Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Fusion for Spondy?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Has anyone gone through fusion for spondy and found relief?

Been going through PT since Sep without any improvement, last day will be 2/20. The PT mentioned that she thought I should see an orthopedic doctor and consider fusion, since conservative treatment, shots, etc. have not reduced my pain (since last April).

I'm afraid to lose the activity level that I currently have, although the pain is affecting my work and leisure time. I don't have nerve damage, but the foraminal stenosis seems to be impinging on the nerve root.

Any thoughts on this are appreciated. I do have an appointment with a neurosurgeon next month and will be asking about this as an option.



  • I had spondy grade 2 with severe stenosis and synovial cyst. Almost reached the point of not being able to walk before surgery. Exteme nerve-related pain in both legs. Also awful pain in my lower back.

    Now, 3 months post op. Can walk 2 miles. Pain in lower back is much better (but not gone). But let me say this---this is a tough, tough surgery. I'm 56 and had 2 babies without pain meds. Had a complete hysterectomy and was back to work in a week. This one is in a league of it's own. Recovery is realistically 6 weeks at best before returning to work. 3 months before beginning to feel like "yourself." And a full year for nerves to heal (if they do.) Not trying to scare you but trying to paint a realistic picture for you. I can't tell from your post how severe your symptoms are. In my case, there was absolutely no choice. If you still have a choice, then make it wisely.

    Know your options. Check out your surgeon very carefully. Do your homework. And in closing, for me it has "painfully" wonderful. Awful surgery but it has given me my life back. I thought I was prepared but even my surgeon said it's probably one of the toughest surgeries to recover from that is performed.

    I wish you much good luck. Feel free to PM me. I will answer. And in closing, this is the greatest, most informed group of people. They all have their own stories to share and they are all incredibly caring and informed.

  • Hi Pat, I had a posterior fusion for unstable spondy 6 months ago. My hip pain and limping is gone. I still have back pain and newly some SI joint symptoms. I was off work for 15 weeks, I am an RN and had to be able to return with no restrictions. I am glad I had the surgery, as now I can walk and do exercise besides going to the pool. Personally I do not think I will ever feel normal, but you do adapt to a new normal that is often much better than before surgery. I had a NS, and would not have it any other way personally. Make sure you do your research and perhaps get more than one opinion. It is not a guaranteed fix, and remember, once a spiney always a spiney ;) Cali-Sue
  • A grade 1 spondylolisthesis does not necessarily require fusion. Many people have this condition and are asymptomatic, only learning about it when given an x-ray for some other reason.

    It is possible that your pain is coming from the foraminal stenosis alone. It is possible that you could have a foraminotomy and avoid a fusion for now, depending on the level of stability you have.

    Kathy gives you good info about her fusion, but I think her estimates of returning to work and recovery are on the optimistic side.

    I was still on major pain killers at 8 weeks and was just driving to the grocery store. I didn't get back to anything like a regular schedule until about 4-5 months. I just passed my one year mark and celebrated by having a foraminotomy at one level below where my fusion was performed. My fusion is considered a success. It healed nicely and I fused well, but I continued to have sciatic pain. So we decided to try this additional surgery...which, incidentally, was a piece of cake compared to the fusion. I didn't need any pain medication afterwards. It is too early to tell if it has resolved my pain issues.

    Since you have time, I suggest you get at least two opinions from spinal specialists. Since you have an appointment with a neurosurgeon, I would suggest getting a second opinion from a fellowship-trained orthopedic spinal specialist. Sometimes there is quite a difference in how each would treat you.

    There is nothing easy about this surgery and you do not want to rush into it without careful examination of all your options. Only you can decide at what point the pain is taking over your life and keeping you from doing the things you want -- this point is different for all of us. It is a BIG decision. Good luck!
  • ...and I would only add that for ME at 16 months post-op, I'd do this surgery again in a HEART BEAT!!! The difference in my quality of life has been tremendous.

    I will always have some spinal issues, and expect that I'll have other surgeries in the future, but I live a fairly normal life. I work full-time, do housework, shopping, take care of dogs. The only restrictions I have are because of other spinal issues or still not being ready physically to do a marathon or anything!!!

    A low dosage of Lyrica is still in my life from some minor, residual nerve pain from surgery, but I don't have permanent nerve damage, and as of a couple of weeks ago, I'm no longer taking Tylenol either.

    As I'm sure you've learned by now, this is indeed an awesome website with some awesome folks on it, and I survived my surgery and recovery much more easily because of the information gained from this website and the love and support of the people here!

    Good luck to you and let us know what decisions you come to!

  • Very much appreciate the responses and information. At this point I suppose I need to weigh the pros and cons and ask a lot of questions when I go back to see the docs. Even if I want to do this, it is hard to say whether I can get it approved. The care has been good so far, but I have had to 'push' things at times. Thus is life as a military retiree using Tricare and military treatment facilities.

  • If there anything else we can help u with, let us know. If you can avoid surgery, depending on your quality of life issues, I sure would! But if it gets to be more than you can tolerate, fusion surgery usually has decent results. I missed the fact earlier that you were grade 1 spondy. Sorry, my bad. But grade 1 in and of itself doesn't necessarily merit surgery. My doc told me I probably had been grade 1 for years and didn't know it. When it moved to grade 2...... Keep up your exercises and I hope everything works out for you!
    Pat. said:
    Very much appreciate the responses and information. At this point I suppose I need to weigh the pros and cons and ask a lot of questions when I go back to see the docs. Even if I want to do this, it is hard to say whether I can get it approved. The care has been good so far, but I have had to 'push' things at times. Thus is life as a military retiree using Tricare and military treatment facilities.

  • Pat, our conditions sound almost identical. I am scheduled for surgery on March 4th. Like you, PT didn't change the symptoms and nerve block worked once for 30 days, another not at all.

    My concern as I told the NS was, "can I stand the pain for another week, month, year? yes, but do I want to go the rest of my life this way? NO" He told me that I wouldn't be able to go my whole life with this condition. At some point I would need surgery. At 50 years old, I think recovery from surgery would be much easier than if I wait 10 or 15 years. Also, very recently, my left leg will start to numb after I've been standing for several minutes. This is the symptom that scares me the most as I almost lost my balance on a couple of occasions.

  • I had Spondy level one and severe DDD and Lumbar Lam. for severe Spinal Stenosis. I choose fusion and i'm so glad i did. I feel much better now even tho i understand i will need more surgery in the "i hope to be far future" because of it!! I hope all goes well for you.

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

    I have {TriCare for Life Ins.} & I don't need approval for my upcoming surgery. I called & they said no need for prior approval. Matter of fact with my knee surgeries I never needed approval either. Nor did our daughter for her surgery.

    I'm having L 4/5 posterior spinal fusion & decompression done March 4th. My husband is retired, has been since 1989, he retried with 21 yrs. at the age of 38. Is about to retire from a second career.....Only difference is I'm not using a Military facility/hospital. Good luck to you which ever way you go.

Sign In or Register to comment.