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Old 09-08-2016, 04:50 AM   #1
Cinnamon Bear
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Default Lumbar back surgery

I was wondering if anybody has had a lumbar fusion on their back? I have degenerative lumbar back disease & have 3 options:

1) Live in medium grade chronic pain, never be able to lift more than 10 lbs ( my back got alot worse about 2 months ago & ended up in Emergency room).

2) Have lumbar fusion surgery where they go in thru the abdomen & inset plastic where the remains of a bad disc on L5 S1, used to be...or.

3) Have an Orthopedic MD go through the back & insert metal into my spine

None of the choices are good

I've had just one injection & taking athritis med but Dr said not to rely on that long term. Like Band'Aids, thanks in advance
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Old 09-08-2016, 05:58 AM   #2
Serendipity7000
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Difficult decisions and I know back issues are never simple. I know a number of people with back problems but all slightly different and treatments are always changing and improving.

Generally I think people cope with medium grade chronic pain as long as they can, perhaps with a support like a back brace eg. But then it depends how debilitating it gets and whether there is any risk from the degeneration. Have you had a recent scan to see if it is any worse or about the same in terms of degeneration.

I would research as much as you can about options 2 or 3. And find out what peoples' experiences after these operations are, and the prognoses etc - before making any decisions. I know with foot surgery for example (depending on the condition) they say surgery is a last resort and can make things better or cause different issues.

As your Doc says injections (are they steroid?) aren't a long term solution.

The Spinal fusion sounds better than the other one to me - not sure why. The Mayo Clinic says this about it, so there could also be other issues later, but that is the same for any condition or surgery I guess

Overview - Spinal fusion - Mayo Clinic

This page has personal stories of people who've had spinal surgery and their decisions - although it is likely to be a bit biased as the page is a medical company, but may have some insights.

Living with a Spinal Fusion - After Back Surgery

This page is some kind of forum for people with lumbar back problems - some negative about surgery but everyone is different and it's weighing up options and pros/cons to the condition you currently have and what pain relief or support helps.

https://healthunlocked.com/painconce...-in-both-legs.

I think all I would say is, if surgery is the next step, then do LOADS of research. Get names - make sure you go to someone who is an expert and has good recommendations. I don't know how it works in the US but in the Uk you can choose who you are referred to, at least for a second opinion, and that means getting a name.

This guy sounds good! And at the bottom it says he doesn't always recommend surgery and sometimes uses more conservative treatment.

Dr. Kevin Gill: One of the World's Top Spine Surgeons: UTSW, Dallas, TX

Another thing to bear in mind is - surgeons like to operate - it is their job and what they get trained for. Have you considered asking to be referred to a pain clinic for pain management where there are a range of things that can help for even the severest pain people have to live with?
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Old 09-08-2016, 06:10 AM   #3
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Thank you Serendipity, yes it got much worse all the sudden two months ago. Had an MRI done & Doctor said it's the worst he's seen in awhile.

Yes the injection was a steroid

The fusion Dr is well known in the area. He would be experienced and reputable. I actually had them schedule me for lumber fusion with this Dr yesterday but I'm having second thoughts big second thoughts. Probably scheduled in haste.

I'll read through the links you sent me. Appreciate it! I'm talking to 3 different surgeons this past mo. Surgery is scheduled for Oct 4th so I better get busy.

There is pain management option too. Could see if they would let me have an appt soon? That can't hurt.
Tried physical therapy but made back hurt more. True, Doctor's are quick to operate.

I'm concerned when this injection wears off what that will be like.

Last edited by souffle; 09-08-2016 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 09-08-2016, 06:22 AM   #4
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Physical therapy isn't always the right thing for chronic pain. When you read about things there will always be good stories and bad stories I guess, so it's about feeling confident in your Doctor. And if they think it has got worse and it is the next option, then just keep asking questions I guess! I don't know if they have them in the US, but I meant more than just pain management, but a specialised pain clinic where they use a range of things from medication, to counselling, to teaching techniques and gentle therapies as well. Would it be worth asking your surgeon about this? ie asking him if it would be worth you trying this before scheduling surgery? He would be able to refer you I reckon if you had the name of a specialised pain clinic. Or he might tell you straight that you are at a stage where surgery is the only option now and it is about more than pain relief. Difficult for you xxx

This kind of thing - I came across the John Hopkins when researching Pancreatic Cancer They seem to be the top place for Pancreatic things. And also have a pain centre.

It might not be in your area but there may be something similar in your area.

Johns Hopkins Interventional Pain Clinic
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Old 09-08-2016, 07:59 AM   #5
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Default Re: Lumbar back surgery

Pain mngt is tricky with this Dr who is the surgeon. Cause the first appointment I saw a nurse practitioner who did not recommend surgery but did recommend pain mngt

I jumped over his head & had the Dr look at MRI & see if he recommends surgery or not? Since he did & now I ask for pain mngt, that will throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing.

However. My primary Dr can refer me to pain mngt. I was insulted that he wanted me to live in pain, I didn't know any better at the time.

I have all these Dr's saying get the surgery except this one nurse practitioner like I was saying. I'll be doing a lot of research.
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:04 AM   #6
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Default Re: Lumbar back surgery

Please can we remember this is a public forum and details should be kept general folks - please do not disclose details of relatives health issues.
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:23 AM   #7
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Default Re: Lumbar back surgery

Good point Souffle - sorry. And thanks for editing.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:00 AM   #8
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Sorry Souffle, thanks for the reminder!

Serendipity, I just read about 1/2 of the articles so far and it's a little scary.

What got me was that when they fuse two vertebrae together with a plastic disk there is a chance that the bones won't fuse together. Also, learning from your first link, a fused disc puts added pressure on the disc(s) above it and may need further surgeries in the future.

There could be permanent nerve pain. There is a chance that I could have more pain with this surgery too. Then on the positive side I read some success stories too. Will keep on researching..

Last edited by Cinnamon Bear; 09-08-2016 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 09-09-2016, 06:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: Lumbar back surgery

Update: decided today not to have the back surgery right now or ever! Talked in detail with lots of questions to the nurse. Turns out that you can't drive for 2-4 weeks. You can't lift more than 5 lbs for 4 months than its 10 lbs after that. That means being stuck for a long time. I have groceries, laundry, house cleaning, 6 hamsters, Snow removal, etc.

Not to mention that you can only bend in certain positions during the first 4 months. So I'll let them know on Monday my decision.

Last edited by Cinnamon Bear; 09-09-2016 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 09-11-2016, 03:47 AM   #10
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Default Re: Lumbar back surgery

Hi Cinnamon Bear. I`m not anywhere near surgery but have just been re-referred back to a pain management clinic for cervical neck pain which I have lived with for well over 15 years now. It causes, what my GP and I now feel are called Cervicogenic headaches, but of course, have been treated as migrainous headaches for a number of years now, yet I don`t have migraines in the real sense. My one sided headaches are triggered by the discs in my neck.

My GP has told me that the pain clinic had me down for pain block injections....now I`m guessing these may be similar to the injections you have had? Corticosteroid? Did you find any relief at all from these injections and are they painful to have?

I really am managd by my pain rather than the other way around, so I`m just about to begin a new course of sessions with a pain clinic here in the UK. I feel for anyone out there who had back/neck issues that causes them disability. It`s hellish. Our wee hamsters see us through it all. x
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