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More confused than ever after a second opinion!!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,002
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I was recently recommended for a microdiscectomy L5 S1. The first doc told me there was a 90% chance that my leg and back pain would go away. At the worst, the pain was in the lower back, hips and down the left leg. after an SI injection in the hip much of the leg pain was relieved...still have numbness along with pain hip, buttock and tailbone area pain (I got no relief from a lumbar nerve block injection). I saw a different neuro today who said that a microdiscectomy probably would not get rid of the pain anywhere but the leg...may or may not help the numbness. The second neuro said that the only way to relieve the back pain would be a multilevel fusion because of disk degeneration, however he thinks I’m too young (40) to do that kind of surgery. At this time leg pain is not the biggest issue. I cannot sit, drive or walk without a lot of pain. Does anyone have an opinion about either doctor's prognosis? I guess I'm not expecting to be pain free, but just need to be able to function normally (somewhat) again. Thanks in advance for you help and support.


  • I am sorry that you are having a tough time. Can you tell us if the first doc is NS or OS or Anesthesiologist (some do Mico Discectomy).

    I was told by my Spine Specialist (found out to be Anesthesiologist) that he would consider a MicroD if the injections failed.....They did. After waiting for 2 months I finally got into the NS and he ordered the flexion/extension xrays that revealed my true problem.

    I love my NS- he is awesome and did a great job on me. I am about 10-11 weeks L4-S1 PLIF and feel like a new person. I was tired of being sick and tired and I am glad I had my PLIF.

    PS- I will be 40 in a couple of months.


  • tell you what my experience has been since I had microD in Dec 07. It has relieved my leg pain but my back pain is worse. That being said, I also have DDD and arthritic facet joints which make it difficult for me to stand, walk or sit. You asked for an opinion so I will give you mine but just remember that it is only my opinion. I would try the microD first. If it fails then you can always move on to the fusion. If you do the fusion and it fails (they often do) it can not be undone. So there would be no harm in trying the least invasive procedure first. Hope this helps you and please keep us posted.
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  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i think it is time for a third opinion. :? the more information you have the better. see if he agrees with either of your first two doctors. i hope your surgery, if that is your decision, goes well into recovery. for a read on successful SH surgeries try the "Good News" forum. good luck with your pain problems. Jenny :)
  • Your comment was very helpful. Your description of lower back pain and Radiculopathy sound like mine. Could you tell me a bit about what the flexion and extension xrays are and what a PLIF is? Thanks SO much.
  • Thanks for sharing your experience. It's helpful to hear different experiences.
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  • I had a micro D and all the injections possible. In my opinion, I would do everything I could to advoid the fusion until the last resort. My micro D was great after I had it until I had a major asthma attack and coughed it all out of wack! Other than that, I was great!
    I am just now recovering from an ALIF level 2 fusion and I will tell you, I'm glad I did it, but if I didn't have to, I wouldn't of.
    Do what you think is best for you! Get another opinion if you are confused, it won't hurt! i also think that no matter what we do for our backs, it's never going to be so called "pain free" as we would like it to. There will always be something!
    Like I said, do what is best for you and get another opinion if need be so you are more comfortable in your decision making. This isn't easy, trust me!

    Take care!
  • I never had a micro As that was never a option as my spine was unstable w/ ddd /arthritis/spondylolthesis you name it. I had my first op at 40. Now my brothers well they have had them in their 20's. (fusions)
    It took away my lower burning in the back. I did not have leg pain as that did not start till a few days before surgery.
    At 5 months I felt AWESOME from the surgery anyway. You have to put into perspective I have a ton of other health issues. So sometimes I do not know if its back issues or something else.
    If your able and your insurance will cover it. You already have been to a 2 NS I would seek out a Orthopedic spine speciallist and see what they say. Most likely all 3 are not going to say something different. You will have 2 out of the 3 saying basically the same thing.
    Did I fuse?? NO I did not and just had it over. But those are the chances you take. Did I smoke YES. So I had negative hanging over me. Did I fuse with my neck YES and never ever made the best decsion in my life.
    Even now after the 2nd back surgery my lower back does not burn its gone. That is the most annoying back pain to have Its there 24/7.
    I wish you the best of luck in your decsion. Only you can decide and well we can help support you in your decision.
    When all alternative treatments have been used. Yes surgery is usually a last option.
    Its a long process and a long recovery but worth it for alot of people in the end.
    My thinking on all this. This goes for knee replacement, hips etc. Live for today not 10 yrs from now.
    I would rather have my 40's back and then worry about my 50's when they get here.
    EXAMPLE: My friends, friend had a knee replacement at 50 he so wished he had it at 40 and did not suffer so long. O:) O:)

    GOOD LUCK ;) ;) ;)
  • Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

    Flexion Xrays- take a picture of your spine flexed forward.

    Extension Xrays- take a picture of your spine extended backward.

    Then they can look at the different movement/location of your vertabrae/ usually to look for instability.

    You might consider asking the NS that you saw to order a set of these xrays. My problems did not show up on the mri or ct scan.

    I was partically fused at 5-6 weeks. I am not a smoker and gave up most of the caffene (I still drink green tea).

    A micro d would have been a complete wast of time and money for me- why would I want to recover twice? I suggest that you ask your doctor for some other tests and seek out another opinion if needed.

    Good luck,

  • I think if you exhausted all other forms of treatment and youre still in pain a fusion is your last resort.
    I was 38 when I had my first fusion and there are plently of others younger than that.
    Noone wants to be in pain forever. A fusion is a big surgery but if it even takes half of the pain away it's worth it.

    Good luck,
    Christina :)
  • One of the lucky ones that get any pain relief it would be worth it. But, as we see so many here that are actually worse after a fusion, it is risky and much riskier than a microD. A third opinion would probably be a great idea.
    Christina69 said:
    I think if you exhausted all other forms of treatment and youre still in pain a fusion is your last resort.
    I was 38 when I had my first fusion and there are plently of others younger than that.
    Noone wants to be in pain forever. A fusion is a big surgery but if it even takes half of the pain away it's worth it.

    Good luck,
    Christina :)
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