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  • L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

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    Old 12-19-2006, 10:32 AM   #1
    ms_west
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    Question L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

    Hi all!

    I have been lurking and reading the boards - some of the posts have been rather depressing then there have been others which are encouraging.

    Here is my story: s1/s2 Fusion w/ pelvic bone at 18. Healed fine. No back problems until 2 yeas ago (I am 42) when I reinjured the back. May 2006Laminenctomy L5 for spinal stenosis. Right leg pain improved 70% but never completely disappeared. October 2006 injured back greatly increasing right leg pain down to the foot. MRI shows no new findings. We have tried Nerve Block which confirmed problem at L5, steroid injections into facet socket/joint, oral sterods, pain meds, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, etc.

    Surgeon is recommending fusion at L5 with hardware. 2nd surgeron concurs with first surgeon.

    I am at the point that I need to get rid of this pain and am thinking that I need to just get a grip and schedule the surgery. I can't handle it anymore. I need to function and be able to enjoy life with my precious children. I am so tired of taking pain meds and finding that I am beginning to avoid the simple things in life - going to church (can't sit and the car ride), shopping (leg pain ouch!!), housecleaning (bending, turning), etc.


    Any words of wisdom or advice would the appreciated.

     
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    Old 12-19-2006, 10:44 AM   #2
    sherry1
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    Re: L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

    Hi

    I have been told i may have to have a fusion at L5.
    But i am trying every thing i can to get my back better with out such surgery.
    I have read various messages on people that have had fusion and i see it in two ways.

    I want to get back to 'normal' so i need something done.
    But on the other hand it seems to me that your back is never the same an can even be worse after fusion.

    Which way do you go?

    I hope you find whats going to work for you.

    Best wishes

     
    Old 12-19-2006, 11:47 AM   #3
    Porter107
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    Re: L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

    My decision to schedule my L4-L5/S1 fusion surgery was not an easy one to make especially after reading some of the horror stories posted on this web site. But someone posted that all the people that have had success are not posting on this site, they are out there living their lives without the terrible pain that the people on this site are posting about. I would have to agree with that scenario, I certainly was not posting on this site when I my back and leg were not killing me (so to speak). I too have tried everything I could to avoid surgery, but the pain has continually become worse to the point that any activity put my pain scale at 10. I for one can not handle being in this type of pain forever, so I will take the risk and have the surgery. The odds are good that I will have some pain relief. I know that the majority of people, post fusion surgery, will always have pain, but the chance to be able to live like a normal human being far out weigh the risk of a failed surgery. This is my opinion, everyone who has to deal with this decision needs to make that choice on thier own, do thier homework about the procedure and then decide what is best for them. I wish you luck and hope that whatever you decide that you will soon be pain free.

    Porter

     
    Old 12-19-2006, 12:06 PM   #4
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    Re: L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

    I think Porter expressed so well what many of us finally concluded. I can't address your particular problem, as my scenario is quite different, but I do know that I wanted my life to be less painful. I'm not looking for pain-free. I'll be thrilled if I can have less pain once I'm back to my normal activities. Since I'm not doing all that much yet, I don't really know what my long term success is from this surgery, but I'm confident that at the very least my pain won't be getting worse anymore.

    Porter's also right about who's hanging around this board. A few folks who have successfully healed and are back to their lives do pop in to encourage and help those who are just starting the process, but most of them have filled up their hours with real life again and aren't posting anymore. Take the sad stories and the horror stories with a grain of salt. They're not representative. Most fusions go well and people grow bone and get back to living with significantly less pain.

    Only you can decide what's best for you, but a lot of us on here would encourage you to take the doctor's advice and go for it sooner rather than later. The sooner you do it, the sooner you'll get relief.

    I wish you the best as you make your decision. I know you want to enjoy your little ones, and less pain will make that so much better! As you're thinking about it, come back and ask whatever questions you have. There's probably someone on here who's been there and can tell you their experience.

    Blessings,
    Emily

     
    Old 12-19-2006, 02:08 PM   #5
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    Angry Re: L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

    I am in the same dilema here, do I go forward with fusion? I am assuming this is what the surgeon will recommend, because its what I've been fighting since 18. But, what if we had the surgery and could go forward in our lives?
    I think its true that the people who have sucessful surgery are probably moved on with their lives. I mean, I wouldn't be stuck in the house on the computer if I were better.

    Sometimes I have alot better days to, where I think awhhh I don't need this surgery....and forget I am not physically really doing anything. Then drive one mile to the post office, and can't walk in to get a stamp. Frustrating. I am sure I need an anti-depressant but have been fighting that to. I think from what I have understood so far is that it should atleast aleiviate the leg problems, which then I could have alot more of my life back.

    I think our problem is the same L5 S1. I know there is not a miracle cure, but even if i could be 50 percent better, that would be good. If I could work consistently and not have to live on pain pills to do it, that would be wonderful. I think more than the pain whats starting to really affect me is being isolated, not feeling like I have a purpose anymore, not contributing anymore.

    Rambling here sorry......I just understand as I am going through it. One minute I think I can fight some more, then when the pain is at its worst, I think screw it lets get this over with. yvette

     
    Old 12-19-2006, 02:36 PM   #6
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    Re: L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

    Thank you so much for responding each and everyone of you. I so desparately needed positive feedback from others that can truly understand this process.

    I know there can be success after surgery. I am living proof of it after my first fusion in 1982. I lived 22 years with no pain so it is possible. So why am I dragging my feet since October? My brother had an unsuccessful back surgery which left him 100% disabled and he is in a wheelchair. So I have seen both sides of the coin so to speak.

    My surgeon totally understands my hesistancy and has told me that he would not even want to operate on me unless I am 100% positive of my decision to move ahead.

    I had the nerve/facet block and steroid injection last Tuesday (one week ago) and we proved that my pain is coming from L5. I had just so desparately hoped that the pain would subside from the steroid injection and I must admit my sciatia pain is worse. The pain is in my foot and my back is driving me INSANE.

    My follow up appt is December 26 and the surgeon already told me at the hospital last week that if I did not respond he highly recommended the fusion.

    So here I am.................I think I am ready now and praying for peace in my decision.

    My surgeon suggests going to the bone bank but I truly don't know. I am so worried about catching something done the road from a donor that they did not know how to test for today. Is that crazy??

    Last edited by ms_west; 12-19-2006 at 02:38 PM.

     
    Old 12-19-2006, 03:26 PM   #7
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    Re: L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

    dietdrpepper, how are you sure its your L5 ? The injections didn't help ?
    My Dr. gave me a selective nerve root block that helped my pain , is this how you found out ? I just had an MRI also to see if there's any pinching of nerves.. Sorry I couldn't help you ,maybe you can help me ?

    I hope you choose the right choice

     
    Old 12-19-2006, 05:29 PM   #8
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    Re: L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

    [QUOTE=123dietdrpepper]My surgeon suggests going to the bone bank but I truly don't know. I am so worried about catching something done the road from a donor that they did not know how to test for today. Is that crazy??[/QUOTE]

    It's certainly not crazy, but it's probably very unlikely. I guess you never know. The alternative would be to use BMP with your own bone. That would eliminate that worry altogether. Talk to your doctor about that. Some people experience pain from the bone graft site (your hip) that's pretty significant. But I had a fusion 30 years ago with my own bone from my hip and it never bothered me at all. I got BMP and donor bone for my recent fusion. So far, so good.

    Hope you have peace about your decision. Once you weigh all the pros and cons and make your decision, you've gotta let go of it and not keep second guessing yourself. Write down your reasons for your decision so you can look back at them if you start having doubts. Big surgery, big decision. Lots to consider, but if it's the best thing for you in the long run, it'll be worth it and you'll make it through.

    We'll be here for you!

    ~Emily

     
    Old 12-19-2006, 05:42 PM   #9
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    Re: L5 Fusion - Frustrated...Desparate

    [QUOTE=shawley]dietdrpepper, how are you sure its your L5 ? The injections didn't help ?
    My Dr. gave me a selective nerve root block that helped my pain , is this how you found out ? I just had an MRI also to see if there's any pinching of nerves.. Sorry I couldn't help you ,maybe you can help me ?

    I hope you choose the right choice[/QUOTE]


    When he did the selective nerve block on L-5, that day was beautiful. I felt no pain and the ride home was so pleasant. No pain. Later in the evening the pain started up in my leg slightly and it has steadily returned to my normal level of pain since. My MRI looks clear. Last May, he freed the nerve by removing bone spurs. He believes it is my facet joint in L5.

    According to my surgeon that block and my relief of pain proved that it was coming from the L5 joint.

     
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