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DDD 4 Level Fusion

Cherylr73CCherylr73 Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Suggested welcomed!
I have been told by two different Surgical Orthopedists that I need a 4 level fusion to my lower spine. I have severe lower back pain and have been diagnosed with DDD. One of my disks has almost completely degenerated. I have also been informed ( by the same SO's) that a 4 level fusion of the lower spine is considered "unethical" as the procedure has a success rate in the single digits. I have almost been on bedrest for a year, taking prescribed meds for pain. I see a PT on a regular basis, as well as an Acupuncturist. I am open to any suggestions/opinions at this point. Please help!


  • I'm in the exact same boat as you are. I am going to have a discogram on Friday to determine if there is 1 or 2 of the discs that is causing me the most pain. I have been dealing with this for almost 8 years now and I basically told this new surgeon about my day to day life and he and I agreed that we needed to see if there was SOMETHING we could do to give me some relief. I've tried it all. PT, ESIs, heat and ice, stretches, name it. We are hoping to find that the two lowest discs that are almost completely gone (L4-5, L5-S1) are the cause of most or all of my symptoms. I suggest finding a doctor who listens to you....really listens. I mean, he may still not be able to do anything for me, but he's the first to offer me any options besides being on narcotics forever!

    Good luck!
  • Have the doctors recommended Epidural Pain Blocks or any type of steroid injections? Have you visited a Pain Management doctor? What tests have you had done? Are any nerves being pinched? It is hard to offer any suggestions without knowing your exact condition(s).

    My pain management doctor has recommended I have a three level fusion. The orthopedic surgeon said he isn't ready to perform the procedure because of my age (35) and until he believes there is an 89% chance it will work. I have no idea how he gets to that figure. The Neurosurgeon said he wouldn't do a fusion, that the bones will fuse on their own. He would however perform surgery to relieve my impinged S1 nerve. I guess it all depends on who you talk to. At least as far as my condition goes.

    I have DDD as well. It is mainly in the L3/L4 through L5/S1. All three disks are bulging and have grade IV tears. The L5/S1 disk is pinching the nerve. I also have Degenerative Osteoarthritis affecting the same levels.
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  • Morning,
    Having had a fusion the difficulty is that once the fusion is done that in itself creates issue for the two discs at the extremity of the fusion itself and may exert more pressure than previously based of the DDD diagnosis. Perhaps the integrity of your bones are an issue when it is not at one specific location and once the process is started where will it end.

    If the objective was to decrease the pain overall and that was attainable then that option for less impingement may be an option rather than a guarantee of less pain that your NS mentions, these to some extent are only hypothesis and until it is done only you will know the residual benefit.

    What are your realistic options, for many here we can only change the future and not the past and I still live with chronic pain day and night even after my multi level fusion, we are all individuals and you situation treated on what is best for you, as an individual based on reliable evidence and suggestions for your surgeon.It is sometime easy to think we are at the end of our road and jump expectantly into the unknown based of internal expectation rather than realistic ones, who would not want to be better. Only you can decide where you are at with your quality of life and the impact of those restrictions in your daily life, we all wish you well and many here share your experience and challenging options.

    Take care.

  • Clem96CClem96 Posts: 11
    edited 06/30/2012 - 2:02 PM
    This sucks and I can relate.

    The one thing that worked to buy me some time was a super-aggressive loss of weight.

    Regardless of what one weighs, taking off a 10-20-30lb backpack can provide some relief.

    I'm by no means better after dropping 20% of my body weight, but it helped. I border-line starved myself and I would NOT recommend THAT to anyone but it helped me.

    Im still potentially facing two levels of fusion, a divorce and uncertainty as to whether I'll even be able to continue my career, but at least I'm not completely toast just yet.
  • hamrs_62hhamrs_62 Posts: 38
    edited 07/15/2012 - 3:21 AM
    I have read that it is very unlikely a person can return to work in a very strenuous job, has anyone else read this, from a fall I already can't do my job, I hurt my shoulder and with the restrictions the doctor placed on me it is impossible to work now,
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