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Avatar universal

Have multi level spinal fusion next week! Help!!!!

Hi,  I'm new to this forum, but not to back problems. Sorry about some of the spelling before I start. I've been suffering with a bad back for 7 years. I'm so looking forward to this surgery. I can't take the pain much longer. Last year it hit the worst. I think that's when my L4,L5 disk went.  The L5,S1 disk went in 2000. I have besides herniated disks, sevior curving of my lower spin, where it's pulling away from my pelvic bone, arthritis in my L4,L5,and S1, caused from stress fractures, degenerative spine disorder, spondylios(sp), and last but not least spinal bifita occulata(sp).  So it's a mess.
  I have had every possible back test thought up by man, and trust me some of them where killers.  Did the epideral injections, brought on diabetes, did physical therapy, tried a chyropractor(sp), he admitted he couldn't help, also recevied a tez unit . I don't for see any other treatments left for me.  Right now I take enough oxycodone, and other type drugs, that it's effecting my personality,bouts of depression, anxiety, paramoid, and making me act like a teenager(I'm 37) also, and after surgery, they have to ween me off them.  It also effecting my job.  They think I'm drunk, NOT! I almost lost my job too!  My friends are really wondering about me, along with my family! I was never like this, before last year and the drugs.
  My question is has anyone else gone through all this h__l?  Has anyone else had this kind of surgery, and did it help?  I don't think I can take much more of this.  Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
58 Responses
Avatar universal
helllo,
I have had one spinal fusion at the L5-S1 one area about 17 years ago, when I was 21. The doctor did this fusion from the back and used my own bone to fuse it. Well, it lasted about 15 years and I only had to take medication in the winter. It worked out wonderful. But now 17 years later it is no longer fused and I have to go back in on March 27th, to have it fused with screws and rods(now I am 37). The doctor will be going in from the front and the back. I too have been on medication now for 2 years straight and I understand what you are saying, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY! The medication is not helping and I don't want to kill my kidneys or liver. So I too am going in. All I know is the first one worked for some time and I hope the second will work as well. The first surgery was done and it was not done with all the technology they have now. So I think you will do just fine. I will be thinking about you and wishing you well. KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND YOUR HEART STRONG (that is what I keep telling myself). Good Luck and let me know how it goes.
Avatar universal
So sorry to hear what you are going through.  I had spinal fusion in 2004, with titanium rods/screws and bone graft including partial cadaver bone.  It was my L4 and L5 as well.  Diagnosed with DDD too!  I went through H--- for almost 15 years.  Told it was in my head by many and no amount of medication helped!  I know how helpless you feel.  Finally 2 months before my surgery my back "went" again and I couldn't get up off the floor this time.  It was searing pain as I know you've had.  I found an amazing doctor by the name of Dr. Kime in Harrisonburg, VA a DUKE grad and then some.  He sent me for a discogram or as I call it "what should be done to OSAMA BIN LADEN".  This re-created my pain to pinpoint the exact problem areas.  It was horrible but necessary, shortly thereafter I had the surgery.  

It was worth it.  I haven't had any pain in my back at all.  I even have full flexibility, but I don't push it, I'm still very protective!  I feel a little weak in the back sometimes, but no pain.   I sometimes have a quick sharp pain where my bone graft was done from my hip, but I can handle that!!!!  It's been 2 years and I feel great.  I was 31 at the time of surgery. It did take me almost a full year to recover to full health.  I am a bit of a wimp though!!!!  I was a surgical challenge since at the time of surgery I was 5 foot 5 inches and 95 pounds.  I was loosing weight from the pain, medication and overall misery related to my back.  There was barely enough room for the hardware!!!!

It was a tough recovery as I am the mother of 3 and at the time my youngest was 6 months old.  I hope that you are as lucky as I am and that you have a full recovery.  I would highly recommend the surgery especially by my doctor.  I was up and walking the next morning!!!!  It's going to be a tough road but I know you can do it!  I will  be thinking of you, good luck!
Avatar universal
Hi,
  Thank you for all the replies!  They been most helpful, and encouraging.  I can't wait to get rid of the pain.
Bobbi-Jo
Avatar universal
Hi, I have serious lower back problems, too, and my doctor wants to do a discogram, but I'm just scared to death of that test.  I've had myelograms before, but the discogram just sounds so barbaric that I don't know if I'll ever have surgery.  I'm on fentanyl, oxycodone and Indocin for pain and it's a fact that all these meds do change a person's personality.  Another reason I am dreading surgery is I had spine fusion at S1-L5 level in 1986 and even though the surgery was successful, I contracted (osteomyelitis) a staph infection in the bone (starting at the bone graph site in my right upper hip that migrated down through the hip joint and into my femur).  I was deathly ill and in severe pain.  I had a Hickman catheter in my chest for 1 year so I could administer I.V. antibiotics 3 times a day and still had to take oral antibiotics for months after that.  Unfortunately, infection is always a possibility, but, fortunately, it's rare.  Good luck to you, bjferge!  I'm sure you will do well and I wish you a speedy recovery.
Avatar universal
Hi vriss,
  Thanks for the words of support!!  If I was you I won't be afraid of the discogram.  No it's not a easy test, but it'll be worth it if it shows what's going on.  Mine did, and before that they really had no clue what was going on.
  I can understand you fear of going through this, but the relief from pain far out ways some bad side effects.  Right now, I have numbness in parts of my legs, but that's due to the long compression on the nerves, and how much the nerves had to be moved around.  As of right now, I would do it all over again.  My pains basically gone, at least the pain my back caused, and my mind, attitude are getting back to normal, which haven't been for over a year.
  i hope this helps.  If you have anyother questions just ask!
Avatar universal
HELP,  Need advice...  I received a herniated disc about three years ago due to a work injury.  About two and 1/2 years ago I had "MICROSCOPIC SURGERY" done to the herniated disk.  this is where they go in and shave off part of the disk to give the Siatic Nerve more room to move.  After that proceedure I have had absolutly no pain in the infected area I have been doing very well for the past two years or so.  Just last week my Siatic nerve started acting up again and the pain is unbearable i can't walk, work, sleep, laydown, sitdown, Nothing I have to be constantly hobbling around in order to deal with the pain.  Just yesterday I went to see the surgeon who performed the "Microscopic" Proceedure.  He has recommended a Fusion.  i am scared.  I have heard horror stories relating to this and I have also heard good stuff as well.  I don't know what to do I have two small children that I (At this point) can't handle because of pain.  Any advice would be highly Appreciated please E-Mail me at ***@**** with any information or exaperiences you may have had or if you know someone who is or who has gone through this please send any and all info My way.  Thanks for reading and I hope all works out well for you.
Avatar universal
I too have been having severe back pain in for a little over a year.  After a discogram, they discovered that L4-5 and L5-S1 were torn.  They recommended disk replacement surgery, but my insurance company refused to pay for it, said it wasn't medically necessary and experimental.  The only other alternative they say is fusion.  I have been through injections, etc.  

Has anyone here had a fusion of L4-5 and L5-S1?  Can you tell me your experience?  Everyone I talk to says not to do a fusion, but the pain is debilatating and I can't find another alternative.  
Avatar universal
I have talked to several people who have had spinal fusion, not all L4-S1, they are doing just fine.  I just had a spinal fusion from the L4-S1, and I'm 1 week out.  It was the best thing I could of done.  Granted I'm not up doing a jig, but the back pain, and the leg pain is gone.  Before I had my surgery, my Doc told me the risks, and what I could expect to happen, both the good and the bad.  I made the dessision to go through with it.  I couldn't continue the way I was going.  I had to go for it.  As of right now, it was the right thing to do.  I do have a complication, and that's numbness in my feet.  I talked to my Doc, and he said with time it will come back.  He also said some of the numbness may never go away.  But I can get around, and it's only been a week.  Just need some time to heal.
  I hope this helps,
Bobbi-Jo
Avatar universal
hey i was not sure how to post on here but I have had three level anterior/postior fusion and prepare to have my last two remaining lumbar disc taken out in the next few days has anyone ever heard of 5 level fusion? L1-L2-L3 L3-L4 L4-L5 L5-S1 then i need both shoulders done and I have three disc bad in my neck
268575 tn?1242903071
im alinpain on this forum,i also have had 4 surgurys in the last year,2 neck and 2 lower back,thank you for all who have wrote into the forum,it sure helps to hear about people who are going thru the same thing.......
if anyone knows of more l4-l5 fusion that went well i would love to hear them.im also facing that after two failed clean outs in lower back.....all i hear is bad things......please help in R.I.
thank you
al
Avatar universal

My brother had the spinal fusion, lower back 30 years ago, with all the hardware that they used back then and it was downhill from there.  Eventually, had ,HAD ,to have the hardware removed.  Then the bone grafts which remained, began growing into the spinal nerve areas and now he has to take valium to calm the severe spasms that would otherwise dominate his life.  It has been a nightmare from then to now.  Anybody else would be in a wheelchair, but he is stubborn and so persists with a cane.  Someday, I will probably have to be his live in help.....   Maybe it was just because that was the bad ole days of spinal fusion, or a bad doctor.....  Anyone else experience this?
Avatar universal
I posted this in another spot, never heard from anyone.  Below is my story.  BJFERGE, How did you make out ?

I was diagnosed as having a schmorls node L5-S1.  (some other minor buldges L3, L4) It was found last Feb.  I have had back issues for a lot of years, but the pain from this is like no other.  I had an MRI from 2002, that that they compared to on from 2007. The pain radiates out to the outside of my hip, making it tough to walk and bend, but the pain never radiates down.  I'm 43 and an avid ice hockey player.  I ended my season early last year, and  did all the therapy thru the summer, and now I have played 1 game this fall and I'm a wreck.   Everything I read is about controlling inflammation.  Has anyone tried any herbals.  I looking at a pill that contain glucosamine, boswellia, devils claw, turmeric, and ginger.  I'm also reading about Mona-vie Active, a power juice also with glucosamine.  has anyone gone down this path?  Really want to keep skating.
Avatar universal
I had a level 3 fusion with a cage of L4-L5-S1 in May 2007. I too had a Discogram (pure hell) before surgery. The discogram only gave me more pain. My doctor said that was good because it let him know where my pain was so he wouldn't be blind at surgery time. I was in surgery for 7 1/2 hours (so if your doctor say surgery will only be a couple of hours, be (your family) prepared for longer) I had the surgery and I  now have a great deal of pressure in my lower back (it's like a foot is inplanted in my lower back now). My legs hurt went I walk, I now get this sharp pain in my butt cheeks. When the weather changes I want to just die.. I hurt so bad....

Anyone having the same problem or any input to how long this will last.... I'm so tried of the people I work with saying you should be better now.... and my spouse thinking I can cook and clean and run a mile..................

I know this will sound funny but, the surgery was Great! I no longer have blue/cold toes. It was heaven to feel my toes and feet again.... I just wish I could find someone who understands my pain NOW!!!!(post surgery)

I'm not sure where you are located but I would be glad to refer my dr. (Jeffery Phelps in North Richland Hills, TX )
Avatar universal
I had a three level fusion in 1998. L4 L5 L5S1 (seems to be most common). They went in front and back with cages and pedicle screws finished with bone graft from my hip. It took a good 2 yrs before I really felt better and after that I had about 3 1/2 yrs of no pain at all - it was the best years of my life! Now it's going downhill again. for the past 6 months I have been getting progressivly worse and have constant pain in my lower left back, down the left leg to the knee with stabbing and burning sensations that never end. I can't walk or sit or stand for long at all and am now back on pain meds which do no good, I did the epidural injectiosn, no help. What is happening is that the level above my fusion is degenerated and collapsing - the vertebrae is actually shifted down and forward - the xrays are pretty scary to see - ah the consequences they never told us about. This is a very common occurance after multi leve fusions and I found that fusions above 2 levels are rarely done any  more due to the failure rate at levels above fusion. I am now facing having a FOURTH level fused which scares me to death but what else can be done? I am in so much pain all the time 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Avatar universal
Good luck on the glucosamine and other herbal remedies.  If you find something that works, let us know.  I tried the glucosamine for years, thinking it was doing something.  Finally wised up and determined it did not do anything.  You are right when you say that the 'cure' is to keep the inflamation down.  I do Naproxen, prescription aleve.  It is not great, but I want to believe it helps some.  Someone had mentioned that ice is better than heat, I have to agree there.  I will be trying the shots soon.  I am scared to death!  My choice of relief is to afford physical therapy three times a week for the rest of my life, if I was a millionaire.
Avatar universal
This all takes our own research.  After 6 years of pain and bad posture, and inability to walk more than a block, I had successful stenosis surgery 1-1/2 years ago (a double laminectomy).  One pain free year.  Since then, my other problems have recently  resurfaced (diagnosed as degenerative disk disease, facet osteoarthritis, spondylolesthesis, and possibly stenosis in one area).   Now I can barely tolerate sitting (which is better than the reverse), and the sciatic pain is worse in the morning
and evenings.  I have seen 2 neurosurgeons (both suggested multi-level fusion, 4 levels in my case), an anesthesiologist (2 spinal injections - worked for 3 weeks), my old chiropractor (knows my back the best - the stage 1 spondylolesthesis is degenerative - the "better" kind), a physical therapist (great exercises to strengthen the core, but the tens unit is not helping the pain), and my general doctor who prescribed the Celebrex I requested for possible osteoarthritis.  Anyway, my
research has only shown me that 4 level fusions are rare.  I have a disc that is as
flat as a business card, so I am waiting until there is less barbaric surgery than
4-level fusion.  2 Questions: 1) what inflammation drugs have been successful for you and 2) has anybody had any 4-level fusions? (if there are no responses there, I figure
either those people are cured and don't read these sites, or the surgery killed them).
Avatar universal
WOW! My DR. (or ex Dr.) recomended i get a 4 level fusion, I could not find a soul who had this done. So I went somewhere else. This new Dr. is recomending a 4 level IDET and 3 level nucleoplasty, I dont know what to do!! What I do know is that the pain is unbearable and I will be rolling the dice soon, gettin a few opinions from other Dr.s first. Maybe this is something you can look into.
Avatar universal
What meds are you on?

Will270
Avatar universal
What meds are you on?

Will270
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for the advice regarding IDET and nuceolplasty.  I'm researching it now, and it sounds promising.  
Fusion doesn't make sense to me, as it is a highly unnatural structure within the body.
Avatar universal
In response to your question: "has anybody had any 4-level fusions? (if there are no responses there, I figure either those people are cured and don't read these sites, or the surgery killed them."
I had a 5 level fusion almost 2 months ago and am still here ... (10 pedicle screws and rods T12-8) I refer to it as a 5 level as it involves connecting 5 vertebrae)
I am perusing these sites in search of good exercise tips as I have not recevied any physio. Any suggestions for good www sites ? Thanks in advance.

424122 tn?1242854804
I have done everything-epidurals did'nt work-finally found the right surgeon-I'm in so much pain-have to sleep by taking kadian(morphine)and freezing my neck with ice.I have a very heavy job-I/m scared of the surgery-because they cut your throat-I cry all the time-I can hardly eat now I'm loosing weight-please if you have had the surgery please respond and tell me about it.I have to have C6 and C7 replaced with bone plastic and titanium.Thank -you--
Avatar universal
I had a 3-level cervical disc fusion about 7 years ago. It is the BEST think I ever did. Today, I can't even tell that there was ever anything wrong. I had suffered an injury and didn't realize the extent of it. Three years later, I was in agony and by the time they looked at it, my neck was a mess. The surgery was done with bone plugs (cadaver) and a titanium plate. Full recovery was probably 6 months, but after a couple of months I was at 85%. After the surgery your mobility is limited, sure, but that goes away too -- at least it did for me.

They don't cut your throat! They make an incision in your neck where one of the folds is. You can barely see my scar. Don't be afraid. I don't know your situation, obviously, but these doctors do this surgery all the time.
Avatar universal
Now about my new situation -- I wrote about cervical fusion above. I have been told that I will need a fusion in the lumbar part of my spine - L2 - L5. It has been recommended that I try epidural first, but that is only for pain management and will not "cure" the problem. I have decided to just go ahead with the surgery as I see the epidural as a band-aid for the underlying cause. Any comments on that?

Now about after the surgery. Assuming all goes well and my pain is diminished, what about mobility? Will I be affected as far as daily activities? I'm thinking about activities as simple as emptying the dishwasher where there is bending and twisting and reaching. Will I be able to dance? (That would be a bonus because I'm not much of a dancer now.)

Anyway, if anyone has comments on that, I will be back to check them out.

Thanks,
kc
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