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Is my spine stable?

Hello. I would like to know if my spine is stable and if my pain is from my spondylolisthesis. First of all, I am a 40 year old nurse who had an abdominal colpoplexy two months ago. After that surgery, I woke up with sever back pain. It improved for about a week and then I had to go out of town and has only become worse. My doctor says that I am not in jeopardy of more injury if I were to work but may prolong my pain. I am working with PT who says it is not stable enough for me to work as a nurse. I am concerned because I am running out of my FMLA. I have appointments and I am waiting to see a DO and neurosurgeon. I have severe back pain and right leg numbness/tingling, only below the knee. Some burning sensation and rarely sharp pain in my toes. I do have issues with chronic neck pain and DDD. I have had bouts of sciatica and back pain in the past. My MRI 8 years ago showed spondylo grade 1 with bilateral pars defects and some bulging discs. My recent MRI findings are: mild left lumbar curve. Bilateral L5 pars defects are suspected with about 4 mm anterior spondylolisthesis of L5 on S1.There is moderatelL4-L5 disc space narrowing with desiccation. No suspicous marrow replacing lesion. My goal in PT is strengthening my abdominal muscles and pelvic floor. I am doing my exercises in a pool. I have also been having issues with my right SI joint which has been resolving with PT and use of an SI joint stabilizing belt/brace. I appreciate your opinion.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    There is nobody on the forum qualified to advice on an MRI finding the rules state....
    5.13 You agree not to ask for any analysis or interpretation of diagnostic tests (ie MRI, CTScans, EMG, etc.),


    Welcome to Spine-Health and how to get started here


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Thank You for letting me know this. If we need to remove my post that is fine.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 05/23/2014 - 9:43 AM
    Spondylolysthesis is graded by degree- Stage 1 is 25% or less of the vertebral body slippage........4 mm is not a huge slip... Stage 2 is 26-50% slippage, which is somewhere between one quarter and one half of the diameter of the vertebral body slipped, stage 3 is 51-75% and of course, stage 4 is the worst, being 76-100%.
    As to whether or not your spine is stable, the surgeon will probably want to send you for dynamic xrays to confirm the stability of the spondy......so he will have to answer that question for you.
    Anyone over the age of 21 or so is going to show some signs of DDD. That name is such a misnomer, it makes it sound like some incurable disease when for the majority of the human population it is simply a process of aging and wear and tear on our spines. Unless there are some out of the usual amounts of ddd in our spines for our ages, and work , it is normally not considered a painful finding....
    I would strongly suggest that you make a list of questions and concerns to discuss for your meeting with the surgeon and see what treatment options he suggests for you. Core strengthening is a good start, since those muscles will help protect your spine from worsening problems.

  • Sandi,

    It doesn't sound as if my MRI findings are too serious. I do know that lumbar traction takes my pain away. I appreciate the information that you have provided and hope that the surgeon has some kind of suggestion. I continue to work with PT, am off work and taking pain medication, along with using ice, etc. I am afraid she, (the neurosurgeon) is going to say that there is nothing wrong! I really need to get back to work and my life. I am letting this get to me and going crazy. It is quite coincidental that this pain started after my abdominal surgery which included sewing mesh onto my sacrum. I am a nurse and researching and trying to figure it out myself is also a means to the craziness! Thankfully my appointment is Monday.
  • Yeah, I think that most of us can understand that researching leads to more confusion and more concerns...craziness is a good description.
    Hopefully, your surgeon will have some good news for you, and then you can get back to the land of the living.....good luck.
  • sandi and others
    i myself have always had a rule and a doctor told me once to never research a disease i had because it will sound worse than it is well i did look it up and it made me sound like i was about to die. so from then on, my rule is never never look up something and research it. any information i can ask the doctor. i see it on this site too often, people quote articles or websites about a back issue not knowing what they are posting. people look up ddd, and other items, but most people when they age get ddd to some degree along with stenosis. so i always stick to my rule, never look or research a disease or something i have. it will always seem worse than it is.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I totally get this.The problem is that I have a knowledge base because I am an RN. I often see patients who have researched and also have been misinformed. The waiting and unknown future, (Not working right now), is difficult but finally I get to see the neuro surgeon Monday. You are correct it does seem worse than it is and we often go to the worse case scenario.
  • I like to do all the research so I know what COULD happen but know everything is in God's hands. I did a lot of research before my surgeries and don't regret it. I know there are still things that can go wrong but truth is, educating yourself isn't going to change the inevitable.
  • I read a lot of different posts from nurses with terrible spine pain. I know it's an incredibly rewarding career but is there anyway you could start to redirect it into a position that will put less stress & strain on your back? I was just wondering if there are any fields of nursing that you would find equally rewarding whist protecting yourself from more pain & damage. Maybe take this time to add another qualification to your resume. That alone would give you something else to think about & possibly take your mind off of the pain.

    I'm just thinking out loud really. I wish you all the best ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Thank you Jenfuse and Englishgirl. I am thinking about changing my mode of nursing. I appreciate both of your comments.
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