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RAF Officer with L5/S1 spondy, bi-lat pars defect and surgery booked for Aug - when can I get back t

martynbowdenmmartynbowden Posts: 19
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi everyone,
I am a 28 year old male, RAF Officer and I have been suffering with extreme back pain since a major car accident in Sep 09. I have been diagnosed with grade 1 spondylolisthesis with foraminal narrowing of the L5 roots following an MRI scan, additional scans provided evidence of a bi-lateral pars defect. Strangely the surgeon has suggested that the injury is longstanding, however having been pain free before the accident and having completed intense military training with no problems, I struggle to accept that this can be the case.
I underwent a pars block injection, which provided minimal relief but no permanent relief. I have now been referred for a 'Bucks' fusion operation in August, where I have been told that 2 screws will be inserted across the 2 fractures along with small fragments of bone to fuse the defective pars interarticularis.
I am keen to hear from anyone who has experienced anything similar. Any information on the recovery time and how you feel after the operation will be useful. My wife is concerned about how much I will be able to do for myself post op and I am keen to know how long it will take before I can get back to physical activity and ultimately work. There is the worry in the back of my mind that I might end up being medically discharged! Any advice from anyone who has gone through a similar op would be very appreciated.

Many thanks everyone, I look forward to exchanging advice and hope that my experiences may help others as well.

Flying Officer Bowden RAF (Martyn)


  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i would like to thank you for your service.. i am sorry you are suffering from chronic pain.. so it appears you will be having surgery in august.. be sure and check out the "Back and Neck surgery forum" for more input on your surgery! you will find lots of information about your surgery on the forum site.. check out the "Treatment" section at the top of the page.. good luck to you.. be sure and follow the doctor's orders.. did you get more than one opinion? this is a very wise thing to do, especially if surgery is involved.. the more confirmation you have, the better for you! stop by the forum anytime! Jenny :)
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    I have not had any surgery..so I can not speak to that. This site has great people with variety of experiences and treatments and surgeries under their belt. Hopefully someone will connect with you with shared experience.
    Mainly I wanted to welcome you to the site and applaud you for looking for information and shared experiences. That can be priceless.
    Good luck to you!
    Keep in touch
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Hi Martyn .
    I sent you a PM .
    I have had my spondylolisthesis L5,S1 operated on when I was in the Australian Army (I was medically discharged unfit )this has haunted me ever since I am on a Defence Force pension classed as medically unfit for any work "A" Class Pension 70% incapacitated for work.
    You have the advantage of having the internet something I did not have when I had my fusion.
    The Australian military is based on the British system so I think we have a few things in common there as well when it comes to employment.
    I hope to chat to you soon mate .
    Regards Stuart.
  • Thank you and bless you for your service and relentless drive to still serve!
    If I may,
    A person here once told me that in order to serve as many of my fellow men, I must first give to myself.
    in other words the more I took care of myself, the more and longer I can do for others.

    I hope you find the answers your looking for here and are able to make the best choice for yourself and family.

    To a degree more or less, many here are "givers" people who would and do their utmost everyday for others to the detriment of their health.

    In know way am I trying to slight your commitment to help your fellow man.

    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • It was only by luck that I stumbled across this site ,I was actually searching for people who have had a Bucks Fusion and have been able to resume their careers ,I still desperatly would like to be in the Military ,but I will settle for the Police Force.
    It would seem by searching on the net that not many people if any have been able to retain their Military Career after such an operation.
    I wish I had hindsight ,I would never have gone under the Surgeons knife :/
    I was young and believed what the Doctors told me .


  • Hi Stuart,
    It's really nice to find someone that had gone through the procedure I have planned.
    I'm currently 28 years old and I'm an officer in the UK Royal Air Force, working as a Personnel Support Officer. Mainly office based, sat behind a desk predominantly.
    I had a major car accident in Sep 2010 and during the x-rays and MRI scans they discovered a grade 1 spondylolisthesis and a bi-lateral pars defect. Since the accident my back pain has got increasingly worse to the point I am downgraded to non effective status and on sick leave. I am on liquid morphine constantly and can't stand or walk very far without a lot of pain. There is no way I cam continue with this amount of pain, so I feel the operation is the only option. The surgeon has told me that there are more invasive options such as a full fusion but that the Bucks Fusion with the 2 screws and bone graft will give me the best result with most mobility afterwards. I have undergone intensive Physio and rehab with the military including Pilates courses so my core is really strong. I'm extremely fit with no body fat or excess weight, so I'm hoping for a good recovery. 
    Please tell me more about the op? The time it took to operate? How long you were in hospital? Did you wear a brace? How were you afterwards and did you need care and assistance? How long was the recovery? And how are you now? I really appreciate your advice.
    Thank you

    Sent from my iPhone
  • 15 days post op now!!! Had a TLIF procedure in the end and starting to feel loads better albeit with some seriously tight muscles in my bottom and legs.
  • Hey, I'm currently contemplating the exact same operation. I was wondering how successful people's have been and expected recovery times please? Just any information would be super useful.

    Thank you,
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