Back Surgery. Request for Help & Advice..

This Digger needs help if you have any advice please contact Allen at [email protected]


I’m seeking advice and help with a chronic lower back pain issue.

I have had several procedures at day surgery with pain and anaesthetists all unsuccessful (see summary below).

I’m having another Rhizotomy on Tuesday 14 June, which my surgeon says is a 1 in 3 chance of success.

I have seen two spinal surgeons to explore whether a spinal fusion of my vertebrae would be beneficial in mitigating my pain. The spinal fusion involves a surgeon joining vertebrae with metal locks. I’m not enthusiastic about this as it’s a 6-hour operation under anaesthetic, followed by a week in the hospital and 3 months of rehab.

Are there any diggers out there who have had back surgery or any other treatment for chronic lower back pain?

I’ve tried physiotherapy and dry needling again unsuccessful. Currently, I’m drugged to the eyeballs with pain medication, mostly opioids.

At 75, I’m worried I may not survive 6 hours under an anaesthetic. Any advice or help would be appreciated because I’m becoming desperate.



9 June 2011    Dr Gabriel Lee – Right L4/5 hemilaminectomy, decompression of L5 nerve. SUCCESSFUL

28 May 2021  Dr Nick Butterfield – Right 4/5 & L5/S1 Facet Joints Injections – SKG Cockburn.  UNSUCCESSFUL

3 July 2021     Dr Roger Tan –  Right L3 -S1 Medial Branch Blocks +RF Thermal Rhizotomies & Lumbar Steroid Epidural + Epidurogram – UNSUCCESSFUL

3 Sept 2021    Dr Michael Miu – Right Superior Cluneal Nerve Block and plused rhizotomy UNSUCCESSFUL

2 Nov 2021     Dr Siamak Seresti – Referral to Dr Brian Lee for spinal disc block (fusion) surgery. NOT PROCEEDED WITH

14 June 2022 Dr Paul Taylor – 2nd Rhizotomy on my lower back.. AWAITING OPERATION.


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  • Fred Anderson June 5, 2022  

    Ask DVA to see a Sports Physiologist to do what I have done over years for my lower back problem . This entails going to a gym with the physo for ongoing work. This has helped me with out pain killers .No surgery for me I am 78and feeling well, some minor pain at times but can live with this.

  • Bob June 15, 2022  

    I had surgery about 10 years ago to remove a cyst pushing against nerves in L3/L4. That worked. A few years later the disk in the same place was doing the same. Had surgery which involved two screws in each L3 and L4, and north/south rods between them. That fixed the problem, and was out of bed the next day. A week of rehab and home. There is usually some pain in the area, but I rarely take serious painkillers. Have also taken part in the DVA-sponsored gym/physio programme, and lost 35kg so far, and this is the biggest help. I’ve now left the programme and am continuing on my own, doing the same things three times a week myself. It is not 100% successful pain-wise, but it sure eases the problem for me.

  • Laurie Thompson June 16, 2022  

    While serving with 105 Fd Bty, 4th Field Regiment at Wacol, Brisbane, I had a spinal fusion at the Greenslopes Military Hospital at Brisbane in 1964. Prior to that I had completed, in 1963, a Physical Training Instructors course at the School of Artillery School at North Head Sydney, played A grade Rugby Union representing the Army in the Brisbane competition for several years and in Army and Inter-services sports. In other words, I was quite fit prior for the operation. The orthopedic surgeons who undertook the operation said they could not guarantee 100% success as they had not performed the procedure before and it was a complicated frontal procedure (today I believe the procedure is a less complicated approached from the back). The operation took 8 hours, hospitalization around 12 weeks, a long recuperation that included a full body caste once out of the hospital. On return to work at 105 Fld Bty , I was down-graded to Home Only, with work restrictions that included no prolonged standing and no carrying of heavy weights. In 1965 I was fit enough remain in my job as a Gun Sargent and served as a Rugby Referee in the Army Rugby competition. Although the Medical Board considered I was fit enough for Home Only Service, they were not confident that the spinal fusion would stand up to the hard knocks of overseas service, so I was excluded for service with my unit when they went to Vietnam.
    I accepted that decision ,so applied for a place on the 1966 Thai Language Course at RAAF Point Cook, Victoria, to await the return of my unit. While at Point Cook I decided to Join the RAAF Rugby League team in the civilian Victorian Competition, as I had kept myself fit within the limits of no prolonged standing and no lifting of heavy weights. I played as lock in the team and played the full season, including the grand final which we lost to the Moorabin team. At the end of 1966, I again fronted the Medical Board, who decided that they did not believe I could be upgrded Medically because they were not sure my spine would take the hard knocks of Service Anywhere. I told them of my rugby stint and was why I had done that outside the Home Only restriction. I relied that as a rugby league lock I was not carrying any heavy weights and I certainly was not doing any prolonged standing. I was immediately upgraded to Forward Anywhere. I continued in my Army Service, including three overseas assignments, until 1 June 1976. I did, however, retire from 1st Grade Rugby Eastern Suburbs team in the Canberra competion in 1975.
    Once I returned to my unit in 1965, I have had no trouble with my back at all to date and keep myself active at age 84.
    If you decide on the spinal fusion, I hope your operation was as successful as mine.
    Good Luck and best regards.

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