Ok, well, here's my quick story.
Played high school football and then played recreational basketball 6 days/week in college. That (and genetics I'm sure) led to disc degeneration in L5/S1 and L4/L5. In 2001 (when I was 27) I herniated L5/S1 to the point where I had so much right-leg pain I had a laminectomy/discectomy. 6 months after surgery I fell down a flight of stairs resulting in another laminectomy/discectomy in Feb 2002.
Fast forward to last year (2009).. I had an episode after playing tennis where I was again facing the prospect of a fusion which I wanted to avoid at all costs. I got through that episode which involved lots of back pain but no neurological pain in my legs. I proceeded to lose 20 pounds (I'm now 6'3" 183 pounds) and have been doing Pilates twice/week. I have a stronger core than ever.
But alas, I hurt myself again playing tennis. It's been 3 weeks since the leg pain has begun, 2 weeks since I had an epidural and now I have weakness and numbness in my left leg. I'm going to see 2 doctors tomorrow (my original and a 2nd opinion) but every previous surgeon I've consulted has told me I will more than likely have to have 2 level fusion at some point.
If I can't get off the pain meds and have the numbness go away, I'm not sure if I have a choice.
Here are my concerns and questions:
- My original surgeon who I continue to see has recommended 2 level ALIF but since I'm 35 he's concerned that in 5-10 years I may require another fusion at L3/L4 (which are perfect right now). He said he might recommend not only the ALIF but also to then flip me over and put supporting rods up to L3/L4 to proactively help reduce the pressure those discs will then receive as a result of the 2 level fusion.
Has anyone heard about this? Experience with it?
Is the concern about a (relatively young) fusion really valid? I will continue to workout and stay fit. I've now had DDD on L4/L5 and L5/S1 for over 10 years and L3/L4 and all discs above look very healthy. Will they just quickly degenerate once a fusion below is in place?
At 35 and in pretty good shape, should I expect recovery to be quicker?