Upcoming Spine Surgery

Posted by tin @tin, Sep 20 3:56pm

Three years ago I had a laminectomy (T12-L2). No fusion was done. Since the surgery I have had some ongoing pain. I have met with my surgeon and he is recommending a T11-L2 instrumented fusion. I exercise and dance. My concern is the loss of flexibility I will have after the surgery.
Has anyone had this particular surgery and if so, how have you done? Have you experienced severe flexibility limitations, etc.?

Good afternoon @tin, welcome to Connect. As mentors, we are a group of patients and former patients who just might have something of value to share with you. For example, my laminectomy with fusion was done many years ago. The fusion was accomplished by adhering bones from my hip joint to my vertebrae. That type of surgery was chosen because a spinal surgery a few years before did not produce the results that it was supposed to.

I do remember that I had the surgery right before Christmas so I wouldn't miss too much work at the college where I was a student counselor. I also remember that it was important to keep turning me quarter turns to make sure things stayed in balance. I was able to play golf and attend a ballroom dancing class with my husband and daughter within a few months. I think tennis took longer because of the hard stops. Since that time I have never had a back issue.

My personal trainer at the time taught me two or three must-do exercises and I did them every day. My surgeon whose wife was one of my golf partners, was satisfied with the outcome and so was I.

Today there must be lots of new products and surgical techniques but the basic issues are the same. However, just to make sure, would you be comfortable sharing more details about your situation and I will ask @jenniferhunter to bring you up to date on the surgery itself.

Is flexibility your biggest concern?

May you be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
Chris

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@artscaping

Good afternoon @tin, welcome to Connect. As mentors, we are a group of patients and former patients who just might have something of value to share with you. For example, my laminectomy with fusion was done many years ago. The fusion was accomplished by adhering bones from my hip joint to my vertebrae. That type of surgery was chosen because a spinal surgery a few years before did not produce the results that it was supposed to.

I do remember that I had the surgery right before Christmas so I wouldn't miss too much work at the college where I was a student counselor. I also remember that it was important to keep turning me quarter turns to make sure things stayed in balance. I was able to play golf and attend a ballroom dancing class with my husband and daughter within a few months. I think tennis took longer because of the hard stops. Since that time I have never had a back issue.

My personal trainer at the time taught me two or three must-do exercises and I did them every day. My surgeon whose wife was one of my golf partners, was satisfied with the outcome and so was I.

Today there must be lots of new products and surgical techniques but the basic issues are the same. However, just to make sure, would you be comfortable sharing more details about your situation and I will ask @jenniferhunter to bring you up to date on the surgery itself.

Is flexibility your biggest concern?

May you be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
Chris

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Hi Chris: Thanks so much for your response. I had a laminectomy and a foraminotomy performed on T12-L2 three years ago. BeforehandI had a number of compressed nerves (mainly in T12) along with herniated discs that were causing me excruciating pain. The surgeon in fact described the surgery as tortuous. Because of the fact that I am a very active individual (and love Zumba), the surgeon did not put rods and screws in the spine so as to give me flexibility.
Since that surgery, I still have ongoing pain on the left side of the surgical area (mainly muscle).
After consulting with a number of surgeons locally (none of whom will place rods and screws in to stabilize the spine because of scar tissue), I located a surgeon who will do this surgery despite scar tissue. He was surprised that the previous surgeon did not insert rods and screws during surgery to stabliize the spine.
My concern is will I be able to resume dance and Zumba after the surgery. It is my love and my passion. What will be my limitations after this type of surgery. At this point, I've leaarned to live with this pain but of course would love to be able to travel, hike,etc.

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@tin

Hi Chris: Thanks so much for your response. I had a laminectomy and a foraminotomy performed on T12-L2 three years ago. BeforehandI had a number of compressed nerves (mainly in T12) along with herniated discs that were causing me excruciating pain. The surgeon in fact described the surgery as tortuous. Because of the fact that I am a very active individual (and love Zumba), the surgeon did not put rods and screws in the spine so as to give me flexibility.
Since that surgery, I still have ongoing pain on the left side of the surgical area (mainly muscle).
After consulting with a number of surgeons locally (none of whom will place rods and screws in to stabilize the spine because of scar tissue), I located a surgeon who will do this surgery despite scar tissue. He was surprised that the previous surgeon did not insert rods and screws during surgery to stabliize the spine.
My concern is will I be able to resume dance and Zumba after the surgery. It is my love and my passion. What will be my limitations after this type of surgery. At this point, I've leaarned to live with this pain but of course would love to be able to travel, hike,etc.

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@tin

Hi Chris: Thanks so much for your response. I had a laminectomy and a foraminotomy performed on T12-L2 three years ago. BeforehandI had a number of compressed nerves (mainly in T12) along with herniated discs that were causing me excruciating pain. The surgeon in fact described the surgery as tortuous. Because of the fact that I am a very active individual (and love Zumba), the surgeon did not put rods and screws in the spine so as to give me flexibility.
Since that surgery, I still have ongoing pain on the left side of the surgical area (mainly muscle).
After consulting with a number of surgeons locally (none of whom will place rods and screws in to stabilize the spine because of scar tissue), I located a surgeon who will do this surgery despite scar tissue. He was surprised that the previous surgeon did not insert rods and screws during surgery to stabliize the spine.
My concern is will I be able to resume dance and Zumba after the surgery. It is my love and my passion. What will be my limitations after this type of surgery. At this point, I've leaarned to live with this pain but of course would love to be able to travel, hike,etc.

Jump to this post

Thank you Chris for inviting me to the conversation. @tin, the question to ask yourself now is how much can you move now with the spine flexibility that you currently have? If you have collapsed discs that are still in your spine because of an earlier less invasive procedure, have you already lost flexibility of those discs? Are you having problems with stability now that needs hardware fixation? What has changed in your symptoms for you to seek out and consider constructs with rods and screws? Has your surgeon done any X-rays that show instability of discs with different spine positions, and have they compared a standing full body X-ray with X-rays taken while seated or laying down? Do you have compression of nerves or the spinal cord now? One thing to consider asking is if a new surgery would make you worse and increase your pain. I think that is what the other surgeons were indicating with their responses. Most surgeons do not promise to cure pain, and instead they preserve function or keep something from getting worse and causing more dysfunction. You might also ask yourself why this other surgeon is willing to do a procedure that the others think is a bad idea. What promises is the doctor making to you? You might want to look for any complaints against the surgeon. Call your insurance company and ask about the surgeons ratings and success statistics.

Here is something else to consider. When discs collapse, over time the spine can fuse itself when bony growth happens in response to pressure. It would be worth asking for a detailed explanation on an MRI about the current condition of your spine and the discs in question. Only a spine surgeon can tell you what they think your outcome would be, and remember, people are all different with different capabilities and health/disease status, so you may not get a precise answer. I thought about this too when I was having C5 & C6 fused and wondered if I would be able to fully turn my head. The answer is yes, because most of head turning is done by C1 & C2 with just a little bit of help from C3 and C4, so C5/C6 has very little to add. I cannot touch my chin to my chest anymore post surgery, but it is within one finger close. Fusing and adding rods to any level of the spine will freeze any movement, and you have to ask how loosing that movement will affect your function. It may be a lot or it may be a little.

Would you be willing to work with a physical therapist to try to treat and improve the scar tissue before you jump into another surgery? Every surgery will create more scar tissue, and scar tissue in the fascial layers can cause tightness, restricted movement and pain. Fascia can be treated with myofascial release procedures by a specially trained physical therapist. This is something that I do with my physical therapist and I do have a cervical spine surgery scar that I also stretch periodically with facial release.

Here is our discussion on myofascial release with lots of links and detailed information in the first pages. Give yourself some time to read and understand MFR if you have never tried it. Your doctor may not be familiar with it, and they train on dead things when they learn dissection, so they may not think about the role of the living fascia.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/myofascial-release-therapy-mfr-for-treating-compression-and-pain/
Does this sound like something that can benefit you?

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