I am 34 and having a L5-S1 spinal fusion next... - Pain Concern

Pain Concern
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I am 34 and having a L5-S1 spinal fusion next week. I am very nervous and quite-frankly I'm scared to death. It was not so bad until I st


arted reading on here. (lol). But all jokes aside, I really don't see anyone with a positive feedback from the operation. I scared to go through with it now but don't want to back out. I have had 2 outta 3 neurosurgeon's say this is what I need. Can anyone help me out here ?

34 Replies

Hi There, I had a double fusion L4-S1 just over four weeks ago...and have had a very good result. I'm still sore but the nerve pain down my legs is gone. I am walking about 2 miles a day, sometimes more and am feeling better every day. I think that usually people look for sites like this to find answers when there are issues. You know what I mean? Generally people will not look online for places to post how well something went, so I just don't think you see all the positive results. Good luck. Many, many people have very positive results!

Nicole1976 in reply to conrad

I'm a almost a week out. Im worried about walking to much. I'm up moving about every 10mins mostly do to being uncomfortable. But last night I walked about a block hurt but felt great.

If you are not sure about the surgery, then postpone it. As Ether says focus on the surgeon who said no. Why? What nonsurgical therapies can he offer you? why not try these before jumping into surgery?

I stabilised my L4/5/S1 with lots of chiro, physio, cranio, bowen, hydro, accupuncture, pilates. That was 12 years ago. Today, I still do stretching exercises and walking. Pacing is on auto pilot and I still have to plan for some activities. The pain is still there and rumbles in the background, but it's much less. I've been taught to read my pain, and kbow which ones I can ignore. I've learnt to respect it and moderate my activities within it's levels.

I too was offered surgery but the 50% success rate, every other person failing, were not good enough for me. I would never have recovered psychologically if I was one of the unlucky ones, having decided to do something that caused a worsening rather than an improvement. Surgery doesn't suit every spinal condition or every person.

I used to be a nurse and have first hand experience of helping someone coming to terms with failed ops. So, surgery is the very last option for me. If my condition deteriorates with old age (I've been warned the effects of old age will worsen it) and I get to a point with a lot of other symptoms, then I will think about surgery, if that point in time ever occurs.

Conrad, this is a discussion forum, people do post their successes, I've been very vocal about my success with alternative therapies. Just hoping someone will pick up on it and give it a go before serious surgery. Afterall, if it doesn't work, then you are no worse off. You will have learnt about yourself, your body and how with a bit of re-education, you can have a full life again without going near an operation theatre.

Piper, you must be 100% sure you want and are ready for the op. No surgeon wants to operate on someone who had doubts. Take more time and sort through your worries. Try some alternative therapies (do bear in mind that the process involves relaxing your muscles which can be a painful process, so do give it a while for your body to get used to being manipulated). If after a few months you don't seem any better (holistically) then try a different one. Keep asking questions about your body, what's happening, how it responds to treatment.

Good luck with what ever you decide.

hi I've had 2 back operations in 20 yrs. Though i still have back pain i would of still had both operations cause i was at the point of where my legs were giving out. Now, one was a spinal with fusion on L-4 & L-5. I felt great afterwards although in the past 6-8 yrs i've developed arthritis in my spine, osteoarthritis in my SI joint , problems with my tailbone[botched surgery] constant siatica, detereration of my lower discs. So i guess you have to do your research. good luck ps sorry for the spelling its late..cant sleep...alot of pain......

Pls pls pls don't listen,,, I had it done 6 mths ago same position as yours,, the surgeon said if I got 35% positive result that would be a good one.. I would say right here and now I don't have any pain any more, no pain killers no tears, my life back and my high heels. You got to do it!!!!!!

I truly think I got 100%

Choices are stay the same and be in pain and fear every time you go out.

Take a step forward,

My choice was simple live or die,, and believe me I wanted to die...

Best of luck be positive.

Pls ask any question you want

Michelle x

how is your back and leg pain a year after surgery. are you limited in activities. how's your range of motion.

Ramsey23 in reply to mich6666

Thanks! This was very encouraging. I'm scheduled for discectomy and L5 S1 fusion this week and keep going back and forth on my decision. I'm only 43 and like to do outside activities, dancing etc.

waylay in reply to mich6666

I had it done and I got worse. You never know...

Hi Piper_Cub, I had the same surgery done 4 years ago because I slipped 4 discs, and 2 vertebrae, L5S1 stayed unstable after I had already had laminectomy etc, nerve root blocks etc. Procedure was painful (after) but result was fantastic! Took away the sciatica - wonderful. 6 weeks after this surgery I fell in our septic tank (it had just been cleaned) and have had MUCH WORSE nerve pain (both legs) as well as tearing tendon (foot to Calf) wrist injury blah blah blah. All I can say is if I was offered a repeat operation to re-stabalise my spine I would grab the opportunity with both hands. Having had 3 lots of surgery on the same area, no one wants to go in again because the scar tissue builds up and creates its own problems.

Very, very best wishes whatever you decide.

Everyone I know who had fusion did better than the alternative. Stuck. With pain and rampant inflammation where the degraded disc continues to create noxious stimulus....hopefully you have a good surgeon and you will get a good result.... :)

Hi, I have had severe disc trouble for many years. The discs still protrude on and off and cause varied levels of pain. I was on the floor in agony for 8 weeks and discs pressed so baldly that bladder control was lost for a while. Voltarol helped with the inflammation and recovery. I now go to the gym and lift weights for strengthening the middle core which helps to support the spine. I was offered surgery but have since seen my surgeon again and after 3 years he now believes I am better off continuing as I am ,and having surgery as a LAST RESORT. I know 3 others who have had surgery, two are happy and one is in more pain than before?

It is hard when you are facing an op like this and read so many negative comments. If you gave been told this op is necessary by 2 consultants, then there obviously is a need to have it done. I had 3 lumbar discs fused, L3/4 L4/5 and L5/S1. The pain on waking up from surgery was intense but my family tell me I am walking straighter than I did before the op. I still have pain and stiffness in the lumbar area, but my consultant warned me the op would not take away all my back pain. It did stop the sciatic pain down the leg.

I hope all goes well for you. Just make sure you tell your Dr about your concerns and have a clear picture of what to expect after the op and in the recovery period. Make sure you ask for medication- don't assume it will always be given automatically after the first few days. I would advise you to take a "grabber" into hospital with you as you will not VR allowed to bend and it will prove invaluable for lifting things off the floor, putting on slippers, reaching for items at the bottom of the bed etc. Get creative with it!

Thanks everyone for the good and bad info. I had a injury in the Army (Afghanistan) back in 2003. My APC was ambushed and took a explosion. At the time I did not have to have the surgery but had the back pain. Over the past 10 years I have had back problems and discomfort in my right leg. Over the past year I have had countless hours of P/T and 3 steroid injections and 1 nerve block. The VA (Veteran Affairs) doctors say, suck it up and I believe I have. I found 2 neurosurgeons and that both say that believe this is what's left to do. Obviously I don't have to but I just can't take the pain anymore. In jump school we was told there is a difference between being hurt or having a injury. I have lived by that and when I know I can't defend myself, I have a injury. Now, I am not a quitter and will do anything to stop the pain. My fear is causing more pain and not a recovery. The surgery is on 4/16/14. Still have time but not the end of the road. I just pulled the short straw and its my turn I guess. Damn, this is going to suck....

Did you have the surgery? How are you doing?

Ryanggg in reply to Piper_Cub

My wife needs a L5 S1 fusion, Did you get your fusion L5 S1 fusion and what are the results my I ask?

ozzy78421 in reply to Ryanggg

I'm 6 days out of surgery(L5-S1) and I will not lie, I was miserable the first 2 days. I kept wondering if I did the right thing. I came home on day 3, I've very diligent about walking and climbing steps. I feel 100 times better than I have in 20 years. I'm walking with absolutely no pain or resistance from surgery. Stay on top of the pain, don't think you're a superstar because it will bite you. I am so glad I had the surgery. I'm 48 and still very active in outdoors activities. I can't wait to get back out. Good luck

It's not the end of all roads.... It's a new road, a different road. Am sure you will still require lots of physio etc post surgery as you will have all the other spinal segments to look after! Take your time, know that this is a phase and will change. Try not to worry..... Best wishes

Hi piper-cue..only you can make choice..if read any of mine.I've turned down my 2 and operation.and in past asked why not give me a fusion. told I was to young..now just last week physio told me my spine is s shape..so no doctor has told me what's up..can see eneding up with this..mine started in my 20 so.with middle back pain..then in lower back..oh joint pain..I am so confused.. its all to much

Dexter1 in reply to louiseamos

Read my reply. I also had s shaped spine and had to have surgery or become so deformed it would crowd my lungs and I wouldn't be able to breathe. Bi had surgery and am better off but it was a journey.

Pls think positive, like me there was no where else to go other than asleep forever to escape the pain. I had the op almost 7 mths ago and have not looked back. My life is completely back to normal. After the op, yes I was sore , stiff and felt like I had done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. 4 days in they released my from hospital. Most go home in 3 but I didn't have help to go home too.

I had a strange almost dead leg feeling from time to time and tis has become less and less over the months... Now I have no pain just a little heavy feeling in my lower back from time to time. I would say I have 100% success.

You have no reason to be scared.

Best of luck, think positive this is your big chance to be free from pain and back to normal why would you turn your back on that.

Helped. But lot if pain make sure u have a morphine drip for after or you will b in alit of pain till they come to give yoi meds i had to weight and would b in lots of pain fot hours the nurse will take to long if you are on the pump as soon as you fell the pain start to come on you can just hit tje button and pain will be gone other wise you have to call the nurse and weight for thwm to bring you meds trust me you will thank me after u get home

I had fusion when i was 28know 61i did ok.you will to work hard at it everyday.

I had my first fusion in my neck in 1996. I was given the choice by my consultant of having surgery or being in a wheelchair by the time I was 40. I had a trapped nerve and a vertebrae had moved putting pressure on my spinal chord. The surgeon was adamant that without the surgery there was a real risk of paralysis. I managed to get onto a short notice list and got the phone call one afternoon not long after to go straight to the hospital as they were to operate the next day which meant I didn't have weeks to worry about it. Other than an infection acquired from a supposedly sterile needle it was 100% successful. I had a great deal of pain about a year later and another MRI scan revealed nothing significant, after this it settled down and although I do get some neck stiffness it hadn't bothered me until recently. I have had some pain in my neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists and knees which my doc thinks is arthritis.

Hello All, I am having surgery 21MAR16 and I am very nervous. I have exhausted all possible means of therapies, medication, and treatments other than surgery to control my back pain. I have been dealing with this for 8 years. This past July while traveling for work an 18 wheeler decided to play police and pit maneuvered my car on the highway going 75 MPH in Atlanta. Prior to this I was able to manage the pain and have a somewhat normal life. Now I can even get my ass up from a sitting position with out pain or tie my dang-on shoes. Prior to this I had a grade 1 slip of the L5. Now I have bi-lateral pars defect on the L5 and the nerve passage area on either side of the L5 are extremely narrowed. My L5 is now a grade 2 slip, there is no disc between the L5 and S1 and the L4 to L5 is degenerating. The surgeon said the L4 and L5 bones are showing some modeling changes and he is guessing I will have issues with that later. The primary concern is the L5-S1. I am extremely scared and nervous ass anything to have this surgery. I know it will be better for me in the long run but after reading all of the negative results from everyone it is making me second guess what I am about to do. Could some of you who have said they are waiting on surgery please up date with results. thank you and God Bless!!

8sandylou in reply to Navy_AC

Follow all instructions from Drs to the letter ....if you smoke give up....bone graft needs oxygen to heal ....keep weight as low as possible .....do pilates to strengthen muscles to assist with muscle tone ......but not til you are told its ok......follow their instructions to the letter......else you could end up with heads sheared of screws like I did.....then risky surgery to go in get it all out......lol .....let your treating Orthopod etc be your Gurus hugs, SandyLou

I also had spinal fusion- t-4 thru s-1. The pain after the surgery and recovery was horrendous. I'm sorry to be blunt but you need to be prepared because I was not. On the other hand, I would be worse off if I hadn't had it so had no choice. Am left with chronic pain but am on pain meds that truly work without affecting my ability to function. These meds are Nucynta and Butrans patch. Went thru years of different meds that were severely addictive and went thru many withdrawals as I changed meds a million times. You'll need lots of support and a pain specialist to get you through successfully. Don't recommend letting surgeon or GP treat your pain as surgeon will follow his protocol whether it's appropriate for your case or not and GP's are not knowledgable enough.

Good luck and let me know if you want to know anything else about my experience. I am 8 years post surgery now and do ok most of the time.

Hey Piper, i am 10 weeks post from the same surgery and let me tell you i'm sooooooo glad i had it done. The pain that i was having down both legs and my feet are GONE. Like Conrad i'm dealing with soreness but i'll add on a few spasms in the surgical site and buttocks area but everyone's healing process is different. I'm weaning myself off of the oxycodone slowly. One important thing you have too remember Piper is too learn how to "Log Roll" in bed when you go home after surgery.

Everything will be fine I'm praying for you.


panther101 in reply to Vader15

Hi, Kevin

Im 32 years old and was told I need to have a fusion of the L5-S1 my doctor said I should be back to normal in 8 weeks. Im not sure of this. I was wondering how long it was for you. I have to lift about 50 pounds roughly for 8 hours a day was wanting to know your thoughts?

There are so many factors that will make a difference between successful Fusion or the opposite. I'm in the opposite but I was born with Spondylolisthesis..... 1st L5S1 Fusion with instrumentation......was never told how painful the bone graft harvest site would be....was told to give up smoking as the bone fusion needs lots of oxygen to repair. Was only 26 and thought they were being overly careful ....kept smoking and had it....5 years later was put in Cat scan coz of chronic pain...found out all the screws had their heads sheared of and vertebrae were collapsed on each other.......to make a long story short after radical Anterior Poster Revision and many yrs later having been on serious pain killers til now (I'm 54 now) and Immune System failing as we'll........its not wether you have the fusion or not but that you give yourself every chance of a success....wat ever they say is Gospel if u go through with it.......don't think like me ...oh it won't matter if I dig that garden over or hey so wat if I smoke when they told me to......follow their directions and instructions implicitly....most failed fusions from back in the day were largely due to the recipients not fitting the criterior for a positive outcome....here they won't do a fusion on anyone they don't think has 75% chance of success so you prob in that catchment too.....be positive and proactive in your recovery following their instructions to the letter.....if u r overweight LOOSE IT!! And I wish you all the luck in the world....hugs, SandyLou

I had my spinal fusion 5 years ago (L5 S1). It went great and I was back to my normal activity of doing step aerobics, playing tennis and spin classes. I was so happy I had the surgery. Now, just in the last 6 weeks, I am having a lot of back pain, tingling and numbness. I'm worried I might need another surgery. Pain is back and feels as bad or worse then before surgery. Would I do the surgery again? ABSOLUTELY! My neurosurgeon is wonderful and I had great results for five years. I was hoping it would last longer, but I'll take it. It is no secret that after you have a one level fusion, you will need another one later.

Don't be afraid nothing too worry about you will be on your feet the next day I just hope it works for you it worked in one kinda way for me but now I have lots of diff pains around my body I hope all goes well for you good luck....T

hey, how do you feel now? I have slipped disc L5-s1 which is prssing on my spinal cord about 30% last year I was in incredible pain, pins and needles i couldnt walk, i had numbness but i did lots of rehabilitation and exercises and it has got better., however in February I had my MRI which showed no improvement,. I do feel better i sometimes have days when I cannot walk, tension in my back, sharp pain but i can stand it. The doctor said , i will not be able to carry a baby with this condition ,so soon or later it will hav to be done. I dont know if I should wait until it gets worst or should I do it now. No one can guarantee how its gonna be and im scared. I go to the gym I dance latin dance and im worried.

ITYFIALMCTT in reply to nikyb

The OP hasn't posted in about 3 years so I don't know if you'll receive a response.

Have you had a physiotherapy review to see if you'll continue to improve? Sometimes MRI can show no physical improvement but when some irritation passes and muscles/ligaments are stronger we're less likely to feel strong pain in response to everyday actions. And it's always useful to be in as strong a condition as possible before surgery because it makes post-surgical rehabilitation more likely to be successful.

Good Luck!

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