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Body healing itself from spondy??

drumlicksddrumlicks Posts: 7
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello, about 2 1/2 years ago my grade 2 spondylolisthesis came to fruition; the orthopedic doctor who read my MRI of three weeks ago told me that my body is growing a bone 'plate' over the front of my spine, in an attempt to stop the motion of my L5 vertebrae...over the past two years I've had several doctors present me with several surgical options, but "problems" with my insurance (like getting fired because my insurance didn't want to cover me anymore) have prevented me from pursuing any of these options...so this most recent doctor says we should just keep an eye on it and see what my body does- is this possible? This seems quite amazing to me...Many thanks, drumlicks :-)


  • ...but I was told that my L4/L5 vertebrae had almost fused themselves together, where the disc had almost completely disappeared.

    I still needed the PLIF surgery because I had severe stenosis on my cord and nerve roots with sciatica and neurological symptoms that were getting worse.

    What symptoms do you have?

    I know that osteophytes (boney spurs) are our bodies attempt to protect the spine. I guess that your body has formed them into a plate :-)
  • Hi, I have sciatic pain in my left leg- it used to be worse than it is now, but at times it's still terribly painful- when he showed me the MRI he pointed out a 'milky' looking film forming over the area where the disc 'was' (it's still there, but terribly damaged) between L5-S1, and he said that's bone going in...I said, "So in effect, that's nature's way of performing a fusion?" and he said "Yes"....I was astounded- he also said that the pain I'm feeling is probably bone spurs at the facet joints...but he said my back is 'stable'...to me that's just incredible- I wonder how thorough this is going to wind up being? :/
  • Well Aaron, I don't know, but it sounds to me like you might wind up with an easier way out than traditional fusion! Wouldn't that be great if your spondy does stabilize and heal? Sadly, as you know, that ain't the case for most of us, but hey..if someone's gonna get a miracle, might as well be you! Me, I have all the metal, but no bone growing. Maybe we can trade?

    (also) Aaron
  • I was almost bone on bone at my spondylolisthesis, and eventually the vertebrae would fuse together, I thought great, I won't need to have a fusion after all.
    Trouble was that there was severe stenosis with compression on my cord and nerve roots in the position the vertebrae were in.
    I had to have surgery to do a decompression with laminectomy etc to get the pressure off the cord and nerves. He pulled the vertebra back a bit and then fused them together.

    Are your vertebrae fusing in the correct place, or at least without compressing things they shouldn't?

    I hope that things do work out for the best for you. :-)
  • jellyhall and I have had similar vertebrae problems with self-fusion and severely compressed nerves. Even had I let the self-fusion continue, I still would have the crushed nerve and all the pain. To let that continue could have put me in a wheelchair. It happened to another forum member.

    Not sure if you have the same crushed nerve. But, would seem something is pinched with the sciatica.

    You could see two other spine surgeons and explore the consequences of no surgery at all.

    Good Luck on whatever you do,

  • Hi Aaron,

    Welcome to the board, I too had similar problems like Rugman & Jelly, L5-S1 were bone on bone and fusing and my S1 nerve really messed up. I had had over the course of 20+ years episodes of sciatica flares, which I/MD's attributed to overdoing it and were treated w/ the usual NSAIDS or muscle relaxants/RX pain meds (when necessary). I never had a clue on how extensive the problems were till last May after I had had a month from he** when overnight my leg/foot went numb/dead, along w/ pain like I'd never felt before. I finally was referred to an OSS, and flexion/extension x-rays showed I had major issues. I really think you should pursue another opinion, a 'wait & see' attitude in such a case could be inviting permanent nerve damage. Please be sure that whatever type of doc you see (neuro or orthopedist) are fellowship trained and that their practices are devoted to only issues of the spine. Their specialized training optimizes the chances of a good outcome with whatever course of treatment you go with. If the insurance is an issue, I'd suggest going to the insurance part of the forum, there's a wealth of info from others here that have been able to get treatment at teaching hospitals at reduced rates when they had problems with insurance.

    Please keep us posted and hope today is better pain-wise for you.

  • My decision to go ahead with surgery was made easy when the surgeon warned me that if I didn't, I would end up in a wheelchair and eventually incontinent because I had such severe stenosis! I was told that it was amazing that I was walking about.

    Fusing in that position would not have helped at all!! I believe that when fused vertebrae need to be separated, it can make for a longer and more difficult surgery.
    On the other hand, if there isn't a problem with the position of the nerves, autofusion could save you an operation! :-)

    Wishing you well :D
  • Hello, well I sure appreciate all the replies- to be honest, the sciatic pain has been much worse than at present, during the two-plus years since this condition was diagnosed- through learning that standing and walking are my two most pain-inducing activities, I've reduced those to as little as possible; I ride a bike for cardio which causes no pain and I actually do upper and lower body weightlifting in order to contribute to fat loss...so again, my day-to-day pain is actually very manageable, without any meds at all- I play drums and sing for a living, and there's no pain there either, where there sure used to be sharp sciatic pain that was miserable while playing- really, I don't think about my back much, until I feel pain from walking through Wal-Mart or standing in one position for 10 minutes or so, and then think "oh well there it is" and deal with it until I can get to somewhere and sit down, and the pain stops...I know this condition surely can't last too much longer....right?? There's no way I can be this lucky...is there?? As far as I know there's no stenosis...anyone had a similar experience? drumlicks
  • Aaron, it is good news that your sciatic pain has improved. :-)
    Your symptoms of having pain when standing and walking, sounds very like mine before surgery. I was told it was due to the stenosis, which is why sitting and lying down relieved it.
    I also started to improve for a while after I'd introduced various things to try to help (exercise, brisk walking, which was better than slow walking, drinking lots of water, diet changes etc.).
    Then things started to get worse again, until I made the decision to go ahead with surgery.

    As you are feeling better than before, I'd think that the 'wait and see' advice of your doctor is good advice. You never know, things may continue to improve, and you might be able to avoid surgery.
    Let's hope so. :D
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