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Critical Spinal Stenosis, DDD, loss of disk...scared of sur

Hi I’m new to this web site .. I am 57.. have enjoyed an active life. I have had a bad back for years, got lots of epidurals , meds ,( not a candidate for burning the nerve since my problem is inside the spinal canal. ) The Epidurals and meds allowed me to live  an active life , and one that kept my core strong. Now the epidurals don’t work the meds don’t work. I’m taking the max of Ibuprofen allowed.. but I know that is bad for my kidneys and not a long time solution, plus it still doesn’t take all the pain away. My husband had a very successful laminectomy. I went to the place to inquire about it.. I got a new MRI .. that said I had critical central stenosis, bilateral forminal stenosis, spondylosis.  The surgeon said I’m in danger of loosing my ability to walk, and loose bowel and bladder control. I do have lots of leg pain buttocks pain .. that’s new. I have tingling of my legs.. they feel like the go to sleep .. but I can still walk fine. Sometimes I pace around because sitting hurts. At work I stand and type on the computer ( LOL ) . Unfortunately my insurance changed what they cover , and they won’t cover the center in which the Surgery will be done. They will cover the procedure, the Surgeon . I than found another spine surgeon who said I really need a laminectomy along with a fusion.  That’s the part I’m scared of , the fusion is with screws.. still done minimally invasive. I have to stay the night in the hospital though. The surgeon made sense when he explained why. I just haven’t herd any good things about fusions .. I’m surprised when the forums here how long the recovery is. I’m being told it’s not that long ... everything is based on how I react. They said I can go back to work in a week. I will be in a back brace for 3 weeks. Any success stories on fusion with screws .. I’m really scare but I want my life back. 



  • Welcome to the forum. I’ve never heard of anyone going back to work one week after a fusion. Others will be along soon to offer their opinion. I’ve never had back surgery.

  • lynnemari

    welcome to spine-health

    i have had 2 lumbar fusion surgeries, i can tell you that after either one i would not have been able to go back to work after 1 week, after my first fusion i went back to work after 4 weeks, after my second it was 9 weeks, i was also required to wear a back brace for 3 months both times, but i understand different surgeons do things differently when it comes to bracing.

    i will tell you that i consider both my surgeries to be a success as far as stability and pain relief go, and if i had to i would do it again, what you are experiencing with the tingling is nerve pain, that need to be taken care of before anything becomes permanent, also the sooner you get the nerves decompressed the sooner they will heal.
    good luck and keep us posted


    Veritas-Health Moderator

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  • The fusion  is minimally invasive , they don’t cut through muscle so the recovery time is shorter. I will back to work with limitations and not the full week. 

  • Chip were your surgeries minimally invasive? I also have the same problem on my C6.. stenosis no disk and impinging on the nerve. I have no pain just constant tingling all the way down my right arm and thumb and fingers. Since I have no pain I don’t really want to anything about it. 

  • My fusions were not considered minimally invasive, I am fused L3-L5 in two separate surgeries, I have rods and screws.

    As far as your cervical goes, I understand not wanting to do anything, but the tingling indicates nerve entrapment, that is something you need to discuss with your surgeon, if a nerve is entraped long enough you risk permanent damage and possible loss of function, also you say you have no disc which could cause instability, if that is the case there are many risk related to the instability, including paralysis. I am not trying to scare you into anything, just saying you need to have a very serious conversation with your surgeon.


    Veritas-Health Moderator

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  • My surgeon does keep talking to me about my neck too., He knows though that I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head  around the Lumbar fusion.. I only wanted the laminectomy. I would love to hear lots of success stories with fusions. It seems to be 50/50. 

  • I have cervical stenosis. Fusion C2-C3. The thing to think about is how you will be if you don't get the surgery.  Stenosis means your cord is being compressed. If you wait you will get permanent damage.  My ability to walk and use my arms is limited now. I waited too late. Don't expect you will get better like you were when you were younger, you are just preventing further damage. This is a lifelong medical situation. 

  • Hi Lynn, I am 65 year old male. Always very active in good shape (retired Police Officer) always had back pain but just dealt with it using PT and over the counter medication. Finally, four months ago I hurt my back moving wood. Couldn't walk, went to Emergency Room. Basically, after three months of trying PT,  Acupuncture, Spine Shot, Gabapentin pills, Etc. I needed fusion L3-L4 and L4-L5 also decompression blocks. Had minimally invasive robartic assisted surgery five weeks ago. Everything seemed fine (see DavidH) however one week out and set screw had come out. Was floating in my back. Had to go back in two weeks ago for open back surgery to remove and replace hardware. So far all X-rays look good. Regret having minimally invasive surgery going in through my side. Should have had regular and more common open back surgery. Also, there is no way I could go back to work now. After going through so much I'm afraid I'll make a silly mistake and bend over or pick up something and damage what's healing. I have found this website helpful. DavidH 

  • I had an L5-S1 fusion in July of 2017. I had complications that I’m not going to talk about here because they’re rare and I don’t want to scare you. But overall, I consider the surgery a success. The horrible horrible sciatica is gone and has been since day 1 post op. I can walk, Drive, sit, stand and work with only a slight stiffness that is to be expected. 

    However, going back to work within a week would NEVER EVER have been possible. Not even close. I was in the hospital for 6 days (due to the aforementioned complications) but even without the complications, there’s still no way. I am a nurse, and I have 2 jobs. It was 9 weeks before I went back to job 1, and 12 before I was back to both. I understand that some jobs are less demanding, but I’ll tell you I was still relying Percocet 3-4 times a dayfor pain relief until 3 weeks post op. I was fully off of it by 4 weeks, but there’s still no way I could have gone back before I did.

    I’m now facing an even bigger surgery (a 360 fusion C4-C-7) to fix my neck. But I’m putting my faith in God and my surgeon to get me through it again. 

    I still think that the surgery was 100% worth it. Don’t rush your recovery. Be patient and listen to your body. I wish you the best of luck for an uncomplicated surgery and a speedy recovery! 

  • Thank you for all the input. I decided to get a third opinion. The first two were Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, the last one was a Neurosurgeon. One Ortho Surgeon recommended laminectomy L3/4, the other recommended laminectomy and fusion. The neurosurgeon recommenced only laminectomy based on the fact that I have a lot of arthritis in my back, and a fusion would only cause more problems down the road, and more stress on the rest of my spine. I went with the neurosurgeon . I’m almost two weeks post op. I do have pain but I have herd through many sources that it takes a while for the nerves to recover. I’m so happy I didn’t get the fusion. I feel very blessed I could get multiple opinions. 

    Thank you ... this web site has been a big help. 


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