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    debating whether to have the spinal fusion
    abbey123 posted:
    Hello,all.My Dr. is recommending I have a spinal fusion on L4/5 and a laiminectomy.I have been in severe pain for years so I went to a neurosurgeon,who ordered a MRI-hence the suggestion for surgery.My question is--does anyone know of good results?I have been researching this and I can't believe the horror stories! I would also like to know how much this surgery costs.My ins. will not pay on any problems with my back.I would appreciate any advice anyone can give me.
    bj1208 responded:
    hi abbey123 - well you may not find the answers you are looking for here - we help support each other that has some type of chronic back/neck pains from failed surgeries - those that have healed with no problems go on to live normal lives - those of us here have some type of failed back surgery syndrome - i know it sounds like a horrid statement but what it means is that the surgery did not take care of ALL the problems - remember with back surgery there are different areas of as to the reason for the surgery:

    1) Disc problems

    2) Sciatic nerve problems (nerve endings running down into either leg and/or both)

    3) back pain

    I have been told here recently that if I had had surgery within 6 months of when my disc blew that I may not have had all the problems i'm having now - so one thing I would look at is you indicate you have had back pains for years - the surgery may NOT take care of your pains.

    so when you are labeled with failed back surgery syndrome it means that the surgery could not take care of all the areas -

    in my case, I had Anterior Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 - they took my disc out, put a plate, screws and cage in - this part of the surgery went great - and I fused 100% by my 6th week post op (I was drinking a lot of milk and i mean a LOT!) however this is the only part of the surgery that was a success - they could not do anything for the lower back pains or the nerve pains in my legs. I had my surgery 2 years ago and I live in MO - it cost close to $80,000 - oh and i just recently saw an orthopedic spine specialist just to get a fresh look at my surgery since i've been in horrible pains since - I know have 3 bulging discs - the surgeon was straight forward with me and said that i would need a fusion surgery - they would have to take my plate,screws and cage out and do a multi-level fusion - he did say that with my pains being so severe that it would not reduce my pain levels but would add to it - so i decided not to have surgery and he even said he would not advise it.

    You say your insurance won't pay for any problems with your back - is there a reason why??? I find that to be unthinkable nowadays with how ins co's are -

    Also, I would go for a 2nd and a 3rd opinion on ur back - get an opinion form an orthopedic spine specialist - I would also ask: WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I DON'T GET THE OPERATION? Most doc's will be very honest with you and let you know.

    i did google to see if i could find a site where it lists the costs of surgeries with/without ins - this one may help you -

    please get the 2nd and 3rd opinions - surgery does cost a lot and should be the last resort -

    i do kn ow there are a couple of members that have had great success with their surgeries and do pop in from time-to-time to let us know how they are doing

    let us know if you have more questions - take care - Joy ~~
    abbey123 replied to bj1208's response:
    Joy,thank you so much for the reply! My Dr. told me I would get worse-but he could not tell me how quickly-because he didn't know how long it took for me to get to this point.Ihave had this buttock,lower back,left leg,and feet pain for years and I just ignored it untill about 5years ago.It's been coming on strong.And to add to that--I have fibermyalgia.So i'm in pain constantly.I had existing back problems when I took my current ins. out.I was not happy with my ins. when I switched .Now I don't know--I was expecting around 40,000.00 for this ,but 80?? WOW! I have more research to do&more opinions to get.Thank you for understanding and listening.Iwish you good luck and I will continue to be on this forum as well as the fibermyalgia forum.All the people on webmd are great!
    bj1208 replied to abbey123's response:
    hi abbey - just an fyi - when I had my surgery - the first 3 months I felt great! i was reducing my pain meds and was really going good - then all of a sudden just after my 3rd month post op everything went downhill - everything got worse - so as you know we are all different so time frame will be hard to pinpoint when that downhill point will start -

    good luck in ur search - let me know if I can assist you - that's what we're here for - support and this board has the best 'family members' you could EVER ask for!! i've been on here for about 4 years now - so guess u could say i'm an old timer! LOL

    take care - God Bless - Joy ~
    bj1208 replied to abbey123's response:
    one more thing - i couldn't really think of when i hurt my back except that i had a couple of bad horse falls when i was much younger - then having 2 children - being 5' 5" and having longer legs than back - about 4 years ago i was at the grocery store and bent over to get a bag of sugar and my back snapped - so i went thru 2 years of Pain Management treatments before being sent to a surgeon - so............................. my life story in a short take!! LOL hey ya gotta keep ur chin up and a smile on ur face!! take care - Joy~~
    RMS1970 replied to bj1208's response:
    abbey, I had a level 2 fusion L4-L5, L5-S1, I had waited almost 2 years to get it because of work comp. I will say I had a hard time for a while after the surgery then it started feeling better then I had some leg pain and after PT and stretching the nerve out I feel good again. As a matter of fact I have been released to return to work with out any restrictions.

    I had a physical today and it went great I had to lift #50, 10 times #75, 5 times and #90, 3 time then carry it 50 feet. I did all that and had no pain or discomfort. So you can mark me down as a success in the back surgery. I thank God for guiding the surgeons hands.

    God Bless

    abbey123 replied to RMS1970's response:
    Good evening everyone.Thank you all for the replies.I'm so glad to hear a good outcome of this surgery.I went for a 2nd opinion today-same suggestion of surgery! I am going to get some injections.{can't remember name}It's a series of 3,2 weeks apart.And physical therapy.The Dr. said these things might helpmy pain,but I will need surgery.I am going for a 3rd.opinion-just waiting for a call to set up the appointment.I might be going overboard on getting opinions but I have to be sure it's the right thing to do.I am very afraid of this surgery!
    Geradine4733 replied to abbey123's response:
    It is good that you are getting various opinions. It is expensive - at least mine was. If you wait the health insurance will have to insure people with pre-existing conditions. Good luck.
    shirleyd1959 replied to RMS1970's response:
    RMS1970 - your posting was a breath of fresh air. I'd like to hear more about your experience. I am scheduled for L4-L5, L5-S1 spinal fusion in just about 3 weeks. I am nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof because of all these horror stories. I have been in pain/discomfort for many years - but the situation has heightened over the last 3 years. I've given up most of my physical activity and regular household chores are a burden. I no longer even mow my own lawn. Every move is calculated and thought thru. I've tried PT, facet block injections and nerve root block injections. Nothing helps. I've sought 3 different opinions from docs in the Washington DC area. My surgery is will be at a top-rated spine center in DC. All 3 surgeons have told me the same thing - don't have the surgery until I can't take the pain/discomfort any longer. My surgeon has given me an 85% success rate - but we know that's just based on whether my pain is reduced. I don't take pain meds, except for ibuprofen when I must. I've tried massage, moist heat, tailbone cushions. I'm sick of all this - yet I don't know if I've arrived at that point in time of not being able to take the discomfort. What I don't like is how much I've had to modify my life style - and though I have a wonderful and fantastic life I feel like my quality of living has been reduced because there is so much I want to do, and in fact have the energy to do, but I can't do these things any more. Cycle, jog, use the gym's cardio equipment and strength train - to name a few - mow, wash my car, wash my floor, clean my shower, walk up the stairs without having to brace myself for lower back pain/discomfort - to name a few more. The horror stories I read make me think that I actually still have it good! My surgery will be the less invasive style - going in thru the back, using titanium spacers, screws and of bone from my spine. After a couple of nights in the hospital I'll come home to recover for 6 weeks, then start PT at week 8(I think that's the correct timing). I'll wear a corset (sp?) for some amount of time. My faith keeps saying that God brought me to this and He will bring me through this, but I am just plain afraid of the results. It's a crazy position to be in.

    To you and anyone else reading - I pray that your results will be good.
    5yearsofpain replied to shirleyd1959's response:

    As most of you on here, I too live with constent hard pain. in my lower back, hips, and down but cheeks and legs with bad spasms. I had back surgery five years ago and it failed. Had alot of injections, Had a spinal stimulator in and not working for me and now found arthhritis. I am with a family doctor, pain clinic and going to see an orthapedic spine specialist. I am out of choices and afraid of being fused. I was given choice between stimulator or fusion from 6 down to 1. Means I would have to give alot of things up like playing with my granddaughters, Working and was told it would be 50/50. My pain clinic is 2 hours away. My family doctor said that he would fill prescriptions so I wouldn't have to drive 2 hours one way to pick up prescrips and now that they want to give me pain med, Now he refuses because they are addictive, harm my liver, and I don't need them. Well...I had to go to ER yesterday after work because I hurt so bad and couldn't walk due to shoting and stabing pain in my lower back, hips, and legs and all they could do was give me a shot for the pain and it took it from pain level 9 to 6 and told me to try again to talk to my family doctor abour some help with pain and looking forward to seeing spinal specialsit tomorrow in hopes that there is mircle out there that won't restrict me from playing and walking with my beautiful granddaughters and working and not to mention, spending some caring, loveing time witht my wonderful supportive husband. May God cure us all and have no PAIN.
    bl2010 replied to 5yearsofpain's response:
    Hi fellow back pain sufferers. I too have suffered many years with severe back pain and nerve pain in both legs. In 2001 I had a procedure done called IDET. Dont do that it mad it worse.In 2003 I underwent L3,4,and5 spinal fusion with two titainium rods and 16 nuts and bolts. This is called "with instrumentation". I was immediately relieved at least 75% of my pain. So im glad I did it or I wouldnt be able to work or anything. Im happy to say, I can do my gardening, mow my lawn and play with my grandbabies and a big dog and work fulltime and college. The cost at that time was 28,000 and insurance paid except 20%. You will have physical thearapy after about 3 months and see much improvement. Good luck with you're decission as it is a big surgery 9 hours.Dont be afraid.
    Evangeline22 responded:
    I had a cervical spine fusion done about 10 years ago,
    because I had chronic severe pain in my upper back.
    I had been seeing a chiropractor 3 times a week. The
    pain would come back after about 5 minutes. I had all
    the testing done before the surgery.
    The fusion decreased the range of motion in my neck
    and I have to be careful when I eat, because of minor
    swallowing problems. It eliminated the pain.
    I am glad I had it done. It does not limit my ability to do
    the things I want to do.
    donna53058 responded:
    Hi Abbey, i'm not sure how much all of your surgeries will be, I will however tell you, I had a laminectomy before I had a fusion. The laminectomy did not work, so I ended up haveing the fusion, the same place you need yours. I have had good results from the fusion. It took a while to recover from that surgery. About a year. To have NO pain in that area.... :)Or leg pain etc....Then I got on the treadmill and lost 20 lbs. in 4 months.. There are lots of horror stories out there. Not everyone has had good results from this surgery. I hope you can make the decisions you need to make to feel better real soon... My problem now is the disc above the fusion is shot have leg, nerve pain in my left leg like before. My leg has been numb for 6 months now... So I have to start all over again.. I am probably like alot of people with a shot back!!! So again, I hope you find the help you need. How come your insurance won't cover your back surgery? That sounds awful!! Take care and good luck....

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