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2nd Discectomy or Fusion?

I had a discectomy about a year and half ago (L5-S1). I never got full relief but I was happy because it got me off the Gabapentin. Gabepentin helped me walk, continue working and got me out of bed in the morning but the side effects such as depression and weight gain have been horrible. In December I had a relapse and could hardly walk. I had a contrast MRI done. I had an allergic reaction from the Prohance....UGH! Got the results back and my disc is herniated again (worse than the first time) and I have a disc fragment that broke off and it is pinching my nerve roots. Not even sure how this happened!!!  I was doing PT....go figure!!  So long story short, back on the Gabapentin and tried a steroid injection that offered no relief so I am faced with the question of having another surgery. I went and saw two surgeons and feel like I have not gotten solid advise. My original surgeon said don't rush in a 2nd surgery and do the injections and the second opinion said he would only recommend a second surgery if I am having nerve pain and he would recommend a 2nd discectomy. Yes....I am having terrible nerve pain!!! I am back on the Gabapentin which helps but I don't want to be on this drug!! So I am am contemplating a second surgery. Should I do another discectomy or fusion? My concern is  the second discectomy it not working and the disc bulging out again and I am faced with a third surgery. I'm 43 years old and I used to live an active life. I would work out in the gym, play softball and spend alot of time outdoors prior to all of this. This injury has ruined my life. Now I am fat, depressed and spend a lot of time at home because I am embarrassed of all the weight I have gained. I can't go out and enjoy the things I once liked to do.

Are there people out there that have had a 2nd discectomy? Was it successful? I have mixed feelings......should I do the 2nd discectomy? It is a more conservative approach and I really feel that once the disc fragment has been removed I will be out of so much pain. But I am worried that if it is not successful, having a third surgery. I just want this to all go away. I am also worried about my job.

Any positive advise would be much appreciated.



  • challengercchallenger Posts: 1,209
    edited 07/18/2019 - 1:57 PM


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    Sorry you are going through all this, making these type decisions can be very stressful, my first surgery was on L5, it then herniated again and I had another discectomy, that surgery went very well and I did not have any problems for several years, those were only because I took a nasty fall that ruptured the disc above, fusion surgery is a very serious surgery with a long recovery time, I cannot make any decisions for you, only you and your surgeon can decide the best course of action, I just want you to know that there are no guarntees with fusion surgery either.

  • Becca,

      I am so sorry to hear this.  Injured backs are life changing. I am in a similar situation. I have had 2 endoscopic discectomies in the past 6 months and now going to an open discectomy on June 21.  I would avoid the fusion at all costs.  From my friends in the business and my neurosurgeon I was told you want to keep the integrity of the spine as much as possible for long term. My neuro said if this 3rd discectomy fails I will be looking at a fusion but he really doesn’t want to fuse because I’m only 36.

      I also understand the weight gain.  I have put on 12 lbs and feel like a whale.  Keep your head up and do your best and remember at the end of the day you can only do your best!  

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