It appears you have not yet Signed Up with our community. To Sign Up for free, please click here....



Back Problems Message Board
Post New Thread   Closed Thread
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 03-20-2012, 12:03 PM   #1
Newbie
(female)
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: white lake, mi
Posts: 9
BcuzIcare HB User
Exclamation l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

Hi, I found this place while desperately searching for information on success rates/stories to share with my husband. He is 38 & was very active and social. 2 years ago he hurt his back lifting the hitch for our travel trailer. Since then he has been in constant PAIN we have tried: rest, PT, chiro, massage, medications (which he is on so many I can't keep track mostly narcotic), injections and now our last course of action is surgery. Fusion. We have three children 4 - 12 who miss their dad and want him back to his active self. If you have had the surgery and can provide any insight, words of wisdom or encouragement we could sure use them....

 
Old 03-20-2012, 04:00 PM   #2
Senior Veteran
(female)
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,486
teteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

Welcome to the board. You've come to the right place to get some information on lumbar fusion. Before I comment further, it would be helpful if you could provide a bit more information.

Are you seeing an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon? Have you received more than one opinion? (I realize it is your husband...but I wrote "you" in the post.)

Please tell us where the pain is located, what type of activity or position makes it better or worse. Is the pain primarily located in the leg or in the back?

Did you receive a diagnosis or do you know why a fusion is being recommended rather than a "smaller" surgery like a discectomy? Do you know what type of fusion the doctor has proposed...like minimally invasive or open, from the front (ALIF), back (PLIF) or TLIF? Using hardware?

Sorry for all the questions but it will help us provide you more useful information rather than generalities. I can tell you that it is normal to feel terrified when one hears the words back surgery and fusion. People have this type of surgery every day, and for the most part are happy with the decision. Not to be overly dramatic, but it is a life-changing event in some ways. The surgery is not like most surgeries where there is a problem; the doctor removes the problem and then the patient recovers and life goes on...such as an appendectomy. With fusion, the person is never returned to the way he/she was prior to the start of the pain or injury. The spine is altered and when healed, there is a new normal.

For those reasons, it is important to gather as much information as you can, to research the surgeon you have selected (and not necessarily settle for the first one you may have been referred to) to be sure of his/her qualifications and experience, that there are no lawsuits pending, etc. You want to be sure you are having the appropriate surgery for your condition.

It sounds like your husband has tried all the conservative treatments available to him and that they failed...so now you have to decide whether surgery is appropriate at this time. We'll try to provide a little bit of guidance if we can.

Last edited by teteri66; 03-20-2012 at 04:05 PM.

 
Sponsors Lightbulb
   
Old 03-20-2012, 05:55 PM   #3
Inactive
(female)
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 119
peps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

While waiting for answers to the questions teteri asked you, I can say that I only know two people that have had fusion. One failed, and the other was a major success. A friend of mine had a failed one. My dad had a successful fusion back in the mid 90's. Different groups of doctors involved with both.

Back surgery is a scary thing to contemplate. You'll get lots of support here, and maybe we can help take some of the scary away for you. We won't be able to take away all of it.

 
Old 03-20-2012, 06:11 PM   #4
Newbie
(female)
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: white lake, mi
Posts: 9
BcuzIcare HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

We have seen many doctors but the one performing the operation will be a neurosurgeon. He is the only surgeon we have spoken to but here is some more info:

Pain:
I mean PAAAIIIINNNN is located in the lower back/butt and runs down both legs and out the bottom of the feet. The right side has the most intense pain. It hurts him all the time - no relief. Narcotics have been minimally effective in controlling it. Bending backwards is the worst.

Dr:
We met with him (neuro) on Monday AM after completely exhausting all of our non-surgical options. We were hoping that a less invasive discectomy would be the prognosis but the discogram and CT scan showed a protrusion on the left side, the dye was leaking out 180 degrees around, and the pain is presenting strongest on the right leg. This doctor has worked on other family members with great success. (Brain tumor & back surgery) The pain management Dr we were working with also recommended him - so we went. I've checked him out online and there is no pending or past litagations he has a 4 out of 4 star rating as does the hospital we are going to.

Not sure how they are going in but they plan to fuse L5 & S1 with screws and medal bars.

We can't imagine staying status quo because the narcotics make him loose focus easily, dose off if he isn't interested or mentally stimulated, the most he wants to do is stay reclined on his LaZboy surrounded in pillows. Did I mention on the drugs he is meaner than a snake? That is no way to have a family life or run a business (we have 32 families depending on him to lead our company) He barely makes it through the day when he gets home he is completely wiped out. The good thing about our situation is that we have some flexability with returning to work/working from home etc. Our office is only three miles from our house so we can even have employees stop by frequently.

He is 6'6" tall around 200#'s, nonsmoker, reasonably healthy prior to, and very active in the outdoors (not sports)

We know we have to move forward. That being said, he is terrified to have his body permanently altered. I'm just hoping that I can get the man I married back (at least mentally). Ideally I would like to see him be active socially, be able to attend scouting events with our children without as many harsh narcotics (none if possible). He is also freaking out that he is relatively young and doesn't want to have a string of surgeries because the fusion causes other areas to work harder.

Any comments/suggestions preparations etc. are welcome and appreciated. Many thanks to anyone who reads and takes the time to respond.

 
Old 03-20-2012, 06:15 PM   #5
Newbie
(female)
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: white lake, mi
Posts: 9
BcuzIcare HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

Lefty, Thanks for taking the time to stop and reply!! Sifting through this quagmire of information is a little unnerving and I find it encouraging that there are some success stories. Hopefully we will be able to learn from the mistakes so we don't repeat them. Looking forward to any info you can provide. Again, many thanks!!

Last edited by moderator2; 03-20-2012 at 06:23 PM.

 
Old 03-20-2012, 06:28 PM   #6
Inactive
(female)
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 119
peps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

I can say that my dad had a very good surgeon. That is one of the keys, is the quality of the surgeon.

Another thing that I know helped my dad is that once he was able to be in water, he did a lot of pool/water therapy. Water therapy is what helped him recover from polio when he was a kid. One wouldn't even know he had polio by looking at him. Something to keep in mind if your hubby goes through with the surgery.

 
Old 03-20-2012, 06:47 PM   #7
Newbie
(female)
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: white lake, mi
Posts: 9
BcuzIcare HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

Great tip! We live across the street from our local high school - they have a complete water park (but that's another story) And my husband loves to swim/be in the water. We just received word that they have an opening on 3/27 - yup - that is one week from today. I think we are going to take it. Please keep any tips or recommendations coming. The clock is running now.

 
Old 03-20-2012, 06:48 PM   #8
Newbie
(female)
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Astoria, NY
Posts: 3
micha444 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

Hello, I had a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion and decompression last May. I was in severe pain the year before I got the surgery and in "manageable" pain the four years before. It was the best thing I ever did. Before the surgery I could not stand for more than 5 minutes because of severe pain down the back of my leg. My diagnosis was spondylolisthesis with stenosis. After researching several doctors I chose a neurosurgeon who gave me my life back. It has been a long haul and I am about two months out from getting my last cat scan but things look good on the xrays. I do not have the pain I had earlier and I have slowly become stronger. I still have pain but that is from the surgical site (it takes up to two years for the muscle to heal...they went in through my back). I have good days and bad days but have no regrets. I am 40 years old and have always been active. If you have any questions please feel free to email me. I know how terrified I was and it helped to read this board. Michelle

Last edited by moderator2; 03-21-2012 at 06:52 AM.

 
The Following User Says Thank You to micha444 For This Useful Post:
BcuzIcare (03-21-2012)
Old 03-20-2012, 07:04 PM   #9
Newbie
(female)
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: white lake, mi
Posts: 9
BcuzIcare HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

@Micha

Thanks so much for the positive comments. Yes, it does help to know that there are surgeries that go well. It seems that you had very similar symptoms and operation.

I find peace in planning - and this has come up so quickly I feel that I don't have sufficient time to research every possible area on my own w/out guidance.

Everyone so far has been very helpful and I appreciate so much the comments so I know where to focus my attention. I also appreciate it because my husband & I usually work as a team for major decisions but with all the drugs...{It reminds me of the public service announcement campaign in the late 80's with the egg "this is your brain - this is your brain on drugs"}

I don't want to hold up the treatment but I want to feel we have done our homework.

 
Old 03-20-2012, 07:38 PM   #10
Senior Veteran
(female)
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,486
teteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

Well, you guys won't have too much time to get overly nervous if you go ahead in a week. It sounds like you have done your homework. The stories you hear from others are just that...stories that will not apply to your husband's situation. Generally what you read online tends to focus more on the lingering problems that can result from surgery. Most people tend to come prior to surgery, and for awhile post-surgery when they are seeking help with recovery questions...and then they are busy resuming their lives and they don't post further.

It is good to be prepared, but each person ends up with his/her own story. Even the most gifted surgeon can have unexpected things happen during surgery. It is for that reason, that no one can say how a particular surgery will turn out. At best, doctors can quote statistics, but even then it is misleading because the patients' definition of success is different from the medical definition of a success! But your husband sounds like he has everything going for him and chances are definitely in his favor that he will be happy with the results.

It will be imperative that he follow the post-operative instructions to a "T" and not try to rush his recovery. But you can think about that after next week.

I have had two lumbar fusions and am happy with the results. As you said, once you get to a certain point where your life is being controlled by the back pain, sometimes the only decision is to go for it. Both my surgeries were open, (traditional) surgeries from the back. The first one was with a cage, rods and pedicle screws, and the most involved second surgery the discs were left in and I had screws and the rods were extended to cover three levels. I wore a brace with one, but not with the other.

Be prepared for recovery taking longer than the surgeon will probably indicate. Most tend to err on the optimistic side...and even though signs of bone growth may be noticed in the early weeks, it takes a year for the bone to become strong and to "cure." After this point, there may be some small lifestyle changes your husband will want to make in order to safeguard his spine for the years ahead.

You will find a "stickie note" near the top of the page entitled "Post-surgery Must-Haves" or words to that effect. It contains suggestions on what your husband may want to have available to him for surgery and recovery. He will not need 99% of it, but it makes for interesting reading as it does get you used to thinking about what limitations he will have immediately post-surgery.

Last edited by teteri66; 03-20-2012 at 07:42 PM.

 
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to teteri66 For This Useful Post:
BcuzIcare (03-21-2012), kenzibenzi (03-20-2012)
Old 03-20-2012, 10:52 PM   #11
Veteran
(female)
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 419
kenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB Userkenzibenzi HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

I just wanted to say that I wish you and your husband the very best! It sounds to me like you have a great handle on things. I'm sure things will be fine and he will feel so much better in the long run. Keep the faith and keep coming back here. Good luck and keep us posted ;-)

 
The Following User Says Thank You to kenzibenzi For This Useful Post:
BcuzIcare (03-21-2012)
Old 03-21-2012, 05:08 AM   #12
Inactive
(female)
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 119
peps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB Userpeps90436 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

The only thing I really have to add is that since it sounds like you have plenty of people around, don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it! With how your husband has been feeling you may have already been doing so, but don't think you have to do everything yourself.

Also remember to take a little bit of time for yourself during his recovery. It's important to take care of you as well.

I learned these lessons myself the hard way, as several years ago my husband herniated two discs in his lower back. He was able to heal without surgery, but during his recovery from the injury I pushed myself too hard, which contributed to the problems I have now.

As others have said, follow the post-op instructions completely. Don't base his progress on the progress of others. Each person is different. It's cool that they are able to get him in so soon for the surgery. While that doesn't give you as much time to prepare, it also doesn't give you much time to get nervous either!

 
The Following User Says Thank You to peps90436 For This Useful Post:
BcuzIcare (03-21-2012)
Old 03-21-2012, 10:07 AM   #13
Newbie
(female)
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: white lake, mi
Posts: 9
BcuzIcare HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for the good wishes and helpful tips!! I'm sure we will be referring back quite often. You all have really helped to settle my nerves and bring some much needed peace.

I will keep you all posted on the outcome of the surgery and his/our progress.

 
Old 03-21-2012, 10:37 AM   #14
Senior Veteran
(female)
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 6,486
teteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB Userteteri66 HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

At least you don't have to reorganize your kitchen and set everything at waist level before going into the hospital.

Did anyone tell you to buy a "grabber?" You can find them online or at a pharmacy that carries a few supplies like canes, etc. I know Walgreen's has them...but you have more selection online. It looks like a giant pair of fireplace tongs that you use to pick things up without needing to bend over. They are one of the truly useful items your husband might need...and you can use it post-recovery to retrieve things from behind the washer, etc.

Stock up on stool softeners, and something like Colace, Dulcolax, etc. High fiber fruits and veggies, prunes and blueberries are especially good, and plenty of juices that your husband likes. It will be very important to push the fluids -- the pain meds are constipating and the lack of movement after surgery makes the whole system slow down. The last thing a person needs after lumbar surgery is to have to strain or push to go to the bathroom. Also, if he is tall, he may find an elevated toilet seat useful. Sometimes the PT department at the hospital will furnish this...and many people do not find it necessary.

With my first fusion I had a terrible time trying to reposition myself or to lower myself to a chair (or the toilet). Oddly, even though my second surgery was much more complex, I wasn't bothered by these problems....I've never figured out why not...after the first surgery I would tell people that they had to get a satin sheet for the bed (or slippery PJs) as it was so hard to scooch to the edge of the bed, or to turn over...but, again, 2nd fusion I didn't have much trouble moving...so now I just mention it as a possible convenience.

Also be sure your husband has something comfy to wear (like sweat pants -- nothing like jeans, with a waistband, etc.) It is very uncomfortable to have something pulling anywhere near the incision.

When do you go in for the pre-op? Do you meet with the surgeon prior to surgery? Get fitted for a back brace?

 
Old 03-24-2012, 02:06 PM   #15
Newbie
(male)
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Elkridge, MD
Posts: 6
bzeit HB User
Re: l5 s1 fusion - terrified - should we?

All great info. I thank each of you as well as I am going on the 29th for my fusion after 3 failed microdisketomies. My first surgeries were done by Neurosurgeons with 2 by the same dr within 2 years of each other. Please keep us updated I will be checking to see how your husbands goes before I get mine done.

 
Closed Thread

Tags
fusion recovery, fusion surgery, l5 s1



Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is Off
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Join Our Newsletter

Stay healthy through tips curated by our health experts.

Whoops,

There was a problem adding your email Try again

Thank You

Your email has been added




Top 10 Drugs Discussed on this Board.
(Go to DrugTalk.com for complete list)
Ibuprofen
Lyrica
Morphine
Neurontin
Oxycontin
  Percocet
Soma Tylenol
Valium
Vicodin




TOP THANKED CONTRIBUTORS



teteri66 (1120), gmak (131), SweetPeainSF (78), maltluver (71), twohands (64), pebblebeach3 (63), cheryl1213 (51), Moldova (46), ibake&pray (41), workinmom572 (40)

Site Wide Totals

teteri66 (1180), MSJayhawk (1011), Apollo123 (909), Titchou (856), janewhite1 (823), Gabriel (761), ladybud (755), midwest1 (669), sammy64 (668), BlueSkies14 (607)



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 07:23 AM.



Site owned and operated by HealthBoards.comô
Terms of Use © 1998-2014 HealthBoards.comô All rights reserved.
Do not copy or redistribute in any form!