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Lumbar L5 S1 fusion 22yo dancer- pre op- HELP!!!

Let me start by giving a little background, when I was 15yo I fractured my spine L5-S1, spent three months in a brace with intense PT and got back to ballet training and performing. Since then it has been seven years and the back pain is only getting worse, to the point that I only move when I have to (i.e work) with lots of Norco involved. I've had numerous facet injections, SNRB injections, and a rhizotomy with no success. My recent MRI has shown that the fractures are not healed and due to constant stress on the joint and severe osteoarthritis (they told me I have the spine health of a 60yo) plus annular bulging L1-L2 through L4-L5 and the complete degeneration of L5-S1 disc with hemisacrilization and formation of edema with fluid built up inside the fracture itself. The last resort for me now would be to fuse L5-S1 in hopes that once I'm healed from surgery completely I will have an improved quality of life and fix not only the cause of the pain but future compications of spondylolithesis; however, since I am only 22yo, I am naturally very hesitant to have surgery on my spine.

Can anyone help me out with a little advice??
Any info would help incuding how long recovery was, after all my job as a dance teacher is dependant on me.
Please and thank you!!


  • I'm 24 and had a 2 level anterior and posterior fusion at L4/5 and L5/1 in October. No doubt it's a huge surgery and I tried all conservative treatment before moving forward. I also saw 4 spine surgeons to make sure I was making the right decision and found a surgeon that I trusted to perform the procedure. I'm almost 3 months post-op and I feel awesome. Most of my pain is gone besides a little residual nerve pain, which can take a year or longer to heal.

    I'd expect to be out of work for awhile. You aren't allowed to bend, twist, or lift/push/pull anything over 10 lbs for 3 months after surgery to allow things to heal and full 100% recovery from a fusion can take a year or longer. It's been difficult for me to follow these restrictions because I do feel so good, but it's a must if you want to have a proper fusion. Being so young I went into the surgery knowing I'll very likely have additional spine problems in the future due to the fusion, but it was a risk I was willing to take.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 01/15/2014 - 8:12 AM
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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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
  • SarahLindeauSarahLindeau Posts: 767
    edited 01/15/2014 - 8:09 AM
    I think you would find a lot of relief through surgery. With the exception of a fractured spine, your story is similar to my own. I also had back problems from L4-L5-S1 and tried everything from bilateral rhizotomy ablation (failed), discogram, cortisone injections. Nothing seemed to help me. I was 27 when I first injured my spine and unspent the next 7 years slowly getting worse and suffering. Norco was my only relief. I know you're young, but at some point you have to weigh the poor quality of life you're living against the benefits that a fusion would bring.

    I had my two level 360 degree fusion about a month ago and I am SO happy I did it. The only pain I have now is incision and bone graft pain. I would get a second opinion from another surgeon, but given your history, he/she will probably advise the same.

    I didn't realize how much of life I was missing while I was in pain. Now, post surgery, I feel so happy to not be in pain. It's been a long recovery but I plan on taking great care of myself to ensure my L3-L4 level stays in great shape and I don't have to have another fusion down the road.

    Hang in there.
    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
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