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To fuse or not to fuse?

ZombieMedic

New Member
Registered Member
37 y/o female 68W with 7 1/2 yrs service in Active Duty Army, L5/S1 Microdiscectomy in 2014. Radiculopathy, sciatic nerve pain and numbness down left leg since before surgery. Sciatic nerve pain and intermittent numbness in right leg started recently. Repeat MRI shows collapsed intervertebral disc space in L5/S1, bulge in L4/L5 and L3/L4. Daily pain is about a 4 to a 6. Neuro wants to fuse L5/S1. I have had Physical Therapy, chiropractor, pain management did steroid injections that only lasted 2 weeks, nothing is helping. My leadership is pushing for a MEB because I'm currently at a MEDCOM, but on orders to go back to FORSCOM in 6 months at Ft. Campbell, 2BCT Infantry. Should I have the surgery or should I just let my NCO's submit a fit for duty if my PCM doesn't want to do a MEB?

PULHES is a 112111 and I'm on a P2 profile that reads as follows:
RESTRICTED: No running, jumping, combatives or Military Movement Drills.
Conditioning Drill 1: No Power Jump, V-Up, Heel Hook or Leg Tuck.
Load bearing: No foot march or movements with body-armor/ruck. No standing in gear or in formation > 30 min.
Walk at own pace and distance not to exceed 30 minutes. Must be able to maintain 3 mph without pain or limp, otherwise must use Endurance Training Machine.
MODIFIED*: Preparation Drill, Conditioning Drill 1 (Mountain Climber, Leg Tuck and Twist, Modified Push-Up).
Push-Up/Sit-Up Drill: May perform crunches.
Strength Training Machines/ Free Weight Training: at own weight and tolerance**.
Endurance Training Machines: Elliptical.
Swim at own tolerance***.
Climbing Drill 1 (Straight-Arm Pull, Pull-Up, Alternating Grip Pull-Up).
4 for the Core, Hip Stability Drill, Recovery Drill.
STANDARD: Preparation Drill: Forward Lunge.
Shoulder Stability Drill.
Endurance Training Machines: Bike, Upper Body Cycle.
Recovery Drill: Overhead Arm Pull.
*Soldier may modify these activities and the movements required to reach the starting position in accordance with Ch 6, FM 7-22.
**When performing Strength Training, must ensure that the position or movement does not strain the spine
***May participate in approved aquatic rehabilitation program.
Climbing Drill: must execute caution when mounting and dismounting the bar; if spotters are not able to safely assist or if the Soldier has to jump down to the ground, this activity should be restricted and not performed.
Soldier will be placed in Level 1 (gym-based) or Level 2 Reconditioning Program according to entry and exit criteria in Ch 6, FM 7-22.
Additional Physical Readiness Training RESTRICTIONS: No Guerrilla Drill, Obstacle Course or Conditioning Drill 2 and 3

Thank you for your input!
 

afback123

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I can’t say whether or not you should or should not go through with the surgery as I just had a L5-S1 Fusion in January and you will see many differing opinions on the results. If you are asking specifically if it will help with the pain than yes I would do it but PM me if you have any questions.
 

afback123

PEB Forum Regular Member
Registered Member
I can’t say whether or not you should or should not go through with the surgery as I just had a L5-S1 Fusion in January and you will see many differing opinions on the results. If you are asking specifically if it will help with the pain than yes I would do it but PM me if you have any questions.

Just to be clear it helped with my pain but do your research as it is a complex surgery. Your neurosurgeon would be the best person to ask medical advice from I can only speak to my results.
 

poohbear331

PEB Forum Regular Member
PEB Forum Veteran
Registered Member
Like afback123 said- talk to your neurosurgeon.
with that said- I was offered fusion before retirement- I declined- I had done my research and was very blunt with surgeon- what I found was that historically once you start down the fusion road you will be having more fixed in years to come. this is because your mobility will have to shift- what is seen is a weakening above/below where fusion was. I declined because of the extent of what they wanted to fuse (L2-S2) my whole back
another option for opinion is your physical therapist. they are the ones who see what recovery and re-injury and more fusion and can give a realistic answer. I was just talking with PT and what they said was basically they see more people who have had fusion and have to have more within a few years (this is the VA system so they are very busy)
 
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