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Old 02-10-2009, 04:47 PM   #1
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Unhappy spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

Hi,
So I'd really like some opinions on if i should get surgery or not..
I have spondylolisthesis grade 3. I'm 20 now and I've had this for the past four years. When I first found out it was a grade 2 and I had alot of pain with my sciatic nerve. The Doctor I was seeing wanted me to get surgery but I held off and 2 years later my nerve pain went away but now I have back pain (which i'd rather have over the nerve pain) My back is probably the best it's been in the last four years. except for the fact that I cant really lay flat on my back. I went to see another doctor to see what he'd say and he also wants me to get surgery and says he doesnt know why I dont have nerve pain because I should. The only reason I started concidering surgery is because i'm soon going to be graduating college and i'm still on my parents insurance this summer and I figure IF one day decide to have kids I would have to have this surgery before I can do so??
I dont know what I should do. I hate to have surgery and risk things being worse then they are now and my nerve pain coming back. The doctor said the nerve pain could come back any time. Now (this summer) is about the only good time that surgery will fit in with my life.
Does any one have good or bad stories with surgery?? I'd really like to hear them. Do the benefits of surgery out weight the bad things. What would you do??

PLEASE HELP

Last edited by skinamarinkybin; 02-10-2009 at 04:49 PM.

 
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Old 02-10-2009, 08:05 PM   #2
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

If I were you I'd do it. If you've gone from grade 2 to a grade 3 in just four years, you could be at a grade 4 in another 4 years. It's a nasty operation, so you should do it before you start your career and stuff (you will need a lot of time off to recover), and especially while you still have insurance under your parents. My spondy is only grade 1, but I have a couple of other issues going on which is causing a lot of pain. I have one child and would love a couple more, but cannot put myself through that until I get my problem corrected. Injections and PT have not helped me so I am seeing my surgeon again Thursday and we will discuss doing a 2 level fusion, L4-S1.
That is just my opinion.... good luck!

 
Old 02-10-2009, 08:46 PM   #3
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

I agree with Megs that spinal surgery for spondylolisthesis is painful. But I am SO glad I had it done. When you are young you are more resilient that those having major surgery in their 40's (as I can attest to since my neck surgeries have set me back more than my back ever did).

Your story is somewhat similar to what mine was. I was a junior in college and doing some swimming just for fitness. I thought I had a hip problem and when they did the hip x-rays they saw the grade 3 spondyloylysthesis. They said it had probably been there forever but had progressed to grade 3 and therefore causing me problems.

I too was on my parents insurance, looking toward graduation and getting on with my life. I did the fusion surgery and am glad I did. (The initial fusion surgery was done without hardware and 6 years later I had the hardware added to aid in spine stability which was also a good idea).

All these years later I do have some stiffness but I find I actually have less back/sciatic type pain than others I've met who had herniated discs. Some of them continue to have pain for a long time (since they may have more nerve damage from disc problems). But since my problem (the spondylolisthesis) could "easily" be fixed I got instant relief. I do watch my body mechanics (lifting, bending, stretching) and am careful with what I do. I never did have kids but my doctor had said that even with a fusion I could certainly carry a pregnancy and depending on how the months went by he could then determine if a c-section or regular delivery would work best.

In the end my initial decision for surgery came down to (1) quality of life (2) insurance (3) age and ability to get it done and recover without worrying about doing it while working.
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Old 02-11-2009, 04:06 AM   #4
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

Im behind on testing but my last report was a grade 2 ---- I cant imagine life at 3.

Grade 3 at 20 means you'll probably not get away with never having the surgery. Because insurance is a HUGE factor, along with everything else you mentioned, Id probably go for it.

Ive heard both good and bad things about surgery. Some say the surgery gave them instant relief and others say they gained a few pains (like nerve pain). I believe it has everything to do with physical health, weight, age, surgeon, etc.. Whatever you decide i hope it goes well.

 
Old 02-11-2009, 07:35 AM   #5
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

Hi there,

I had a L5-S1 fusion for spondy stage 2 just after my 21st birthday.. At first everything went really well but unfortunately I didn't fuse. I am booked for my second surgery this July at the age of 23. I am in alot more pain now than I was before and sometimes I wish I had never gone through with the surgery. The past year has been extremely hard as I'm not allowed to do anything! Luckily I'm in pretty good shape and at 115lbs I dont have the added stress on my body of any weight issues. Just make sure you get multiple opinions from doctors and that you're really comfortable with the surgeon you choose. I made the mistake of using the first guy I was referred to and he was a disaster. Being young does help with the recovery but you still need to be careful. I did my surgery in May and by Sept I went back to university. This year I'm graduating and having the surgery done before I start working. It has really impacted my life as I can't apply for a full time teaching position as I won't be recovered in a month and a half. If you're handeling the pain well and not too uncomfortable I'd say wait. I know a few people who live with stage 3 spondy and are quiet happy. It all depends on the person. Just keep in mind that one surgery often means more and it's a really hard road to take.
Good Luck and hope you're decision works out!

 
Old 02-11-2009, 03:49 PM   #6
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

Hello Skinamarinkybin!

I had a Spinal Fusion for spondy on Dec 29th 2008, and I completely understand what you mean about "timing". I was 19 when I had the surgery done (I turned 20 about two weeks later). No one on the board can tell you what to do - I know it's a very difficult decision to make (esp. at such a young age). But I will tell you what I went through and hopefully it will help you make a much more informed decision.

My back pain started when I was in 3rd grade, as a result of a snow sledding accident. In 5th grade I was already a stage 3 slip. It always bothered me, but not so much until I went to college....the active lifestyle I always led started to become non existent. I'm not sure how much your pain is limiting you, but for me - my social life ended. Every day I would come home from classes and put an ice pack on my back and take Vicoden and cry. I was living on my own and it was too much for me to even do my own laundry. Still I didn't want to get the surgery - I was scared of the pain, the scarring and of it not working.

I tried physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractor, those painful injects (awake, and asleep). Theses were all necessary steps I had to take before my doctor would be adamant about surgery. I did the Bilateral Blocks for a year - a set of three injections, each a week apart, every three months. It was sometime during that course of steroids that I realized that I was just torturing myself and avoiding the inevitable.

The Bottom Line for me was: I'm not getting better with anything else, and I can't continue to live like this. I can't get married and be happy like this. I can't have children and be like this. I no longer enjoy my life - what do I have to lose?

Right now I'm 6 weeks out from the surgery and my back is feeling better than it has since I was in elementary school. This has no doubt been the hardest thing I've ever had to go through - it's a very long, lonely and painful process. But the important part is to look out PAST the surgery, and PAST the recovery and invision yourself pain-free and finally at peace.

If you do decide to go through with the surgery, then all of us here on this board will support you all the way through. For me, even though I haven't fused yet, it was worth it. I'm not sure exactly what you situation is, but my doctor told me that becasue of my age I'm in the 99% percentile in terms of fusing. If you're in fairly good health, then your chances may be high as well. Talk to your doctor about it.

If you decided not to have the surgery, we will all still be behind you. There are lots of options. What other types of treatment have you tried?

Good luck and take care,

XOXO!
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:10 PM   #7
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

I find it interesting that so many younger people are suffering with what I would have categorized as a older person's condition. I will be 62 in a month and have spondolothesis, stenosis, a bulging disc and DDD. Additionally, I have neuropathy in both legs and feet. I have been going to PT since November and have had two injections of cortesone in the L4 region. I have been on Naproxin, Celebrex, Flexoril, and Vicadin none of the aforementioned have worked. I have agreed to two more shots of cortesone in the L5 region. My physiatrist tells me that the shots will hopefully relieve the lower back pain but not the neuropathy. I have made it clear there will be no other shots if these fail. I have believed all along I would need surgery. Fusion, laminectomy, and possibly diskectomy, but my Dr's have prolonged what I believe to be the "inevitable". I believe I have been jumping through hoops to satisfy the insurance companies. I know there are dangers involved with surgery but I want this pain to go away. I have read your posts with great interest and have mixed feelings about recovery. I love playing golf and bowling. My surgeon has told Lee Trevino had the same operation and went back on the tour. I would be happy with resuming both sports. LOL

 
Old 02-16-2009, 01:37 PM   #8
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skinamarinkybin HB User
Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

Thanks everyone for your opinions. I went ahead and scheduled surgery for the end of may.. Still not 100% sure that I want to do it but at least I have a date.. Theres still alot more I'd like to know about what to expect with surgery.. Like how long till I can walk or run, if i'm going to be able to carry a bookbag when school starts again in august, do you have to wear a back brace after surgery..What problems did yous run into? I'd also like to know if theres a good chance that I'm gonna be looking at more surgeries down the road..

 
Old 02-16-2009, 01:39 PM   #9
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

bekkieboop..I only tried physical therapy which didnt do anything at the time because I only had nerve pain no back pain..

Last edited by skinamarinkybin; 02-16-2009 at 01:42 PM.

 
Old 02-16-2009, 02:19 PM   #10
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

Each doctor's approach to recovery is different. When I had my L4-S1 fusion I did have a back brace but it didn't impede me from going back to work, etc. I would never tempt fate by running again but I was able to go back to working out within about 3 months of the surgery and do a lot of walking now (as I did back then).
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Old 02-16-2009, 06:31 PM   #11
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Exclamation Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

even if you have that kind of surgery its not garunteed to take your pain away. and you can break or deteriorate your fusion, you young guys keep that in mind. im not going to have that surgery if i can still walk. if it got to the point i couldnt walk i definately would, but for now im for pain management.

 
Old 02-16-2009, 08:34 PM   #12
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

I had the surgery for spondylolisthesis in my early 20's - I'm now in my 40's and am so glad I made the decision, way back when, to improve the quality of my life via the surgery.
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Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 02-16-2009, 09:30 PM   #13
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

I would like to have the surgery because pain management is not working well for me. The 2 injections I have tried have not helped, and I am so incredibly tired of taking pain meds. I am always tired and nauseas from the meds. I can still walk, but barely some days. I just want my life back so badly...

Last edited by Mod08; 02-17-2009 at 07:45 AM.

 
Old 02-18-2009, 01:26 PM   #14
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

[QUOTE=skinamarinkybin;3887322]bekkieboop..I only tried physical therapy which didnt do anything at the time because I only had nerve pain no back pain..[/QUOTE]

Then maybe you should try some injections. They're not a whole lot of fun, but they are a less invasive alternative to surgery. Often they do help alleviate nerve pain. Perhaps you should call your doctor and he can refer you to a pain management specialist who would do the shots.

You could even keep your surgery date scheduled, and see if the shots help you out a bit in the mean time.

Best of luck,

Take care! XOXO!
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Old 02-18-2009, 01:37 PM   #15
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Re: spondylolisthesis surgery??..HELP

Sorry for the multiple posts!

I had my operation on Dec. 29th, and as of right now I can walk very well. You will probably be up and walking the day after your surgery, although the amount of pain you'll be in will vary. By the time I was home from the hospital I could walk around fine (with my walker). I actually really enjoyed it and didn't find it too painful at all. It varies from person to person, but by 4 or 5 weeks you'll probably be able to walk around a grocery store just fine (although you wont be able to lift much). Running - Not sure. I CAN run now, if I wanted to - I just don't think it would be a great idea from a healing perspective. I would say that running would have to wait until after your doctors tells you that you have completely fused.

Honestly, I wouldn't ever recommenced carrying a book-bag again. If you're a highschool or college student, and you have a couple of those big, heavy books, the weight will add up quickly. Try investing in a rolling bag (I'm a college student and that's what I have). there are some very sleek and sophisticated looking bags with extending handles so you can adjust for your height. You'd be doing your back a favor with this.

Some doctors believe in bracing, others don't. You should ask yours if you will need a brace after the surgery, and for how long. I'll be wearing mine until April, and honestly I really don't mind it at all. It's comfortable and small and I just wear it over my clothing. If you're worried about looking silly (which I was for a while), you'll find most people don't even notice, or if they do, they'll just be genuinely concerned and curious about it. You might even like it, it will make your back feel protected and safe.

As for problems - I would read the topic on this board about surgery tips - they really have everything covered.

Hope I helped, and best of luck,

Take Care

XOXO!
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