Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Lumbar fusion surgery
avatar
darlyn05 posted:
Wondering how many members have had a Lumbar Fusion surgery, and what the outcome was after the procedure. I'm considering what alternatives I may have and wish for a real world success rate with being able to live a normal daily life pain free after procedure.
Reply
 
avatar
bj1208 responded:
hi again -

I had Anterior Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 - this was done 3 years ago - they removed my disc and put a plate, 4 screws and cage in - I fused 100%, however they could not do anything for the chronic lower back pains or the nerve damage in both legs - as I had responded to your poll questions - you can click on my pic or name and read my story -

here are some facts regarding fusion surgeries:

1) they can correct the disc problem by putting a plate, screws, cage and rods in

2) there are no guarantees that this will reduce your pain levels - some surgeons (Neurosurgeons are notorious for this) will say that it's a 50/50 chance - however the numbers are much lower - more like 20/80 chance - 20% chance of reduction in pain

3) If a disc is pressing on a nerve root and it's been more than 6 months since the injury to the disc there could be permanent nerve damage in one or both legs/arms (depending on where the damage disc is)

There is no real world success rate for fusion surgeries - the majority of them end up as being referred to as Failed Back Surgery Syndrome - see attached link

http://www.lowbackpain.tv/pdfs/pfs-fbss.pdf

before having back/neck surgery it's best that you option as many opinions as possible - from either an Orthopedic Spine Specialist or a Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist - my preference is Orthopedic Spine Specialist as they are more down to earth, will educate you on what all the "IF's" of back/neck surgery and normally have you go through other means before deciding that back surgery is needed. A Neurosurgeon is too quick to want to do surgery, especially fusion surgeries.

the first 3 months of my recovery I was doing very well, then I went the other way - at my 7th month post op the surgeon said he had done all he could and DID fix my disc problem - yes he did - and he gave no guarantees that this would reduce my pains - I did have a Neurosurgeon do my surgery - unfortunately once this is done you can not go back and have it reversed - I am 100% disabled now and rely on my pain meds in order to function each day.

Now, something I should point out about this support group - we are lay people - sharing our stories with others about chronic pains - how we help each other seek the right kind of doctors to see for treatments etc., As this is a support group - we hardly hear from anyone that has a success story about their surgery - We do hear from someone from time-to-time but it's not that many versus the ones we have here on the support group -

Please keep us posted as to what you will do and PLEASE get as many opinions as possible - from each of the different spine specialist - this way you will know 100% what your options are - and keep in mind - back surgery is NOT designed to get rid and/or reduce back pains - it's meant to correct disc problems - the surgeons can only hope that it will reduce pain levels - NO GUARANTEES~!!

take care - ^Joy^
 
avatar
darlyn05 replied to bj1208's response:
Thanx Joy! For both of your responses.

I don't have confidence that either the epidural or surgery will be successful for me in the points of pain reduction and daily mobility. That is why I'm asking. The surgery to me seems very extreme and in reality doesn't truly do a person any good in their efforts of regaining a near normal daily lifes activities. So I don't think I will go that route. It just doesn't seem like there would be any improvement for the cost and suffering it could cause.

Thanx again!

Darlyn
 
avatar
dianer01 responded:
Hi darlyn:

I don'tpost much but I still lurk, I had spinal fusion in 2007. It is my understanding the success rat for pain relief is around 50% or maybe less while the success rate for stabilization is much higher, maybe 80%.

I had L3-S1 fused four years ago after multiple recurring ruptured disks. I was 45 at the time, not terribly fit but very active. Initially my recovery was going well until about three months out and I started having pain issues due to the nerve damage in my right leg. It took about 3-4 months to really get it under control and begin to feel better. To sum it up, the first year was difficult and I questioned my choice.

It is now almost four years since my fusion, I believe I made a good choice. I do have numb toes on my left foot and much of my right foot and lower leg are still numb. There is little which can be done. I am not in pain, I walk 4 miles a day for exercise, I can pick my 20 lb dog up off the floor without pain, I ride my bicycle and have few limitations. My legs and back ache from time to time but some ibuprofin helps tremendously.

The biggest thing to remember about a fusion is THERE IS NO GUARANTEE A FUSION WILL RELIEVE YOUR PAIN. If you do choose to have the fusion, do get in the best shape you can and eat a well balanced diet, reduce any alcohol consumption, plenty of veggies and some will swear by calcium supplements. I had a bone growth stimulator but am not sure of the difference between having one and not.

Please be sure to get a second opinion before making any decisions. Once you have had surgery, you cannot go back.

my best to you
 
avatar
darlyn05 replied to dianer01's response:
Thank you DianeR01 for your information. May I ask what was your surgeons specialty? Meaning his field of expertise. Also where you had your surgery? I've noticed that not all areas offer the same or similar expertise.

And the thought of surgery is scary because I know you can't undo what was done. So I'm trying to gather as much information as possible from "us" folks, lol, before I make a decision.
 
avatar
bj1208 replied to dianer01's response:
Hi Diane -

thanks for posting a response - I kinda remember your posts from a while ago -

I just wanted to say that we share almost the same story - 3 months out and mine turned around and I have been in extreme chronic pain in lower back plus nerve damage in both legs -

Physical therapy, Aqua therapy, chiropractic care - tried all and each time I end in up extreme pain and in bed not being able to move for a couple of days to sometimes a week - Last year I tried the approach of getting up and suffering trying to stay active in our pool - boy was that the worst thing i could do -

And I now have 3 more bulging discs which the OSS (saw 3 within the last year) and all have said same - no more surgery will only add to pains (think u and I have discussed this before)

For some reason, all the doc's i;ve seen don't know why, but when I walk (leg brace on left and cane) that I walk with my left foot outwards - I cannot put it straight like my right - as such I cannot kick my legs in the water and there is no way I can ride a bicycle - that motion kills my back -

anyway - enough of that - just wanted to say thanks again for posting - u are always welcome to respond to posts or just let us know how u are doing -

take care - ^Joy^
 
avatar
darlyn05 replied to bj1208's response:
Has this happened to any of you?

Well, I never really paid too much attention to it in the past before I found out about my back condition. My legs will feel slightly numb while I'm laying down, sitting, and standing. Moreso when my cat is on my lap. I also wrote off the electrical tingling in my legs, hip/mid section, finger tips, now rib area. As well with the shooting pain and now electrical shoots down mostly my left leg. Not to mention the electrical convulsion in my right ankle that has now moved into my left ankle. Plus the electrical vibration in the bottom of my feet. So I'm pretty certain that I have some level of nerve damage.
 
avatar
bj1208 replied to darlyn05's response:
hi darlyn05 -

it could be - I still have those feelings - I've gotten so used to them that I miss a lot when describing it - one that really gets me is I can be wearing jeans/shorts etc. and I will feel like I have a pager going off (vibrating feeling) or cell phone on vibrate - even though I don't have them in a pocket! LOL Sorry I know it's not really funny but you have to have a good since of humor -

One things you could ask is that a test be done: EMG WITH NERVE CONDUCTION - this is a 2 part test - the first they measure the nerve points in your arms/legs and mark it with a pen - the they will put electrodes on the areas and will send a shock to those points - they get a readout of the nerves and how they react to it - the 2nd part is kinda the same except they stick a needle in the same areas and send a more intensified shock - this also give a reading of what the nerve are feeling - in some instances they can tell if this is coming from a disc protruding on the nerve root or if not then somewhere else.

it is uncomfortable but doesn't last that long - as a matter of fact on the 6th of April I will be going in and having this done - it will be my 3rd time as they do want to see if it's getting worse (I have 3 more bulging discs) and will let them know if I should have a current MRI done -

Hope this helps - keep us posted - ^Joy^
 
avatar
darlyn05 replied to bj1208's response:
Hey Joy! It helps tremendously. And the pager/cell phone analogy you used is right on the button. LOL

I'll have to mention the test you mentioned. My frown is that with age my pain tolerance has lowered. LOL For me anymore what may seem to some as being uncomfortable brings me pain. LOL

Who on here has the map leading to the "Fountain of Youth"? LOL I'm 48yo and had enough of my fair share already. LOL
 
avatar
bj1208 replied to darlyn05's response:
well there is a statue in CO as your going up into the mountains from Denver - It's a Holy Statue and there is water there - said to cure ailments.........

anyway - let us know what happens! - Take care ^Joy^
 
avatar
darlyn05 replied to bj1208's response:
Thanx again Joy! Reading my last post it came to mind that I should not post when I've taken pain medication.
 
avatar
bj1208 replied to darlyn05's response:
Hey we all do that! LOL

Shoot a lot of us will either ramble on and on or make statements like u did - and there is nothing wrong with ur statements so don't worry bout if u just took pain meds and remember a question and then post to us - Hell gotta remember that yes we are on pain meds and yes pain meds make u FORGETFUL - very forgetful -

My daughters will tease me saying I'm getting dementia but they don't realize that the pain meds make you forget things that are both important and not important -

So don't worry if ur post is out there or serious -

and remember one most important part - THIS IS A SUPPORT GROUP - and we are here to support each other - whether it is venting, crying, asking or just stopping by to say having a good day (those are not too often! )

Hope ur having a good day - take care - ^Joy^
 
avatar
dianer01 replied to darlyn05's response:
Darlyn,

My surgeon was a neurosurgeon with a spine specialty. He is in practice with 3 other neuro's with brain and spine specialties.

I live about 100 miles from LosAngeles and while it is a small community, we are known for a high level of medical care.

di
 
avatar
dianer01 replied to bj1208's response:
Thanks Joy,

You have an interesting story. I am very lucky because I ended up basically pain free. I do have some limitations and I do get sore after a while but I carry on a fairly normal life.

I have struggled with knee pain since my first back surgery. I think when they started straightening out my back, my knees were realigned too. I am now a candidate for knee replacement but am too chicken to persue it. I got lucky with my back, I just do not know if I can get that lucky twice!

I will lurk when I can, as I got your call for help a few weeks ago.


Helpful Tips

How I got rid of 2 1/2 years of sciatic pain
I had sciatic pain for over 2 years went to chiropractor twice a week for months, tried acupunture and ever nasd and pain pill out there. I ... More
Was this Helpful?
1 of 6 found this helpful

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health Spine Center