← Return to Chronic pain and spinal fusion


Chronic pain and spinal fusion

Spine Health | Last Active: Apr 4, 2023 | Replies (173)

Comment receiving replies

I also have had a failed fusion but my level is L5 S1. I had my surgery in 1994 and I had a good 12-15 years before my fusion failed. The worst area for my pain is my right sciatica nerve which was damaged during my fusion and my lower back. I do have arthritis throughout my body, spinal stenosis as well as major gastrointestinal issues. I have constant chronic pain but I am now in a gym type of setting for wheelchair users and they have taught us how to safely use the various pieces of equipment to try to build muscles and gain strength. It is in a university operated program so we work with students who keep us working out and they provide great encouragement and empathy.

Jump to this post

Replies to "I also have had a failed fusion but my level is L5 S1. I had my..."

Good Morning!
I am so sorry that you are having such difficulties.
At the end of February, I had 2 artificial disc replacements on C4/5.
I was told then that fusions last only so long before they need to be done again in addition to needing fusions on the discs below.
I was told that fusions are like dominoes. You do one set then eventually the next set below will need to be done (when, not if).
I was also told that in some instances, disc replacements do not work and another surgery for a fusion may need to be done.
So far, so good.
Although I am not in the medical field, it sounds to me like your fusion did not really fail, it just lived beyond its point and another must be done.
You are doing a great job working on yourself with the back issues you have.

Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

How is your pain level, it sounds as though you are doing well, so happy to hear that. Thank you so much for your response.

I wish I had been to,d this info prior to surgery. I am so frightened of more surgery. Any surgery for me is very complicated as I am on a blood thinner for life and a 12 hour surgery is risky. My two prior surgeries involved a large amount of blood loss, I was in ICU over 10days. I don’t believe I could physically or psychologically go through it ever again. Well I say that but realistically I had no choice. For years I dealt with pain before any surgery but my plan was never to do surgery, just keep doing epidurals and PT. Everyth8ng changed from an accident my already very troubled spine (bone spurs, scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, spondliyothesis, etc) become completely unstable. This was the one factor that changed everything. I was t9ld by my surgeon that walking is the best thing I can do for myself. I religiously walk every single day. For certain I walk a minimum of at least 4 miles but very often walk between 6 and 10 miles. I am not speedy at all an de it takes me hours but feel as though I am doing everything I can.

Hi Ronnie
Thanks for this info as I never heard this before and have wondered why so many fusions fail. My spine is such a mess that the dr has said that he wouldn’t do any more surgeries on me as that could just make me worse. Although I’m in a wheelchair or use my small scooter I can also walk in my home for short distances and I work hard to keep moving as I am afraid to lose this little bit of mobility that I have. It can be exhausting but it’s something that I must keep doing.

My gosh, I cannot believe you walk that far. I am lucky to get in 1/2 mile

You are welcome for the information.
When I first began with this neurosurgeon, we had a long discussion on how to help me with my C5/6.
He gave me 2 choices, fusion or replacement.
I really didn't know anything about either so we had a long discussion about both.
I knew when I got the replacement, that there was a chance that it would not work and I would need a fusion.
I also knew that if I had the fusion, I would need other fusions down the spine, in the future.
It's the nature of how fusions work.
My neurosurgeon suggested trying the replacement since failure is very minimum.
So glad I did. I am very blessed to have found this doctor.
Did learn something else that is news to me...…
It is law in Florida that he cannot give me any pain meds without doing surgery.
And when pain meds are given, it is only for 1 week after surgery.
It always amazes me that things sway fully in one direction and then in the other.

Before giving up on any more surgeries (that is if you still want them), find another doc for another opinion.
New techniques are coming out all the time.

I understand you feelings about keeping up your mobility.
I've actually started using a scooter or wheelchair when we go out.
Only problem is I don't own one, so we only go to places that have them to rent or borrow.
I try to get into my pool each day and walk and do some leg exercises.
I can't do much so I really don't know if it helps.

Hope you have a great weekend!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

I walk at a very leisurely pace. I always take my little 7lb Yorkie with me, she poops out quickly so I have a stroller for her. The stroller actually helps me as I have something to hold on to that helps keep me upright for all those hours. I just feel like my whole midsection is sinking. Does anyone else have this problem. My fusion was T2 through L4.

Lynn12...Yes I too have a 5 lb Yorkie. But no stroller. Some days I do well with the walk, but others can't wait to sit down. It is very hot here in Texas, so our walks are reduced due to heat.

Hi Lynn!
It's a great idea to have the stroller to hang on to. I do the same when I go to stores. If it doesn't have a scooter, there has to be a shopping cart for me to hold on to.

I haven't had fusions, but what you are describing makes sense based on what I have been told about fusions.
When you are fused, the fused discs lay heavily on the discs below it. That is why another fusion is eventually needed. The discs basically collapse on one another.

Have a pain free day.....
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

How old is your Yorkie? Lucy is 10years old and goes everywhere with me, this dog is so mellow, never ever yaps, goes to anyone, kids, etc, gentle as a lamb.

You are fortunate to have a pool as water therapy is an excellent way to keep your pain levels down. As I’m sure you know that you can do so much more in a pool than you can on dry land. I often use pool noodles to let myself float and it feels wonderful not to feel any pressure anywhere on my body. After I broke my pelvis in 2012 I did a lot of water therapy and it made a big difference in my recovery as my body was already compromised from previous car accidents. I’m sure that you could find lots of good pool exercises on line. I believe that any exercise is good exercise and that you will gain more than you may realize. Although we don’t have your great weather throughout several seasons we only use outdoor pools here (near Niagara Falls, NY but on the Canadian side) for 3-4 months a year. I use my wonderful neighbours pool or my son’s pool to get my water therapy in and to help my legs to keep going. I do attend a special gym at our local university that is designed for anyone in a wheelchair or power chair. We work with students from either the Health Sciences or Kinesiology program that are in their last year or 2 at the university and they keep it light and fun but they are always challenging us to do more reps or to add more weight to the machines that we use. Of course all of the members challenge each other in different ways but the encouragement of the students and the other members makes it so that I want to be there and I don’t want to let the students that I work with down after they invest their time in us. I am so pleased that I found out about this program as I am making some improvements although slowly but it is all left to each individual as to what progress each will make. We can pick & choose when we go and who we work with as the students all rotate in and out of the program. This is an ideal program for me as I was never inclined to want to work out as I really never liked work8ng out.