← Return to Grade III spondylolisthesis – bilateral, unrelenting pain

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@katie215

@jenniferhunter Jennifer, thank you for your response today. I live in Canada but was assessed and declined at Laser Spine Institute in Florida January 2019. (As you know they have ceased operation now). That being said Dr Prada, the top orthopaedic surgeon as well as Dr Davis, neurosurgeon did a complete assessment c/w MRI and in their opionion my case was risky as an outpatient procedure due to presence of bone spurs, nerve impingement, location of blood supply, and a natural fusion I have from a fall 30 years ago. So I have aGrade 2 spondy. They did say that bone would need to be cut to do anything and it would need to be done in a hospital setting.

Also going forward, I was lead to believe that IF surgery were attempted there would be no guarantee of reduction of pain, risk of infection and loss of bowel/bladder control, a lengthy recovery period and blood supply to my lower extremities could be compromised.

If Rhey were able to help, we'd have been happy to pay out of pocket for sure….for relief.

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Replies to "@jenniferhunter Jennifer, thank you for your response today. I live in Canada but was assessed and..."

@jenniferhunter Mistake. I have a grade 3 spondy.

@katie215 No surgeon can guarantee they can cure all your pain, but they can help the functionality of your spine. I didn't have a guarantee of pain reduction either, but I knew that surgery would fix my pain because at the beginning stages, I could turn pain on and off anywhere in my body by changing the position of my neck. I had tracked my symptoms as they progressed. I had surgery at Mayo that changed my life. Laser surgery for spine problems can not address more complex cases. I have watched a lot of neurosurgery conference training presentations online, and the neurosurgeons were making jokes about looking for a job at the Laser Spine Institute. That tells me what others in the field think about them.

My own case was confusing and complex, and I was loosing the ability to hold my arms up. I had bone spurs that kept growing and increasing pressure on my spinal cord. Without surgery, I would become disabled and would probably end up in a wheel chair, and I would have lost my ability to do my artwork. Before I came to Mayo, 5 surgeons would not help me, and I got conflicting opinions. None of them understood what is called "funicular pain" where compression of the spinal cord can cause pain anywhere in the body. I came to Mayo, and surgery fixed all of that.

As a patient, you owe it to yourself to consult the true experts in the field and research the qualifications of any doctor that you wish to consult. I read their medical literature, looked at where they trained, and if they had been recognized for outstanding academic performance. The good ones are usually at teaching medical centers. There are websites like Becker's Spine Review, where you can find information about specific doctors and institutions and get a sense of the centers that are respected and recognized.

Here is a big issue to understand as a patient. No surgeon wants to fail or have a bad result with a patient outcome. That would result in lowering their personal success rates for procedures, and they are rated by the insurance companies, and patients are writing reviews online. All of that can have a huge negative impact on a surgeon's career, and it's a safer bet for them to tell a patient that surgery can't help or guarantee success. You are the worried patient who doesn't have the understanding to challenge this thinking, and it's easier to let fear of what could be make that choice….. after all the doctor agreed, right?

I was very fearful myself, and my natural tendency would be to put off something and see if it got better. I had an advantage in that I understood medical literature because I have a biology degree, and had worked in biology research at a university. That helped me understand what was happening in my body, and even when the surgeons didn't believe me when I talked about my symptoms, I knew they were making mistakes and missing the diagnosis. Overcoming my fears and recovering the gift of my artistic talent had a hugely profound effect on my life, and I wouldn't be here now writing this if I had given up on myself. It changed my life, and because I did this, I know how to handle my fears and deprogram them. I worked at that, and looked back in my life to all the events that had contributed to my fears that had controlled my life. No one is born with fear; it is learned, and if it is learned, it can be unlearned.

You are correct. All surgery has risks, but the rewards can be wonderful. You can do things to lessen the risks by improving your health before surgery, and addressing conditions that could cause complications, for example smoking contributes to failed spine surgeries. Legally, they have to tell you the risks for an informed consent. Doesn't the closing of the Laser Spine Institute suggest to you, that they may not have been the best place for a consult? Since they are not a hospital, they probably only wanted out-patient cases and you brought them a complex case. If your spine has fused itself already, that is a more complex case. Bone spurs and nerve impingement are conditions that a neurosurgeon would expect to fix. The spinal discs have no blood supply of their own. The spinal cord does have a blood supply, and that can be affected by a spine injury. Anytime something puts pressure on a blood vessel or nerve, it's function is affected. I had bone spurs growing inside the spinal canal pushing right into my spinal cord, and if I bent my neck forward and down, I could send an electric shock down my body. I was at risk or paralysis if I should have another injury because there was no space left around my spinal cord. My choice was become disabled or have surgery. I chose to face my fears and I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. My surgery was not as painful as I imagined it would be. In fact, I found I could cope during my recovery without pain medication, and I chose not to take it. That may not work for someone else, but I also know that fear increases pain a lot, and I overcame that and was calm. Right before my surgery, I held my surgeon's hand and thanked him for helping me.

I think you should get more opinions. It's your life and your choice. I didn't let the doctors that got my case wrong influence my decision on my treatment. By far, the care I had at Mayo was superior to all the other places I had been seen as a patient, and those were respected medical centers in my local area. Patients get an unbiased opinion at Mayo because doctors are employees on salary, and don't have a stake in the profits of the place they work. I won't go anywhere else for my spine care. Surgery is expensive if you don't have medical insurance. I could have gone home the same day of my surgery and had the option to stay one night and I did because I was worried about falling, but I had been up and walking around the ward that day. Is it possible for you to come to Mayo? If you have questions about my experience or my surgeon, I would be happy to answer. Here's my story
https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2019/01/09/using-the-art-of-medicine-to-overcome-fear-of-surgery/