Avatar universal

Facing 4th back surgery! Need advice!

To make a long story short.........I've had 3 surgeries so far on my lumbar and now I'm facing the 4th one! Currently I have 2 disc herniation's (L3-L4 and L4-L5), spinal stenosis (moderate to severe), facet arthropathy, retrolisthesis, DDD, moderate to severe disc height narrowing (moderate to severe at L3-L4 & L4-L5), and the one problem that is the main concern is a free floating disc fragment that is completely impinging the L5 nerve root. I was given a couple options.......

1.) No surgery and just control with meds!
2.) A fusion of the L3, L4, and L5.
3.) Just go and and have the disc fragment removed and the 2 disc herniation's shaved down.

  I can get into more detail if someone can help me with making this decision. I'm not sure what to do. I have leg & back pain that at times makes me feel like I need to throw up!I have been dealing with this since I was injured in 2004, while I was in the Military. Any help is much appreciated.

5 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi There..
So sorry to hear about your pain and problems with your back..if I may ask, what was the prognosis if you just had the disc fragment removed, and the 2 discs shaved?...I had fusion of L4/L5 in 2001, and am doing great..you have many more problems than I had..but am wondering what the prognosis is with option #3...are you experiencing loss of mobility of your leg/legs?...I had what is called "foot drop"..which is caused by the disc(s) herniation pressing on the nerve root, resulting in much weakness in your foot/feet..which, in time will cause you to trip/fall...do you have a GOOD doctor/orthopedic?...I was very fortunate to have one of the best orthopedic's in the country do my fusion...it is a BRUTAL surgery, but for me changed my life...have you had a 2nd opinion??..I feel your pain, and am sorry you're going through it..it's a god awful pain..and the worst is, most people aren't very compassionate..because they've never experienced it...I feel for you, and wish you the very best with it.....let me know on my questions...good luck..      
Avatar universal
Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad to hear you are doing great and the fusion worked for you. As far as a prognosis for option #3.......is that it could work! If the disc is removed and the herniations are shaved down, best case scenario is that my leg pain is relieved. On the other hand it could do nothing, but cause my L4-L5 to herniate for a 3rd time and end up bone on bone and need a fusion. There is a good chance that my L5 nerve root has permanent nerve damage, because of the disc fragment and along with the herniation both pressing against the nerve. I do have weakness in my right foot and calf. I have lost my balance on stairs a few times because of my foot losing strength and I have tripped a few times as well. Right now I have to see a military doctor through the VA and I can't get a second opinion because this is my only insurance being a disabled vet. If the Doctor and I decide to go with the fusion....I will have a few questions for you, if you don't mind. I appreciate your help and as you said if you have never been through back pain you truly can't understand.
Avatar universal
Hi SSGmajik av had two lower lumber surgery.  a know that ma back no any better.  a see ma neurosurgeon in October.  A got an earlier appointment, it was meant to be December...   ma foot numb, leg, pain in ankle  n still feel stiff from time to time.  trying hard to beat this... take care...
Avatar universal
I had 6 back surgeries in 8 yrs. Fusion of l3-l5 in 2007 and after about 5 months I felt mostly just fine. I felt so good that i overdid something and injured the L2 joint above.
So after trying for months to get better on my own. I had to have yet another fusion done on that level in June 2009. 12 weeks now and I am slowly getting better.
I agree with dmzllc, get many opinions and find out the best approach. The skill of the surgeon and the techniques used are crucial to obtaining the best results.
But, like said above, it is very painful and time consuming painful recovery. But in the long run you should be better. I am hopeful that in the long term, a few more  months I will be just fine since all the presugery leg pains are all gone. I just have lingering pain from the surgery itself. Core strengthening and exercise are key to getting  good results.

Good Luck, Gary
Avatar universal
I appreciate all your opinions and experiences, they are invaluable. These are questions I can ask the doc and get his opinion. I am going to try and get several opinions if the VA will pay for it, because I have no other health insurance and I'm at their mercy! Hopefully all of you continue to recover and stay healthy. Thanks for everything!

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