I had L4-S1 fusion done in 2003. Things were going well, but sustained an injury in martial arts class. Now I have a severe herniation at L3-4, with severe stenosis. I'm most likely looking at adding a 3rd level to my fusion. No more Kenpo for me! ha.
But seriously - can anyone with similar experience comment on how things went for you? Going to try an ESI tomorrow, but they have never helped in the past. Don't WANT to do the 3rd level, but realize it's probably going to happen. How much more mobility can I realistically expect to lose with this?
I am currently recovering from a double cervical cage fusion and it has been a nightmare of pain, disability, discomfort, and lack of support. You need to seriously consider what you are getting into before proceeding with the surgery because you could have a negative outcome.
I was involved in a car accident last October and based on the usual treatment options not working to relieve the pain (epidurals, facet joint injections, physical therapy, hot/cold packs), I was referred for surgery.
As luck would have it, my pain is now worse on the left side of my neck, shoulder and arm to the point that I cannot carry anything. I am two months post surgery, still wearing a protective collar, and the percoset does not relieve the pain.
Sitting at a computer at work all day and traveling in a car is intensifies the pain. I had an MRI of the shoulder, have had steroid, etc. injections in my shoulder and have been referred back to the spine surgeon.
To make a long story short, my life is ruined - in pain all the time, disabled, trying to work on a regular basis in pain, exhausted, mad at the world and taking it out on everyone, cannot pursue my personal interests. Not to mention the bills that are all stuck in "litigation". Because I am in my mid 50s, if I lose my job, my change of getting another one at any point at slim at best because of the condition I am in.
I used to love my job, my career, pursuing my hobbies and now I struggle just to make it thru the basics each day.
Be wary that although you had a positive outcome with your first cervical spine surgery eight years ago, that may not be the case the second time around. All the variables have changed, plus you are older. My lumbar spine laminectomy was a huge success in my 30's but this recent surgery has totally ruined my life as I knew it.
I first had L4-5 fused and then a couple years later I had the segment on either side fused, so am now fused from L3 to S1. To tell you the truth, I don't really notice any change. I understand that where you will notice it the most is in any twisting motion, so if you play tennis or golf, it will be problematic. I don't, so it doesn't bother me. I cannot bend very far to the side or back (like if you're doing side bends as an exercise) but, again, I don't need to bend to the side or arch backward.
I think you will find that strides have been made and the surgery will not be as difficult as it was 9 years ago.
Thanks! I don't play golf or tennis, but I had just started getting into bike riding before all this happened. They said I should be able to do that again, so I'm happy. Well, relatively. Thanks again!
Maybe some other members who have had a multi-level fusion will respond, if any are on the board these days. I don't know if I am unusual in not noticing all that much difference. I am naturally flexible...like I know some people have trouble putting socks on after back surgery and that was never a problem for me...It is important to learn to use your body differently....like never bending at the waist if you can help it. Learn to do the golfer's bend where you hang onto something with one hand and hinge at the hips, weight on one leg with the other leg floating up like when a golfer gets the ball out of the hole... or you squat or "genuflect", going down on one knee while keeping the back straight.
Cycling shouldn't be a problem, once you are well-healed and recovered from the surgery...but do not rush it. Your L2-L3 and SI joints will be more vulnerable once you have this big block of immovable spine replacing what used to be the area that carried the most movement...so you will want to always be mindful of that limitation, and do what you can to avoid stressing those first movable segments.
Thanks so much for the input. I don't know anyone personally that has had the same (or even similar) issues that I have had, so it's difficult to discuss with friends or family and get them to understand the physical pain as well as the mental part of having to decide when/if to do surgery again. It's so helpful to hear from people who have been through it.
I don't have a surgery date right now. They're going the conservative route (again :-) ). I had an epidural injection last week, and my hip/leg pain was gone before I even left the office. Unfortunately the disc pain is still there.I'll give it a few more months, but if that part doesn't get better, I'll probably opt for the extra fusion.