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Double Fusion in the pastwith another needed for 2 more levels

I am an ex college football player and overtime I herniated some discs L4 & L5, I had two micro disc surgeries which worked for a little while but then eventually completed ruptured both of them. I had a double fusion L4-L5 about 10 yrs ago and just found out I have severe spinal stenosis on L3-L4 and a rupture 1cm x 1cm L2-L3 and they say that it will need to be fused.

What am I in for? The pain comes and goes but is getting worse, I will eventually if I do the surgery have a 4 level fusion???

I am not sure how much this will affect my life style going forward? I am 34 yrs. old, very active and in pretty good shape, I run, lift weights, play basketball still. I also have a 10month old, 4 & 7 year old who are active and I want to make sure I can still do stuff with them.

I really did not notice many issue with the first 2 level fusion, but I am sure this will affect me some.



  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 01/08/2014 - 11:40 AM
    Have you officially been told you need to fuse the other 2 levels or are you just thinking you may need to? I would carefully weigh your current symptoms against the severity of having an additional two levels fused, especially since you have three children. You will not be able to help out with the 10 month old when it comes to lifting him/her at all, so with a child that young, that's a lot. Think in and out of the carseat, in and out of a crib, etc. If your pain is only intermittent and you are able to effectively manage it, I would highly recommend putting a fusion on the back burner.

    I have a 2 year old daughter and a 4 year old son and am also 34. I was cleared for my 360 2-level fusion in January of 2013, but I put it off for a year to be in a better position, family-wise, when I eventually had it this last December. That 1 year was a HUGE benefit for all of us. My daughter went from crawling to walking, and into a toddler bed, and most importantly, I can negotiate with her now: "mamma can't pick you up right now but you can crawl into my lap and we can read a story," etc.

    If you are able to put it off, even for 6 months I think you would be glad you did. It's a lot of weight for your spouse/partner at this point and delaying it would make it even just a little easier. Also, to have a second fusion so young-- there are future considerations about where you'll be when you're 44, 54, 64.

    While I decided to delay my surgery, I pursued several last chance therapies that really helped me: hydrotherapy, PT and steroid injections right into the discs themselves (not the epidural space) and I received almost 6 months of considerable relief.

    While I do have a friend who is fused at 4 levels, and her life is still great (she also has two kids), hers was due to scoliosis and not avoidable with conservative treatments. Have you thought about less invasive fixes like a micro discectomy?
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • I was told by my Neurologist that was what needed to happen in order to fix this, he is the dr. that did my first fusion and one of the best in the country. Due to the severe spinal stenosis they can't due a micro disc to fix that and the rupture is rather large and will probably cause more damage to the disc than good.

    I am going to get injections and have already been on steroids but they only work for a short time.

    I appreciate the feedback about the kids and if I can put it off another year I will, I just do not want to get into a situation where I am in so much pain that we cannot plan for it to happen. I have another Dr. I am going to for a second opinion just in case.
  • Well, L5S1 is an artificial disk and the next 3 are fused with rods and screws. It's only been 3 months, but I'm living a pretty normal life already. I went on a cruise at 2 months and did an (modified) exercise class yesterday. Surprisingly I can even bend now to pick things off the floor. Im guessing you're a lot younger than me too. I'm an old lady (58) lol. Hopefully they can do a minimally invasive surgery. Mine was a small 2 inch incision in my side and a larger one in my back. Good luck,
    Artificial disc at L5S1 for 10 years. Had 3 Level lumbar fusion and Laminectomy on Sept 27, 2013. It was an OLIF (Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion) with cages, BMP, rods & screws. Norco, Plaquenil
  • Hi,

    I am fused from L1 to S1 with my SI joints also fused. I am very active (I qualified for and raced the Ironman Triathlon world Championships). I still swim (I have been a life long swimmer) and it is the best for my back. Sadly I cannot run anymore.I can ride my bike and I have taught kids to ski for 40 years and still do. I have learned to modify how I move and I really don't bend much, just squat. You will learn to modify how you move. I would guess most people do not know how much I am fused.

    I have a very strong core and do exercises daily. It is very important going into surgery and then after. A good physical therapist will make sure you are doing the correct exercises for your stage of recovery. Lifting is limited at first so that may affect your kids but you will get stronger and the weight you can lift will increase.

    Recovery does take time. I was back to work (at my summer job) after 3 weeks but total recovery was at least a year. I worked really hard on stretching so I have more range of motion.

    Good luck. Let us know you are doing and if you have any more questions.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • You should do just fine! (and I have to ask... what college?) Best of luck to you. Also, am I reading this wrong, I only see 3 levels involved. Then again, I doubt there is too much difference between 3 and 4 levels fused, but I could be wrong.
    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.
  • I played at KU. The levels fused right now are L-4-5 and L5-S1, what I am going to need now is L2-3 and L3-4.

    Thanks for all the info so far I appreciate it.
  • Your body will find new ways to move, and adjust as you recover. The biggest change is the twisting since with the fusion, the rotation is going to be very limited in how much you can do. You will learn new, better ways to bend and to carry on with things that you need to carry on with.
    The one thing that I would be concered about and want to discuss with the surgeon is if there is any canal or foraminal compromise of the spinal nerves. If there is, especially in the central canal, the longer you wait, the more likely any damage could become permanent, so that would be at the top of my list of questions - is there any compromise of the canal or foraminal nerves and how much risk of it becoming permanently damaged?
  • Thanks I will definitely ask that question, I go back next Monday.
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