Tag Archives: lumbar fusion surgery

Pain Management for Sciatica, or lack thereof…


Part 3. The hyperlinks below will take you to the Educational Resources page. Scroll down until you see the word or phrase.

I was a candidate for the Percutaneous Disc Decompression, but lack of insurance coverage for a one-time use piece of equipment was routinely difficult to obtain, so the MD didn’t do them often. I never had one of those. I didn’t get any relief from the Facet Blocks, so that disqualified me from Radio Frequency Ablation, as well.

By early November, I had to stop with the injections because I needed to be available to help my husband, who was about to have surgery. I saw the anesthesiologist a couple more times for different medication—nothing was helping me. He had started me on NUCYNTA (r), which didn’t really help in the long run and he and I were concerned about the medication. He also warned me that he was concerned about my cervical (neck) spine stability and believed that if I didn’t have that attended to properly that I could be paralyzed from the neck down, should I be involved in a(nother) automobile accident. He referred me on to a spine surgeon in late December.

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day 2013, the pain began to subside on its own! It was a gradual thing; I became more independent from my cane and the ice packs over the six weeks.

In Part 2, I told you that you’d see what I meant by the connections and here they are: I saw Dr. P at the end of December and he told me that he’d found the location of the cause of my pain. At L5, the ligamentum flavum was pressing down on the L5 nerve root. He also discovered that I didn’t have equal great toe strength on my (R) foot. I was unable to keep my great toe raised (or unable to keep him from pressing it down), like I could do on the left (L) side. The ligament was the culprit. This is not crucial strength, not as critical a problem as ‘foot drop‘. He also told me that the L5 problem doesn’t fully explain all of the symptoms I reported to him. He asked if I had FM and I confirmed that I did. He felt that I was NOT a good candidate for the Percutaneous Disc Decompression, because the disc was not the problem here, the ligament was. He also felt that surgery to decompress the ligament would provide only about 30% pain relief. He shared that if he was in my position, he would have the surgery if only to get the 30% relief and to regain toe strength. He warned against lumbar fusion surgery because it sometimes doesn’t provide the pain relief people need and can cause more pain than before.

He wanted me to get a second opinion, so he gave me a referral to another spine surgeon connected to Johns Hopkins.

I went to see Dr. K in early January. He was more concerned about my cervical (neck) condition than my lumbar condition and felt that I should have surgery ASAP to prevent paralysis should I be in another automobile accident. It was time to LISTEN and ACT: TWO DIFFERENT MDs, who don’t know each other said almost exactly the same thing about my cervical spine within months of each other. I made arrangements to have the surgery at the beginning of February 2013. The day after surgery the pain was GONE!