I wrote a previous post but deleted it as it was rather long...I'm pretty miserable right now and i guess I was just venting a bit...
My question is - in your opinions and experiences, should post-operative instability be addressed surgically, and if not, whats the long-term prognosis.
I had 2 ops for a disc herniation at l5-s1 (Apr and Sept 2007). Left Leg pain and disc problems persist plus some scarring (MRI 6 mths ago) and in addition i've developed considerable back pain and sporadic sciatica in right leg. Folling a surgeons advice, I had xrays to test for instability and have, at L5-S1, 11mm retrolisthesis on standing, 14mm on flexion and 8mm on extension. First surgeon recommends total decompression and fusion, second surgeon thinks surgery won't help (as its a third operation) and that I should just be looking at long-term pain relief. First surgeon is fantastic but seeing him would involve a one year wait and relocation from France to the UK. Not impressed by second surgeon whatsoever, but maybe he's right?!?
I would say a third opinion in is order especially when the first two do not agree. I think in the end, you have decide in your heart whether or not it is worth the risk to have the surgery or not. I know chronic pain stinks, I have been living it for some time now, and I think that once you have had multiple surgeries there is no guarantee because the spine becomes weaker from the surgeries. On the otherhand, you have to decide is it worth the risk/gamble to try again to get better? To me it is, because pain meds around the clock and missing out on many daily activities is not my idea of fun......but to someone else they may not agree. What is good for me, may not be good for you.
The fusion might be the answer for you. In my opinion if the spine is unstable, you have to have surgery to stabilize it or you risk further injury. I am facing another surgery myself and it is going to come down to the stabilization factor. It amazes me how similiar our story has been to one another.
Good luck and know that I am here for you if you need anything. I will subscirbe to this thread.
Thanks for the reply diet...I'm really sorry to see you're still about on these boards.
I just feel I'm in a bit of a rut. You're right, a third opinion is a must, but I just don't know who from. There's another neurosurgeon in town, but he's part of the team where my original surgeon first trained... and if I go to a surgeon out of town, and he agrees its necessary to operate, I might not get the authorisation from social security... having said that, i guess the other surgeon in town could be fantastic... Its not as if I've totally made my mind up for another operation, its just the UK surgeon's whole manner was better than the french guy's. He went through the MRI thoroughly, explaining all he saw, did a thorough examination, listened to what I said...etc... whereas the other guy was just strange, spending most of his time reading the surgeon's pre- and post-op reports, and barely looked at the most recent MRI and xrays.
It just bugs me that everytime I take it upon myself to try and get to the root of things (by pressing for the MRI, by seeing the surgeon in the UK for a fresh opinion), the french system just says "well, your last surgeon said its just the disc and scarring...there's not much we can do about that - here, try some more painkillers..."
Grrr, I guess I've just got to keep on trying...
Anyhow, how are things with you? - I see you're maybe looking at revision surgery, so your head's probably in, or been in, a similar place to mine... its why your advice is so valuable, I'm just sorry I can't offer much back..