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Not in constant pain...surgery?

doug260ddoug260 Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm scheduled for 360 fusion next month due to a grade 2-3 spondylolisthesis but here's the thing... I'm not in constant excruciating pain. I'm only in pain if I do anything more than walking short distances. If I do any kind of lifting or do alot of walking I am sore for a few days. Basically, if I do the bare minimum, I am relatively pain free. I'm 36 years old and presuming I have some more time on this planet...just at what quality? I feel like I should be in terrible pain to justify such a serious surgery. So I'm wondering if anyone else was in the position and how did you handle it?


  • If you can tolerate the pain you have, are content with the restriction your back places on your life and your doctor isn't saying have the surgery or you will do more damage etc.

    Then perhaps should consider all your options, this is not a surgery to be taken lightly, there are significant risks involved and the recovery is long and slow.

    Having said that the decision is ultimately yours and yours alone. You have to go with your gut on this. Only you know your full circumstances and whether this is right for you. Perhaps you should get a second opinion?
  • welcome to spine health. all of us here are people with back problems that cause pain. i am happy your pain isnt too bad...that is typical for people with your condition. you have quite a bit of slippage... in between 25 and 50%...apparently the surgeon is concerned about the stability of your spine...
    make sure you understand everything the surgeon expects to accomplish. surgery is a big decision and you want to get the facts straight. how many opinions did you get?.....pete
  • I apologize for being incomplete (I knew I'd forget something) Shots and nerve ablations did not work. I have about 50% slippage L5-S1. I've had about 6 different opinions and all of them say I need surgery but it's up to me when I choose to do it. Do people usually wait until they have to crawl into the doctor's office before the elect to have surgery?
  • I too had spondylolisthesis and did not feel I was as bad off as many on the forums that I read about. I waited about three years before finally having my surgery. I waited until I could not stand more than about a minute and I was driving down the driveway to the mailbox to collect the mail...it was too painful to walk that far. My world was starting to get very small...there were no great new technological advances on the horizon and I finally decided it was time.

    Only you can decide when you are ready. At this point in time, there really aren't any other options for you...have the surgery or live with the situation.

    The important thing is to learn everything you can about the procedure, what it will and will not accomplish, to realize that this surgery does not come with any guarantee and does not always turn out the way we had hoped, and then to very carefully select your surgeon. Since your condition is not magically going to get better or resolve on its own, surgery is most likely in your future. At least for now, you can pick the time!

    Good luck with your decision. I know it is not an easy one.

  • The good thing is that you will intuitively know when it is time for surgery. Do your homework, be prepared and when it's time, give the doc a call.

  • I started in July 07(MRI) with mild spondylolisthesis l4-l5 and small cyst l4-l5(Had pars defect l4 but it wasnt mentioned by doc at that time) occasional back pain and 1 serious case of sicatica. PT helped with the sciatica and over the counter pain meds for the backache.I was told then i would eventually need a fusion by 3 docs.Nov 08(MRI) moderate spondy l4-l5 more pain had injections(helped for a few weeks) Now(CT Myelogram) I have bilateral pars defect l4 and l5 and spondy of l4/5 and l5/s1. changing cyst l3-l5, DDD l4/5 l5/s1, and facet arthropy l3-l5. Back always hurts, pain level varies but always pain. Constant Left leg tingling, heaviness and sporadic muscle twitching. I cannot stand and or walk for more than 15-20 minutes I am scheduled for 2 level fusion on 8/31. I am 45 and hoping that healing will be faster/easier since i am still relatively young.
    Other posts are correct, you will know, your body will tell you.
    Keep in touch, we're here to listen and help/advise when we can.
  • Like you, I have a grade 2 spondy and have had it for many years. My deal is that the disk under L5 had degraded so much that I was having nerve pain in my tailbone and some in my leg. The NS said he could barely get his scalpel between L5 and S1. You might want to consider that the surgeon may not be able to get rid of the spondy 100%. My NS told me beforehand that he would bring it back as much as my spine/anatomy would allow. Because I have had the spondy for so long, my spine has made adjustments as it has had to over the years. His main focus in the surgery was to fix the disc space and stabalize my spine. I had my surgery (TLIF) on 7/29 and the nerve pain, so far, has not been an issue. I still have major stiffness in my lower back and hopefully when I can exercise again I can get rid of some of that. Like many of the posters said, you will know when it's time. There are no guarantees that the surgery will fix you, so take your time in deciding.
  • I had a spondylosethesis and i had same doubts as with the good days you feel relativly ok, but when it's bad then you know you need that op dont you . Your spine will not get better on its own, and your surgeon has recommended this surgery because your spine is unstable and this is the only way to stabilise it again. Your condition will get worse too until such point you cant even drive without wincing over the bumps and pulling on the hand break is a killer let alone walking. You have good days now, but these will get less an less. I were concerned about the op too but as my surgeon pointed out, it would be such a shame to miss out on the rest of your life because you were a wuss and to scared of an operation. 36 is no age for you to give up on an active life. it's your choice but i say, Go for the op. You wont regret it, and the recovery pain will be worth it. I had my op 8 days ago an I'm still here to tell the tale ;)) . Bring on the rest o my life i say.

  • I do not regret my surgery. To be able to walk pain free was well worth it to me. I would be in pain trying to grocery shop or clean my house..... My quality of life was so bad for so long that I forgot what it was like to feel normal or "good". I was used to the pain and exhaustion.

    Yes the surgery was hard to recover from. It was a slow process, but one that I would gladly do again.

    Good luck,

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