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Spondylolisthesis - Successful Fusions

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey everyone, i'm new to the site and was looking to hear from any folks that have Spondylolisthesis, and what the success has been. I have a grade II slip, about 40-50%, but deal with routine chronic pain. I'm probably about 50lbs overweight, and I know that doesn't help, but then trying to get in shape with this condition is rediulous. So I was just curious to know if people have had successful experiences with the surgery, and then what type of activities they been able to do post op.

Appreciate any info, tks!


  • i have a grade 1 slip. will be seing spine specialist again in a few months to talk about the way forward. i have just been given pain relief and physio but not making any progress. have you been scheduled for surgery or are you just investigating your options
  • I just had a PLIF on 12/4 for a grade II-III spondy. Being only 4 weeks post op, I can only say that the recovery is difficult, but hopefully worth it. The pain that I was experiencing in the right hip (due to severe nerve compression) has totally disappeared; however, there are other nerve issues that surface following such a procedure. I'm told that these are short-term and are due to other damaged nerves reginerating. I'm okay with that knowing that the pain will subside (and it's still not anything like what I was experiencing).

    I'm told patience is the key to a successful recovery, so I'm trying to be that.

    Good luck and stayed tuned to this forum. The support you'll receive is awesome.
  • I had a one level fusion for grade I-II (around 30%) spondylolisthesis at L4-5 last January. I waited about 3 years before proceeding with the surgery, hoping all that time that it could be avoided. But as the pain worsened, I became practically housebound as I could not stand for more than about a minute or two, and couldn't walk more than about one block. I decided it was time for surgery when my world became so small.

    My surgery is considered a success. It accomplished what the doc said it would and I have healed well. I am not taking any medication and haven't for about 6 months.

    However, almost immediately after surgery I developed a new nerve pain that gives me the same problems as the first situation. I still have sciatic pain that keeps me from standing long or walking very far. The reason I am not on pain medication is because (1) they do nothing for this type of pain and (2) when I sit or lie down, I am pain-free.

    I went through all the traditional steps, extensive PT, ESI, nerve block...and some alternative ones as well. I have decided to have a small surgery on Jan. 20th. The MRI indicates that my L-5 foramen is almost completely blocked, resulting in practically no room for the nerve, so the surgeon is going to clean out all the gunk. This surgery is supposed to take 45 minutes, a one day hospital stay and a short recovery. There is little risk to this procedure and I hope it will solve my problem. I'll let you know how it turns out.

    I consulted with a total of 8 spinal specialists prior to deciding on one to perform my fusion. I think it is important to get several opinions as specialists really do vary in what they propose doing for your pain, and they all have different "styles" and methodology. I had opinions all the one from fusing one level to fusing five levels...quite a variety, I thought.

    Despite the fact that I am having a little more surgery, I consider my fusion a success. I am so much better than I was prior to surgery.
  • Hi Zem, I had fusion L4-5 for spondy exactly 5 months months ago today. I have been back to work as an RN for 6 weeks. I consider my surgery a success. I do have daily back aches, tight feeling over hardware, occassional SI joint flare ups. But, I can walk without limping! I can work and feel fairly comfortable on just tylenol. I have been able to exercise outside of the pool, which was my limit pre-op. I lost 40 pounds pre-op and 10 more postop and still have 30 to go. I think the surgery has made it more possible to get the weight off. Before surgery all I could do was water therapy for exercise, now I can walk which by the way is the best post fusion exercise.

    My spine was extremely unstable and crunched with every movement. Now it is nice and quiet and just feels so much more secure. I am being extra careful with good body mechanics and doing my core exercises learned in PT. Things are looking up for me. >:D< Cali-Sue
  • I had retrolisthesis (inward slippage) on L4-5 and had a TLIF/laminectomy on L4-S1. I also had a recurrent herniation, and a disc bulge causing the nerve to be compressed against bone. The fusion was technically successful, but the pain wasn't relieved at all, and I still have chronic back pain and sciatica.
  • Hi,
    I had Bilateral Isthmic spondylolisthesis at L5-S1. Isthmic is actual broken pedicles and my disc was almost gone at this level and the spine showed movement through extension and flexion xrays. I could feel it moving and grinding.
    I worked manually with it, as a tradesman for ten years until it got unbearable. Im now 42.
    I am six months post PLIF cages screws etc blah blah.
    Although a nessecity, I didnt really have a choice the surgery was the best desicion.
    I have been retraining for a less manual job, but if I had too, I could now go back to the old job, it feels that good.
    I still get an ache now and then but nothing like before. When I got home from work I couldnt get out of the truck or climb the stairs in the house. Crazy looking back I shoulds have done it sooner.
    If you can lose the extra pounds its going to make recovery easier as you dont want any extra strain to the area after surgery. Its quite painfull though not unbearable with all the meds.
    All the best.
  • My back is crunchy too. It's less so when I had facet joint injections but I feel my spine is unstable because it crunches so much. I have a 2nd opinion ortho appt. Jan 22. Maybe I need another MRI? Anyway I admire your strength as to get back to work so soon. Charry

    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Great feedback folks. I'm going to give the exercise, PT mode a serious shot and see where that gets me. Got the whole new year's kick going although after a minor bike ride today, I'm paying for it. But there's always a burn in period when I start excercising and getting the body 'broken in' so to speak.

    Plus, there's definitely a lot more info on this website that I haven't had access to previously. I defintely want to get more educated and it seems like that info is available here. I think I will also go back for updated pictures\analysis to make sure I fully understand all of the details of my condition as well. You guys are all throwing lingo around here like you've been to med school or something!
  • Thanks Charry, yep my spine was extremely unstable at the time of surgery, explained the crunching I had been feeling for years. My flex/extension xrays only showed marginal instability. When my surgeon got in there, he said my posterior elements of L4 were just loose and sitting there unattached, moving all around. I am so glad I had the surgery. It was scarey and difficult, but worth it in the end. >:D< Cali-Sue
  • I can't speak for anyone else, but I strongly believe that it is very important to read everything you can get your hands on, and learn as much as you can about your condition. Despite all the pain most of us are in, for the majority of us, back surgery is considered an elective surgery....loosely translated, that means we're not going to die if we do not have surgery. So it is a matter of coping with the pain while taking the time to make the best decision you can.

    Since for most people it is not an "emergency" surgical situation, you have time to read, gather opinions, seek several opinions, etc. There are a lot of guys out there now doing back procedures that really never had the proper training. Seems to me, if you want the best outcome, you're better off going to the doc who has the additional training in spinal surgery, the best reputation, etc. that you can find in your area.

    If you live in an area without a variety of well-trained specialists, you might even want to travel to a larger medical center for treatment. All these options are available to those who are willing to do their homework, educate themselves so they can converse with the doctor and make an educated opinion about various treatments, etc.

    Also, treatment options are improving all the time. In some cases it is worth limping along with conservative treatment, putting surgery off for as long as possible in hopes that you can then take advantage of any new developments in the field. Obviously, not everyone can do that!!

  • Got a consultation today, will go at it again with PT next couple of months, get the core strong, drop a few pounds and see where that gets me. I admit that I've never been able to commit like that b4 due to depression, etc... but as I'm on the brink of a major decision, I definitely have to eliminate all the noninvasive options first.
  • I had grade one Spondy and was fused at the L4 to L5. I have severe DDD and servere Spinal Stenosis. BMP was used in place of the removed disk. I feel just great and have a much better quality of life because of the surgery. I wish you well and a speedy recovery. Also i had a PLIF type if surgery. =D>

    Evelyn :H
    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
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