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Spondylolisthesis Spinal Fusion?

KinuiKKinui Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone,

I'm a 17 yo girl with grade 2 spondylolisthesis. I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was eleven, but had bad lower back pain that none of the doctors could explain until a chiropractor finally diagnosed me with spondy.

I've been able to deal with the pain for the most part. It's almost a constant dull ache in my lower back with intense flare ups every time I do a big sports-related activity that leaves me in bed for a few days. My family travels alot, and sometimes all it takes to put me out for a few days is just walking for a long time. I'm not incredibly athletic but I really do enjoy running, and have joined in track and cross country teams, but I usually end up having to drop out or go through a lot of pain.

Why I'm posting on here is because I'm now considering just going ahead and having a spinal fusion done. I know this is often only considered after the pain is impossible to deal with in daily life or after months of alternative therapies, but I'm in circumstances that require a quicker decision. My dad is in the army (we currently live overseas) and by august he is going to be retiring. We have an opportunity with a doctor in Germany who's willing to do the surgery. If we do it now, the army will cover the medical expenses. If we wait until after my dad retires, we most likely won't have the means to pay for a surgery if I really need it.

I figure that it would be better to get it now, instead of waiting till I'm older and it gets worse. And that the recovery will most likely be easier the younger I am. I also want to have a family when I'm older and fear the back pain that would come with being pregnant in my current condition.

I was just wondering if anyone could give me advice on this, as well as what to expect after surgery and how long recovery would take and what it would entail.



  • No one here is medically trained and so we can't give you advice on what you should do. What we can do is share our personal experience and things that we have learned along the way in our journey. You really need to ask your questions with a spinal surgeon.

    What I will say, is that I was told that fusion surgery is often offered to young girls in their 20s if they have spondylolisthesis because carrying a pregnancy can be so painful because of the pull on the slipped vertebra due to the weight of the bump. My doctor was amazed that I had carried 3 pregnancies without being diagnosed with my spondylolisthesis. I did have a lot of pain in my back and sciatica during my pregnancies, and the last 10 weeks were particularly difficult. I assumed that all pregnant women felt like that!

    Looking back, I had suffered with back pain since I was a teenager, and found standing for any length of time was very painful.

    It wasn't until into my 50s that I decided that there must be something wrong with my back, due to the pain and sciatica I was getting.

    After various sessions of physiotherapy and back school, I was x-rayed and was diagnosed with grade 2 spondylolisthesis. I tried very hard to avoid surgery because I was so scared. I exercised, walked, drank gallons of water, tried Chiro, tens, changing my diet, losing weight. Eventually, as things were getting worse and my life was becoming very limited (I used to have to lie on the floor halfway through breakfast because of my pain), I gave in and had a decompression and fusion on L4/L5.

    I am much better now, not 100%, but much better. I have other problems which I think are caused by other problems in my spine, but my pain levels are now much lower. If I had to decide again, I would not have feared surgery as much as I did and would definately do it again. I wouldn't look forward to it, :jawdrop: , but I would do it again.

    You are correct, your age would help regarding your recovery, and the fitter you are before any surgery, the better. Of course, any surgery would have to last a long time if you are young, and you should ask a surgeon about the adjacent levels of your spine, becoming degenerated due to having to take up more movement to compensate for the fused level.

    Recovery after fusion surgery is tough, but it can be done. You will need help straight after surgery, probably with personal care and daily living, but after 2 or 3 weeks you can start to be more independent again. I returned to work in a school after 6 months. I am 1 year after my surgery tomorrow. I am still in physiotherapy, but we are now concentrating on my neck and thoracic problems because my lumbar spine is doing pretty well.

    Do ask any other questions you have, and let us know what you decide to do.

    This site is an amazing support before and after surgery. There is nothing like being able to talk to people who are, or have been, going through similar issues. They really 'get it'. :-)

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