... I have to make a decision about having one and I wanted to know what others thought about their surgeries
2 Sep 2010
I'm sorry to hear that you may need to have surgery on your back. I had always been told to never have back surgery because you will never be the same again, I wish I would have listened to the many people that had told me that.
I injured my back on the job working in the garden dept. at Home Depot. I had a truck load of 800 live xmas tree's that I had to unload all by myself as I worked nights. Although there were men there that could have helped, they were busy doing they're own work. After approx unloading 50 tree's, I felt a sharp pain in my lower back but continued to work on unloading until the pain just got too bad at which point I begged my supervisor to have someone come and help me. I was more or less told to quit whinning and get it done. After 10 hours of unloading, i left work and went straight to the hospital barely being able to walk due to pain. Xrays were done and nothing could be found, so I was sent home on some pain killers and muscle relaxers. I took it upon myself to seek the help of an Orthopeadic surgeon, who performed some simple tests in the room and found that my range of motion was not normal, he then had me do an xray where he had me bend forward to open up the canals in my spine as well as an xray beding backwards which was excrutiating. He at that time found a small stress fracture. He later scheduled for the following week a "discography" which is where they actually try to recreate the type of pain that your feeling and when they hit they correct spot, its excrutiatinally painful. They of course give you a sedative to help you relax however they need you awake enough so that you can tell them on a number scale your pain ratings, but even with a sedative when they get that one spot, the sedative is pointless. It only lasts a few seconds as they will quickly give you a medication to control the pain, but that second feels like a lifetime. This was when they determined that my injury to my back was at L5-S1. The options given to me where to do physical therapy for approx 6 weeks, 3x a week to see if there were any improvements, and there were not, the next was to try epidural injections, which also did nothing for me, so the last option was for the spinal fusion, which I had done at the L5-S1 level. Its a horrible surgery and Im not trying to scare you, but want to be totally honest with you. Recovery is a bear, for me it was approx 6 months long. I was in hospital for 5 days, had a home health nurse come by to help out at home and ended up having to sleep on the middle level so that I was near everything I needed. I as not able to bathe myself, my husband had to sponge bath me so that my back wouldnt get wet, I couldnt bend over, he had to put my shoes and socks on and for the first two weeks I walked with a walker, then graduated to a cane for another two to three weeks, then finally was able to walk on my own... slowly and carefully.
A year went by and I was still suffering horrible pain, and because of my thin stature the surgeon felt that it would be best to remove the hardware in hopes that would reduce my pain levels. So we did that, however after several months went by, my pain was persistant and still daily. After a another discography, we learned that now my level L4-L5 was out of wack and again required another fusion. I was told that it is not uncommon for the levels above a fusion to start to deteriorate causing you to have to fuse those levels. So yet again, I had another fusion done. This time he went through my side to get to the spine, rather than go through my back. Another year went by and I was still in horrible pain and at this point had done everything that could possibly be done to control or better the discomfort. I did physical therapy for almost three months, but quit after because it was just too painful, I did aqua-therapy for 4 months which felt great while I was in the water and there was weightlessness, but the moment I got out, and gravity took force, it was instant pain again. I took numerous epidural injections which were useless. To top it all off, when they cut me open on my side, they cut a nerve, and now I have no feeling in my left hip, which is just a disgusting feeling all together. The next step is to have yet a 4th surgery to remove this hardware, however I am seriously debating not doing it. I've already had three failed back surgery's and whats worse is that I now have the most intense SI joint pain imaginable, which is caused by the fusions themselves. This is not something that I had prior to my surgery's, this is just an added pain that I now have to deal with.
I have taken just about every pain medication you can think of thats out there and there are only two that work well enough to allow me to at least function alittle like a human being and allow me to do some light things with my kids. I take oxycontin 60mg (a 20mg and a 40mg) 3x a day and I also take tramadol, however that is for my fibromyalgia. The oxycontin works well in that its long acting and I dont get any sort of high feeling and it doesnt make me tired. I love it because it has give me "some" of my life back, however I hate the stereotype that goes with it. I have been questioned up and down by pharmacist who are not familiar with me about why I take it, why I take so much, and whats it for. I have had pharmacists refuse to fill it if its after hours and this is even when I have told them to look up my history and they will see that I have been taking it for two yrs. I refuse to fill my script during the daytime, as there are too many people working behind the counter and too many customers that can hear whats happening, so I go to a 24hr pharmacy and typically fill it after midnight, where there is only one pharmacist working and hardly no customers being nosey. But again, thats when I get questioned when its a pharmacist thats isnt familiar with me.
If I could give you any advice at all, I would say unless this is your absolute last option and there is nothing more that can be done for you, then do what you feel is right, but if you can live with the pain or if there is other ways to control your discomfort, then I would stay very clear of surgery. I wish that I could take mine all back. I would have dealt with the pain, because my life has now changed forever. I can no longer work, I have been rated just recentley as being permanatley disabled, and was told that after this last hardware removal if I have it done, that more than likley I will remain on medications to control my pain for the rest of my life.
I use to be a freestyle salsa dancer before this, I loved running around with my children, I loved taking long walks... now my day consists of not being able to stand for more than 1/2 hr, I can no longer do a full grocery shop, I can not attend standing room only functions unless there is a wheelchair for me to be able to sit in for my childrens school functions. I have to be pushed around at the zoo or an amusement park with my children. This injury and all those surgeries have destroyed my life and i'm going on 4 yrs of depression, 4 yrs of watching people around me and how free spirited they are, how they can walk and step down off a curb and not have to think if it going to cause them pain. I have to analyze everything I do to make sure it wont cause me any more discomfort than i'm already in.
I truly wish you the best and hope that for yourelf you make a wise choice, look at what you have now and what you could have when its all over with after a possibly failed surgery. Not all are failures, but many will tell you... dont do it unless its the very last option.
Best of luck to you and i'm sorry this was so long.
1 Apr 2011
DO TO MY OWN BACK PROBLEMS, I WOULD SAY DEFINITELY NOT, UNLESS IT MEANS BEING CRIPPLED! I have had Back surgery's and the first one was Fusion. They were supposed to take a piece of my hip bone and fuse it, THank God they Didn't, they used rods and pins and a cage and there is something in my back probably the size of a half a dollar that is suppose to rotate and help the pain, yeah BS. Listen man, I only went because they told me that if I didn't I would have been crippled.So obviously I went, but ever since I feel more hurt now then I did then. I did not get the best rest while healing, I was supposed to be in bed for 3 months only getting up to go the bathroom, and another1 or so just walking around in the house doing everyday things. My uncle, who is hurt, was advised to get fusion surgey like me, almost exactly. I told him def not to go, but he went and is more hurt now then ever. He's on more pain meds, can do less things and is constantly in pain.
My father told me not to get the surgery since he has had several surgerys on his back,neck, and knees. He said I'd only be hurt more. He was 100 % right. But I didn't have much of a choice. I was only 18 when I got the surgery, and was hurt for years before that, and ever since. I'm still a young man, and I can feel the pain constantly, I feel like the weather man, but I actually know when it's gonna rain the night before, and i am right. ( just a little Humor). But I don't really know what is wrong with you, but what I can tell you is that more people who have had back surgery, are in ore pain after the surgery, so if you cant stand it now, theirs a good chance you will hurt more. But some people surgery has worked for, like I said if your in dying agony then I wont tell you definitely not to get it. Just telling you my own personal opinions that my family and myself have gone thru. I wish you the best Of Luck, God Be With You.
16 Apr 2011
I I just read this post. Let me see if I can explain my condition. I have Degenerative Joint Disease. My L5 through S-1 were affected and I HAD to have a rod inserted and had it fused to the L-4 area. I had NO choice. The pain was too severe. That was about 5 years ago. Since then... the surgery did help BUT since then I have problems with pinched nerves and sciatica and bursitis. My Degenerative Joint Disease has not progressed any and I have been to a hip specialist who say I do not need a hip replacement. I have had all the pain pills, NSAIDS, steroid shots and experimental treatments. After returning to my doctors for pain, I have been advised by three doctors to get physical therapy. I spoke to the therapist and she will start treatment Monday (for the 9th time). This is all I can do. I have been to numerous doctors to consult for this surgery and did research on the best (in my opinion) Orthopedic surgeon. Read some of these posts. Some recommend surgery, others don't.
I know the surgery saved my back and although I have continued pain, it is less severe then the pain I had before the surgery. The cold weather bothers my back but that is occasionally. My hip problems have been constant and have affected my activities but I was doing Pilates at home which is light stretching and this somewhat helped. I am happy with the Pilates. I may have to live with this pain for the rest of my life along with the steroid shots which only last about 2 weeks but I do get relief from the shots.
Overall... the surgery worked for me although stretching (light) is the only treatment I can get right now. RESEARCH and do more RESEARCH and then make and make an informed decision. Ask about the after effects and what this could involve. I have good days and bad but I would say the surgery worked for me. Degenerative Joint Disease (also know as DDD) is just that and surgery was the only option for me. I am 57, still active but with limitations. So much for returning to my dancing but I am not paralyzed (and I have had many a doctor say they could not guarantee paralyzes,) but I found a surgeon who told me he could perform the surgery with minimal problems. I checked out this doctors history, who he worked for and how long he has been in this field. I am very happy with my surgeon who also did surgery on my neck due to spinal stenosis and again, I had been advised by many a doctor that paralyses cold be an issue but not with this Orthopedic surgeon. My stenosis is fine now and no issues with my neck. I recommend advise from MANY orthopedic surgeons who have experience in this field before undergoing the surgery. My best advise is RESEARCH, RESEARCH and more RESEARCH until you are tired of hearing the same answer. The do more research but stay in the field of professionals before committing to the surgery. GOOD LUCK!
13 Feb 2011
Hi, I know it maybe a little late answering your question but I have had Cervical discectomy and Lumbar discectomy. I had really no choice. It has been 2.5 yrs and yes I do still get pain but not as severe. I went to so many doctors and finally found out what was part of the problem why I am getting pain off and on is that I have peripheral neuropathy. It is just a suggestion that you may want to look into this and understanding it because it is with you for life and will never go away. I have been trying to go to Physical Therapy and it just intensify the pain. What else can I do. It is frustrating but learning to live with it. One doctor says someday 5, 10 or more years I will be going back for more surgeries on my back because it will collapse.
Do what it is best for you, and do researching on the internet, that what I did before I had the surgeries. I check the background of the doctors to see how good of a rating they are before going to see them. Find a doctor that knows about your disease and not one that does not know. Wish you the best of luck and God Bless
1 Apr 2011
Mu husband has had 4 fusions. 2 in the lower spine, & 2 in his neck. He has had great success with all of them. The problem with the fusions are that it puts stress on the vertabrae above or/and below the fusion. You would have to be very careful with activities afterwords. You must be to a point that your Neuro surgeon feels this is your only option. Now my son who has Spina
Bifida, has a fusion on his lower lumbar & still has a lot of pain with it. He had it done at the age of 38. He can't work or do much of anything without pain. My husband has chrontic pain anyway, & will possibly have to have his entire spine fused before long. It's quite a decision, but if your doctor feels it's the only thing left, then you have to decide if you want it or not. You will probably still be on pain medication. Hope this helps...
3 Apr 2011
I tried everything possible short of surgery, until I could no longer walk due to the nerve involvement and pain. I would at any cost avoid back surgery, I've been through five anterior/posterior fusions, from L-4 to S-1,had known at the very beginning there are few "succcessful" spinal surgeries, I would have just put up with the pain, I've also had two lamenectomies, and a few surgeries to remove the awful adhesions that follow from having the above surgery.
I don't want to scare you either, however, I've met many folks who have had the same surgery as I have had and none have ever been "successful", sad as this may be, for me, it also became a matter of being able to walk, or sit in a wheel chair the rest of my life, I do walk with a cane have extensive loss of sensation, and "drop foot", due to this surgery, however, I am at least able to walk. Make a very educated decision, like you're doing now, ,seek out all the advice that you can, and talk to as many people/ or/ doctors as it becomes necessary. I wish you all the luck in the world regardless of the decision you must make, I know it is not an easy one to come about. God Bless You
1 Apr 2011
I thought I answered this Question already, But since I have had Spinal Fusion done, I would SAY NO, Unless you have no choice like being crippled. The pain I am in now, and the pain I was in Before the surgery is alot worse now. They had put pins and screws, and some sort of cage, and a rotating piece of medal, about the size of a half Dollar. It's supposed to relieve pain, BS. The next thing they wanted me to do when that didn't work was get a spinal cord stimulater, then a Morphine Pump.For most Dr your only a Paycheck.My Uncle was advised to get a similar Spinal Fusion, which I told him to definitely not get, But he did, now he's a lot worse than he was. Listen I am not a DR but if you can deal with the pain now, as bad as it may be, there's a good chance youll be in alot more pain for the rest of your life. The Decision is yours choose carefuly, and do the research. I wish you luck .I hope I was Helpful.
15 Feb 2011
In response to u r question, I have had a spinal fusion, in 2010.
I am very pleased with my outcome, no back pain now. Now, I saw a
Neurosurgeon, who performed the Nuvasive xlif procedure, with the
use of adult stem cells, and of course the hardware, that goes with this.
I was only in hospital overnight. I was in a specialized back brace for
a few weeks, then had 'aqua therapy", for a few weeks, then to the
"land' physical therapy, for a few weeks too.
1 Sep 2010
AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS! Surgery should be the absolute LAST resort. Depending on what part of your back, so many other procedures can be done first. I've lived with DDD @ the L-5-6 for many years. My surgeon knew I did not want this fusion unless necassary. But in the meantime, I had Radio Frequency Thermocoagulation injections done that lasted quite a while. But then I was involved in an accident and shattered my L-1 and cracked the L-2. Surgery was a must My spinal cord was compressed 80% from bone fragments. I HAD to have surgery. My back will never be the same. I also need more surgery to adjust/remove some of the hardware causing major issues. Not only do you risk the surgery not working, you're looking at MONTHS of rehab, possible nerve damage, and the odds are not with you. More people than not are disatisfied with the outcome and are dependant on opiates to control pain.
My husband also had 3 serious neck injuries (including a fractured neck) is 3 months post op from his 3rd surgery. However, this last surgery was very successful. He has never felt better. Although he lost range of motion, his pain and headaches are gone! SoI guess it all depends on the level of pai you are in, procedures you have tried, and the area of spine you have trouble with. Please exhaust ALL procedures before considering surgery. My very best wishes. chris
1 Sep 2010
i havent had it... but my dad was offered it. they said it was likely that he wouldnt be able to go back to work and his mobility would be limited as far as doing simple things like bending over to put on or tie his shoes. he decided not to go along with the surgery because the cons outweighed the pros for him personally. he is a very stubborn and hard working man. he did have one back surgery, but not the fusion. he has had a heart attack and 2 strokes. he is 57 and unwilling to quit work or go on disability. he passes out often with his high blood pressure and shakes really bad when he over-does it from the strokes. his back pain is through the roof as the 1st surgery did not help at all and there was only a little chance of success with the fussion. i really hope it works for you if this is the route you want to take. i hope you have a great dr and surgeon.
think about the pro's and con's of someone your age (although idk how hold you are). you may do very well with it. but if you change your mind, even at the last minute before they wheel you back, you have that right. i am praying for your success. back pain is very annoying to deal with... i know, i do it everyday. much love, melissa
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