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L5-S1 total disc replacement

sc7891ssc7891 Posts: 11
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I was just wondering if anyone has had this surgery and how they found the recovery? I am 10 weeks post-op and still in a lot of pain.

I'm new here, have written on the newbies part of the forum but just as a recap- chronic pain for 6 years, nothing in particular happened to start the back pain such as an accident or anything. Had numerous amount of physio, MRI revealed tear in L4-L5 underwent IDET- unsuccessful. A year after that had Wallis Stabilization Implant at that level, seemed to work- stopped all sciatica at least, although still in pain every day. Last year pain worsened again, sciatica returned. MRI revealed problems with L5-S1 disc. Discogram to determine origin of pain whether l4-l5 or l5-s1. Doctors said it was l5-s1, became a candidate for total disc replacement, which I had 10 weeks ago. Taking regular pain killers and in constant pain, on a physiotherapy regime.

Just wondered what other people's experiences were post-op of disc replacement? And how you are getting on now?



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  • I don't know much about disc replacement vs. fusion. Just know that I wasn't really human until 12 weeks and trying to get back to work was a big challenge at 6 mo!

    At 18 mo. I am capable and doing things but rarely am I painfree. It's mostly my back that aches. The surgery did wonders for curing the CES and the leg pain though.

    I just take my Tylenol PM each night and go to work each morning and by the time I get home I'm more than ready for that Tylenol PM again.
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  • Thanks for your responses, sorry I haven't posted back sooner I didn't have my laptop with me over Christmas. Straker- yes, I am thinking of trying some gentle swimming in the hope that will help. Hope all went well with seeing your surgeon the other week.

    Saltzworks- Although obviously not good for you, it's reassuring to here that recovery isn't quick. Although as you say there is a difference between disc replacement and fusion. Have a happy new year :)

    Anyone else out there if you have had a disc replacement, especially at L5-S1 please let me know how your recovery was, and how you are getting on now.

    Thanks.. Wishing everyone a painfree new year if possible!
  • I wonder if the tear in L4 is still causing pain. I would have wanted that one replaced, too. I guess I don't know what an IDET is. Maybe that disc got fixed. I'm having L3-S1 replaced and all 3 have tears. Did they only do 1 because that is what insurance covers? I'm paying for mine as insurance will not. Just curious.
  • IDET is just where a hollow needle is inserted into the disc with an electrode wire inserted through that which is then heated up in an attempt to deaden the nerve endings. I didn't find this successful.

    I agree there may still be pain from L4-L5- I didn't have it replaced because it wasn't suggested, the Wallis Stabilization that I have at that level is still in correctly and everything, and the results of the discography suggested that it was L5-S1 causing more pain.

    Hope your replacements go well :)
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  • Hey there! So, for nine months I suffered with intense pain in both legs. It felt like a numbness with an aching pain from my butt bones down to my toes. This came seemingly out of no where. I fell down a flight of stairs back in 2000, but for the past ten years, I've been dealing with neck problems. So, very long story short, I did everything to deal with my legs from taking Prednisone, ESI & SNR injections, PT, Acupuncture, Massage therepy, Chiropractic care and the highest doses of Gabapentin (neurontin), Tramadol, Lyrica and different pain meds. NOTHING worked. So I saw a surgeon and had a second opinion, both agreed based on my MRI to have L5-S1 disc replaced with a cadaver disc with a plate and screws in the FRONT of my spine. Oh, my Dr. Also said that he did not believe I had Spinal Stenosis. So it's 4 wks post op and I am still having such terrible pain in my legs, it's unreal! Dr. Says he doesn't know why I'm still having the pain but it is too soon to tell!??! Sorry for all of the spelling errors, my battery is almost out- didn't do spell check ;) anyway, I hope that you can identify with some of this... are you any better btw? Anyone else have had similar problems with a better outcome? Thanks for reading, again sorry for errors and lengthy story!
    Sue Q
  • I had a total ADR in L5/S1 disc in October last year.

    I have to admit, I have been very lucky. I listened to my body and when I was uncomfortable, I rested. I have carried on taking a tablet or two a day, mostly at the end of the day when my body is tired, but the pain is nothing like before.

    You are still in the early days of recovery and no doubt your doctor told you it can take up to 2 yrs to recover.

    Keep up with the PT and maybe swimming. I find walking everyday helps.

    Have you spoken to your surgeon or physio about your pain levels?
  • So, I did have my 4 week post op with my surgeon this past Tuesday. He absolutely says he has no idea why I would STILL have this (ever so present) leg pain. They took a x-ray in the office to show me a before and after of my spine. It was compressed, leaking fluid and all of that... And now it's fixed. BUT, I could have lived with a torn up back for a while. My back problems were never the issue! My leg pain was (is)!!

    What I failed to mention in my first post, is that I had an occipital nerve ablation (the burning of the nerves in the side of my head) for my migraines, before my leg problems started.... About 3 weeks to be exact. If that doctor missed by a fraction, other nerves most definitely could have been killed.

    It just dawned on me this: Did I really just have back surgery for the wrong problem?!!! Did I just go through a whole lot of hell for nothing? I've been promising my three yr old that once I get better from this, I'll be able to run with her, to pick her up again...

    What now?

    What now?
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,082
    An xray won't show what an MRI would. The only way to really compare is to have a before and after MRI. The MRI will show if anything else is in there causing the same symptoms.

    With my neck I had recurrent symptoms at 18 months. X-rays looked fine. MRI showed bone spurring and cervical stenosis. After the second surgery the surgeon said he was surprised with how much stenosis there was - it was worse than what was seen on MRI.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Hi, sorry for the late reply I didn't realise that there were replies to the messages.

    Quick update: Been back to the doctor for xrays to check the disc is correctly placed, which it is. Been getting a lot of tail bone pain, as well as sciatica and radiating back pain. Had facet joint injections a couple of weeks ago which made the pain worse for a couple of days and as of yet I haven't seen any improvement to my symptoms. Continuing exercising- light swimming, walking, physio regime and some gym work which I feel helps overall. Not sure where to go from here, just have to hope for some improvement.

    SGM6670- It's lovely to hear you had a positive outcome. I am unfortunately no better, but I am hoping that the surgery has still been positive as it means that as I have an artificial disc it can't deteriorate any further.

    Sue Q- yes I can definitely relate. Unfortunately no better, I am at work part time though, and do have some good days. On the whole though the pain is very bad, and I seem to be getting new pains all the time!Sorry to hear you are worried you may have had the wrong treatment. I hope you have some improvement soon.

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