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    Old 08-27-2005, 02:33 AM   #1
    Brett5141
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    Question Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    Hi Everybody,

    I am new to this forum and really happy to find a discussion for people with back problems.

    I am 23 and have some apparently very serious problems, I have an injury to my back which has badly flared up over the past month and become debillitating (not sure if that spelled correct).

    I have seen an orthopedic surgeon and a Neurosurgeon and understand that I am in need of surgery, i dont really undrestand what they are saying, partly because i was fairly shattered when told about surgery and because of some language difficulties.

    He tells me that basically in between the discs there are cushions, i have apparently torn the cushion and the stuffing has come out, he says this is quite bad at my age (23) and to make it really bad it has happened in two spots.

    He tells me there are two options;

    1- Have a minor surgery and have the two offending discs removed and this may heal but in the long term i will more than likely have further problems.

    2- Have a spine fusion and fix both discs which will be a far more serious procedure, but will have a far better chance of being a long term result.

    I have had CT scans and and MRI and am still to see another surgeon.

    Here is where i need everyones help, if you can answer any of the following question i would be so appreciative.

    What are these cushions actually called??

    Has anyone had a spinal fusion and please share the experience, good or bad.

    Is it normal for it to happen in two spots?

    Will i ever go back to having full use of my back? and being able to work? i will probably have to give up my job in retail because i cant lift and my other job as a sales rep is also in doubt because of sitting for long amounts of time??

    Thanks for reading this long drawn out letter and all of your replies.

    Brett

     
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    Old 08-27-2005, 07:15 AM   #2
    EmtShirl
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    Smile Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    Brett ~

    Welcome to the board!

    Those cushions you are talking about are actually called the "Discs". The discs lay between the bones which are called vertebrae. So where you have said that in between the discs there is a cushion you have that part wrong.

    I have had spinal fusion surgeries of both my cervical (neck) from C3-7 and lower back (lumbar) from L3-S1. I had both anterior (from the front) and posterior (from the back). In both areas I have hardware put in which includes BAK cages (Lumbar), Plate (Cervical) and rods and screws on the posterior side of both cervical and lumbar. You ask if my experience was good.... In my case YES. I am very happy I had them done because my life is now closer to normal. I will never be 100% again which I mean I will never be pain free. I accept this because I am better then before.

    I believe the minor surgery your doctor was talking about could be a microdiscectomy or a discectomy. This might be worth a try. My first Micro-D lasted for 5 years then I had to have another because the disc bulged again. The second micro-D didn't last long because there wasn't enough disc left to keep the space open, so then I had my first fusion. Having the first micro-D last for 5 years was a good thing so it might be worth trying because you are so young. In my case I was told my micro-D would last about 5 years and fusion surgery would someday have to be.

    I am not sure what you mean by "is it normal to happen in 2 spots"???? Are you saying 2 levels or 2 areas (neck & lower back)? I guess the answer either way is yes.

    Your last question will depend on several things ...... what kind of surgery you have, how you take care of yourself, what caused your problem in the first place and so on.....

    If I think of more I will be sure to get back to you.

    EmtShirl
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    Love,
    Shirl
    History:

    1980- Transaxillary resection of 1st rib and division of band (left side)
    1982- Diagnostic Laparoscopy
    1985- Transaxillary excision of cervical rib (right side)
    1991- Laser stapedectomy (right side)
    1992- Fractional D&C
    1992- Diagnostic Laparoscopy
    1996- Lumbar hemilaminectomy
    1999- Left knee arthoscopic surgery
    2001- Laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy
    2002- L5-S1 Microdiscectomy
    2002- L4-L5, L5-S1 Anterior inter-body lumbar fusion with cages and my own bone from left hip for bone graft
    2002- Neck problems Surgery??????
    2002 DEC 21- C4-5, C5-C6 Anterior Cervical Corpectomy with Fusion and Internal Fixation (Bone from the bone bank)

     
    Old 08-27-2005, 09:07 PM   #3
    kt41577
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    Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    Brett-

    RELAX!! I understand your confusion and your anxiety with having to have surgery!! I'm 28 and getting married in a month! and I just started a new job, and needed to take 8 weeks off!!
    what you need to do is bring a family member with you to the dr's office to discuss surgery, tell the secretary you want a surgery consult and need some time blocked off to talk to the the dr. (this way he is not rushing off to another patient) bring family with you, so if you get emotional, or your brain is racing through things, and you didn't hear everything the dr said someone else is there with you to listen! also they may have good questions you didn't think of! I brought my parents and my fiance.
    now your young age will help with recovery, I'm almost 8 weeks post op, and I'm going back to work, I feel great and I don't regret my decision to have surgery. There is no bending, lifting or twisting for 6 months, so that may have an impact on your job if it requires that. there is another member on these boards (Cazyman) her daughter (she's 16) had a 2 level fusion a few weeks before me, and she is doing fantastic, she is walking 3 miles, going back to school shortly and is driving.
    so don't give up, get a few opinions about having surgery, and make sure you have tried all non-surgical options before you commit, and do your homework and research! research! research the dr, and the type of surgery!!
    best of luck, and keep us updated with your decision and questions!!

     
    Old 08-28-2005, 02:29 PM   #4
    caszyman
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    Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    Brett (Sorry this is so long.),
    As the mother of a 16 year old this has really been a difficult process for me. Five years ago my daughter was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, a slipped disc that she had been born with. Things seemed to go ok for three years. As she became more active in a variety of sports and trained harder her condition became worse. Just over a year ago her dr said he thought it was time for surgery. I totally paniced. After her mri in Jan it was found that she was also born with spinal stenosis. Another panic. These conditions together are rare in children.

    As Kt suggested I lived searching the web. I found as much information as I could possibly find. Prior to each appointment I would type out a list of questions to ask her dr. He laughs because he has come to expect this from me, but is so gracious and spends as much time with us as is needed to get our questions answered. He always finishes each appt with if I have any questions to call him. Believe me I did! I really believe in this situation you can't be too informed. We got two other opinions, which our dr was supportive of, which thought pretty much the same as our dr. The way each surgeon approaches this surgery was a little different. We stayed with our original dr and felt good about him and what he was going to do. Prior to surgery we tried nearly two years of non-surgical methods, rest, anti-imflammatories, physical therapy and bracing. All of these did not resolve her pain in her back and legs.

    Because my daughter is young he told us that she would heal quickly and quickly she did. So June 10th she had a two level Transforminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion of L4-L5, L5-S1 with a laminectomy and discectomy. She has six screws, two rods and two interbody spacers in her. The first eight days were rough for her, not from pain but from constant nauseua. Then she woke up the next day saying she felt great and it has only gotten better each day.

    She is very lucky that this procedure currently has taken all of her leg and back pain away. I realize that isn't true for everyone, but was for her. Because she is so young she has bounced back quickly. She started walking the distance of one house at a time and increased the distance each day. At 11 weeks post-op she's now able to walk three miles without pain.

    Whether she will ever be 100% again is yet to be seen as she is currently unable to bend, lift more than 10 pounds or twist. One ped ortho, not her's, told us that she would most likely be able to water ski again in two years. We'll see what her dr says. We've also been told that because of the pain she used to be in she shouldn't really notice that much difference in her bending with her back. Like Kt she can't bend for six months. My daughter said this is the best she has felt in two years. Her dr did warn us that many years down the line, 20 - 30 is his hope or never, she may experience trouble with the levels above and below. So we are aware of this.

    Best of luck with this really difficult decision!! cas

     
    Old 08-29-2005, 03:25 AM   #5
    Brett5141
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    Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    Hey There Everybody,

    Thank you so much for your replies, you have all helped so much by giving me some positive story's.

    It is great to here that people have gone through this and come out the other side in such a positive frame of mind.

    It is nice to discuss this with people who know what i am going through, whilst i have a very supportive famil and friends it can some times get frustrating when they tell me to cheer up.

    This is where i come to my next point, if you are comfortable i would really apppreciate any ones experiences on their emotional issues dealing with back problems, i have had to come to terms with the fact that i will never be the same and will have to change my lifestyle quite a bit.

    I am also almost starting to come to terms with the BOREDOM!!!, being off work for an extended amount of time is hard for the fact that i am so bored and can not find any legitemate work from home options ( i am in Melbourne Australia if any suggestions)

    Thanks again you have all helped alot.

     
    Old 08-29-2005, 03:48 AM   #6
    caszyman
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    Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    Brett,
    This is from a mother's point of view so it may vary from a patient's. My daughter was always a very active girl, dancing since she was three years old, playing soccer and then in middle school doing really well with hurdles and high jump. Her dreams were to be on the varsity dance team and earn a letter in track doing the hurdles. That dream ended the summer she was beginning high school. She made jv dance and the daily practice was just too much for her and her back. On Aug 1, 2003 her dr took her out of all sports. This was a heartbreaker to her. I'm sure you can remember hs, everyone is so involved in sports. She also was taken out of gym class so many of the activities her friends could do she couldn't because it hurt her too much. She kept active with her friends but she couldn't do many of the physical things they did and you could see her sadness at times. Water skiing during the summer meant the world to her and even though she would hurt, she slalom skiied last summer. I was upset about it since her dr had said no the summer before. When we told him he shrugged his shoulders like what can you do.

    The boredom issue has been big since surgery since there is no bending, lifting or twisting. The first six weeks or so she really didn't feel like doing much with her friends. She would get bummed out at times feeling the only thing she could do with them was watch a dvd and that's boring. Her friends really didn't come around much as they had promised. I guess sitting talking and watching tv gets old. So at times I could see her mood would get down. As a mom off for the summer I tried to keep her active taking walks, mall walking, etc.

    She is driving now and got her first liscense so she is out a little more. I try to remind her how good she feels now, but boredom really sets in and then the sadness is there. School starts Wed. so I know this will help her. She was down yesterday her friends went to play putt putt. She won't just go along to talk she says that's no fun. kt on the boards has been really lucky that she has had a wedding to plan. I'm sure that has helped her out.

    Prepare yourself. Get some reading material ready and plenty of dvds. I keep reminding her of being pain free and how great that is. cas

     
    Old 08-29-2005, 04:13 AM   #7
    kt41577
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    Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    Cas is right about me having my wedding to plan so I haven't had time to be bored! but I do understand, it was hard not to go out with my friends, or my fiance, I even had to cancel a whitewater rafting trip that was my wedding gift from my bridesmaids! I get upset sometimes on how different my life is now from before when I had no pain, but my mom is my reason for being thankful for what I have. she is an amazing person. she has had multiple surgeries, gets injections once a month in her head, back and neck for pain, she takes about 13 pills a day, has terrible arthritis, but manages to put a smile on for me. I know she is in great pain everyday, and she can't even come close to doing the activities she once could, but you can't change what has happened, and she'll never get better, so instead of dwelling on how our lives used to be, we do different activities, and make new memories.
    Brett- try not to dwell on how you used to be, be postive, (I know it is so hard at times) that negative feeling will have an effect on your recovery, I know on days I felt blah my back actually hurt more!!
    I'm postive that my wedding has helped me recover as fast as I am, I did not want to walk down the aisle in pain, and I want to be able to dance and have a good time, I was not going to accept the pain!
    so get some DVD's, some good books, and a couple of family and friends nearby and focus on the postive that surgery will bring you relief!!
    here is some hope for leading an active lifestyle again- my sister had 2 level fusion done 8 years ago-she plays volleyball, softball, and tennis and works out at the gym everyday! pain free! (she does get a bad day every now and then, about 1-2 a month!) there is hope!!

     
    Old 09-01-2005, 06:52 PM   #8
    Quietcook
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    Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    [QUOTE=Brett5141]Hi Everybody,

    I am new to this forum and really happy to find a discussion for people with back problems.

    I am 23 and have some apparently very serious problems, I have an injury to my back which has badly flared up over the past month and become debillitating (not sure if that spelled correct).

    I have seen an orthopedic surgeon and a Neurosurgeon and understand that I am in need of surgery, i dont really undrestand what they are saying, partly because i was fairly shattered when told about surgery and because of some language difficulties.

    He tells me that basically in between the discs there are cushions, i have apparently torn the cushion and the stuffing has come out, he says this is quite bad at my age (23) and to make it really bad it has happened in two spots.

    He tells me there are two options;

    1- Have a minor surgery and have the two offending discs removed and this may heal but in the long term i will more than likely have further problems.

    2- Have a spine fusion and fix both discs which will be a far more serious procedure, but will have a far better chance of being a long term result.

    I have had CT scans and and MRI and am still to see another surgeon.

    Here is where i need everyones help, if you can answer any of the following question i would be so appreciative.

    What are these cushions actually called??

    Has anyone had a spinal fusion and please share the experience, good or bad.

    Is it normal for it to happen in two spots?

    Will i ever go back to having full use of my back? and being able to work? i will probably have to give up my job in retail because i cant lift and my other job as a sales rep is also in doubt because of sitting for long amounts of time??

    Thanks for reading this long drawn out letter and all of your replies.

    Brett[/QUOTE]


    Brett,

    Welcome to the board, but sorry you have the need of learning about back surgeries and pain.

    I am a good bit older than you, but am still an active person and unfortunately have a good deal of experience with major back problems. I've had 8 major spine surgeries, and my last one was a 10 level fusion just in Dec 04.

    There is a train of thought that once you have a fusion, it will bring on more problems, fusions, etc. Cannot say if that is so or not, but I have had 4 fusion surgeries. The big "but" is that I have other health problems, which have required prednisone in order to breath, and of course that has not helped my bones and discs. Still, there are options other than fusion, so let me offer several suggestions for you.

    First, I had to learn from being temporarily paralyzed, that there are indeed "spine specialists" and I'm not talking simply ortho or neuro's. The general ortho and neuro does treat back problems, but you are young and want to get the best from the outset, and hopefully not endure years of problems. So, please find yourself a good "spine specialist", which is an ortho or neuro who has compelted a spine fellowship AND dedicates his practice to just the spine. A spine specialist is going to be up on the newest and best techniques and would have offered you more options than a fusion for someone so young. If you don't know how to search for one, you can use the advanced search feature on this board and find a post I wrote "How to find a spine specialist in your area". That's a beginning point, but it may take visits to several specialists before hitting just the right one for you.

    I do recommend that you be very pro active in your treatment, and of course research is a major, major key. But even aside from that, you want to know what to expect from your doctor. Some doc's treat their patients for the pain, as spine specialist surely know what that pain is, while some doc's refer patients out to PM's. Some doc's don't like patients to ask a lot of questions, but I want one who will answer my questions, especially concerning treatment, what's out there that offers me options, etc. Some doc's refer more to radiologists reports, while I like my spine specialist who reads the films himself first and then looks to see if the radiologist reported something he might have missed. Some doc's use a PA, and while mine has one, he uses him primarily for insuring that everything in the OR is exactly as he wants, so I rarely see the PA except in prep for surgery. Some doc's schedules patients every 5-8 minutes, while mine spends whatever amount of time is necessary, so when there is a problem, pain, etc, I'm not rushed out of there, but when things are great, I'm the one willing to be there very briefly. Some doc's make a quick diagnosis based on a glance of the records you bring to the first visit, while mine spent more than 2 1/2 hours going through the films on the first visit and did a thorough exam of his own. Some I visited, didn't touch me, aske me to stand so they could see posture or walk so they could see the bad gait. Yes, they were specialists, but it took a few visits to find a thorough one that just radiated experience, confidence and made me feel that he was miles above all the rest. It is your back, so don't settle for less than one that meets your criteria and makes you feel that way.

    With the right doc, your research and questions, you will find a doc that can talk with you about artifical disc replacement or even a system called Dynesys, which is a type of flexible fusion and certainly either would be a preference for me if I were your age. Heck, they were a preference for me and I'm older, but my miracle doc didn't have your youth and a less worn out body to work with. Not complaining, as even with 10 levels fused, while I do not bend any more, I walk and I am very active, with a few adjustments on how I do some things. But, if fusion is a must in your case, you want to inform yourself about BMP and it's benefits so you don't have to deal with the older type of fusion and suffer with bone being taken from the hip. You will come up with lots of questions as you do your research.

    There are lots of good people on the board with tons of experience which can save you from some things some of us have been through. There is also a web site referenced in a post at the top of the threads, written by BionicWitch. It is one of several excellent sites which will help you tremendously with research, including ADRs and Dynesys.

    Best wishes and do let us know how things are going for you.

     
    Old 09-01-2005, 08:08 PM   #9
    girl12345
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    Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    I am 21 years old and have a large herniation at L5-S1 and a small herniation at L4-L5. I also have DDD at both of those levels. I was in your position the last few months contemplating about surgery. I was told that I had three choices. I could 1. do nothing and wait to see if the pain gets better on its own 2. get a partial discectomy/laminectomy 3. get a fusion. I seen three doctors and they had two opinions. One orthopedic surgeon stated that I was too young and I had to live with the pain. He did not believe that anyone as young as I am could be in as much pain. The other two doctors (a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic surgeon) both stated that they would do a partial discectomy. They did not want to do a fusion yet because of my age, even though I will eventually need to get both disks out because of the DDD. This surgery will buy me time. It might only be a year or maybe longer, but hopefully they will have a new procedure that will make my life better. Doing a fusion now will probably take any chances away to get a new procedure done down the road if the spine goes bad. After months of thinking about it, I am scheduled for the discectomy in two weeks. I hope this helps in your decision.

    By the way, where is most of your pain? If it is in the legs then a discectomy has a good chance of helping. If the back is the worst, then a discectomy might not help too much if at all. Just keep this in mind.

     
    Old 09-03-2005, 12:04 AM   #10
    Losy
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    Wink Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    Brett
    I can honestly say that I understand. I had a double fusion at age 23. It was 14 or so years ago now when technology and medical science were far from perfect when it came to spinal surgery. While my recovery took some time - (I was very sick when they opertated - gladular feever) I have lead a reasonably normal life. However I have had some up and down years. I believe that these could have been avoided had I stuck to a strict execise program and not taken part in sports or activities that place me at risk ie water skiing, motor bike riding etc.

    Todays approach to surgery is far different and the long term prognosis far better. There are many on the boards who have experienced spinal fusions and can talk about their success/failures. Those that have had success probably dont need the board as menas of support so stay objective, informed and listen intently to your drs and specialists

    Good luck

    Losy

     
    Old 09-08-2005, 11:59 AM   #11
    pulary
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    Wink Re: Spinal Fusion at age 23 and no info,please help!!

    Hey Brett,

    You might want to ask your doctor about Dynesys. I had mine surgery done 1 week ago and I feel like a new person. I had DDD at L4 - S1. I am walking and doing more and more on my own. This is an option to fusion that I think you might be happy with. Recovery time is about 6-8 weeks and you will lose some BUT not all range of motion in your back.

    Good Luck
    Phillip

    Last edited by pulary; 09-10-2005 at 02:37 PM.

     
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