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Possible spinal fusion

Started by 102052165112465... on 12/14/2015 11:33pm

Hey everyone,

I am new to the group. After 3-4 long years suffering with my chronic back pain I saw a surgeon for the first time today. I do not want surgery as I have heard some really scary things about it. Unfortunately I have tried PT, chiropractic care twice, and multiple spinal injections with little results. Any results I did have were so minimal, and didn't last long. I work in the therapy department in a geriatric setting so I have a very physically demanding job with lots of lifting, bending and twisting. I have recently requested to have my hours cut because of the pain. There are some days I can barely walk, and I get these sharp stabbing pains in my back and my knee gives out. I have almost fallen on several occasions. One of my questions I have for the group is as I was reading I see a lot of people talking about recovery lasting months or even years, and my surgeon said 4-6 weeks. That scared me quite a bit as my job is physical and I can't imagine recovering enough in that short time period. Anyone have any experience with that? Also, I am not sure what grade my spondalolysthesis is, but the doc said it s significant and measures at 8 mm does that make sense to anyone. He also said to compound my situation I have a herniated disc at L5/S1, and spinal,stenosis too. I don't feel like I can keep doing my job before the surgery either. But I feel like Drs are unwilling to take me off work, and I can't be off work without a Drs excuse. I would love some words of wisdom, or experience. I am feeling very low right now and having a hard time finding the light at the end of my tunnel



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3 Responses


Hi Shannon,

I am a back pain sufferer of 10 years. I get long winded when it comes to this subject so please bear with me and read what I have to say, I'm only trying to help!

I understand the Spondylolisthesis at 8 mm. I went from a Grade 1, which was 5mm to a Grade 3 (19 mm) in 4 years and after surgery went back to a Grade 1. Your doctor is fooling you by saying 6 weeks of recovery is enough. I'm just over 7 weeks and I hurt bad. The hurt is in new locations, so to me it's bad and unbearable because I'm not used to it in those new locations. I had decompression with instrumentation and they used my own bone to make a new disc for fusion between L5 and S1. I have two rods and six screws in my back and also a spinal cord stimulator that was implanted back in 2012. We were gonna take out the scs, but I'm glad I told the doc to leave it in to help with pain during healing because I didn't want to become a complete druggie after surgery. I was told that it's gonna take about a full year to heal, so be "patient and take the meds when you need them because your body needs sleep to heal". I know somebody that had somewhat of the same surgery and was up and resumed his normal physical activities in just a few weeks..... bowling, golfing, etc. but he also drinks heavy and takes his oxycodone while he drinks. No wonder he feels no pain! But he also said that I need to be patient and expect pain in different areas for at least a year! I only take my oxycodone and diazapam at night, but I do take hydrocodone 10/650 during the day only when the pain starts to hit more than a 7.
I am waiting for the day when I wake up and feel no pain, but know that it's gonna take a while. My doctor doesn't want me doing exercises until after my next follow up which is in February (4 months post op). He may want me to do PT but didn't think I needed it when I saw him at my 3 week post op.

8 mm is not good and you don't want it moving any further on you! And it will move...I am proof of that!

Do me a favor, get a copy of your last MRI with the radiologist report and print out the report and highlight anything you don't understand. Research all those big funky words on this website. I had been through pain management for 7 years with them telling me that I just had a herniated disc! I had a bi-lateral pars defect with spondylolithesis, spinal stenosis, arthritis, facet joint problems, and degenerative disc disease. I even heard one of the nurses tell the pm doc that I was faking it! I'd love to sue the pants off of them, but it won't take me out of the pain. If they would have just looked at my MRI, they would have seen it all, and then they didn't believe me when I said that I knew something has changed in my back. So I pretty much told them where to go after my SCS implant and have never looked back! That something that changed was the 5mm to 19mm slippage!

Where are you located? I have names and numbers of exceptional doctors in the mid-west. I did my research and found two outstanding doctors. I'm picky on who's gonna operate on me....if I don't like you, you aren't touching me! I had 5 different surgeons look at my file. One said that I'd be in a wheelchair in 6 months, but he wouldn't touch me...that's okay, he sure screwed up a few people I know and had been fired from 3 different hospitals. One doctor said that I'd have to have follow up surgeries and probably get an infection.....oh hell no! One told me he wouldn't operate until I was 6 months smoke free, which included everyone in my home, and he wouldn't even talk options until after that 6 months! The other two were great and I decided to go with the one just 3 hours away instead of the one 6 hours away. Teaching hospitals are a plus because they are up to date on new procedures that work and the doctors are usually driven to seek out what is best for the patient!

Depression goes hand in hand with back pain. I'm on anti-depressants and also see a therapist. It does help to be able to vent to someone other than a loved one. Loved ones usually feel hopeless and helpless because they can't do anything to stop the pain. People on this site also feel and know your pain, so use us to vent too!

Take care of yourself and let us know how things go for you!



Hi Shannon
I'm just at 1 year post op, and I'm not any better . Actually I am worst.
I had multi level spinal fusion with a bone graft and disc replacement at l4-l5, l5-s1. Before my surgery I was working every day with extreem pain , now I can't make it a few hours without laying down . The pain I'm in has taken over my life. My back is killing me and my left thigh, calf and foot are numb with neuropathy in both feet to the point that I'm in tears. When your doctor said 4-6 weeks he is not being truthful to you, my doctor told me that also. He told me that I needed emergency surgery and I was scheduled for surgery within 1 week. I have been released from my job and was told that I would not be able to do any physical work again. Last week I had a 1 year follow up with my surgeon and he said there isn't anything that he can do to help me with my pain. Within the past year I have seen 2 orthopedic specialist a neurologist and a neurosurgeon and they all told me that my pain is from the surgery and that my surgeon should be helping me with pain management. You have to understand that a neurosurgeon is the top of the food chain, so to speak. They will never admit that they caused more damage , they don't do any wrong. Its a extreem procedure that I wish I never had.
I know the pain your in right now before a surgery. Its hard to explain the pain to someone who has not been threw this . Dont get me wrong if you need the procedure you should get it done .,Maybe a second opinion would be a good idea for you, I wish I did.

Good luck Paxton


Dear Shannon,
Since it is February 2nd, I am writing to ask HOW YOU ARE! I wish I knew where you lived! {I am in Hershey, PA} so , perhaps we could be of some actual SUPPORT for one another. I have an almost identical situation as yours, though I think your disc slip level might be higher than mine: I am a level 1. EVERYTHING you described has had/IS happening to me. And more. I am astonished that your care team MADE YOU continue a very physical job! I stopped working about 2 years into the injury that caused the total degeneration of my entire situation! Right now, I am scheduled for the FULL ON Lumbar Spinal Fusion in early April. I am PETRIFIED, but I can no longer STAND for longer than 5 minutes, and am, except for visits to Doctors, completely housebound. My story is different than yours in that no one has held back on the REALITY of this as they did to YOU! Essentially I.m told: 3 months of "mind boggling", need help just to use the LOO, pain and recovery. Then the next 9 months doing the PT, etc to "fully recover"And a LIFETIME of some degree of pain medication.. No one her sugar coats, perhaps because my hubby goes to each appointment and researches EVERYTHING we're told when we get home, and calls ANYONE who gilds the lily. I am most affected by the absolute loneliness, lack of support groups, very little in the way of local resources for anyone to do in home help, no matter HOW MUCH we offer to pay. No one BELIEVES we may likely need help for a YEAR! Please let me know how you are. Perhaps I'll be lucky and you'll live near. or at least only a day's drive! I've tried to START a pre surg support group to no avail, so I am finding fellow patiens on good sites like THIS ONE! I hope things have taken a GOOD turn for you! Cary*