To have the operation or not

Please, please can anyone advise me.  I have a L4/5 compression and scoliosis and so depressed of continues pain. I dread going to bed as I cannot get comfy and if I move in my sleep from the featil position the pain wakes me up.  I have seen a doctor and a surgeon and they have sugggested surgery but, as a widow living alone (I am 67 this year) I don't want to finish up in a wheel chair.  I live on pain killers that i don't like taking and when things have got so bad I take a sleeping tablet.  I pay private for Pilate and physio therapy and must admit between them they have got me moving better.  My osteoporosis is the cause of my problems and my other joints are also getting worse very quickly so I know if I give in and have the operation a) I know there is no guarantee and b) I have no idea how long it will last.  Just over a year ago I was numb from the waist down for four days  but as I was on holiday I just thought it would go and tried to walk and move through the pain.  I had no idea of the severity that I should have gone straight to hospital as this could have paralysed me.  Has anyone else got the same problems and if so what would you advise me to do?  Operation or not?


  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 4,299
    Reminder.....there are no medical professionals on discussion forums.
    We members are not qualified or allowed to give advice.

    The main site has the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

    Thank you.......
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 4,299
    Hello cynth!
    If I understand, ....even with doctor and surgeon suggesting surgery, you do not feel you will do well enough to lessen the pain?...or have improved quality of life?

    Members will share their experiences with you, but each of us is so individual.
    Thats why doctors are best with advice, as they know your full medical history and care for your well being.

    Have you thought about a second...third...opinion re surgery? Another set of eyes is sometimes helpful... sometimes reassuring.

    It is also a difficult time with fear of the unknown,...your fear of needing wheelchair, living alone with more limitations, etc....
    My depression  and anxiety increased with my out of control pain..and the transition of no longer being able to work...and a little with each limitation.

    I referred myself to psychiatrist and also did some talk therapy and I found it extremely helpful.
    If I ever find myself feeling that depression again, I wouldn't hesitate to seek therapists help again.
    And I continue to psychiatrist for med management to this day.
    My thinking is the best in my life!...I feel stable and don't want to lose that!

    When you mentioned..suggested alone...don't want to finish up in a wheelchair..., all in the same sentence, it doesn't necessarily mean it will happen that way.
    And yet, we can't "will away" the need for wheelchair, for example.

    Finding doctor you trust is so important.
    Only you and your doctor can decide ...yes or no to surgery.
    Only the two of you can decide what options are more likely to help you have a better life, less pain, etc.....

    There are no guarantees in life. We just do the best we can with what we know.  :)
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  • Hi,

    I know surgery is scary and a lot of it is critical - I personally think it always is, but if you trust your doctor and know them well enough, I think it's your best bet. If you're not too comfortable with this treatment option, it helps to seek a 2nd 3rd 4th xth opinion - until you get the answers you need and all bases are covered. There's nothing wrong with a little hesitation - it's your life on the line, and naturally, you will want to protect it at all costs.

    if you're still not sold on surgery, perhaps you can explore other alternative treatments? I personally have stopped taking my really strong chronic pain medications/painkillers, and I've since looked to and found success in other treatments that really are more like lifestyle changes. I've looked into maximizing my diet, exercising, going to physical therapy, and looking into home healthcare devices to help manage pain in a noninvasive and nontoxic way. Sure, it's a lot of research and it's not a one-time thing as opposed to going under the knife, and your case may be far more severe than mine, but I've found that there's always security in knowing that you have options, and remembering that ultimately, the choice is yours.

    Hope you get to decide and be onboard a suitable treatment. Warm well-wishes your way.
  • @cynth what type of surgery did your doctor recommend? That makes a HUGE difference in recovery and the risk ratio. If he suggested a microdisectomy for a herniated disc, then that differs greatly from a lumbar fusion. Does the pain travel into your leg? Honestly a fusion will most likely never work for back pain, only leg pain. This is where it becomes so difficult. Did your doctor order a discogram to determine which disc is causing the pain, if he suggested a fusion? This is extremely important to determine the pain generator. I would also get a second opinion. There are SO many factors that come into play before deciding on surgery. Please make sure you exhaust all other options first. 

  • Sorry @cynth after reading your post more, I'm guessing a fusion was recommended. If you have scoliosis, then this would be the appropriate treatment. Also, a discogram isn't warranted in this case. But I would definitely get a second and third opinion by different doctors. How many levels are they suggesting to fuse?

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  • Have you tried infrared light therapy?

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