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Sports after L4-L5, L5-S1 TLIF fusion

From: mery45 - on 04/26/2011 8:22pm

Hello,
I'm a 29yo female in good shape that played sports all my life, even college basketball! I had a 2-level TLIF fusion at L4-L5 and L5-S1 in August, 2011. I'm doing well post-op going on 9months. I've been doing some spin classes at my own tolerance level, minimal jogging, moderate ellipticals, and alot of walking. My back muscles feel VERY tight when attempting to run. I still have slight numbness in my left leg and foot when it touches objects, but the sciatica pain is now gone! My sciatica pain was so bad that i had toe weakness in my left big toe, was unable to sit, stand, lay or walk without intense shooting, burning pain. My procedure lasted 5 hours. I had 2 ruptured discs, a fractured vertebrae, a disc that was shifted forward (spondylolisthesis), early signs of degenerative disc disease and a disc that didn't fuse right at birth. I think a few of the discs had multiple issues. I am happy that I had the surgery and am satisfied with the results. However, like i said, i still have slight numbness and my left calf tends to cramp alot easier these days. My question is: How long before I will be allowed to play sports such as softball and basketball again? I am beginning to get very frustrated b/c i'm going on 9months since my surgery and feel like i'm nowhere near where i used to be. The most time away from sports I ever missed before this surgery was 2 months for an ankle surgery. Has anyone gone through a similar procedure? If so, have you been able to get back to sports? Does anyone know the average recovery time before you are released for sports? Any information would be appreciated. I go back to my neurosurgeon in the next few wks, but every visit I get the same answer "fusion is looking good, no pain is a good sign, we'll talk about sports next visit."

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on 05/03/2011 9:22am

Good to hear your surgery was a success. I had L-3,4 and L-4,5 fused over 2 yrs ago and have the same problem with shooting electric pains and numbness in my left leg. Seems you should ask your doctor about the sports and the pain. Mine is clueless about the pain. However, he did advise to do anything I previously did in regard to sports. I ride horses and I am a classically trained dancer. The doctor did advise however, to be extremely careful as the vertebrae next to the fusions will take much more stress to make up for the fusion and consequently, will wear out faster! I also read that a high percentage of folks who have had back surgery, have additional back surgery within 5 years. Since you are so young, it would seem wise to curtail some of your more strenuous activity. I try to be optimistic thinking that had we lived 100 yrs ago, imagine the agony we would have endured for the remainder of our lives, not having the option of corrective surgery. Regarding the tight muscles: my ham strings shortened considerably before the surgery and it took over 8 months after surgery to regain the stretch! Even now, on the left leg, that hamstring is tight and resists the stretch. I think it comes with the surgery. Doesn't make any sense however. Also, my ribcage constantly aches and only a bit of valium helps that. Good luck!

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