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Started by groovygranny on 09/25/2011 2:12pm

I am 82 years old and have just been diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis. My Dr. told me that I am Grade 2 but nothing needs to be done until I reach Grade 3 or 4. This sounds ridiculous to me--surely anything that can be done to try to prevent reaching Grades 3 and 4 should be done. I realize I'm pretty ancient, but I am still very active.

This condition was discovered because I complained about pains in the bones around my buttocks. My first complaint was 12 weeks ago and I was told that I was sitting too much! My next visit to the Dr. was six weeks ago and I told her that the pain was getting worse, so she sent me for X-rays. Six weeks later at my next appointment, and she told me the results of the X-rays, and when I asked what could be done about it, she told me "nothing". Then she told me about the Grades.

Do I just wait and do "nothing"? I need some advice here and would certainly appreciate any that is offered. Many thanks.

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20 Responses


I had a spinal fusion for spondylolisthesis on Auguest 31st last year because I was almost at a Grade III. I was told the same thing by a few doctors, to wait til I reached Grade 3 at least to have a spinal fusion bc it is so risky and has such a long recovery. But bc I am so active, young and healthy, I decided to take the risk and have the surgery after I discussed it with my mother and boyfriend (who would be taking care of me for an entire year during recovery). And only AFTER I exhausted all conservative treatment.

Although I am a healthy young woman (age 31) with no other pre-existing conditions, I did have many complications after surgery. I just wanted to share my experience with you so you know what you're getting into, especially bc of your age. It makes a MAJOR operation like a spinal fusion at your age VERY risky (possibly death or being worse off after surgery).

The conservative methods I exhausted first BEFORE deciding to have surgery were
1) An entire year of consistent Physical Therapy, which really helped me learn how to safely stretch and exercise with my condition and also proper body mechanics, like how to pick up an object safely and how to reduce risk of further injury and straining my back. PT should also teach you how to get out of bed properly, things like that. PT changed my life for the better by reducing my pain. I strongly suggest you try it and most importantly, stick to your routine at home. Every single day.

2) Walking and swimming more, and sitting less! Getting in the pool is the safest & best exercise you can do for your spine to strengthen and reduce your pain. If your insurance covers aquatic physical therapy, take advantage of it. If not, find a community pool and do it by yourself. Just being in the pool alleviates the pressure off your spine and discs bc you're weightless in the water, it's like decompression therapy minus the expensive bill! And even if you can't swim, just walking in the pool and doing side leg lifts helps strengthen your spine. Back floating is great too! I found swimming to be too painful prior to surgery so I did other exercises in the pool that were just as effective.

3) I also tried Cortison injections in my spine (which were VERY painful) and I didn't like having the procedure done. It did help my pain but when they insert the very large needle into your spine, it feels like you're being electrocuted. And you can only have this procedure done about 4 times a year bc it weakens your immune system. I was ALWAYS sick with a cold or flu during the year I had Cortison injections. It's a steroid so it is pretty strong stuff.

4) Losing as much weight as possible to reduce the pressure on my spine. I gained a lot of weight bc I was unable to exercise like before and didn't change my eating habits. I was very depressed at the time bc of this lack of mobility, which hurt my social life and the weight gain only made my depression worse. Physical Therapy helped me get some of the weight off!

5) Strong pain medication as prescribed by my doctor.

After I tried all of these conservative methods of treatment for an entire year, I decided to have the surgery bc I am still young and have decades ahead of me, I haven't had children yet and I didn't want to be taking such strong pain medication for the rest of my life (and couldn't take them if I was pregnant or nursing) as opiate use does hurt your organs and health over decades of time. My doctor said for young people, prescription addiction is a very real concern. I felt confident having the surgery bc I have a VERY strong support system, my mother took a year off of work as a teacher to take care of me, along with my boyfriend who was physically strong enough to lift me and was at my disposal whenever I needed him. Also, I had an amazing spine surgeon with a team of trauma surgeons at UCSD Medical Hospital who've performed hundreds of spinal fusions with great results. I was confident with my life in his hands.

I had an anterior & posterior approach during my spinal fusion on L5/S1. The anterior meaning, my low abdomen was cut open and my intestines and other organs were removed so that they could reach the spine from the front. It's a 5 inch wound. After that was done, they turned me over and made 2 three inch incision along my spine and opened me up to insert an artificial disc (as the bone on bone grinding of having so much movement from Spondylolisthesis flattened my disk to nothing) and then they aligned my spine as much as they could get it to move back into place and drilled 8 titanium screws into my spine held together by rods. The pain when I woke up 8 hours after being in surgery was beyond anything I could have imagined.

I stayed for a week in the hospital. After i came out of surgery, I was in the Trauma unit for 24 hrs bc the spine and the spinal canal they operated around is very delicate. The pain was excruciating, to say the least. I could feel the pain so intensely even though I was on a morphine drip, valium and oxycontin. The pain was WORSE than what I had imagined it would be. Not even drugs could ease it. It was hard to sleep bc I couldn't move or change positions. When the 2 nurses came to move me every few hours, the pain it caused made me dizzy nauseous. Luckily, I hadn't lost much blood during the operation (when you sign a consent prior to surgery, you sign a death waiver and that u understand that you can hemorrhage and die). But I was running a high fever. I felt awful. After I was stable and moved into the hospital room ward, I learned that my roommate who had a fusion on her upper spine had been there for a month! She had gotten an infection and was in very bad shape (another waiver u sign as part of the surgery risk). I felt very fortunate to not have gotten an infection like she did. I learned later that she stayed in the hospital even longer after I left bc of the complications fm infection and moved to a hospice bc her husband was working and couldn't take care of her.

When i got home, I had some fainting spells in the shower and could not bathe alone. I could hardly eat or use the bathroom bc when your intestines are removed, they go to sleep. I lost a lot of weight, was very sick all of the time bc my immune system was weak. I used a walker for a month while I was in a very tight back brace to be used at ALL times when out of bed. I was in that awful back brace for 3 long months. I started Physical Therapy 4 months after surgery and it was so painful but necessary. I couldn't drive for 6 long months, depended on other people to physically and financially take care of me. It was a HUGE stress on everyone involved. I am glad I did the surgery bc I am just barely starting to feel better but I still cannot work and rely on my parents and disability pymts for financial support.

I shared my long story in detail bc of your age and I feel like a major operation like a spinal fusion to correct my spondylolisthesis would be a very bad idea for you. I'm young and healthy and still had a VERY hard time recovering. You need 24/7 care in those crucial months out of surgery. You become emotional, depressed and need extra love and care from your family. I wouldn't suggest risking your life to have any spine surgery at your age, especially when trying the conservative methods of treatment I listed above could really help you manage your pain and get you to be more active. Also, I started using a recumbent bike that helped me tremendously! It really helped me get stronger and reduced my pain. Hope my story helped shed some light on your options. Feel free to ask me any questions. Take care.



Fusion seldom works and it ALWAYS causes further problems down the line.


I have no idea of what the comments here actually MEAN. You speak of Grade this and Grade that......While I don't know what all that means.

All I know is that I have spondylolisthesis - and it HURTS al the time.

I have NO IDEA which vertebra is causing the pain. People talk of L-whatever, of having so much degeneration......I DON'T KNOW!

I've been told, in this forum, that I am a waste of space. Since I elected NOT to have fusion sugery, I've been told that I have no right to post here.....

Know what......? It takes courage to go on, day in, day out facing the pain, knowing that it will NEVER get any better, but will most likely get WORSE.

Everey day HURTS - from wakig after a disrupted night, to gettig through each day. I take my drugs.

I am NOT a coward because I declined surgery. Having seen the ruins that are people who've undergone fusion surgery and had it fail, WHY would I put myself through that....?

I'll stick to my pills - and I'll bet that I will stay OUT of a wheelchair for a lot longer than anyone who's undergone fusion surgery......


Okay......Who's playing games.....? Suddenly, neither my email address or my password is accepted. Not here,or in Facbook. NOT FAIR!


Maggi, I am really sorry to hear u are in so much pain. I was there for 3 long years. But u really can't speak for EVERYONE who's had a spinal fusion. It depends on many factors, your age, lifestyle, a skilled surgeon with a great success record and your overall health going in, among many, many other factors. It's a personal choice that should not be criticized. Just like yours shouldn't be.

I am still a young woman and for my own "personal" reasons, the spinal fusion worked for me. No, it's not for everyone. But I don't agree with your statements that you're going to fair better and stay out of a wheelchair and I'm not, just b/c I had a fusion and u didn't That's actually a VERY rude and insensitive statement for u to say to someone like me who's had a fusion barely a year ago and still in recovery. I take offense to that. Perhaps that's why people aren't being very nice to u on here. U came into this discussion on the defense. This is supposed to be a supportive community, a place where people share their personal stories, not attack one another. Try reading people's experiences with an open mind, as I've read yours with an open mind, despite the insensitive nature of your words.

If u don't know what Grade your Spondy is, u can't know the SOURCE of your pain. Where is it coming from? Are there nerves being trapped in there causing Spinal Stenosis? Is there a narrowing of the spinal canal? From the description of your pain, there's probably all of that going on in your spine. But I'm not a doctor, just speaking from my own personal experience. Not every doctor is going to tell u to get a Spinal Fusion if u go in for some X-rays to see what's wrong in there. So it can't hurt. I saw 3 doctors and only ONE said I'd be a great candidate for surgery. It's good to get X-rays to find out what Grade u are b/c if you are certain u don't want surgery (and that's good for you), there are some very skilled Physical Therapists that can give u a set of exercises to help alleviate your pain, depending on your slip Grade. Wearing a soft Lumbar Support brace helps tremendously, that's if your pain is in your low back (that's your Lumbar spine area). And buying a home-use TENS Unit, electrodes u apply to the muscles in your back where u have pain. Wow what relief that thing gives me!

Let me explain to u what is happening in your spine since u say you don't know. Your back is basically broken when u have Spondylolisthesis. The facet joints are broken so the vertebrae in your spine have nothing to hold them in place anymore so your vertebrae have slipped over one another (the amount of slippage is graded from a Grade 1-5), causing wear & tear of your bones and grinding down the disc between each vertebrae to practically nothing. Without a healthy disc to act as a cushion between those vertebrae, it's just bone on bone grinding on each other. Ouch! THAT is why you're having so much pain, plus the nerve entrapment, arthritis it causes, etc. I don't know why nobody's ever explained that to you or shown u on a sample spine in the doctor's office? Understanding how your body works and what's happening in there will help YOU take better care of your back, by not doing things that further aggravate your condition (like bending forward or sitting for long periods of time). But you have to know the SPECIFICS of your condition first to create an exercise/physical therapy plan.

I can't predict the future where I'll be at when I'm 80 yrs old like the lady who made this original post. But I can say that I no longer have all of that pain u described in your post. I waltz out of bed now (NO pain, yay!), do my stretching and go for a bike ride in the morning. Just one year later and I can go kayaking and ride my bike for an hour (all uphill with the highest resistance). Imagine that! I am VERY proud of my progress. I have worked hard and am proud to say that I take maybe one Motrin 800 ONCE a week if I do too much and the pain gets bad. That's it. Not like before when I was bedridden for 3 very long years and popping every norco pain pill to just get through the day. U name it, they prescribed it too me. They caused so many side effects, I was so sick and depressed. And I am just too young, too active and got too much living to do to become addicted to pain pills like so many people do. Because pain pills change your brain's chemistry over time. No matter how mentally strong you are, it is just something you don't have control over for too long. It's science, from what I've researched and from what doctors have told me (they're very reluctant to prescribe young people like me narcotics b/c they are so addicting). Again, I am NOT speaking for u. You have to do what's best for YOU. We all do.

All I know, is that I am the happiest & healthiest I've ever been in the last 5 years when my pain begin. My surgery has taken away most of my pain so that I can be active. I know some people who didn't fair as well. I feel very fortunate to have come out of this painful surgery without serious complications. I would NOT suggest Spinal Fusion surgery to this 80 yr old woman. It is just way too risky. And I am so sorry you haven't been able to find the support you need in this community. It is for people who suffer from chronic spine pain, not just those who've had surgery. I'm sure if you're more careful with your approach and use more sensitive words, you won't offend as many people. U belong here just as much as anyone else! Being nice helps, of course. I hope u try some of my tips, they really helped me a lot. I wish u all the best in finding a cure for your pain Maggie & the granny who posted this originally. Good luck! :o)


I GIVE UP trying to reply in this space!

Each time I try, I'm diverted OUT of the message board and back to the Home Page!

Ergo; no-one here will ever be any the wiser as to why I made my original comments......


Please look at the webinar by Dr. Shamie@ UCLA because he has a different opinion of the cause of buttock pain than you have been told. Look at Sacroilic Joint in Google and you should be able to find the link which is too long to post here. The webinar is available only through October. Good Luck!


I had surgery 15 weeks ago on my L5 S1 the recovery is very slow at the moment, i only had a grade 1 but was told that surgery was the only way for me to get better in the long run.
I am only 40 and was told that my age would help me to recover i do my physio at home every day which helps. I needed alot of help after the operation as i couldn't really do anything for 2 weeks and the next 4 were very slow in being able to do things for yourself, but once i got past that things started to get better slowly, my physio has told me that it will be 18 months before i stop feeling the pain in my back where i had the operation, but the pain in my spine was gone the day after surgery and it is nice not to be on pain killers every day.

Hope this helps and you feel better soon.


I DO know what spondylolisthesis entails - despite never having been told which number vertebra is displaced.
It's twenty years since the pain first manifested in the lowest point of my left spine. It wasn't until 1997 that, the pain having become persistent, I was refered for a series of spinal X-rays, They showed that I had spondy.
For eleven years, the pain was largely manageable with various drugs. There were a few unpleasant times when a drug caused side-effectcs. But my GP was great, always endeavouring to find a drug that would ease my pain WITHOUT causing the nasty side-effects.

In 2008, the pain became a constant and disabling feature and my GP refered me to the Spinal Unit of our local hospital. There I was seen by a consultant spinal surgeon - who declared that she could SEE the displacement the moment she looked at my spine. She said that a simple operation would relieve me of the pain. However, she wanted me to have an MRI - so that she could be absolutely sure as to where the , 'couple of screws,' needed to be placed......

A few weeks later, I had the MRI - a singularly unpleasant experience - and I waited several weeks to be called back to the Unit for the results.
It was then that I was informed that the simple operation would not be possible: apparently, the degree of vertebral slippage was greater than the surgeon had thought. I'd need to undergo fusion surgery......
I knew something of this particular surgery, having seen my former father-in-law go through it - and the agony he endured, the dependancy on morphine for more than a year, not being able to walk without crutches for nearly two years. He had to take early retirement - which resulted in such a serious reduction in income that he & his wife had to sell their house and move into a local authority flat.. He was never able again to drive and so lost his precious Mercedes.

All the same, that had occurred in 1988; techniques had probably improved over the years. So, before making a decision as to whether to have the surgery or not, I did much research into the current procedure.
What I learned convinced me NOT to have the operation. The most recent studies in both the UK & the USA showed that the failure rate of fusion surgery was 60%. Those results were published in 2005......
When I spoke with my GP, he agreed that fusion was not the way to go. He had several patients who'd had it and had not only endured the failure of fusion, but had been left with greater pain than they'd had prior to surgery.
Now, the reason I advised the 82 year-old lady NOT to have the surgery is because it's such a major and invasive procedure and, given that relatively fit people much younger than she are often rendered worse off, I feared what someone of an advanced age would have to endure.

It isn't the practise in the UK for patients to receive copies of MRI results - or, indeed, ANY diagnostic procedure. Nor do our GPs receive copies of the images. What they receive is a written report from the specialist.

It's always been sufficient for me to know that I have a name for my condition - and that I can acatually spell it! I haven't needed to know which particular vertebra is causing the pain I live with, day in, day out. At least, it hasn't been necessary for me to know until people on this site began reeling off numbers etc. in such a glib manner that I began to feel totally uninformed.
I'm not good at maths - I never have been - but with a failure rate of 60% for spinal fusion, it seems to me that for every one person who benefits from it, there are many more who DON'T.

You know, it's somewhat patronising to suggest that because I have no idea which particular number of vertebra is causing my pain that I'm ignorant as to my condition......

All I was saying, really , is that I cannot advocate fusion surgery. Most CERTAINLY not for someone at the age of eighty-plus! After all, there are greater risks rom the anaesthetic alone the older one is.

I'll stick with my drugs - dependant as I am on Co-codamol - rather than undergo a surgical procedure that has such a high failure percentage......


Maggi, I agree with you about putting off the surgery as long as is safely possible. The rate of slippage is usually very gradual so it can take many years for the spondy to progress to the next stage. I am a 36 years old and have been diagnosed with a grade 2 spondy (plus a moderately compressed disc at that same joint which is L5S1 and a mild scoliosis). In my case it is definitely the disc compression that is causing the pain (perhaps it is the same for you? because a compressed disc between the vertebrae no longer cushions the joint adequately). Also when I bend incorrectly it sets of the muscle spasms as there is probably some amount of instabilty at the joint with the spondy. I have pain most days and sometimes struggle with getting dressed (putting on socks and shoes) but am still managing to go to work so I am lucky.

I have researched spondy extensively. I am a therapist and have seen a few cases of patients at my work where a fusion surgery went wrong and the patient ended up a paraplegic!! I have also spoken to my own physio plus my colleagues who are physios and they all recommend to put off the surgery as long as is possible. Their reasons are: fusions have only a 50% chance of decreasing the amount of pain therefore one should try not to have a fusion only because of pain; there is a risk of something going wrong (e.g. paraplegia); there is a long rehabilitation period after the surgery; in most cases after a few years the next vertebra up also statrt slipping and needs to be fused and so the fusions continue with a domino effect until nearly the whole spine is fused depending how young you were when you first started!

I tihnk it is important to keep on monitoring it, and of course if there is any real danger of neurological involvement (e.g. nerve roots of nerves supplying the legs being impinged) then to go ahead with it. An important tip that I got from my chiro is to find out whether the spondy is stable or not. this is done via X-Ray - if the spondy is unstable it moves position when the patient bends forward during the X-Ray and then it moves back to the first position when the patient is straight.

Good luck.


Thank you, anjie! You're the only one here who's actually recognised WHY I won;'t have surgery!

I am NOT going to undergo a risky surgical procedure, on the off-chance that it MIGHT have a beneficial effect - when all the published studies up to date, show otherwise!

All the people here who insist that it must be surgery or nothing are just deluding themselves. They seem to beleive that surgery will eventually work a miracle.They're even prepared to undergo as many surgeires as they're allowed, before their surgeons call it quits.

That smacks of desperation......

I'll stay surgery-free, thanks, stay dependant on my drugs.

Recently, I got into a TV series. I don't actually watch much TV, but this is a series I got into through a ffeind's wedding .Long story.

Anyway, the series is called, ';Firefly.' I have becme a devotee of it. The theme song says; ' Take my love, Take my love, take my land; take me where I cannot stand.
I don't care, I'm still free. You can't take the sky from me.'

That's how I feel; no-one can ever take away my ability to fly - to rise above all that people can throw at me......


Maggie look at you xray report and see what Grade you have. Some people have it from childhood and others like me have worsened over a few years. I am at Grade 3 but I believe you can no longer walk if it gets to Grade 5. I hope someone makes a Post about this. I have had surgery, a discectomy and laminectomy at the same time when I ended up with foot drop caused by a herniated disc compressing a nerve. I still have footdrop and am in more pain since the surgery but was told I had no choice and had to have the surgery. If my spondylolithesis gets to Grade 5 I dread to think what will happen. I am having a lot of PT to get my muscles stronger so that might slow it down?


Hey Maggi!
I am curious about your photo.....Are you flying a plane?!?!
Anjie ;-)


My photo is of me in a helicopter.

Hubby's 60th birthday; my first EVER flight!

Know what.....?

I had spondy diagnosed in 1997.

Didn't really affect my life until around 2008. Then,t he pain got to be permenant.
Saw a spinal consultant, who sent me for MRI.

Result was recommended fusion surgery. I researched the procedure and decided NOT to have it. Because it seldom works and can have a seriously detrimental result.

I've been called various degrees of stupid on this site for saying that I will NOT have fusion.

For saying that I'd rather stay on the pain meds to which I'm addicted, rather than have the surgery that may well result in my being WORSE off.

I didn't make my decision lightly: I researched fusion surgery carfefully; read latest reports. I actually spoke to six fusion patients.
EVERY ONE OF THEM said that they wished they'd never had the surgery - because they were experiencing WORSE pain than prior to the surgery......

I then consulted my own GP - who agreed with my decision. He said that he has seen too many patients, still on his list, who are suffering the long-term results of fusion - failed or otherwise.

Successful fusion, he says, always results in severe spinal arthritis a few years along the line. While failed fusion results in agonising further surgery, to correct the failure.

Spondylolisthesis causes me AGONIES that I won't explain now. Suffice it to say that having one's lower left leg turn inward, against every muscle, locking so tight that it burns with every attempt to move the leg,, is to scream - while trying NOT to do so, lest it wake the rest of the household.

Nothing eases that kind of pain.

I don't think that I'm stupid, as has been suggested, for refusing to have fusion surgery.

It's what I'VE decided.


Maggi, while everything you have said is valid, let's not forget the reason for this discussion board, it's not to tell people to do something or not to do something about make that choice for them, it's to give them the information they need to make the choice themselves. What you seem to have neglected is that everyone has their own experiences of these things, and while I'm very sorry that you've not had a good experience, your strong and somewhat forceful opinions may only hinder this woman's judgement and choice.

Yes, I pity you, you've had spondy for many years, and clearly it's made you some form of emotional martyr for the cause, but like you said, you now rely on drugs, RELY on drugs that is, how is that any better than being an alcoholic or a person addicted to cocaine? I'm not saying you have a choice with your pain but I'm saying you need to stop preaching about how badly you've got it and how yet how you can still cope because clearly you're struggling if you're relying on a drug.

I'm 21 and I became aware of my spondy since the age of 12. I had sciatica problems, back problems and it lead me to many sick days and days off work. I've had the surgery for my own personal reasons, is it the worst thing to happen in my life? No, no it's not. Is it a long process? Yes it is. Has it been worth it so far? Yes. I don't crave drugs everyday of my life to try and handle a pain that there is no relief for, because for me, the surgery has improved my quality of life.

Groovygranny, what I would say to you is; do what you feel is right, the doctor can only give you so much advice but realistically the choice is yours, baring in mind the recovery time is anything up to two years and it does depend on the rate of growth and strength of your bones. There are always complications and risks involved and if you're able to go a few days with no pain, then I would hold off. The rate of slippage from grade 2 to 3 will manifest in years to come, obviously being grade two isn't ideal anyway, but it's taken your whole life to get to this point, it's a very slow process.
If you're able to do physio, then I'd look in to that first, and pilates to help strengthen the core muscles.

Please try and remember folks, I'm not saying 'yes have surgery' though I'm not saying 'shy away from even the idea of it', each person deals with it differently and it's not for anyone to decide for anyone else.


Maggi, I personally take offense to the lack of respect you're replying to all of us in this specific discussion. Where do you get off telling us, "I know I'll end up in a wheelchair one day in the future. I won't be in that position nearly as fast as those who put themselves through fusion surgery." You have really crossed the line of respectful & positive discussion. In every comment you have made in this discussion, you've attacked people like me & the young girl 21 year old girl above who elected to have the spinal fusion surgery. Does it make you feel better to tell us we're going to end up in a wheelchair faster than you? I think the drugs have seriously hurt your mental state of mind.

Furthermore, you are so wrong to say we are all "just deluding themselves. They seem to beleive that surgery will eventually work a miracle." That's funny because unlike you, I haven't even taken a Motrin in weeks because I've had such little discomfort. I'm going kayaking and taking hour long bike rides, all WITHOUT narcotics. AND I'm only one year post-op. I'm really sorry you can't say that for yourself. Pain no longer defines my day. Not having fusion surgery is your personal choice. Choosing to have it is also a personal choice, so don't lump those of us who've elected to have spine surgery as "failed outcomes." It's rude, disrespectful and frankly, I'm getting tired of your negative attitude and comments on here. This is a place that is meant for supportive, friendly discussion. Please act right.

It is a scary time for us patients after an invasive surgery like a spinal fusion & you're being VERY insensitive and mean your rude comments. Read the Community Advice Rules that state, "do not to reply to any message in an abusive manner." I'm really surprised you haven't been blocked from this community. Until you learn to reply with respect & sensitivity to everyone in this discussion, such as we've treated YOU with, I really think you should be banned from posting here. I'm sure everyone who's read your rude replies feels the same way.


Spondy619, I competely agree. It's riled me, I find it rude, disrespectful and abusive. There's no need to look down upon myself, you, or any other member of the public who has opted to have surgery. Furthermore to state that we're 'going to end up in wheelchairs' or in a worse of state due to surgery, it sickens me. I don't understand why on earth she hasn't been banned, like I said before, this is a place for discussion, to help others make a choice, to give information, not to condemn people for making a different choice.

Choosing not to have the surgery makes a person no better and no worse than me, and I find it offensive that someone would even think in such a way that they think they can take the moral high ground over such an issue.

This woman clearly has a very negative outlook on life and I wish that she keep that outlook to herself instead of bringing others around her down, who are going through the emotions of choosing surgery or recovering from it. For her to say that effectively taking the surgery is the easy way out and then to say I, or you, are going to deteriorate quicker due to it, firstly, that's not proven, secondly, if it were, then that is the most contradictory sentence I've heard in a long while.

Spondy619, thank you for the reality check in your post, I whole heartedly agree with you and I'm so happy that your surgery has been successful.

Groovygranny, I do apologise if your post seems to have been taken over by these vile, negative comments, please don't let that have any baring on your choice. If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them if I can!


I'm sorry if some of you have taken offence at my comments. It was never my intention to offend.

The thing is, as some of you have said, each person has a different experience of spondy. Mine has been that surgery is NEVER going to be an option. Having studied the rate of failure of such surgery and of the - semingly inevitable - complications that result from successful surgery, I have decided that it is NOT for me.

I do NOT belittle the experiences of anyone who's undergone surgery.

All I can do is to attempt to explain WHY I won't have the fusion surgery. EVERYONE I've known who's undergone the procedure, has bitterly regretted it. Either theye've ended up suffering worse pain than they'd had prioor to sugery, or they've had to have further surgery to have removed the grafts/implants when they've been rejected.

One young woman of my acquaintance is in a wheelcahair at the age opf thirty-five - because she had fusion surgery. The grafts and implants were rejected and the resulting removal surgery resulted in irreversible nerve damage to BOTH legs. Prior to surgery, she'd had problems with only her right leg.

I'm very cynical, of experience. I cannot believe that fusion surgery is the right way to go for ANYONE.

I'm in pain twenty-four hours a day, but when I see the ruins that are post-fusion patients, I'm determined never to follow that path. I'll stay out of my wheelchair for as long as I possibly can.

And I'll go on advising AGAINST fusion surgery whenever my opinion on the subject is asked.

If that's disrespectful, then i'm sorry, but that's the way I see it.


Hi there Groovy Granny! Please don't believe that doctor. They think medically in terms of "there's nothing we can do because it's not yet time to have surgery." I also have spondo and had a lot of lower back pain. After consulting with a physical therapist I routinely do quite a few exercises and have found that the one that works best for me is simply curving my lower back slightly and pushing it against a chair back or wall. Depending on the location of your spondo you may find that different simple exercises work for you and can make a world of difference. Weight loss also helped me, even in small quantities, and anything that helps you stretch and be limber without putting excess pressure on your back can really relieve discomfort. Although it is an argued point among professionals, I truly believe that the right exercises and personal care can slow the progress of spondo. We know for sure it can't hurt and that it relieves pain! So good for you for asking should you do "nothing" and the answer is a resounding '"no!" Do stuff! You will find what is right for you thanks to your inquisitiveness and your willingness to take charge of your own health. Best of luck!


Thank you everyone for the information, specially spondy619, I have tried to search and understand much about this condition as I've had this all my adult life and currently at stage 4. As many, I live with pain and wake up by pain and it has limited the things I do. I also am very active but no longer do some of the things I once did. Pilates has helped and P/T as well. I've gone to Chiropractors for over 30 years and at times the pain was aggravated by this treatment but, I kept going and believing. A year ago I finally seen a surgeon's PA, he spent about 15 min's with me and explained what condition I had. The Chiropractors would only tell me that I had what would be similar to an extra vertebra that started to grow and I needed to keep my core muscles strong. Yep, that is it. I am so glad that I finally understand what this is and there is a medical term for it so I can research and have a better understanding (It has been about a year since finding this out). I now know that some types of movements will cause slippage and that I need to stay away from those movements/exercises. I try to but I'm still learning which movements and exercises I cannot do. I came to realize that all the twisting of my spine that occurred at the Chiropractor's office may not have helped this at all but will never know. We do know that the kind of twisting that was done is a no no for the condition I have, like I said, which is now stage 4. I'm so besides myself and yes, depressed by it as well. I love to golf and it's very difficult to do so. I have given up many things I loved to do and it is heartbreaking to have to again give something else up. I have found a wonderful British Class A PGA pro and have taken lessons with him for a year to relearn the gold swing so not to hurt myself. Amazing, all those lessons with different PGA pro's in the past and my swing was totally wrong. Now, after playing for over 20 years I finally found the right Pro but I do have to swing correctly to not hurt the back. I am afraid of the surgery and glad that someone has shared a more detailed story of what to expect, for that I thank you.