What are people's experiences with spinal fusion surgery?

Posted by heatherm @heatherm, Oct 27, 2020

After trying pretty much everything, with little pain relief, my surgeon has put me on his priorty elective list for fusion of my L3/4/5, and maybe S1. I’ve heard both positive and negative experiences with this surgery. What are people’s experiences, with this? ,

If you don't mind me asking did you have any other surgical procedures or fusion prior to this one? I ask because I had pedicle plates and screws in 1992 and now I have OA of entire spine, stenosis, leg involvement (pain, numbness), chronic pain. A NS offered to remove my old hardware and insert new cages as it appears my L4-S1 fusion did not include securing L5. It is not attached to the hardware and is relatively translucent compared to L4 and Sacrum. My original recovery was eventful and painful and I cannot fathom the thought of doing it again. I function pretty well as long as I get relief from my pain meds and mmj. I've never had steroid injection and do not intent on doing so. I'm 69 and in pretty good shape for my age but I look 50 and feel 80.

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It is so great to hear when someone finds a non surgical method to combat spine pain. Congratulations

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Now that I'm old enough for Medicare I have been back to PT 3 times in 2 years. Our disease process posses no obstacles for PT. We get better but we always get worse as we age and more stuff breakdown. The more I move the better I feel.

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@jeffkboyce

Thank you – I am so sorry you went through all of that! What may I ask is a spinal stimulator?

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Well….honestly, it’s probably more sensible to have you look it up than me trying to explain it clearly! Many brands, some (but not likely limited to) are Medtronics (what I have), Boston Scientific, Abbot, Nevro, etc. etc. It involved some minimal incisions on my lower back, a bit of sedation once it was placed (by testing nerve reaction). Hardest thing for me was many movement restrictions postop for quite awhile so electrode leads did not get pulled out of place or broken. Was home within a few hours total.
Many people claim to have no luck with it, I have had marvelous results with it. For me, it was an option to try vs a second very involved back fusion surgery. Injections didn’t do anything and I have “severe” stenosis on MRI at L5-S1. Patients DO get to trial it first before permanent placement.

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@wisco50

Well….honestly, it’s probably more sensible to have you look it up than me trying to explain it clearly! Many brands, some (but not likely limited to) are Medtronics (what I have), Boston Scientific, Abbot, Nevro, etc. etc. It involved some minimal incisions on my lower back, a bit of sedation once it was placed (by testing nerve reaction). Hardest thing for me was many movement restrictions postop for quite awhile so electrode leads did not get pulled out of place or broken. Was home within a few hours total.
Many people claim to have no luck with it, I have had marvelous results with it. For me, it was an option to try vs a second very involved back fusion surgery. Injections didn’t do anything and I have “severe” stenosis on MRI at L5-S1. Patients DO get to trial it first before permanent placement.

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Thank you – I did look it up now I understand. So glad it has helped you !

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@jeffkboyce

Thank you – I did look it up now I understand. So glad it has helped you !

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Glad it was clear! I don’t think I could have explained it clearly, LOL!

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Thanks so much for the wonderful feedback! It’s also empowering/comforting to know there are solutions and a wonderful group to learn from past experiences and get advice. Thank you to those who responded to my questions.

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All I was given was a hand-out to follow. I will have to very soon access private therapy . My pain control, since I came home has not been good. I'm on my previous meds, and the surgeon hydromorphone. I hate being on a lot of meds and am fearful of addiction. I have to advocate for myself, research credible on-line information, ask questions. The pharmacist is the only professional who has given me credible and helpful info. My pain isn't too bad during the day, but my nights aren't good and I have seldom slept well. I have added and taken away some meds, and finally got adequate sleep last night, but have drowsiness today. I must self motivate to get at my physio exercises twice a day.

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I have a question to add to my posting- what experiences have people had with the external electric stimulators (like Dr. Ho's ). Have you had pain relief from them?

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@heatherm

I have a question to add to my posting- what experiences have people had with the external electric stimulators (like Dr. Ho's ). Have you had pain relief from them?

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Yes TENS units like Dr. Ho work very well but everyone is an individual. I bought Dr. Ho is 1997 after seeing a late night TV ad since my back pain kept me awake. I’ve used his device since that time and recently added a muscle therapy machine to my regime. How long postop are you? My surgery was 1992.

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My surgery was 1992 with stainless steel plates and screws, which provided me with stability but increased vertebrae wearing above and below. Now they typically use titanium cages or something similar. I recommend you check out the site for others who have previously charted their path.

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@ga29 I never wore a back brace.. Occasionally I would wear an elastic back binder that wrapped around me but I was a University Professor and when lecturing would sit on my desk at the front.. but so many of my classes were Labs where I could go from student to student as they worked at a drawing board or computer.. I sat down beside the student rather than bending over .. I drove my car after a couple weeks… I used a walker only that first week.. That same spine surgeon prescribed a cervical traction device for me 5 years after the surgery.. .. with that I am on the floor with my legs below the knees up on the seat of the chair.. it stretches me for about a half an hour. Occasionally when standing at the kitchen counter preparing and cooking for over a 45 minutes I have to take a break for 15 minutes to get flat and take the load off the spine.. Good luck .. I retired at 63 to travel and enjoy my new freedom.. Ken

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