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3rd Disc Herniation in L4-L5, Considering Fusion
ScorpioSkiBum posted:
Hi all, I'm a 28 year old male and am on my 3rd disc herniation in 10 years. The first two times I had a pinched sciatic nerve with pain going down my right leg. Now I am finally starting to get pain down my left leg but luckily I have almost no back pain. This will be my third surgery on the same area, L4-L5. Basically my only two options are a discectomy or a spinal fusion. The first two surgeries were discectomies after 3 and 3 failed cortisone injections into the spine. I think given that this will be my third surgery, I will opt for the fusion instead of the discectomy in hopes of longer lasting relief. I've already had some nerve damage in my right leg (lost sensation in the bottom of my foot and have limited sensation in my calf).

My biggest fear is more nerve damage and the possibility of sexual dysfunction. The the fusion I'm told would be a TLIF and my surgeon said he would enter from the back because of the disc herniation. He did mention that there is a greater risk for sexual dysfunction if he were to enter through the front.

Can any of you share your successes (or failures) to help alleviate my fears? Would any of you NOT recommend the spinal fusion? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
bj1208 responded:
Hi ScorpioSkiBum - welcome to the support group -

I have had a single fusion, Anterior Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 and I do consider my surgery to be a success as I have fused 100% and my spine is more stable than before the surgery. However I do have chronic back pains and nerve damage in both legs (click on my name or picture to read my story)

You must understand that fusion surgery is done to remove the damaged disc and put in place a plate, screws, cage and maybe rods in order to help stabilize the spine. There is no guarantee a fusion surgery will reduce pains and/or heal any nerve damage (legs/arms). Fusions have a success rate of about 70% for spine stability and about 40% for pain reduction.

There have been some members who have had full success from a fusion but we hardly hear from them as they have gone back to leading their lifestyle.

Before having surgery it would be beneficial to get a couple of opinions from both Orthopedic Spine Specialist and Neurosurgeon Spine Specialist. This way you will know exactly what diagnosis/treatment options are available.

Hope this helps~~keep us posted~~
~~ Click on my name or picture and read my story ~~

Take care ~~ God Bless ~~

~~ Joy ~~

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