Should I Have L5-s1 Spinal Fusion Surgery?

Question

Asked by res-q-u

Should I Have L5-s1 Spinal Fusion Surgery?

My doctor wants me to have fusion surgery for my low back pain. I am so scared and not sure what to do. I hurt all the time. I've tried steroid injections, lumbar epidurals, physical therapy, chiropractic care, pain medications, etc, and nothing has worked for long. Has anyone else had the surgery? Would you recommend it?

Answer

I take care of many people who have had a fusion procedure. I take care of many people who are contemplating surgery. Ultimately, the desicion to have surgery is a very individual and personal decision. Before you decide to have another surgery, ask yourself this: Are you willing to risk your pain getting worse?   If you are willing to take that risk, then you should consider surgery. If not, then you should find an alternative route.

Surgery is not without risk and the risk increases the more times the low back is operated on. Infection, nerve damage, scar tissue are just a few problems that can cause a poor result and more pain. Please weigh the risks and the potential benefits carefully.

I will say one definite rule about spine fusion surgeries. If you currently smoke tobacco, you should not have a fusion surgery. You must quit smoking for a least 3 months prior to the surgery or else it will most likely fail because the bones will not fuse properly.

Remember that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of that surgery fence. But if you do decide to jump the fence, go with a positive attitude and  optimal health because attitude and health will better your chances  for success.

Here's an article on good reasons to have spinal surgery, which you may find helpful.

Answered by Christina Lasich, MD