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Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

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Old 10-22-2005, 08:30 AM   #1
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Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

As stated in previous posts, it is recommended that I have surgery for a large disc protrusion at L5 &S1.....I realize that doctors only claim that the surgery will alleviate your leg pain (due to the compressed nerve)...but I find it hard to believe that it doesn't help alleviate ANY back pain (at least they don't make any guarantees) I have suffered from daily lower back pain for several years...and then the disc protrusion became extremely large and pinched a nerve.

Has anyone found relief of lower back pain after surgery?


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Old 10-22-2005, 09:32 AM   #2
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

I had significant back pain relief from disc replacement surgery at L4/L5. Laminectomy is only for leg pain because spinal instability still exists after a laminectomy.

Old 10-22-2005, 10:27 AM   #3
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

I Had L5 S1 Fusion 2-11-05 And Still Have Terrible Back And Leg Pain Nothings For Sure With Back Surgery If I Had It Over To To Again Ii Would Of Got A Second And Third Opinion Mike

Old 10-22-2005, 11:50 AM   #4
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

My 16 year old daughter had a two level fusion and decompression for spondylolisthesis and stenosis in June. She has not had any back or leg pain since surgery. cas

Old 10-22-2005, 05:10 PM   #5
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?


As one who has multiple problems with their spine deteriorating, I've had extreme pain, been temporarily paralyzed, and 8 spine surgeries. Absolutely, every surgery has been totally successful and I've had wonderful relief of the pain from the factors each time. Let me say that it was not the doctor nor the procedures that caused me to have further problems, but the fact that medications from other health problems had impacted my bones, plus 28 years of strenuous labor had a definite impact, followed by a wreck injury after some of my surgeries.

No good doctor will "guarantee" full relief at all, but also, a lot depends on how long a severe compression has been in existence. When I was seeing general ortho and neuro surgeons none of them gave me such a warning, but after being paralyzed and finding a true spine specialist (mine happens to be ortho) the first day he explained to me that the longer the compression, the less chance of full recovery. The guide me gave me was that there is excellent chance of FULL recovery within the first 6 months, but it drops to 75 percent at 9 months and only a 50 percent chance at a year or more. I was already at 10 months of pain and being stuck at a bent over position, coming out of paralysis. Had I stayed with the other doc's I would not be doing so well now, but with the spine specialist I had an excellent recovery.

Back surgery is definitely not to be taken lightly, but it certainly can be the answer in many cases. What I do caution though, is that if you have MORE than a single slipped or herniated disc please be your own best advocate and seek the opinion of a true spine specialist instead of a general ortho surgeon or general neuro surgeon. I even recommend seeing a number of them until you find one you "know" is the right one based on questions you have for them and how they treat pain, answer your questions, etc.

The spine specialist, while being either a ortho or neuro surgeon has gone that extra step and completed a lengthy spine fellowship, and their experience is many times that of the general neuro surgeon or ortho surgeon who spreads their time on other areas of the body. The spine specialist is the ones the companies will train first in the newest techniques and equipment, so are most likely to be able to offer patients more options than just fixed fusion should your back develop more severe problems.

If you don't know how to locate a spine specialist in your area, you can find my detailed post using the advanced search button at the top of the threads on "how to find a spine specialist in your area".

Best wishes.

Old 06-28-2010, 04:34 PM   #6
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

I don't know anything about surgery - my reason for commenting is because of your descriptions - "back pain" "leg pain " .....

I had a disc get so bad I was on crutches for over a week. At the time my backed failed - most of the pain was in my back.

Later on the back got better, and now over two years later - it is my foot and leg that are the focus of my discomfort. (sciatic shocks -pins and needles, numbness)

So I'm just saying that in my case the "back issue" went away and left me with goofy - gimpy leg and foot..... Most recently it has was re-injured but with little back pain...

For surgery to work on your leg - it must free or repair any nerve issues. Your back - i don't know...

Last edited by burpee; 06-28-2010 at 04:36 PM.

Old 06-28-2010, 09:19 PM   #7
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

My surgeon told me prior to my surgery that it would only take care of the leg pain because I turned down a fusion. I had a discectomy and laminectomy. He was correct.

Old 08-07-2010, 08:25 PM   #8
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

L4 to S1 fusion in march. Very little pain at times. Doc says the pain I do have is due to breaking the scar tissue and getting the muscles back in form. Still, too early to tell but after 5 months it looks like a success.

Old 08-08-2010, 01:07 PM   #9
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

I am in total agreement with Quietcook. I have been dealing with my back problems for almost 30 years and have had 6 lumbar surgeries and one cervical 2 level surgery. Each surgery brought relief for the problems I was having. Like QC, I just have the bad luck to have multiple problems that have required surgery to correct. It is always wise to get a second opinion especially when more than one level is involved. If all other options have been explored, sometimes there is nothing left but surgery. For sure, there are many people who have very successful surgeries but you do not read about them because those folks have no need for support boards such as this one....they are living their lives to the fullest.

Best of luck.


Old 08-10-2010, 07:49 AM   #10
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

I have had 6 back surguries, None have helped me at all and I would never go though any of them again. My problem is at L4-L5 S-1, First surgury was to take a part of disc off to relieve the terrible pain I was having. This surgury did work for about 2 months. Then My Doctor said I thought we would have to fuse you. I went to Minniapolis to a back doctor that the rest of the doctors really looked up to and said if he can't fix you, Nobody can. So I felt great going into this fusion surgury. Well my wife said I was in Surgury for 9.5 hours and when they brought me out, She said I looked like I was dead. Whiteer then white I guess. She called our Son and he drove 465 miles to see me. Anyway to make this a little shorter, I had problems with the fusion right away when they asked me to try and walk over to the bathroom. I hurt so bad, I thought what the hell did I agree to. I felt like I had a 4x4 shoved up my rear end and everytime I tryed to move they were pushing it in more. Terrible, Terribl is all I can say. Never got much better. So here we go again, More MRI's and dye put in and he said the screws look like the are loose. I thought great. But the only thing is we have to wait for 6 or 7 months to go in and see because thasts about how long it will take the bone graff to heal around your fustion. I couldn'roll over in bed, Coulddn't get out of bed, Couldn't ride in a vehicle cause ever little bump felt like I was getting stabbed in the low back. Nuts, I tell you. Anyway, 7 months later took another MRI and seen that one of his screws was ran into far and it was hitting a nerve everytime I moved. So surgury again to remove the rods and screws. After I woke up my doctor said he could turn the screws out by hand they were that loose. Well I felt better about like I did before I had the first fusion after healing a while. Then the same problems as before only now, I cvouldn't have sex no more because he scewed something up in the front or back. He said I will work just like I did before, Wrong. So even if you feel you have the best doctor in your state or like me in the next state, Boy think everything over really good before you do anything. I wish I would have took an easyer job and stayed on pain med's. But thats after site now. But I had other surgurysin the next few months again experimental, Goning in and digging around to see if they left any small bone pieces in someplace. Then I tryed the stem unit in my back and it never did nothing. I told them its not even near my pain site and they said thats where it has to go. But they said try it, Had it taken out a couple weeks later. Then I had the Morphine pump put in and as they increased it over the next 6 or 7 months, I finally felt better, Still with pain, But I could live with it better. Now after just about a year of having the pump installed my legs got big and my waist and face ect, Went to the doctor he ran every test on me he could think of and everything came back normal. So I went to my family doctor and he put me on a water pill and it has helped some, But still backed up with fluid build up and don't pee hardly at all. So I call the pain center where I had the pump put in and talked to a nurse and after she talked with my doctor called me back and said come down here this thursday and we will run some dye in your pump and see if something got tangled up in there or what. So thats where I am at now, My family doctor said it might be the mixture in the pump, But the nurse at the pain clinic said I only have Morphine in my pump. So I wonder whats goning on now. I'll fill you all in after I return back home thursday or the next day. Good luck to everyone and remember think things over and over before you let someone cut on you.

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Old 02-18-2011, 06:43 PM   #11
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

I just had to comment on this question -- my answer is a resounding YES!

From the time I was about 25 I had awful recurrent episodes of totally disabling back pain -- couldn't move, couldn't sit, couldn't walk, nothing... Went to physio, did traction, whatever they wanted. Each episode would ease, but I lived in fear of moving the wrong way or sleeping the wrong way or anything that could possibly cause the back to go again... As the number of episodes increased, the leg symptoms started too (sciatica, weird sensations). A CT scan showed a bulge of S1/L5 to the left.

Then one day I was shopping in a local warehouse grocery store, and my back started up. I thought it was due to concrete floors, and when it got worse and worse as I went around, I gave up and went outside to wait for my friend to finish. She brought the vehicle around to the door when she finished as I was in so much pain and as I went to step up into the van, it felt like I had been hit by lightning down my left leg -- can you spell AGONY? After that, I had all the leg things happening big time, extreme tenderness at the top side of the thigh, felt like a tight stocking on my leg, tingling, zaps, you name it. Sometimes it would feel like I had a golf ball between my big toe and the next toe or that my toe was sticking straight up but I'd look at it would look fine.

Being that I'd had back issues for so long, I didn't go to the doctor for a couple days until I realized this seemed to be more than what I had had before. The doctor tested my reflexes in that leg, and I didn't have the achilles tendon reflex at all. The weird thing? After the initial couple hours after the "lightning bolt", my back felt the best that it ever did! The pain was in my leg.

Went to the specialist 3 months later (waiting list!) and he said things didn't add up. The bulge of the disc was to the left, so supposedly I should have trouble bending to the left, but didn't -- I had trouble to the right. Also, if I laid on my back and tried to put my foot up in the air (heel pointing to the ceiling like a stretch), I couldn't -- my knee would not straighten beyond 90 degrees...

I had surgery (a laminectomy) and they discovered that the disc had not just bulged, it had gone and wrapped all around a nerve root, so there is no way it would have ever shrunk in. It took them an extra hour to unwrap it.

Since then? Absolutely NO back pain of any kind. I don't lift anything heavy, but other than that, my back is no more of an issue than any other part of my body. I've had two episodes of sudden spasms in the lower back when I've bent over and kind of twisted somehow I guess, but it only hurt for a bit (very painful though), which I attribute to scar tissue or something. I have residual nerve things (nothing major): I get occasional "charley horses" above my outer ankle (not where you normally get them), and that leg took awhile to strengthen again.

My specialist told me that if you have surgery on your back (for disc issues) when the pain is still in your back, it will most often not be successful because the pain is mostly muscular. When there is no longer pain in your back and it's in your leg(s), then surgery is usually successful because the pain is due to a nerve compression and relieved when they deal with the offending disc.

Hope this helps you. I'd have the surgery again in a minute. BTW, it's been almost 12 years now.

Last edited by michlei; 02-18-2011 at 06:49 PM. Reason: clarification

Old 02-18-2011, 08:02 PM   #12
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

My fusion surgery is 30 years old. The surgery then was very invasive with more muscle being cut and heavier bleeding. I had the surgery after 16 years of disabling pain. The doctors back then would not perform surgery on someone that was young. I spent 3 weeks in hospital and after 3 months I was bedridden for several weeks. Took a year for the spasm in my back to relax. Then I had about 80% inprovement for 5 years. The domino effect starting in the adjacent levels. I have experienced chronic sciatica for the last 25 years. I take 2100 mg neurontin for the nerve pain and am disabled using a cane or a scooter when I go out. The surgery did help for a short period of time but over the long haul nerve pain is just something I have learned to live with.
Pooby Gal

Old 02-20-2011, 10:42 PM   #13
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Re: Has Back Surgery Relieved Anyone's "Back Pain" or only your "Leg Pain"?

Yes and No... I have fewer instances of high pain levels after surgery....took and pain in leg only because its numb, needs nerve regeneration. Back pain is not always constant, but PT will make it sore and will eventually help in the long run. Everyone has different pain pain is all relative...I wish the best for you, and if you have any questions feel free to ask............Michael

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