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    Spinal fusion
    mtvt05 posted:
    I've posted in here a couple times, but here's some background info. I'm 26 years old, and I had surgery in 2003 when I was 20 for herniated discs at L4 and L5. After that surgery life was pretty much normal, I wasn't on medication, I didn't go through physical therapy, and I went back to my active lifestyle which included running, tennis, softball, working out at the gym, snowboarding, etc. I often experienced minor pain, especially during the winter. Sometimes after playing tennis the pain would be a little more intense for a couple days, but it would go back to normal. In October 2008 my pain started to get gradually worse, and last month I started having pain shooting down my left leg. The bottom of my left foot would tingle, and I could feel the pain shooting through my butt, my left knee, and my left ankle.

    I went to my doctor on February 19th. She put me on Orphenadrine 100mg, 1 tablet ever 12 hours, Methadone HCL 5mg, 1 tablet every 6 hours, and Methylprednisolone, a 6-day pack. She also referred me to physical therapy, but told me to start once the acute pain was gone, and she referred me to a neurosurgeon, and the earliest appointment I could get was April 7th. The medications helped for about 2 to 3 days, and then they didn't do much. I called her about 4 days later and she told me to take 2 tablets of Methadone, and more frequently if I need to. I've been taking them every 5 to 6 hours. She also got me into the neurosurgeon's office on February 25th, but I saw the nurse practitioner as the doctor had a surgery that day. The nurse practitioner added Gabapentin 300mg, 1 tablet at bedtime. She referred me for an MRI, and I had that on February 26th.

    Well, I met with the neurosurgeon today for the results of my MRI. The discs at L4 and L5 are herniated again. The damage is bad enough that I'm headed for a spinal fusion, the doctor said it's inevitable. He said they could perform the same surgery they did last time, but it could be a matter of months before I'd need to have a spinal fusion, and then there'd just be more scar tissue. So for now he's going to have me try physical therapy for 4 weeks. I go back on April 7th. If physical therapy doesn't do anything for me, then it looks like I'll be doing the spinal fusion. I'm not looking forward to that; I hope the physical therapy can give me some relief!
    Dot40324 responded:
    Hi...I too hope the PT works for you. Just please be careful and if the PT hurts, let them know immediately.

    A lot of people do have good luck with it......Dot
    hithere54 responded:
    I would definitely try the therapy, however if fusion becomes the option it can work and it can take a lot of patience before it works. Is there a reason artificial discs are not in your future? My surgeries were before they became available, but wouldn't that be an option? I was fused, caged, and rodded and bone grafted, in exactly the same place you are talking about. I had it done in my early 40's, and now in my middle 50's am having a great result. It takes a lot of time, it is painful, and you will need very good doctors and very good friends. A lot of prayers help, too. Healing thoughts and prayers Hithere54
    artisanbythelake responded:
    I'm new to this board. Female, 59 years old with a history of lower back pain for years and a nasty episode of muscle spasms in my upper back a few years ago. Last year I had surgery on my foot and was in bed for about six weeks. Then, unaccountably I started having diarrhea and urinary incontinence. All tests were negative and antibiotics didn't help. After four months the diarrhea stopped. At that point my back pain became somewhat worse. Had x-rays of my back and a colonoscopy which was negative. X-rays showed degenerative lumbar disc as I recall. Pain continued unimproved for the most part. Last week an MRI showed moderate spinal stenosis at the L4-L5 level secondary to a grade 1 anterolisthesis. Multilevel degenerative changes. I saw an orthopedic surgeon surgeon yesterday (for about 5 minutes). He looked at my x-rays and MRI and checked my knee reflexes. He showed me the MRI films of my spondylolisthisis and lumbar stenosis and recommended laminectomy and spinal fusion. I asked about options and he said the surgery is "inevitable-just a matter of when". He did offer steroid injections as an attempt at pain relief until my "inevitable" decision to have the surgery and I am scheduled for an injection next week. I've had injections before in knee and elbow with good and lasting results so I feel it's worth a try. I've been searching the web of course for possible alternatives. Laser surgery looks like it may be worth checking into. I'm not in such pain that I'm ready to agree to the surgeon's recommendations as yet. But any recurrance of that diarrhea hell would probably change my mind. Sounds like I'm in good company here. Will be reading the posts and hope to find more info on laser surgery. Any and all advice welcome!
    GardenGirldp responded:
    This is my 1st time on this site. I'm 51 and last May I had a Cervical spinal fusion on C6-7 which herniated. After all of this time I'm still the same as I was before surgery! Constant pain in my neck, down my right arm with numbness/tingling in my fingers as well as muscle pain. I just had another MRI which shows several bulging/protruding discs, narrowing & flattening of the spine where the nerves come out, bone spurs & Arthritis and they couldn't get a clear picture of my surgical area disc due to the plate & screws fused to the spine. I see the Neurologist Friday to discuss this further. To top things off, I have NEVER had any low back pain in my entire life until after my surgery. Shorty afterward & still, I've had chronic low back pain & pain in my buttocks which goes down my leg. What I'm hoping someone can answer is: Can the bottoms of your feet go cold & numb as well? And is this nerve related too? Mine have been this way for over a week now and no matter what I do I can't warm them up. For the pain I've tried Physical Therapy 3 times, moist heat, ice, pain pills, Deep tissue and trigger point massage therapy and I'm being scheduled now for a low back MRI as well. Why can't they seem to figure out my problem & fix it or will they ever be able to? Thanks for listening and if anyone has knowledge about my symptoms, please respond okay? Debbie
    jcopper responded:
    to hithere54, you talk of Patience ...I undertstand my l5 s1 fusion with instrumentation was nota get better quick deal. Annd I know you don't have the answer as to all people are different. But may I ask, during your time of dealing with pain and maintaining your patience, what is some advice? I pray, have a suppport group, 2 kids and wife that are light of my life but I am not being able to return to work after 4 mons. because i can't stay seated longer than 30 mins. What medications did you have success with for both pain and or depression symptoms? Thanks for your time.
    BeenThereAndDoneThat responded:
    I am a 50 year old lady with osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, degenerative disc disease, loose joints due to a hereditary lack of collagen and I have just revisited my spinal surgeon with symptoms that I thought I would never experience again.

    I have had two cervical spinal fusions, the first one with bone grafts and plate in 1998 to C5-6 & C6-7, the second in 2004 to C4-5 with cage screw and the removal of the plate that was inserted in the first operation. In 1999 and 2001 I have had C5-6 & C6-7 foraminotomies to remove scar tissue build up. I had a L5-S1 laminectomy done in 2002 and lumbar facet joint injections in 2005.

    Now the news is bad. C6-7 fusion is breaking down and now I have bone rubbing on bone and to top it off my lumbar spine has become unstable. I need two operations, one to refuse C6-7 and one to fuse L5-S1. Physical Therapy has never helped me due to the loose joints and I hope I can get the result I did with the first lot of operations.

    I know that the operation restricts movement and some sporting activities are out of the question but there are always other sports. I hope the therapy does help but an operation is not the end of the world, sometimes it's the beginning.
    littletwister1963 responded:
    If I were you I'd try PT but if it starts to hurt instead of help let you doc know ASAP.Good luck!!

    bjfeen responded:
    New to the forum and I am currently scheduled for fusion of L4-L5 in late April. I need a little advice... I've had 2 previous surgeries in 1999 and again in 2002 for herniated discs and it has now happened again. I'm 41 and admittedly overweight. I have been doing PT for about a month and a half. I feel pretty good after PT sessions, but the next day I wake up in pain, that is if I can sleep. Been averaging about 3-4 hrs of sleep a night before the pain wakes me up. I can only walk about 150 yards before the burning in my leg makes walking impossible. Some days are better than others, some days I can walk with a small amount of burning in my calf, other days my whole leg just ACHES!

    My question is this... should I allow more time for PT to try to work? Does it work for a ruptured disc? I don't want to jump in too quick and settle on a fusion. Any advice is very appreciated!
    littletwister1963 responded:
    It sounds to me like everything is movimg too fast for ya maybe you don't want to but slow down and get a 2nd opinion. PT helps some and others it don't.

    Just go with your gut feeling!!! To me surgery is the very last option. be sure to tell your doc about your sleeping and aches,

    TampaFlorida responded:
    I am in my 50's, always been athletic. I had a cervical fusion in 1991, and always suffered from pain even after the surgery. Well, it's taken me 17 years to find a surgeon who gave me the facts. My fusion failed and I have a bone spur pressing on my spinal cord. I also have nerve root damage and need a fusion below the level I had surgery on which is C6-7. I also need to have the bone removed from the failed fusion at C5-6. I also have no disc cushion at C3-4 and the bone is buldging and pressing on my cord. I went to 4 nerosurgeons thru the years and no one would help me, just give my insurance a bill for consultation and brush me off. The Dr. I am seeing now is a Spinal Orthopedic Surgeon and is willing to operate on me giving me relief I hope from my paralysis symptoms and constant pain. He is going to use a cadeavor bone instead of my hipbone. I worry about the disease and rejection, however I went thru a very bad time when the last surgeon cut my hip bone out. I still suffer from nerve damage. So I guess I have to take the chance using someone else's bone. I am very nervous this time because the surgery is dangerous but if anyone has any thoughts .. you can Email me at [email protected] April 5, 2009
    Depot66 responded:
    Hi, Sorry to hear you have to have a 2-level don't qualify for the artificial disc replacement? I had fusions prior to that technology but I thought today most people would go with the ADR? What was it that didn't make you qualify? My brother-in-law is having back issues. He had the discetomy a few years ago and he didn't listen to the surgeon and he basically went back to his old lifestyle. Now I'm afraid he's going to need a more serious surgery but I hope it can be the ADR as opposed to the fusion. Did your neurosurgeon discuss that option? Until recently I have had very bad experiences with neurosurgeons. Have you tried going to an ortho spine surgeon? Back in 2000 I had my really bad back episode that resulted in my lumbar fusion. Before I found the right doctor who did my surgery I had gone to about 5 or 6 different neurosurgeons who all told me that my case wasn't surgical. It was so obvious that I needed surgery. It was more than just pain. I couldn't even move my left leg...I basically dragged it behind me when I walked. The MRI showed that the disc was pressing on the S1 nerve root but the report said it was a "small" herniation. Because it said "small" these neurosurgeons felt it wasn't serious. They also told me that the disc was NOT pressing on the nerve root. I knew they were wrong...not only did I get nerve pain but I was getting electrical shocks throughout my body. It took about 4 months before I found the competent ortho spine surgeon. I have had a really, really bad opinion of neurosurgeons because of this experience. Back in Dec 2007 I had 3-level posterior cervical fusion and a neurosurgeon did this surgery so my opinion has lightened up somewhat. It was my ortho spine surgeon who recommended him and they actually did the surgery together (neuro was the lead surgeon). My ortho knows his limitations. Maybe one day he can do those on his own. This guy is wonderful...he could have just done the anterior fusion but he wanted to do the surgery that was best for me; not necessariy what was easiest. He risked losing me as a patient. I like this neurosurgeon and I would go to him again...but I trust my ortho doc with my life. He also knows the best doctors & has referred me to other great doctors as well. My heart is still with the ortho spine surgeons over the neurosurgeons.

    This may also sound stupid and obvious, but the neuro that you went he a spine specialist? Some neurosurgeons specialize in spines (as opposed to brains for example). I have a neuro who implanted my pain pump...he said he would do spine surgery but he doesn't do a lot of them and I really wouldn't want to go to him for that.

    I would get a 2nd opinion...with an ortho spine surgeon....I believe in having surgery if it's needed but I also believe it making sure I am fully educated and that's why I like to go to see as many doctors as I can...I want to be able to answer the questions that my friends, family and co-workers have for me.

    I'm not saying you are not educated about your condition but it's sad that many people aren't. I asked someone what levels they had fused and they didn't even know. How could someone do that? You allow someone to cut into your spine & you don't even know the levels they are fusing? That's really scary.

    I have had some bad experiences with doctors and I always try to help others out using those experiences. I don't want them to be in vain.

    Good luck...I'm sure you'll make the right decision for you.

    Take care and I hope whatever you do helps and that you can get some semblance of your previous active life back. I never did...but I had more than just spine issues.

    ryock responded:
    June 25,2003 I had the spinal fusion done they put 2 metal rods on L4 & L5, I was off work for 3 months, had to wear a custom made back brace, had to have 24 Hr care, it was rough for a little while, When I went back to the Doctor for my 6 week check up, had my x-rays done, went in to talk to the Doctor and my Husband told the Doctor that I smoked 1 cigarette, the Doctor got up, yelled at me and walked out of the door and never seen me again, so therefore my back has never been checked, I still get some back pain, but not like before, I just take a couple of Aleve and I'm good to go. You will do great, just keep the faith and I will keep you in my prayers.
    beckyrvillanueva responded:
    I'm a newby so here goes. I'm a 51 year old female and admittedly overweight. I am an RN and my initial injury was from pulling a patient up in bed. That was in 1995 and caused a small herniation to L5. Since then L5 re-herniated in 2003 and I had a laminectomy.

    I continued with some pain and in 2005 went to a pain center and received injections over a period of about 3-4 months. These bought me about a year and in 2006 my left sided siactic nerve pain was so bad I had to quit my job. That was in August and I had no insurance. I had to wait until October when my husband was able to get insurance through his job to get an MRI and get proper treatment. The MRI showed herniation to L5 again, what was left of it. I had a discogram which showed L4 was no longer viable. On December 1, 2006 I underwent fusion of L4 & L5.

    Initially everything went well and I was recovering well. I had been off of any narcotic pain medications for quite a while. Then the pain starting coming back and progressively got worse. Now I am back on Darvocet and muscle relaxers. I cannot sit, stand or walk more than a few minutes without the pain becoming almost unbearable. I found a new neurosurgeon (my old one moved 6 months after my fusion.) I have had an MRI and just 10 days ago a Ct with Myelogram and am scheduled for an EMG (nerve study).

    My question is, have others become worse after the myelogram? After getting over the initial spinal headache and weakness, even at 10 days out, I am still weak and cannot walk more than just a few yards and even that is at a very slow pace. I cannot sit for more than just a couple of minutes. A lot worse than before the myelogram. Is this normal to have aggravated symptoms afterwards? I feel like I just had surgery or something with the weakness and increased pain I am having.

    Anyone gone through anything similar? Thanks
    septgirl59 responded:
    hi mtv, i have a similiar experience. i had a laminectomy in 95 and recently had another laminectomy in december. two months later the laminectomy failed in that my leg pain came back worse than ever. i had the two level fusion done and it is 3 months now and i'm back to work for three weeks. my leg pain is gone but the daily reminder that i am altered is depressing and causes anxiety. i am a x-ray tech so i am physical. having to think every movement that i do and hoping im not to busy to make my back achy has caused me so much anxiety. i still have trouble sitting for long periods cause of the back not the leg . i wish i didn't have to get it done but i had to. i was active in the gym doing spin and step classes which i don't think i'll ever be able to do again. it was very life altering.

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