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Posted in: Spondylolisthesis, and Surgery.

lumbar spine fusion L4-L5-S1 with instrumentation

From: elena - on 02/28/2010 12:58pm

I am scheduled for operation on my spine to correct spondylolisthesis . The procedure is called TLIF with rods, screws, bone graft.
I am also diabetic. My symptoms are: occasional leg weakness which is much helped with exercises, occasional burning in my legs and buttocks, occasional burning in the hip, occasional altered sensation an genitals and buttocks, tiredness and some ache in lower back.
I am reading terrible stories about operation, about pain, that nothing has changed and something is even worth, have new bone formation, bmp is leaking, nerve is damaged. People become disabled, use a lot of medication, hate the day they went under the knife.

I am living now with some mild restrictions but doctors say it is to risky, the nerve already compromised and I may loose control over bladder or bowel, or legs.
Is there anybody who is satisfied, does not regret? Any comments fo bmp as bone graft and polymer instead titanium cages

Please respond to me

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on 02/28/2010 9:02pm

On Sept. 30th, I had L3-S1 fusion with instrumentation. I have a diagnosis of DDD,spondyloldidthesis,and arithitis.

The recovery was not too bad...and the first 3 months it was GREAT!! I woke up from surgery with ZERO sciatic pain-first time in 3+ years! After about 3 months the sciatic pain has returned...when it is real bad the pain will go down to my foot-I have foot drop and extreme leg weakness.
While the surgery HAS helped with the pain in my mid-back..I feel that I am 'back'(no pun interned)to were I was BEFORE the surgery. Before the surgery I was taking Oxycontin and Percs as well as Flexiril. Now I am taking 7.5 and 10 mg Vicodin,a muscle relaxer and Neurontin. If the neurontin doesn't kick in soon my dr wants to put me on Lyrica. I just wonder if the surgery was the right path for me...
I know that the longer the nerve is compromised, the greater the chance for more permanent damage. And the sciatic nerve is the nerve to control the bladder and bowel...Depends ARE not a fun thing!!

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on 03/01/2010 12:26pm

Hi, Lisap7
Thank you for your respond. When you went for surgery what state you were in? Did you have any neurological symptoms besides the pain?I mean burning in the legs, altered sensation in buttocks and genetals etc, weakness in the legs.WHAT DOES YOUR DOCTOR TELLS YOU ABOUT DETERIORATION- FOOT DROP, WEAKNESS IN THE LEG

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on 03/02/2010 1:17am

I am 6 weeks post op for a spinal fusion L5 to S1 with a bone graff - and intstrumentation (2 rods and 2 screws - titanium) due to congenital spondy. My pre-op symptoms were debilitating and I was forced to resign from my job. I was also told that I would get the drop leg or maybe worse if the condition was not addressed. My main thought about my surgery is that my particular condition is unique to all others as yours will be. The doctors won't know exactly what needs to be done until they get to problem. Yes, it was scary. So, my advice is to make sure that you have a good support system around you post recovery and someone with you in the hospital. This is a difficult surgery, but there are far worse things in life. (Think wars, earthquakes, etc) Try to focus on the things you will be doing after you are healed when you start to think about the pain or all the other scary things. As for me, I do struggle with ache in my lower back and hip and then there is the pain in my right foot and ankle (nerves are the slowest things to heal in the body) and I am taking oral meds and stuff to help my anxiety/depression. And, I'm up in the middle of the night trying to find other folks in my same boat. Don't lose heart. Educate yourself and try to weigh your options.

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on 03/02/2010 6:11am

Thank you Hope for you kind and wise respond. I am depressed now because I do not know anybody who did not regret having operation, secondly I do not know anybody who had just 1 operation. It is like domino , only start and you will have another and another and another op. I took this info from patient forum.Have you heard about Luklinski clinic in London. He says that with mobilization technique he can treat any spinal condition. He says that numerous studies show that all spine surgeries are useless and debilitating.

Do you progress somehow in your recovery? Is there anything that got better in your symptoms? In what clinic did you have your op?
My best wishes to you.

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on 03/03/2010 6:26am

my husband a removalist, had a microdiscomy last Nocember 2009, from a nerosurgeon who is no longer in practice.
Now he was told he has to have a fusion on his L5 S1 disc as the first operation wasn't a sucess. He is set for the operation on March 17th by a professor, he will be joined by another Dr who will be operating the stomach, Taking the insides out and letting the professor to fuse the spine at the front not the back, this is new to us, what do you think

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on 03/03/2010 6:26am

my husband a removalist, had a microdiscomy last Nocember 2009, from a nerosurgeon who is no longer in practice.
Now he was told he has to have a fusion on his L5 S1 disc as the first operation wasn't a sucess. He is set for the operation on March 17th by a professor, he will be joined by another Dr who will be operating the stomach, Taking the insides out and letting the professor to fuse the spine at the front not the back, this is new to us, what do you think

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on 03/03/2010 6:26am

my husband a removalist, had a microdiscomy last Nocember 2009, from a nerosurgeon who is no longer in practice.
Now he was told he has to have a fusion on his L5 S1 disc as the first operation wasn't a sucess. He is set for the operation on March 17th by a professor, he will be joined by another Dr who will be operating the stomach, Taking the insides out and letting the professor to fuse the spine at the front not the back, this is new to us, what do you think

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on 03/05/2010 11:38am

I am post op 3 weeks. Thanks Hope for your post. I was wondering if anyone was having the pain in the ankles feels like nerves are misfiring in them legs and hips are aching but all in all not feeling to bad. I think being couped up is getting to me more then anything. I had a Spinal Fusion l5-S1 Feb 11, 2010. Right after the surgery and the first week home I thought what in the world did i get myself into, but understanding that all the nerves in my back had been compressed for years and now have been given room to breath it only makes since that they should be screaming at me. The only thing I am worried is I haven't been giving alot of instruction on how to sit, stand, walk, to keep the spine in proper alignment, the only instruction I was given don't bend and use my brace if I am walking around.

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on 03/05/2010 9:24pm

Hello again. Yes, I have the burning foot and ankle. My right leg was also 'misfiring' but has eased off a bit in the last week. The docs keep telling me - no bending, twisting, lifting for 12 weeks. Ridiculous - the brace itself involves a little of all those things when you put your body into it. Anyhow, I was finally given a nerve blocking agent to help me sleep at night - for the foot and ankle. Today, I went to my child'school for a ceremony and then a little shopping and was completey exhausted when I got home. I started feeling sorry for myself and must keep talking to my loved ones and not get isolated. I think the emotional part of this is over half the battle. Right now, I'm on a pain reliever, nerve block, something to help me sleep and an antidepressent. Does anyone else have the same med load?

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on 03/08/2010 8:43am

Hi ,
I turned down this surgery last month and i am still in desperation searching for a cure or help to my problem. I am 28 and also have L4,L5,S1 SPONDYLOLETHISIS grade 2. I have agonising pain in back legs and buttocks every day. I have turned down this operation as my surgeon was going to perform a laminectomy and then a fusion boney and instruments. I was advised that there was a possibility that it may help the nerve but a bigger possibility that it would cause me more pain. this is something that i can't risk as im already at the end of my pain tolerance. Iwish i could say yes go for it, but i have read that this is a very risky op. Although after months of searching i am still yet to find an alternative. xx

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on 03/22/2010 7:53am

I have just undergone an l5/s1 fusion with instrumentation feb 22 2010. I am 29 days post op. I had severe spondylolisthesis with no disc remaining at this level helping to cause severe foraminal stenosis with significant root nerve compression. It all started one day a yr ago. I was at wrk when I began to feel this heavy, sluggish feeling in both legs. A sensation I had never b4 experienced. Within an hour, I couldn't control my legs. It was as tho I had suddenly dev a bad case of cerebral palsy. I walked in this weird fashion. Went to instacare after work, dr sent me right to hospital for mri of brain to rule out ms and a lumbar mri which is where the problem was found. The second day, incredible non-stop charlie horses set in in both calves. I walked in this funny fashion for 3 straight days. Then after, this walk would come on whenever I bent, went up or down stairs, up or down inclines and pretty much anytime it wanted to. Then the nerve pain set in my legs from my thighs down to my feet. Unbearable pain, worse than my back pain. I was in chiro treatment but it was beyond whst he could help me with. Had two different spinal injections, physical therapy, pain management dr prescribed lyrica as I also have FM. Since the surgery, all my nuerological problems have seemed to go away. But I have pain at my back fusion site and would like to know how long it takes to be able to roll over in bed, or get up from bed or sit without having to hold onto stuff cuz of the pain? Thank u for letting me share my story on ur post and greatest blessings to u. *hugs*

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on 03/27/2010 8:55am

I am considering the L4 L5 surgery because I have been in pain for over 2 years. Just recently the zingers have started down my right leg with charley horses in my right thigh and calve with my foot tingling and toes. Went to the emergency room and they gave me a demrol shot and sent me home in tears. Finally a doctor has advised surgery. If anyone has had the surgery-Are you happy? and what about the recouperation-Is it difficult?

Please help me get some answers.

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on 04/02/2010 10:41am

I underwent an open back fusion surgery with instrumentation due to having severe spondylolisthesis which resulted in severe bilateral foraminal stenosis which caused significant bilateral root nerve compression. I had severe leg weakness, I walked like sumone with a bad case of cerebral palsy. The pain in my legs far surpassed the pain in my back. I couldn't move my left foot up or down, was dead feeling to me. Most of my neurological deficits in my legs are just a faded memory. I do still get sum pain in my legs and feet and my calves are real tight, but that is to b e expected. My root nerves were compressed for a year. It can take 18-24 months nerve rejuvenation to the point where u can see the functionality u will obtain. So it will take sum time b4 I can say definitively that the surgery worked...but I can say I see a difference, I can now move my left foot up and down. Had my surgery feb 22nd of this yr. Was 6 hrs long, 3 day stay in hospital, and I have 6 inch or so incision on my lower back. Take care

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on 04/03/2010 4:31pm

I underwent a one-level lumbar fusion (L4 - L5) with instrumentation on Feb. 19th of this year -- 6 weeks ago. I had a perfect storm of lower back problems that ultimately led to my decision to have this procedure: Spondylosis - osteoarthritis - stenosis - slippage & instability. During my 6 hour surgery I was also discovered to have conjoined nerve roots in that lumbar level.

Titanium rods and screws were used as well as bone fragments that were excavated during the alleviation of the stenosis and whatever else they cut away from that area of my spine. I am 63 years old and in well-above average shape for my age.

For many years I had suffered with sciatic leg pain that seemed to radiate from my hips. In the last year prior to my surgery I had received 3 lumbar epidurals, all to no avail. Not only was my daily pain increasing, I was also losing the feeling in my legs. First in the left leg and then suddenly in both legs. I was told that I could possibly lose both bowel and bladder continence in the very near future. That got my attention!

The last straw was when my surgeon told me that I could light candles, burn incense and pray to whomever I believed in, but my situation would only continue to get worse unless I allowed him to surgically remedy the problem(s). (What else would a surgeon say?)

I took the bait and had the operation.

Like I said, that was 6 weeks ago. The first week home after the surgery was pretty rough. I live alone and had to pretty much fend for myself. Nothing could have prepared me for the post-surgical pain during the first week and a half. I was only in the hospital for 3 days. Fortunately that has since subsided and, save for an occasional ibuprofen, I have not taken any pain medication for 3 weeks now.

Despite some mild reservations about whether I would have this surgery knowing what I now know, I am pleased to say that most if not all of the symptoms that I was experiencing prior to the surgery have significantly lessened or disappeared. There is, of course, the discomfort of the surgery itself, which seems to be getting better with the passing of time.

The fusion, I am told, will take at least 6 months to perhaps more than a year. My primary problem right now is with my own impatience. I have always been very active physically--riding a mountain bike, etc.--and find my current condition and its limitations frustrating. There is a considerable stiffness and discomfort in the area of my approximately 6 inch incision scar, which makes even walking tedious after a very short distance.

One day I feel particularly encouraged only to wake up the next day feeling very much discouraged. I understand that this is to be expected. It doesn't bother me. I know I made the right decision. I had simply run out of other options!

I hope this helps? What are your options?

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on 04/03/2010 6:24pm

My problem is that I am not sure about operation. Everybody who replies to this discussion is in great amount of pain or numbness or some kind of discomfort. I am in very mild discomfort and pain. My neurological symptoms are mild and occasional. Doctors say that it will deteriorate due to nature of spondylolisthesis. My slippage is about 50% at L4-L5-S1.I am afraid of post-op pain, afraid of what my life will become, how much I will recover and resemble my "old me". I am not in a great shape, diabetic , overweight, other problems.

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on 04/04/2010 1:46pm

Since ur symptoms are so mild, id wait and try other methods to correct or alleviate ur mild neurological ssymptoms. If I were u, and this is just my opinion...I wouldn't risk my back for such an invasive surgery at this time. Sounds like exercise is working for u and ur pain and weakness in ur legs is minimal, to me, it would be unnecesary to undergo a fusion that isn't necessary at this time. Ur best bet would be to get 2nd and 3rd opinions. I know my surgeon wouldn't even dream of operating on anyone with as mild of symptoms as u have. Greatest blessings to u

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on 04/13/2010 5:11pm

i had a anterior/posterior L4 through S1 spine fusion on january 26 for grade 1 spondylolisthesis. i'm 34, and had been living with chronic back pain for 17 years. it was also minor, non-debilitating pain. i never missed a day of work, i would ride roller coasters, but would avoid other activities such as skiing since i was 17. half my life went by in constant pain.

i have titanum cages with bmp, 6 screws, 2 rods.

11 weeks out, and i am glad i did it. i have post-operative soreness and on my way to getting off the narcotics, so it gets a little worse each time i cut out a pill, but i acclimate within a day or 2. the fact that right now, at this moment, i have no pain... it's like magic to me!

i had considered the surgery about 7 years ago, but i weighed 100lbs more. my surgeon had concerns about the surgery at that weight. i'm now at a healthy weight, and i can understand the concerns. i did not, however, have an immediate concern as you apparently do.

my advice is to listen to your doctor. i try to avoid online forums about the surgery because there are so many horror stories out there. i don't know why i even signed up here ;) the fact remains that your recovery is based on your condition, your doctor, and you.

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on 12/20/2010 12:24am

Hello. I wish I had seen this site before my surgery. I had a back fusion of my L4-L5 vertebrae. Back in 1992 (Air Force), had a laminectomy of the same disk area. I am also diagnosed with DDD and am 51 years old. I re-injured my back in May of this year. I had lost strength in my right leg with shooting pain down the same leg. Back pain was chronic. The doctor also had noticed that my spine at L4 had "stepped off" (shifted forward) slightly. This was the compelling argument to go for the fusion. I had narrowing of the canal there as well as the DDD but the main issue was the step off. I went in originally because there would be days that my right leg would collapse without warning.
I had the fusion done the first week of October 2010 and it is now 6 days before Christmas and I still don't feel right. To be honest, I felt better before I went in for surgery. Where they took my rib out (on my right side) still has some associated swelling (It has gone done quite a bit but is still noticeable). It still hurts there with an occasional sharp pain from the bone removal site.
My back still has an occasional spasm at the surgery site with sharp pains. My right leg has gotten better in some instances but worse in others. I now have a constant burning sensation on the right side of my foot, centered around my outside ankle. I have a flushed, throbbing sensation down my right leg. Where I had no left leg pain before the surgery, I now have. The pain isn't constant but stabs at me every half hour or so.
More disconcerting is the new back pain higher up on my backbone (about 2-3 inches above the surgery site. The scars from the fusion are about 5-6 inches down my back bone and 4-5 inches where they removed my rib. NOT PRETTY!
This new back pain feels like my vertebrae are being pinched and sharp pains are emanating from this area. ALSO are the new burning palms sensations. Both palms feel like they have been scalded by a fire or boiling water. I thought I was doing better at the month and a half point post-op but these pains are increasing though I was hoping they would go but no luck.
I have also heard that once you fuse your back, it puts tremendous strain on the remaining vertebrae and you will eventually require more surgeries. Don't know how true that is, got it word of mouth but makes sense to me.
Hope this helps anyone thinking about getting the fusion. The doc told me that if I didn't do the fusion and if the spine shifted any further, I could lose control of everything down below. I just wanted to the pain to stop and it hasn't.

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on 11/23/2011 2:42pm

Hi, had a spinal fusion of l5-s1 March of 2011. I'm 8 months out and feeling pretty good. I do take tramadol 2x a day and lyrica and muscle relaxor at night before bed. I am still limited and have to be careful and not do too much. My injury is work related so I have been put on permnant restrictions of no more than 10lbs of lifting. I still have some issuess with doing things around the house but hoping that will get better over time. I've heard it can take 12-18 months to completely recover from spine surgery. So for now I do an exercise program at home developed by my PT and walk. Waiting to hear if my work will be taking me back with my restrictions or letting me go. I guess for me I would say my surgery was a success but definetely a very hard recovery and be prepared for it. Good Luck to all!

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on 06/14/2012 2:16am

Hello, im 16 years old and dec 20, 2011 i had a lumbar fusion on my L5 S1 vertebaes, a rod and 4 screws. I am now 6 months post op and in physical therapy. I had a Mild case of Spondolosthesis, it caused severe back pain , numbness and tinglig in my legs and feet. Occasionally my feet would swell and turn a sort of purple/red color. Before surgery i tried physical therapy ( Core strengthening) and i saw a chiropactor whom popped my back and did the vibrations up my spine, finally after missing so much school and trying everything I agreed to surgery. Might i add i am double jointed, more in the left hip than the right, after surgery i had severe pain, and later i was told i had calcium deposits built up on my L4 vertebrae so not only did i have a fusion but they scraped down my L4. So far after surgery the only problems i have are my posture, and sometimes when i bend over to get things i get sorta stuck in that position. every so often i get a tingle down my leg or numbness, but nothing ive had after surgery can even compare to the pain before, So if you would like my advice being 16, get the surgery, if your pain is to the point to where you cant take it and your down to yours wanting to cry, then get it, i dont regret mine, except now sleepin is a bit difficult, but id give up comfy sleep for a painless back anyday, ! I take a flexiril only when the pain gets to where i cant take it, but other than that a meloxicam ( anti inflammatory) and 3 aleves do the trick, but i have heavy duty meds if not , Tramadol, Lorotab, . I hope this helps !!

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on 07/13/2013 6:15pm

Dreaminzone1
Hi.5 months ago I had L5 -S1 fusion 2 rods 4 screws. Still having right ankle pain. Havi g low back pain also which goes in upper back. I see u had your surgery in 2010.
How are u doing with ankle pain after this time?
Melann

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on 07/13/2013 6:22pm

Breadgirl
Hi. Five months ago I had L5-S1 lumbar fusion with 4 screws and 2 rods. I have been in a lot of right ankle since 2 days after surgery.
Having low back pain and some upper.
How is your recovery going?
Is there hope at the end of this horrible journey?
Thanks Melann.

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