time I was 5'9 and weighed between 150-160 which for my height was not a problem.  The next year when the pain had gotten so much worse, I saw a different ns at the same office.  He said to me, and I quote "you have waited to long to have this surgery done, you should have had it done several years ago".  He then told me he would do the surgery but the chances of me getting any relief were at best 50-50.  I had the surgery, and it failed.  I was so angry at those doctors, but what can you do, believe me they would have stuck together, and besides that I not real big on sueing people, I would probably still be in litigation and waste more time and money.
So good luck to you, and get those second opinions, I also think its great your husband went with you 4 ears are better than 2.  Take care,
degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, neuropathy, lumbar laminectomy july 1998 no help, rechargeable neurostimulator unit low right back w/lead wires to left side and right leg unit not working just sitting there.i am 57 years young in may will turn 58. i have 2 grown daughters, 25 and 29. i have 2 grandchildren, 9 year old grandaughter and 5 yr. old grandson
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