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daunting upcoming L3-S1 spinal fusion on active 54 year old..! similar stories of successes and pitf

ktmck1023kktmck1023 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Folks,

Both glad and bummed to be here! Glad there is a support network out there in the ether and bummed that I need it!

My name is Kevin. Live here in NYC. 54 year old fit, dad to two boys (13 & 7), husband, business owner, type A personality, active (climbed a volcano 6 months ago..post epidural)..

I've seen four of the world's top guys here in NY. Ortho-spinal, neuro-spinal..HSS and Columbia Presbyterian..They all say the same thing..3 level spinal fusion from L3-through S1. They have different approaches/multiple approaches..My legs are very weak, serious pain, electric shocks..drop foot..on my last legs..! I've had about 10 epidurals and man they were heaven for a while..last one bought me one day of pain free movement..

I am having a hard time finding other relatively young guys who have gone through this and are out there having a good time on the golf course. Everything I read says "beyond 2 level fusion...beware...."

I am hoping to find some stories I can relate to. Appreciate any and all feedback.

Kevin ktmck1023@yahoo.com ----------severe central canal stenosis, neural stenosis, spondylolisthesis, complete disc compression/protrusions, impinged nerve roots, substantial facet arthrosis, retrolisthesis, narrowing everywhere...


  • Good luck with this. It really looks like you have no choice to get back some leg strength / prevent more progression. With the resources you have and access to top docs, most likely you'll do fine. My situation is minor compared to yours, although at this time symptoms are pretty limiting and all I can do is swimming and go from one chair to another (still working). You'll want to overdo your rehab and recovery, so be sure to listen to your PT and surgeon. Good luck.
  • poodlemama99ppoodlemama99 Posts: 44
    edited 07/22/2014 - 7:25 AM
    I had a 4 level lumbar fusion 8 years ago when i was 44. i would say my pain is now about a 3-4 average day and can get up to a 8-9 if i do things i am not supposed to do. you will have limited twisting range of motion but otherwise you should regain a good quality of life.
    The biggest thing I can stress is activity after fusion. I dont care if it hurts, I dont care if it kills you, walk , walk, walk, walk and walk some more. I cant stress this enough. There were days i was in agony and my husband would make me walk around the block with him.
    4 level posterolateral fusion L2-S1 with rods and screws and cadaver bone. Spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, sciatica, DDD, facet disease and arthritis. September 2002
  • I had a 5 level lumbar fusion in 2007. Let me warn you, the recovery is long and hard. Today, I walk 20 plus miles a week and I play golf once a week, when its not snowing. I have pain but pain I can manage, I was 58 when I had the fusion.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I can tell you I had an L3-S1 fusion in February 2010, but I'm not a golfer so I can't tell you about getting back to those activities. Mine was done with a back incision and one incision on the side. Don't let my surgical history scare you as I have lax ligaments and tendons which have led to joints (spine, knees, feet, etc) giving out easiy and needing to be stabilized.

    Sounds like the pain and other symptoms are ruling your life so after the surgery you can work with Physical Therapy to see what you can safely do to take care of the rest of your back. Once fused you have to take care of the rest of the spine levels so you don't end up with further problems.

    Two key things for at home during recovery: Toilet Seat Riser and 36" grabber. Both are available in "big box" pharmacy chains and are each usually under $30. You'll be discharged, get home, try to use the toilet and realize it's a long way down whereas the one in the hospital was higher and may have a riser inserted as well. The grabber helps pick up items dropped. Better than calling out for help every time something falls. I still use mine to get stuff from under the beds. We've found uses for it all over the place.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I am having my surgery done at Editedin Reston Va....they are supposed to be world class surgeons....I am so filled with anxiety. I have lived with chronic pain for six yrs followoing a partial discectomy....Pain Manangement kept telling me No Sugery.....no Surgery meanwhile he gave me a total of 30 injections in 2yrs....22 of those in my lumbar spine six in my cervical, oh he also gave me injections in my elbows about four dont know if that counts as steroid overdose....lol...put on thirty pounds since my first surgery six yrs ago. I am /was an equine sports massage therapist, that all went down the drain......it has been great reading some of your post on recovery from spinal fusion of three or more levels.....

    Post edited to remove name of medical facility

    Spine Health Moderator Team
  • you sound like a fit guy .but don't underestimate the seriousness of a fusion .i think in the usa you tend to have better results than us here in the uk .i had ALIF 2 level done on the 29 dec and i am still in a lot of pain and unable to do many things .{bear in mind i have been a long time in pain and long term disability so i was not fit and my recovery was always going to be a long hard one .i hope that you recover fast {being fit will help} but its still major surgery .good luck with it
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Hi Kevin et.al, I am a 62 year old fit (till 6 months ago) woman and I just had the L-3 to S-1 fusion and a laminectomy for severe stenosis. I am 7 weeks post surgery and doing extremely well. I had an EXCELLENT surgeon and did a lot of research beforehand. I started PT this week, I have been off all narcotics since week 3 and am only on gabapentin now. I was back to work the middle of week 3.

    There is certainly some soreness and occasional jab of pain but I am overall thrilled with my progress. I walked 1/2 mile pretty briskly but without power arms like I used to. I can't bend backward at all without "bone pain" I found out at PT, and rotation is not something I am ready to do either but other than that I am game.

    I, like all of you have read and heard so many horror stories that I am so thankful to not be one. To anyone that intends to do this I say do your research. Your surgeon is a HUGE matter that must be researched well. Make certain they are fellowship trained and that they do your type of surgery often. If you have health grade, check the reviews. Who cares if they say God Complex? I couldn't care less. I wanted to see EXCELLENT SURGEON. I saw 80 of the for my Doc and the hospital was top rated for the procedure. I am in Houston so I also have excellent medical available to me. Maybe not as good as New York or Boston, but I am certainly happy with the results.

    I will tell you all that if I wasn't very strong, I never would have been able to pull myself out of bed at the hospital. I was happy for this, it helped me through everything! I am not a year down the road yet but if I am feeling like this now, I expect to be able to go back to aerobics after the fusion is healed.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 09/19/2014 - 5:02 AM
    Welcome to Spine-Health. It sounds like you are healing well post fusion surgery and are well on your way. Just be careful not to overdo things while your body is still healing. Take things slowly and steadily, and working at rehabbing is one of the most important things for the patient to do.
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