I'm headed soon for a L/4 to S/1 fusion. Can anyone tell me about the chances of the ol' snowball effect up the spine after a length of time.
Is there anyone out there that is 5...10....15 years post lumbar fusion and doing fine?
I asked my Doc about the chances of L/3 going someday from the added stress of the fusion, and he said the numbers are all over the chart on that, but he seems to think 10% chance. What does everyone here think( or better yet, your long term experience)
I think a lot would depend on how well you TREAT your back. If you lift and don't use correct body mechanics, OR have an injury to weaken the area, chances would go up, but if you care for yourself and avoid injury, then I personally think you could do very well and avoid surgery down the road. I am goin on 8 months from post op a/p lif of L4-s1 and am doing wonderful. Not a day goes by that I regret having my surgery. Good luck to you and remember, there are no "numbers" for that kind of thing As each human is different. You could get percentages, but even then, there is no way they can be accurate.
After six years I had three more levels going and sciatica has been a part of my daily life since that time 16 years ago. Now I have no good levels above or below my 22 years post surgery. L4-L5 is where most of our bending originates so the rest of the spine has to be stressed when this level is fused.
First, let me say that the fact that I had to have 3 levels fused the first time, may or may not have played a role in further fusions. My spine specialist says some docs believe that the case and others do not. He leans to the side of "not" but acknowledges that he is neither absolute in either direction as in some people he believes it would be the case.
I have 10 levels fused and my spine specialist doesn't believe any more should collapse. What I know that did play a role is the fact that I have had bone problems including deformity of some at birth, that I have DDD, and that the fact that my first fusion was broken in an auto accident causing more levels to collapse and crumble, and yes, high doses of steroids for chornic asthma did play a major, major role in my back problems, as did my very active life and my years of lugging heavy stuff around in my work. That said, how many people can say that only one factor causes anything that goes wrong with their back?
But, after I became educated enough to realize that I needed a spine specialist instead of a general ortho surgeon and general neuro surgeon, I was learning more about the back and the available options out there. Unfortunately, my condition had deteriorated to the point that fusion was the only option, even with my spine specialist, but without his skill I would not be walking and again maintaining an active life with 10 levels fused. So, first, have the absolutely best spine specialist you can find and inform yourself about the artifical disc replacements as well as the flexible fusion system called dynses which is coming out or may now be out of clinical trials. Don't rule out clinical trials as you can obtain excellent care in trials.
Were either of these options workable for you, I would certainly recommend that you give thorough consideration to them before opting for fusion to begin with. Fusion can come after ADR and a fixed fusion can come after a flexible fusion. ADR gives one the chance to retain normal function, whether for 10 more years or 8 or more. Who knows what will be available at that time?
Hope you will investigate all avenues and if you're not familiar with either of these procedures, you can visit the spine universe site that the address is provided in a post at the beginning of the threads in a topic called new info for lots of you. There is of course other sites with additional information, but that's a good place to start, so you can ask your spine doctor why these would or would not work for you. If you have a general ortho or general neuro who is not totally dedicated to doing nothing but spines, they are most likely not up on these procedures. A spine specialist will be.
I'm definitely not against fusions as they have been extremely successful for me, and I could only been happier had I qualified for ADRs so that I could retain normal movement. But, I am walking, I am doing and I am grateful, but see no reason for anyone to not check out the procedures which will keep their body functioning in a more normal mode.
I do have one of the best spine docs on the East coast, It's all he does. I've had 3 Discectomies on L/5 S/1 already, and L/4 is bulged. My discogram shows that L/4 should be included in the fusion. I asked about the ADR and my doc says because the severly arthritic Facet joints in L/4 L/5 that I will still have pain. So between the far advanced DDD and the Arthritis it looks like fusion is the best option. I really would like the ADR instead. I have one more chance to beg him again to change his mind about the ADR.