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Would you do it again?

Cass55woCCass55wo Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I just stumbled on this website. It is incredibly helpful.
I am asking you folks out there if you have had a lumbar spine fusion whether or not you would do it again? I have a grade 2-3 spondylolisthesis at L-5, S-1. I knew about all of this 15 years ago but put off surgery. Now I cannot leave my house, take care of my family, clean my house, etc because of the nerve root compression and pain in my leg. I would like to know if others who have had a fustion are glad they did and realistically how long will it take to get back to a level of function above this one? I am really out of shape but I am unable to lose weight or exercise because of the constant pain.
Thanks in advance,


  • Welcome to Spine Health Cass >:D<

    I had retrololistsis (backward slip) on L5/S1 when I had my PLIF (Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion) the summer of 2008.

    I can relate to not being able to do much. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I was pretty bad off and had been dealing with intense pain for 10 years and dibilitating pain & treatments for 17 months before I had the fusion.

    It is a brutal recovery- no doubt about it, but I had a great surgeon and a very successful fusion before my neck & thoracic spine went sideways on me after the MVA.

    Good luck & feel better,


  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Spondylolisthesis is one of those conditions that can only be treated with a fusion so as to pull everything back into alignment. Please don't worry about my medical history as I have lax ligaments and tendons that leads to joints going out of place.

    But I can tell you I'd do both of my spondylolithesis fusions over again. Each put me back into correct alignment.

    Recovery can be tough, you have to be willing to fight through pain and do what the doctors recommend. And if you have nerve pain nerves take very long to heal, if they have been impinged for a while that part of the recovery will take quite a while. Don't wait too long if there is ongoing nerve root compression.

    You'll want to be careful after surgery not to push to fast to recover. Have family clean, etc. I still have hubby do the heavy stuff.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Hi Cass & welcome! Speaking just for me, I'd answer yes. I had a spondy, but not quite as severe as yours. I wound up with a fusion w/instrumentation (screws & rods) at L5-S1. That was done 10 NOV 09, so I'm just a little over a year post-op. I had some surgical complications, a long recovery and several bumps in the road but all in all..I would do it again. I'm still not fused completely, so I'm not done yet. The leg pain and weakness is mostly better than before surgery tho. My situation would have gotten worse and worse, so I went ahead and got the initial surgery done. If you wish, I'll PM you with any specifics. It's been quite a ride, I'll say that.

    Aloha, and best wishes
  • At 5 1/2 weeks post L5-S1 fusion (and with some surgical complications) I am not there yet - so I LOVE reading posts from people who say YES they are glad they did it - I hope to join you all in that sentiment as I know that I am getting better - slowly, but steadily.
  • I didnt have the same condition, I had torn discs and had first 2 level fusion in Dec 2008, and I had 2 more torn discs and had 2 level fusion again in Dec 2010, so four discs fused. First one, started to feel better, but then again alot of pain. Had instraments taken out after I was fused hoping it would help pain. Didnt, and after another year, went to Spine Center and found the other 2 bad discs. Like Peese (Patti) we both are early out on fusion but I would definently do it again, so far. I am healing and in 5 weeks feeling better than I have in 4 1/2 years! My Dr rocks and my world is finally returning to me. I have 2 small grandchildren and another on the way in June and cant wait to be able to feel good and play with them!!!!!Positives DO HAPPEN!!!
  • After a laminectomy in 2009 I was happy because it relieved my siatica. However my L5-S1 fusion with laminectomies at L2-L3, L3-L4 and L4-L5 was unsuccessful. I can stand straighter but I still have severe facet joint pain as well as leg weakness and numbness. All that was supposed to be addressed in the surgery. My surgeon had me get another MRI yesterday to see if any nerves are still impinged. If they are not impinged I am pretty well stuck with what I have, if they are impinged they can be addressed with injections and/or more surgery. I would be willing to do another laminectomy, but probaly not fusion again.

    Read my BLOG to see what happened!

  • im only 2 weeks into my recovery but im vary happy that i had my fusion done most of my pain is gone and i feel alot better then i did before i had mine done
  • Hi Cass and welcome to Spine-Health

    Fusion gave me back my life again. My spondy wasn't as severe as your's but I had ddd as well. My fusion was done from the front (anterior)and I was fused by the 6 month check-up.

    Recovery is slow and at times boring and there are restrictions with lifting-bending-twisting. It takes complete commitment to getting well again. Initially, rest and walking is all you'll be able to do. Walking regularly is essential to recovery. Good preparation prior to surgery is also essential. Do have a look at the Post-Op Must Haves sticky at the top of the page. I also got myself into the best shape that I could prior to surgery. There are good articles on nutrition on this site.

    It took me 6-7 months to start feeling normal again and another 6 months for the fusion to feel really strong and since then I've been able to do more exercise, but always keeping in mind that my spine has been altered.

    I still have a problem with L5-S1 which wasn't fused but there's a possibility that it will need doing at some time. My surgeon aims for 80% - 90% pain reduction and he achieved this with me.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008

  • I had L4/L5 decompression and fusion for a grade 2 spondylolisthesis and am feeling so much better than before surgery.
    My pains were getting worse and worse and I couldn't stand for 5 minutes or walk for 20/30 minutes without spiking up my pain, so I had to give in and have the surgery. I wouldn't hold off for so long again. This was the way to help with my symptoms.

    I do still have some nerve symptoms that are being investigated, and neck and thoracic problems, but my life is much more liveable now. I am able to walk 2 miles a day and am back at work again and even doing my housework (carefully). The recovery is hard and long, but the alternative was to have my pain and problems progress. My surgeon told me I would end up in a wheelchair if I didn't get the pressure off my spinal cord.

    Do let us know what you decide. There is a great support network here from some very sympathetic and caring people. >:D< >:D< >:D<

  • I started getting progressively worse and worse over a yr. Instead of being a "hero" and sticking it out as I had no idea what was happening inside. I wish I would have opted for a lami and discectomy early on, to try that 1st. The l4-s1 discs were shredding. I had a very strenuous job as a RN and by the time I couldn't do much, bless my co-workers they were doing alot of my job .....I spent most of my time in the pool as it was some relief. I got 3 opinions & weighed my options.

    Either doc would fuse l5-s1 only as they felt l4-5 was going to be an issue sooner than later...

    I decide to do a double fusion as l5-s1 disc is gone and the l4-5 is shredding into the collagen. I had a central disc extrusion, which is not the area anyone wants a disc herniation if one should get herniation's.

    I did great until 9-10 weeks post-op. Looking back I feel my doc should have had me moving around more, walking. Then scar tissue reared it's ugly head. I apparently develop alot of scar tissue quickly....

    now I am successfully fused but have residual low back pain depending on what I do, I have a SCS for the nerve pain and take pain meds along with Lyrica. It took awhile after all of this but as I just posted in the SCS section I have better quality of my new life.

    My PM doc told me I'll drive myself nuts second guessing myself and torturing myself w/the if and's or but's of it all...anyway everyone is different, weigh your pros and cons, pls get at least 2 opinions and good luck !!!

    take care

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    If you are incapacitated with pain, can not walk, etc,
    then yes, I would do it again.

    If it was just a matter of discomfort medium pain, then probably I would not do it again.

    But really, the true answer lies within what your doctor tells you.

    Considering all factors, your doctor should be able to tell you the Pros and the Cons of having that first surgery or any follow on surgeries.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I had a 2 level tlif, on 3/19/10
    There's no doubt my life style is forever changed, but, it was changed the day i hurt myself at work.
    Not the day i had the surgery.

    My personal opinion is i would have been worse off if i did'nt have the surgery.

    So the infamous quote "damned if you do,and damned if you dont. :?
  • I would do my surgery again, even only 5 weeks post. I already can do some things I couldn't do before surgery, like go out to lunch with my husband and sit comfortably for 30 minutes.

    Not the same situation as yours, though :) We're all different!

    But my surgery was brutal for the first 10 days or so after surgery, so the thoracotomy route isn't for the faint of heart!
  • But would have done the 360 first, instead of ALIF
  • Lumbar fusion at end of June. He lost the pain he was feeling at the hospital and has been mending steadily since then. He's a busy guy and he got his life back.
  • and yes, I would do it again. However, as Ron said, it depends on your degree of disability and pain. I could hardly walk and sometimes even the slightest movement would take my breath away. The surgeons in my town refused to do my surgery, but I was in so much pain, I knew I could not continue to live that way. Recovery was not easy, and, I believe it took a full 18 months for me to recover. I still go to physical therapy when I get too stiff.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I would do it over, even though I am still struggling with pain. I waited 10 years and went from very little slippage to a grade 2-3 spondy at L4/L5 that I had fusion for. It resolved the sciatic problems. I'm in pain management and my back is in a kind of denial. The nerves are telling my back that the facet joint isn't working, well duh it is fused they aren't going to work. My quality of life has improved I can walk for a few more minutes, do laundry, cook dinner, all the things most people (myself included) take for granted.
  • I went through a 360 two level fusion 9/25/08 & I am no better at at all. Now I have to live with the stiffness that all the hardware brings as well as added stress on the joints above & below the fusion. I would never do it again knowing what I know today. It is also a very risky surgery.

  • I am glad I did it and would do it again in a minute.
    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
  • My back pain has been far worse since the fusion. I wish I had never had it done.
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