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PLIF Surgery - aged 20

helen-elizabethhhelen-elizabeth Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Lower Back Pain

I was just wondering if anyone could help me. I have been suffering with back pain since the age of 15, i had surgery at aged 17 for a prolapsed disc, they took the bulging part of the disc away, now due to my condition i have been told i can have a PLIF as my bones have moved onto my nerves.

Although due to my age my surgeon is not keen on doing it, although it has been to the board of docters where they all agree i can have it done. I dont know what to do, its such a hard decision to make because if there are complications i will have so long to live with them, yet at the same time i do not want to live in pain of a life on painkillers. - There a so many horror storys yet it is supposed to be 70% effective.

I work full time yet i am almost constantly in pain with my back and leg, i cant sit of stand longer than half an hour without pain.

Arghh im so confused, can anyone please help me?

thanks. =)


  • First, a bit more information about your condition would help people to be able to comment.

    Do you have a spondylolisthesis (a vertebra slipped over the one below)? That could explain your bones moving onto your nerves, especially if your spine is unstable. Or is your problem just due to your prolapsed disc?

    Tell us a bit more about yourself and we will be able to be more helpful. :-)

    You have come to a good place to learn about your condition and also chat with lots of people who know and understand a lot of what you are going through.

    There are lots of people here who have had PLIF (me too! :D), and a lot of us have had a successful outcome.

  • Thankyou for replying to my post! =)

    Sorry I kinda didnt no where to begin, yeh I have a spondylolisthesis only a grade 2 I think at the moment, but I also have 2 broken vertebrae, I think either side of the spondylolisthesis, I get told that much its always a lot for me to take in and I find it all very confusing, basically from what ive been told my spine is the same as a 45-50 years old with degenerative spinal disease. Oh and it will be on my L5/F1 + decompression? if that means anything to you?

    When I had my first op to fix the disc I had the broken vertebrae then, although the bone was not sitting on my nerves - so 2 very good surgeons refused to do a further operation then, I now have a different surgeon, and obviously the bone has moved now(which the previous surgeons predicted would happen in my 30's)so he has said I am able to have the surgery. He took it to the board of other docters and held a meeting, they all viewed my scans and things and agreed I was able to have it. This is an operation I have just wanted over and done with since I was 17.

    I have been told about all the complications, and my surgeon is very negative about the op - although when i told him this he said he is not being negative he is being truthful and I have to understand the risks, if i was in my 40s hed take me straight to theatre but he knows I have to live with the outcome.

    I was definate a few months ago that I was having the op, on bad days I am begging for it although on good days I am doubting it. Although i dont know whether it is my fear that is making me doubt it. =(

    I am so confused =s I have read so many horror storys aswell on the forums!

    But deep down in my mind I think its better for me to have the surgery young. Exept for my job I dont have anything to worry about you know, I live with my parents still so I dont have a mortgage or kids relying on me or anything, so it is practical to have it now.

    Oh i just dont know.

    Please can you tell me about your fusion?

    Thanks =)
  • I think that it is probably the L5/S1 level that you will be having. The L stands for lumbar and the S is for sacral.

    Here is a link to articles that will help you to understand the condition.


    And a thread started by a girl in her early 20s who had the surgery and went on to make a very good recovery.


    I was told that in the UK (where I am) for young girls with this condition, they are often offered fusion surgery because carry a pregnancy can really stress the condition and cause pain because of the weight of the bump pulling the spine forward. My doctor was amazed that I had carried three pregnancies and had not been diagnosed.

    I have had trouble with my back since a teenager, but used to just lie down and never got it checked out. However, since about 50, degeneration really set in and my pain levels shot up to the point that it got my attention!!

    My surgeon said that he found very severe stenosis on my cord and nerve roots. I had decompression, where he removed the back part of my spine (laminectomy and facetectomy) and the disc and inserted a cage with my ground up bone as graft, and further bone graft alongside the 4 screws and rods that he put in.

    I was very scared about surgery, and tried very hard to avoid it for two years, but my symptoms were getting worse and my surgeon told me I would end up in a wheelchair. I was expecting very severe pain after surgery, but it wasn't as bad as I had feared.

    I am much better now than before surgery. I still have aches and pains, and some nerve twitches and pains, particularly in my lower legs and feet, but the really bad sciatica that I had been getting is gone. I felt better than before surgery by about 3 weeks. If I could turn the clock back, I would definately still have surgery. The relief I felt once the operation was over, was tremendous! :-)

    I think that your young age is in your favour for a good recovery. A possible long term problem when you have a fusion though, is problems with the levels above and below the fusion as these levels take up the strain of the fused level that can't move. I think after a fusion, you need to take body mechanics seriously to protect these levels. My surgeon told me that, once fully fused, I would not have any restrictions.

    I suggest that you read up about your condition and the surgery that is suggested. Certainly for me, knowing all about what would be done, and why, helped me to understand and feel less worried about surgery. Ask questions on here.

    I think that the two broken vertebrae that you talk about are where the pars interarticularis have seperated due to a stress fracture. That allows the vertebra to slip forward on the one below it.

    You have come to the right place to learn about your spine and also to get lots of advice and emotional support. If you have any more questions about my surgery, feel free to ask. I'm sure that others will add their experiences too. There are quite a few of us who have had fusion to treat spondylolisthesis.

    Will be waiting to hear from you :D

  • I just wanted to let you know that what you read on these forums are usually not good stories because the members that have had good outcomes are back out living their life and no longer come back because they don't need the support that's given here.

    So please keep that in mind when reading posts here. There are many, many successful surgeries, lumbar, thoracic and cervical, and they're all out having fun, not posting here. (Well, for the most part - some members stay to help others still even though they're surgeries helped them tremendously.)

  • Hiya,
    I had a micro-D earlier this year, and like you are young. I am 24 and have suffered for years.
    I understand the worries with surgery, but I know that I would try anything now as I feel like i am 100!

    Get as much info about the procedure as poss but then again, dont read too much into things as everyone has different oppinions.
    Do what you feel is best for you and your situation.

    Take care
  • Oh thankyou so much everyone - youve all been really helpful and given me some confidence.

    I will probably go ahead with surgery, i will still be terrified but ill keep smiling =) And ill read up as much as I can.

    Thankyouuu :D
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