I am schedules for XLIF surgery in 2 weeks, I'm only 31 and spinal fusion freaks me out. I am an electrician,and very active. I'm told I can return to work in a month, light duty of course, and still go on the vacations I have planned, one being NJ for family stuff 3 weeks after surgery, and Belize in January, 2 months after surgery. The stories I've been reading on here are rarely positive so I am very very scared. I'm hoping that since I am fusing L3-L4, and I am young and healthy, that my recovery will be easier than someone older and not so healthy. I haven't seen much of anyone my age getting this done, so I am worried obviously that maybe I should wait, but my quality of life is suffering, and some days I want to crawl into a corner and cry, then I have a day where I only have a dull ache and think I'm making a mistake. I am pretty lost.
I've never known a female electrician! Just so you know, fusion freaks out most of us. It does seem like an extreme solution. It is rather odd to have a problem at L3-L4 that requires fusion --what is the reason fusion has been recommended to you?
Did you get more than one opinion? What other treatments have you tried? When you say some days you have only a dull ache, it makes me wonder if you are really in need of a fusion.
This may resolve your problems and nothing further will ever happen, but, by having the fusion you are putting additional stress on the adjacent segments, particularly L4-L5, which is the segment that carries the brunt of the spine's movement. Many people end up having to add on to their fusions, as the adjacent segments develop issues down the road....
As you know fusion is a big surgery that will alter your spine forever. I'm not trying to scare you further. I just want to be sure that this is a well-considered decision and that you have explored all your other options.
I feel li!e my first post probably just increased your anxiety, and I want to apologize for that. I realize I could edit it and even erase it, but I do feel I made some valid points that anyone facing surgery would want to consider...but I don't want to add to your feelings of fear!
A couple more thoughts for you to consider...keep in mind that your surgeon has given you the most optimal timeline for recovery.Don't be shocked if you don't meet it.
If you look on a variety of different websites, many practices say "Most patients are able to return to their normal activities within a few months of surgery."
Usually after lumbar fusion, patients are advised to not sit for more than about 15 minutes at a time. Sitting puts 30% more pressure on the spine than standing/walking or lying down.
Be sure your surgeon discusses the potential complications from this particular type of surgery with you. It has some very specific possible complications initially. The advantage is that the surgeon does not have to cut through the major muscles of the back to reach the spine. The disadvantage (that is sometimes not mentioned) is that they thread the instruments for surgery through the psoas muscle...which sometimes results in trauma to the genitofemoral and femoral The result to the patient is intense pain in the groin and front side of thigh. In most cases, this is temporary...but you have only to read on message boards to see the number of people who have been affected long-term. Another symptom is muscle weakness in the quad muscle after surgery.
Again, just do your research and be sure you know what you are getting into before agreeing to this surgery. Be sure you have selected the best surgeon available to you, and be sure that this is the type of surgery you want and need.
Haha, yeah there are a few of us female electricians, I love my job! Another reason I'm scared to death about this surgery.
I feel like most people seek these forums out when things don't go right and they are seeking support, not that they want the world to know how awesome their surgery went, so I am hoping that the lack of positivity on here, is just that- they don't need support because they are fine!?
My Dr. is apparently one of the top 200 spine doctors in the nation, and has done this surgery 100s of times, so that gives me a little comfort. I had a severe herniated disc that was fixed 3 months ago, that surgery was a breeze, I didn't even need medication! However 2 weeks of pain free bliss came to an end as pain slowly creeped back up. That's when they did a CT Mylegram, which showed my vertebrae flared out, and what my dr. called "potholes". In the picture it looks like there are holes in my vertebrae, pretty freaky. I'm no doctor and I know it looks wrong. They say I'm 'lucky" that it's L3-4 and the major nerves are farther down from there. I'm just freaked out and it sucks. I'm tired of hurting, and I have tried literally everything else I can possibly do. Massage, Physical Therapy multiple times, chiropractic, tens unit, new temperpedic mattress, acupuncture, and I work out a lot to keep everything in shape.