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Spondylolisthesis - need some advice

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Old 10-13-2004, 01:59 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 3
Sabrina.P HB User
Unhappy Spondylolisthesis - need some advice

I was wondering if anybody could give me some info and hopefully some advice on what to do now.
I had an accident springboard diving 19 months ago and when in hospital, MRI scans showed an L5 pars defect (probably something that i'd had for ages, but never had any symptoms). I was told about this defect a couple of months after, but i was never given any information about it other than i had two fractures in my back and if it still hurt in a year they would operate to sort it out. Well 19 months of physio and hydrotherapy down the line, having gone through some semi-good and some really-bad phases, i ended up back in hospital. After a week and a few more scans i saw the surgeon again. He said that the operation carried a lot of risks and as i still have 'semi-good' phases, it would'nt be worth the risk!!!
I was furious at the time (and still am) because i feel i've been strung along for the last 19 months, expecting to get back to full competitive sport, and someone has just pulled the plug on my life. The surgeon said he'd operate if and when the 'semi-good phases' are few and far between, but until then i had to get used to my new life as this is was its going to be like! I still cant believe it, it's a bit of a shock when they turn around and say that they cant help... but the hospital put the cherry on the cake yesterday when they decided to end my weekly physio as it did'nt appear to be of much benefit! I've been referred to a 'pain team', and a psychiatrist (?????) to help me deal with accepting my new way of life!
I've had cortisone injections in the defects about a month ago but it didnt seem to help. I'm seeing the surgeon again in november but as his only other option was an operation, and he doesnt feel it would help, i know it's going to be a waste of time.
There must be something that can be done to help. I can only sit and walk for short periods of time, and sometimes cant sit at all, and during a bad phase i get really bad leg pain and am housebound (mainly bed-bound). Is my pain likely to settle over time? Are there certain things i should avoid doing to prevent a bad-phase getting really bad? Are there any other ways of treating this?
Most of all though i need some advice on what to do with the rest of my life! I've been told that i can't have a job that involves prolonged sitting or standing, or any manual work. Having just graduated with a sports studies degree, it appears useless. Sport has always been my life, and getting used to the idea that i'll not be able to do any again is not easy, but what job can i get now??!!
Does anyone who is in my situation have a job, or got any ideas of what i could do for a living.
Any info on my condition and what i can do to help it would be really appreciated too... what does my life have in store for me?

please help, sabrina x

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Old 10-13-2004, 05:51 AM   #2
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Dallas, Texas
Posts: 764
Rhonni HB User
Re: Spondylolisthesis - need some advice

Ohhhh Sabrina: I sure feel for you on a couple levels. First, my daughter is a Division I NCAA Diver also and your story just sent chills down my spine because I worry every time she's on that board. (especially with her inward 1 and a half - she gets sooo close).

On the other level I feel for you is the continuous suffering you're going through.

My recommendation would be to get another doctor's opinion. Anytime pain interferes with your life - regardless of whether you life's activities matches up to the "regular routine of others" then something needs to be done about it. It sounds like your doctor doesn't respect you or your circumstances.

Always, keep going until you find someone to help...that's how I always approach things. I don't take no for an answer.

Good luck and keep us posted.
I sure wish you were diving again.

Old 10-13-2004, 06:13 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 45
aackles HB User
Re: Spondylolisthesis - need some advice

Hi Sabrina, Well like yourself I had spondy with a par defect also. I am not sure how long I had it but I was told about it 6 yrs ago. I am in the Army so I am very active. I went through all the Physical therapy, shots, pills, and they even had me in a body cast to try to help the pain. Well in Jan I went to Iraq and they ended up sending me back cause the pain got really bad (go figure). When I got back I had a great Ortho surgeon who said I could either get out the Army or have the surgery. When they gave me a discogram they found that I also had a degenerated disc, grade 5, right above the spondy. Well I decided I was not going to go through the pain anymore and I did have the surgery. They did a two level L-4-L-5; L-5-S-1 fusion on August 27th and I tell you the back pain is almost completely gone. I am still off of work recovering but my recovery in my opinion has gone great. Now I am going to tell you that when they did the MRI it only showed I had the spondy and a slight Degenerative disc, but when I went to get the discogram it showed that my disc was almost completely gone. The Dr. said the spondy wore down the disc above it so I would get that checked as well. My advice and I would tell anyone this is to get the surgery. The years of pain is not worth it.

Right now I feel like I could pretty much do anything as far as job wise as long as it didn't involve lifting and I guess that will get better over time. The doctor even seems to think I could stay in the Army if I wanted and we all know that is a very physically demanding job. I guess I could with some restrictions. I am on these boards everyday and I have seen so many people with different outcomes so you may end up regretting it or it could be the best thing of your life. Everyone is different. I just wanted to give you my opinion and my outcome experience to let you know there is hope. I know exactly what you're going through and it got better for me. Good luck. Angela

Old 10-13-2004, 06:53 AM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 147
jettsmom HB User
Re: Spondylolisthesis - need some advice

Don't lose hope, I too discovered I was a spondy 1 year ago due to a hernia at L5 and that's when I was informed of my defect (also the reason I got the hernia in the first place) I was told I have had this since I was very little (am now 26 years old) and that most people with this defect don't have symptoms. Well, I did..and many others. The slippage in your vertebrae pinches your nerve and cause the leg pain, and not to mention back pain too. Well after my surgeon exhausted every outlet I got fused at L5 about 4 months ago. Just so you know..after being very patient with this surgery you can resume normal life again. I have 2 small kids that I now pick up and am enjoying life again. My nerve is still healing but I've had no back pain and the worse of my leg pain is gone. Please don't give up your dreams, unfortunately anything that has to do with back problems takes ALOT of patience until you get back to a painfree life again. Let me know if u have any questions.


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