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Just lost my spine dr, going in for 2nd opinion

IzaiahIIzaiah Posts: 83
edited 07/06/2013 - 9:10 PM in Lower Back Pain
Hi guys, I hope this is the right area to put this.

A little background: I'm 23 years old. I had been seeing a spine surgeon who told me to wait and that he wouldn't recommend fusion surgery unless I had no other options. I've tried physical therapy and medication, neither worked very well.

My pain is getting worse. I can't stand for 5 minutes without needing to lean on something. I can barely walk a block or two and, if I do, I need to stop several times. I work a physical job. I groom dogs; I have to lift them, restrain them, and I'm normally hunched over doing haircuts/baths all day. I dread going to work every day and after work I can't do anything else; I have to go home and lie down because I'm in too much pain. I can't really afford to switch jobs. Since I have a trade I make significantly more than I would at any other job because I don't have a college degree(I'm going back to school this fall).

SO, anyway, my spine doctor recently moved away and I'll be consulting with a new one soon. I want to tentatively ask about disability, but at my age doctors can be a bit judgmental about certain things. I had to fight for medication and then was required to go in for an office visit for every refill. When you a have a high deductible insurance plan, that many visits is really expensive.

I'd also be interested to hear if anyone with similar back problems to me has had a successful spinal fusion. It's hard for me to decipher how similar other patients' problems are to mine as this stuff is all new to me.

Here are my MRI results for background:

Grade I anterolisthesis of L5 upon S1 is noted with an exaggeration of the lumbar lordotic curvature. This appears to be related to bilateral spondylolysis at L5.

There is severe facet hypertrophy at L5-S1, less at L4-5 with bilateral neural foraminal encroachment. At L5-S1 there is bilateral foraminal stenosis.

No spinal canal stenosis is noted.

Loss of T2 brightness at L5-S1 disc is seen with a posterior disc bulge. The other discs are normal in outline.

The tip of the spinal cord lies at the level of the L1 vertebral body and the conus medullaris is normal as seen.

CONCLUSION: Bilateral spondylolysis at L5 with Grade I anterolisthesis, bilateral foraminal stenosis as well as disc bulge at L5-S1.

Thanks in advance for any insight/advice on switching doctors. I really just need to talk to anyone who can relate.


L5-S1 360 fusion on 10/1/13


  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 07/07/2013 - 2:46 AM
    Lots and lots of people have successful L5/S1 fusions, even in their 20's. Have you scheduled your appointment with the new surgeon? Be sure to have your MRI images with you. Best of luck.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Yes, people have successful fusions but each person is different. A lumbar fusion is different that cervical (neck) fusion. I have found in my own search that people I know that have had cervical fusions have had more successful results and more 'regular' life than those with lumbar fusions.

    If you think having a lumbar fusion will 'fix' you, think again. I'm not saying it won't but you will have several months of no lifting, bending, twisting. So, if you plan to continue your profession (p.s. love animals, especially dogs), a lumbar fusion is not a magical fix. Do you wear a brace while working? It might be helpful to remind you to be careful lifting from legs vs. back and a good reminder to tighten your abs when lifting. Also, lots of bending is tough.

    Do some research, get the 2nd opinion, and even if the 2nd opinion says "sure, fusion could help", read more. Be SURE you are willing to have the surgery even knowing the risks of the surgery. There are many and I was 40 and was NOT willing to take the risks of the fusion. I blew a disc and lost feeling in my left buttocks, back thigh, and heel to outer toe as well as strength in my left leg. In addition had extreme leg pain with back pain. I had a microdiscectomy twice - they remove the herniated disc. Yes, 2 surgeries at 40 and was even questioning those surgeries. I did not have a fusion and can say I'm glad. I'm about 85% better (others probably think 100% based on what they see, I would say 75% so I average it). I wish you well with your decision.
  • IzaiahIIzaiah Posts: 83
    edited 07/07/2013 - 4:33 AM
    Thanks for the replies.

    I haven't scheduled my appointment yet as I'm trying to decide where to go. I live near Princeton, NJ so I've got tons of options and I want to make sure I do my research.

    I love grooming, but I know I won't be able to do it for much longer. That's why I'm getting back into college this fall.

    I don't wear a brace because I already have to wear a compression vest for another purpose. I'm not sure if its affecting my back, but it's not really an optional garment.

    I've done some reading into the risks of lumbar fusion when I first got diagnosed. I had my first visit and MRI/x rays about a year ago. Since then I've been trying physical therapy. Haven't been on medication in months because of how difficult they made it for me.
    L5-S1 360 fusion on 10/1/13
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