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L5/S1 Fusion 20yrs ago...My upper vertabrae now have taken a beating...anyone have this?


Exactly 20 yrs ago, I had a L5/S1 back fusion with Grade IV spondylolisthesis, this was done anterior and posterior with merseline tapes. This was in 1988. I healed great and fine and have had no problems.
I am 32yrs old, no children. Im having problems now above the fusion scar and have developed a "dent like" dip ion that area now and expercing alot of discomfort.
About 7 yrs ago I went in for a check for some problems with that and they said back then it showed alot of wear abouve the fusion area.
Today, since I dont have insurance, I went to a chiropratic office to have some xrays done. My shoulders where off and not proportional, one leg longer than the other and pelvic roation.
I will find out my results on Thursday....But my question is to everyone out there....Am I alone or is this common for there being heavy wear above the fusion area now in the Thorasic area....if so...what do you think Im looking at.
Im worried that it might not be safe to ever have children if this is the case on my back in a pregnacy.
Any and all advise is welcome....I will be getting insurance, but unfortunatly Im sure they will consider this a pre-existing condition...


  • Hi,

    I have never heard of merseline tape. What is it? In my opinion you have done well to get 20 years out of a fusion before having more problems. As you have probably found out that wear above and below fusion areas are concerns and are expected at some point. Sounds like you may need more then just x-rays done. Maybe a MRI, or CT scan.

    I'm not sure I follow your statement of heavy wear in the thorasic area. I would think that you would have wear in the level above your fusion, L4, or maybe L3. Maybe your Grade IV spondylolisthesis, is playing into the wear of the thorasic area?

    I don't know where or how you are getting insurance but there may be ways around the pre-existing clause or maybe the time frame is short enough that you can work around it. If it is coming from a big company they may be able to help. You could check to see what the time frame of having been treated for a medical condition is. I've seen in insurance aps questions such as have you seen a doctor for any of the following conditions in the past year.

    I am not a doctor and any medical decisions need to be made between your doctor and yourself.

    Good luck.

  • Welcome to spine health. SOrry that you need this site but you found a great resource and support group. Many people seem to have problems above and below a fusion years later. I think this is one of the reasons doctors try to wait as long as possible.

    As far as insurance read your policy very carefully before seeing any doctors. If there is a clause about recent treatment and you can wait it might be to your benefit to not see a doctor yet. Usually they have a few month waiting period.

    ANd lastly don't rule out future pregnancy until you speak to a ortho or neuro spine specialist. THere are several people on this site who had surgery or treatments and went on to have kids. Everyone is different so only your doctor can tell you what is right for you.

    David is right that it sounds like you need a spine specialist and some more tests. Just read that policy first.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I had a L4-S1 posterior fusion in 1993. I just had to have L3 added to that fusion (so I got all new hardware as well) but that's the extent of it. No damage above L3.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I have had a 'dent like' dip in my spine for many years.
    When I started to see doctors, they said that was an indication that I had spondylolisthesis. The dip seemed to be one level higher than the slip. I think possibly because the rest of the spine above the slip had moved forward too, on top of the slipped vertebra. I still have that dent after surgery.

    Did you have any amount of dent before surgery?

    I would get it checked out by a doctor in case there is a problem developing on the adjacent level, especially as you are having pain there.

    Hopefully it will not mean there is a problem, but best to get advice from someone who knows!

    Do let us know how you get on.

    By the way, I have had 3 children (before I knew about my problems) :D
  • Firstly I wish to say god on you for joiin this great site..

    My Mum had to have her fusions redone after approx 15 years as the screws had moved a little and the rods and things they used the first time are no where near as strong as the ones now..She recovered fine after the 2nd one..
  • Hello there!

    Thank you so much for your comments and help!! Just returned from the Chiroprat. They went through my xrays. My verabra in my back shows a movent to the left giving me a left curve. He thought maybe that my dent was from that. He said that my C12 of alkl things was a problem, and I saw it too. It actually is moved slightly forward and c12 is almost sitting on c11....That was a suprise. He thought that the left curve instead of straingt on my back might have caused that.
    He thought he could be of help with a long period of adjustments....but something is telling me I need to have this looked into by a higher athority and specialist....
    Has anyone has success with a Chiro???
  • Go with your instincts and see a Spine Specialist like a NeuroSurgeon or Orthopedic Surgeon or Neurologist especially if you have any numb feelings in your leg or arm. Your Primary Dr. should be able to get you a referral or check out a Teaching hospital where they have free referrals and surgery if necessary.

    My Chiro didn't want to touch me with a disc problem only if it was only the minor scoliosis I had. My brother had a fusion 25 years ago and he had an MRI and saw a Neurologist and is only taking meds to help. This is my experience only though. Another opinion would help. 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
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    A little concerned about what your Chiropractor said.

    The human spine has

    I encourage you to have an evaluation with a Neurosurgeon and/or Orthopedic Spine Surgeon. If you truly had severe problems as described by your Chiro (assuming he meant T and not C) then I wouldn't let him/her touch me. The spine is very delicate in terms of the ability to do further damage. There is a place for Chiropractic care but what your Chiro has stated seems as if he's seeking to have you make appointments for adjustments. I get concerned when the treatment is a series of expensive adjustments. If you see a NS or OSS, ask them if Chiro is a viable treatment option. Only if a NS or OSS approved would I consider Chiro for myself.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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