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Stenosis and Spondololisthesis After Accident

Hi Everyone:

I was rear ended in an accident over a year ago in the spring. I only had a muscle strain in my back initially. But after just a few months, I was more achy and developing more pain. By the fall, it was hard to walk and pain comes with not too much exercise or effort. I have been walking with a cane for a few months and cannot walk very far with it. I have been out of work for the whole year so far.

Images show severe stenosis in L-5, S-1, severe facet arthritis and spondololythesis. I never had any symptoms before the accident and now I am so debilitated.

I can understand how stenosis takes years to develop. How much could the accident hasten that deterioration?

Regarding the spondy, how much evidence is there that the impact at a high speed can cause the vertebra to become misaligned?

Of course, I am trying to hold out doing fusion. I so want to avoid it. Thanks for your help and experiences you share.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hello!!

    I am just over 3 months out of a L5/S1 fusion and after 4 years of pain following a rear end accident, it was time to get it done for me. I knew that I had a slipped disc and really wasn't in too much pain, but after I was rear ended the pain was severe and started to travel down my leg. I saw chiropractor after chiropractor as I assumed they would be the best for treatment. However, I figured that I would have this pain for the rest of my life (I'm 26 now) as I had NO relief from the chiro visits. However, in October, 2012 I finally went to an orthopedic and that is when I found out that I had much more than a slipped disc-- I had spinal stenosis, severe degenerative disc disease, large paracenteral herniation showing my sciatic nerve was pinched in 2 places and a pars defect. After many treatment trials-- medicines, injections, physical therapy, etc I didn't get relief and opted for the fusion. What I am getting at is that there are people in the same boat as you-- mine was ruled a pre-existing condition so the girl who hit me didnt pay a dime. Are you seeing an orthopedic or neurosurgeon? What are your treatment options and/or your treatment plan?

    Good luck!
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 08/23/2013 - 3:52 AM
    While, I am sure that a high impact speed car crash or motorcycle crash can cause spondylolysthesis, I am not aware of any studies that say specifically that that is the cause, so proving that that particular injury came about because of your accident might be difficult.
    As far as wanting to avoid fusion, I can understand , no one wants to have back surgery, however, the longer you wait, the more likely that any nerve impingement damage will become permanent. When nerves are compressed, either in the spinal canal or where they exit the vertebre, the sooner that the compression or cause of the compression is relieved, the better the outcome in the long run for the patient.
    Since you are already having so much difficulty walking, it does not make sense to continue to avoid surgery that might be your best option to avoid permanent and life altering surgery.
    Fusion is not the end of the world, and for most people who undergo fusion, once the recovery is done, are back to living their lives as they did before
    It is worthwhile to visit a few spine surgeons to discuss your options and not risk further or permanent damage.
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