Hi. I have a back issue in my L4-L5. Degenerative disk disease and one of the bones is not lined up. The surgeon says he needs to enter from the front and the back to perform the minimumally evasive surgery.  ALIF is what he said. 

He sent me to a link on and it explained everything very well. 

My question is if I should have the surgery or not.

My pain is minimal now. It slightly hurts when I drive or sit too long, but it's managable.

If there is another option, I would rather do that.



  • LizLiz Posts: 2,041

    Welcome Trucker, we’re glad you’re here!

    This site Veritas-Health was previously know as Spine-Health.

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    Have you read through our comprehensive Degenerative Disc Disease Health Center on Spine-health? You’ll find a number of informative articles about DDD, including Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease Pain and Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments. It’s a great resource for those seeking more information about Degenerative Disc Disease. I hope you find these resources helpful.

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  • L4_L5LL4_L5 Posts: 1,275
    edited 11/30/2019 - 1:56 PM

    Have you tried physical therapy or injections yet? Usually the conservative treatments such as these are attempted first. If those fail then surgery may be considered.

    It never hurts to get a second opinion either. Some surgeons are in a rush to operate. I myself prefer the conservative surgeons. 

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  • Trucker

    Nobody here can answer the question of wether you should have the surgery or not, only you and your doctor should decide that.

    A second opinion would probably be a very good idea though, if 2 surgeons say the same thing it usually make the decision a little easier, ask a lot of questions, be informed about why you need surgery and what could happen if you don't have surgery.

    40 questions to ask your surgeon

    Take care and keep us posted


  • I did the conservative treatments first. Cortisone and cutting of nerves. There was some relief with the cortisone, but it didn't last. The cutting nerves didn't do much. Two surgeons told me the same procedure was needed. 

    What's confusing is the lack of pain I feel. It's a pressure feeling on the right lower part of my back that radiates slightly to my right buttocks. 

    I sleep fine and walk fine. Sitting is fine. Driving is annoying after 15 or more minutes.

    If I was in excruciating pain or couldn't sleep, it would be an easy decision. 

    Appreciate the input.

  • The images on the MRI show the damage clearly. Years of truck driving caught up with me.  

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  • That does make the decision harder, I guess my question would be what happens if I don't have the surgery, is there a chance of more damage and so on, that would be a good conversation to have with the surgeon.

    Take care and keep us posted


  • Just wanted to thank you for the thoughtful feedback. I'm grateful that this forum exists for people in my situation. Heartfelt appreciation for caring and sharing. 

  • You're welcome, I hope you figure out what is right for you


  • Are there alternatives to surgery? Should I look into clinical trials? Thank you. 

  • Only your doctor would be able to answer that, I will say this, my doctor considers spinal surgery as a last resort, if he thinks you would benefit from pain control or injections he will always try all that first.


  • You say your pain is minimal right now......I had pain that started out minimal and gradually (very gradual) got worse.  When it started getting pretty bad I would ask myself 'if I had to live with this pain for the rest of my life, could I do it?'  One day the answer was "No". I had surgery 3 months later.  Good luck with whatever you decide.  Obviously you know this site is a great resource

  • Should I wait for the pain to get to that point or just get the surgery over with. It sounds as surgery is inevitable, seeing as I have two surgeons recommendations.

  • Sounds like you need to have more conversations with your surgeon. Ask about any harm in waiting, likelihood of complications of going forward now vs. waiting, benefits to now vs.waiting etc.. My surgeon said that their office frequently sees patients several times for consultations/questions before going forward with surgery. You should be confident that surgery is the right move before going forward. Mental readiness and acceptance are a big part of recovery and the healing process. I was very ready and actually was looking forward to my surgery and the recovery.

  • Whichever route you go we all are with you.  My story was somewhat similar to both yours and urbmshr in that A. At one point the pain was where I could manage it and then like urbmshr stated I found myself in a position where I knew I couldn’t live like this.  There wasn’t a minute of the day and many sleepless nights that I had any comfort.  I also was told with my first round of MRIs that the surgeon was amazed I didn’t have more pain than what I was experiencing to the degree of astonishment that I had not been involved with a pain clinic prior to that point. I think from my experiences with nerve damage and nerve pain there is often not complete consistency.  When it truely affects your world though you will know.  That being said the recovery from back surgery is well...not the easiest.  At least not for me but again I don’t think it’s consistent across the board one way or the other.  All persons above me in this discussion are giving you the angles to think about but each person is different.  Good luck in your processes with your health.  We are all here for ya. DC

  • Joel1QJoel1Q Posts: 374
    edited 12/13/2019 - 12:34 AM

    Hey Trucker, you’re getting sound feedback from the forum.  I had some eposodic low back pain and really bad left side sciatica, I sat a lot for work and traveled by auto a lot. I’d get into periods where my body healed from PT or losing weight or a combo of alternative therapies, I’d always do something and end up prone for a while recovering.  I ended up having 3 level ALIF/PLIF. While it was really tough for me I’m still recovering 22 months later, And 3 out of 4 pains were eliminated (unfortunately not the sciatica) every one is different and I’m probably an outlier...(read: look to chip as a surgery role model ! :) ). Do your research get 3 or 4 opinions and most of all Find a quality surgeon and medical team you trust. 

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