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Thread: Spinal Stenosis & Decompression

  1. #1
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    Apr 2008
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    Spinal Stenosis & Decompression

    Looking for information on the recovery/results from correcting Spinal Stenosis and Decompression. I am very confident with my surgeon. Head of Orthopedics and specializing in backs - considered the best in the province (yes I'm Canadian). I had a Harrington procedure in '74 and have lead a relatively "normal" life for about 15 years. Degeneration was identified in early '90s but stayed relatively active til about 2 years ago. Now just going grocery shopping is tiring and painful. Dr. has advised that the only way to improve quality of life based on myleogram and CT is surgery. There are other issues which are currently being monitored (and additional surgery is inevitable). My Dr. agrees I'm too young (46) to spend my life vegging on the couch.

    Has anyone been through surgery to correct this? If you have I'd appreciate and information you're willing to share.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC
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    Hi Sunny45,
    I had severe spinal stenosis from L2 on down with DDD and degenerative arthritis along with spondylithesis at L4-L5. That is the reason my surgery took 12 hours for the first part. All of the vertebrae had to be decompressed and the bone removed that was impinging on the nerve roots. At my age, correction of the scoliosis wasn't the main thrust of the surgery, but the decompression was. If you have more specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Before surgery, I could barely walk 20 feet and now, I can easily walk two miles if I want to. I am back to my passion for roller-skating, so my surgery was a big success for me. Sally
    Diagnosed with severe lumbar scoliosis at age 65.
    Posterior Fusion L2-S1 on 12/4/2007. age 67
    Anterior Fusion L3-L4,L4-L5,L5-S1 on 12/19/2007
    Additional bone removed to decompress right side of L3-L4 & L4-L5 on 4/19/2010
    New England Baptist Hospital, Boston, MA
    Dr. Frank F. Rands735.photobucket.com/albums/ww360/butterflyfive/

    "In God We Trust" Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Maryland
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    408
    Hi -

    Like Sally, the pain caused by spinal stenosis was the reason I decided to have surgery as well. I had terrible pain in my right calf which ran down into my foot and big toe. I couldn't walk for more than 4-5 minutes without pain. I had a laminectomy in addition to a single-stage A/P spinal fusion. The laminectomy gave the spinal nerves room to exit. The first thing I remember upon waking up after surgery was noticing that the pain was gone. Prior to surgery, I couldn't lie on my back without triggering the pain in my leg.

    Feel free to ask me any questions about my experience.

    Brandi
    Brandi
    Congenital Scoliosis, 58* lumbar curve
    Combined Anterior/Posterior Spinal Fusion w/Laminectomy May 22, 2006
    L1-S1
    Dr. William Lauerman
    Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC
    Pedicle Subtraction Osteotomy @ L3, Posterior Spinal Fusion L2-L4, rod removal with re-instrumentation T10-S1 and Laminectomy February 5, 2009 to correct flatback
    http://brandi816.wordpress.com/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    10
    Sally & Brandi

    Thank you both for your comments. My Dr. said that he has a great deal of success correcting this problem. Sally I can't believe you're roller skating. I love to go dancing, but when I do I take pain killers before during and after (and usually on the couch for a few days afterwards)...It would be fabulous to be able to enjoy a night out and NOT pay for it for days afterward. Reality is right now the simple task of going grocery shopping is a painful experience.

    I find it strange that it took years of trying to get a referral - in Canada you cannot see a specialist until GPs give you a referral, and once you get one it can take as long as 18 months just to see a surgeon. I finally tried a new "walk-in" clinic in '08 and they immediately sent me to a new back clinic in town. In just over 6 months I went to the clinic, had the referral to the surgeon (they bypassed their standard procedure and sent me straight to the "head honcho), 2 new sets of x-rays, a myleogrm and CT. I'm sure you both can understand that it was actually good news when they said I needed surgery - years of popping pills and no improvement in site it was inevitable. Surgery date is still pending

    I was told I would be in the hospital for up to 7 days, and recovery would be 2-3 months. If you could share the good, the bad and the ugly during your recovery it would be appreciated. What helped with day-to-day tasks? Did you have any post-op restrictions? If so what were they? How long before you were able to do "regular" things like go for a walk? I have an 18 year old son who works full time and although he lives with me he's pretty busy. I'm trying to figure out whether I'll need additional help and for how long. Also, I've heard that a reclining chair helps. Did either of you use one?

    Any information you're willing to share would be appreciated.

    Thanks.
    Liz

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Maryland
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    408
    Liz, do you know which surgery your surgeon plans to do? A laminectomy, fusion or both? Your recovery will largely depend on which type of surgery you have.

    They had me up and walking 2 days after surgery and walking is strongly encouraged after sp. fusion surgery as it promotes a solid fusion. I did not experience any pain in my leg or foot while walking after surgery.

    The first 3 months of recovery were the most difficult. The pain gradually improves and each day you find you can do a little more than the day before. You can read more about my experience on my blog in the May and July 2006 archives.
    Brandi
    Congenital Scoliosis, 58* lumbar curve
    Combined Anterior/Posterior Spinal Fusion w/Laminectomy May 22, 2006
    L1-S1
    Dr. William Lauerman
    Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC
    Pedicle Subtraction Osteotomy @ L3, Posterior Spinal Fusion L2-L4, rod removal with re-instrumentation T10-S1 and Laminectomy February 5, 2009 to correct flatback
    http://brandi816.wordpress.com/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Chicago north suburb
    Posts
    774
    Quote Originally Posted by sunny45 View Post
    I find it strange that it took years of trying to get a referral - in Canada you cannot see a specialist until GPs give you a referral, and once you get one it can take as long as 18 months just to see a surgeon.
    This is what you can expect when the government takes over health care. I recall my surgeon telling me about a 9-year-old girl with an 80-degree curve that he treated at Shriners in Chicago. She and her parents flew in from Toronto so she could get prompt treatment in the U.S. An 18-month wait for a young girl with a curve that size could be life-threatening.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    10
    Brandi

    He's decided not to fuse at least not initially. I am missing my lowest disk so they are hoping to delay the fusion - at least for a while. Right now I have good flexibility (relatively speaking), and I'd like to keep it that way as long as possible. I was told I should be up and walking withing 48 hours too. I'm not sure how to access the archives...I'm pretty new on the site. If you could tell me how I'd appreciate it - I would like to read the blog.

    Thanks
    Liz

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    408
    I was actually referring to my personal blog (the link is contained in my signature).
    Brandi
    Congenital Scoliosis, 58* lumbar curve
    Combined Anterior/Posterior Spinal Fusion w/Laminectomy May 22, 2006
    L1-S1
    Dr. William Lauerman
    Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC
    Pedicle Subtraction Osteotomy @ L3, Posterior Spinal Fusion L2-L4, rod removal with re-instrumentation T10-S1 and Laminectomy February 5, 2009 to correct flatback
    http://brandi816.wordpress.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    New Bern, NC
    Posts
    1,445
    Hi Sunny45,
    Whether you had just a laminectomy or the works like I had (laminectomy, facetectomy, and fusion), they will have you on you feet within 24 hours. I would guess your recovery would be much easier than if you had a fusion also. I was off all pain meds except neurontin at three months post-op. My residual pain which isn't too bad may or may not be permanent. I needed help with meals for a week or two after I got home and after that just did things very slowly. I was restricted to no bending or lifting anything over 10 lbs until it was determined that I was fused at 10 months post-op.
    Sally
    Diagnosed with severe lumbar scoliosis at age 65.
    Posterior Fusion L2-S1 on 12/4/2007. age 67
    Anterior Fusion L3-L4,L4-L5,L5-S1 on 12/19/2007
    Additional bone removed to decompress right side of L3-L4 & L4-L5 on 4/19/2010
    New England Baptist Hospital, Boston, MA
    Dr. Frank F. Rands735.photobucket.com/albums/ww360/butterflyfive/

    "In God We Trust" Happy moments, praise God. Difficult moments, seek God. Quiet moments, worship God. Painful moments, trust God. Every moment, thank God.

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