4 surgeries still not fixed

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Hi, I'm 25 years old I had a microdisceptomy in 2013 L4/5. Seemed to fix the problem until June 2016. Since then in the last 6 months I've had 3 further disceptomys. I'm still having pains in my lower back and affecting my left leg, to the point where I can only do so much before been unable to walk. I've been off work 12 months due to all my operations. I met with my surgeon last week who is now saying the last and only option is a spinal fusion, I have an MRI on Thursday to determine what's actually going wrong with my discs, at 25 years old as you can imagine it's been the most horrific 12 months of my life and really just want it over and done with. What I'm wanting to know is has anyone got any success stories with the fusion? I'm just worried as my surgeon said it's 50:50 wether it will work if the discs decide to fuse together or not. Any advice with what to do next would be a massive help!

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  • Posted

    Hi Sally

    Sorry to hear your story. I have also had a tough year after a L5/S1 microD that seemed to work last June, then failed when I did too much exercise.

    Have all the Ops been on the same segment? Remember that a microd just removes material and you don't grow it back so it's possible there just isn't enough tissue left to do the job required. I know mine lost at least half its height and so I could just not deal with the nerve pain, regardless of how much physio I did.

    I am 41 and used to be very active, so decided to follow the advice of an experienced neurosurgeon and have a dynamic stabilisation system implanted. The common one is Dynesis but there are others. If you are in the UK I think they like one where they implant a spacer between two spinous processes with now screws. I have a more conventional system with screws and semi flexible rods called Spine Save system IV. My surgeon says that if the 60+ he has done, most work well or very well. The point of dynamic stabilisation is to preserve mobility and avoid adjacent segment degeneration.

    Mine is ok-ish so far. I am seeing the surgeon today for my 7 week scan and consult. I have discomfort and some pain but my surgeon warned that I could likely get some sacroiliac joint inflammation because the operated segment is stiffer.

    The other thing to remember is to look at stats on outcomes, don't ask people on a forum for success stories. Some kind souls do come or stick around after they are fixed, but predominantly, forums like this are frequented by people who have not had a good experience, like you and me!

    Fusion does work a lot of the time (Google trials yourself) but it does have potential side effects for some. That is why I opted for the option I did. I would sound out your surgeon about it.


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    • Posted

      That spacer that I have heard used in the UK is called the Wallis device or Wallis ligament btw. It's easy to fit, not very invasive and cheap.

      Like my system, there is no long term trials data on how it works after 20 years or whatever. I kinda prefer my screw method as screws are known to be tolerated well for years. A spacer at the back can sometimes cause fractures in the spinous process, though not often. TBH you are very young. In your shoes, I would have the least invasive thing that has a good shot at working. In 10-15 years I would be surprised if they aren't fitting artificial replacement discs cultured from your own stem cells, or something that actually works well! They are actually doing research on this and with stem cell research and nanotech, there is real progress, though it will be years yet. Google that too! Btw stem cell injections don't have any clinical trials showing any significant success though lots of companies on the web will try and sell you on them.

      Fusion is irreversible and reduces mobility so it's not recommended for young people.


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    • Posted

      Hi Sally & Michael,

      I had a Wallace ligamentation 14 years ago, it sorted out all the original nerve pains/ loss of leg strength for me. 

      Down side:

      1. Loss back strength & flexibility, but to escape the pain a worthwhile trade off...

      2. Once you start invasive works, there is potential for the next disc down to become compromised by the extra loading/ work it has to do to compensate.

      If you go down this route, you must reprioritise the back before all other tasks, which means regular exercise & a regime to SLOWLY increase stamina. 

      I didn't do that past the first few years, believing my normal martial arts work outs would do the job & now the disc below has gone



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    • Posted

      Hi Steve

      Thanks - thats really interesting. 

      I wouldn't beat yourself up! Maybe another disc was going to go anyway. It is a degenerative disease in the first place and I think some people's discs just aren't up to snuff..

      Personally, all I want to get back to are working at a desk, travelling, cycling (a lot) and hiking, so some loss of flexibility is neither here nor there for me. Martial arts would feel like pushing the envelope too far for me, even if my first op had worked perfectly. The fact that you have been able to do it after your op is great smile

      i do hope this next stage works out well for you.


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    • Posted

      Hi Michael,

      Cheers for the boost mate…

      No problem with issues though: I'm a realist, I could have done more & the back would have lasted longer.

      That's all I'm trying to push to anyone who's in the same position.

      I don’t think the surgeons & specialist impress this strong enough, I did a hell of a lot of work before & after:

      I cycled 60 miles a day to & from work/ martial arts 3 nights a week & core exercises every day

      Then when everything was fine, I relied upon the martial art to maintain the core & it wasn’t enough.

      Best thing I found was the cycling & funny enough, I met an old boy (of my age now) just when it all went Pete Tong who said ‘I cycle everywhere & my bad back doesn’t give me any jip’

      I forgot that advice...

      I’m now getting strong enough to cycle again, so let’s find some hills from hell & beat them! :-)

      I can't stress it strong enough, we all have to accept we have to change our priorities: back first & past times/ work & social should follow.

      If the back can’t be looked after everything else you do will fail too.

      Accept it & live by it, don’t be a short cut merchant like I was, it pays to play the long game…

      Love & luck


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