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Mild Spondylolisthesis, Significant Pain

SatchelSSatchel Posts: 37
edited 12/09/2015 - 8:43 AM in Lower Back Pain
Can anyone relate? Or explain why it happens to certain people?

My L5 spondylolisthesis is 'only' Grade I. But I am in plenty of pain, both local and radicular, even with daily stretching, weekly yoga, 'sufficient' sleep, fine diet, my BMI is 'normal' range, I limit my activities appropriately, take sitting breaks, the whole charade...... and even now I am using up some leftover physical therapy sessions - but still I could not imagine going about my days (40 hr/week desk job) without strong pain pills and gabapentin. And my pain has only ever increased over time. and then related issues like my left hip flexors are being destroyed and wasting away, other muscle dysfunction, uneven hips and legs make it all tougher to work with... oh and I'm always tired. That sure doesn't help

My PM doc understands thank god but every other doc I see is like 'your MRI has problems but it's really not that bad, your pain is more extreme than any of the images, you're too young (25), wean off your meds, imagine 10 years from now bla bla bla'.

Not that it's bad advice, and I don't want to make this a discussion about medication, but can anyone relate to my experiences? My PM even told me that he had a Grade I patient years ago who lost bladder& bowel control! and needed emergency fusion.
Grade I Spondylolisthesis L5-S1, bilateral pars issues
Mild Scoliois double curve
Arthritic activity in SI area and L5 through L3
Chronic headache
Nerve pain


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    What you describe is in fact a common and very difficult , frustrating and trying situation.

    So often, I read about members who are in a good amount of pain, yet all their diagnostic tests come back and indicate there is a problem, but
    is really a mild one. In fact, many come back saying there is nothing wrong.

    What always bothers me is that I hear You are too young, Spinal problems have never and will never discriminate in terms of age.
    You could 10 or you could be 100 and if you have a spinal problem, you have it.

    Now, to be honest, there are situations in which the patient really has a low level of pain thresh hold. The doctors can easily see that when they get to know a patient. For those patients, everything is Pain level 10 and they need weeks of bed rest. In those scenarios the doctors are not likely to prescribe pain medications. Every doctor needs to be able to justify and rationalize why they are given any patient narcotics.

    But, ok, doctor says its mild, patient is hurting.... what can be done?

    I've always taken a position that narcotics and pain medications are not the answer to managing your pain. Instead its a total package.
    Several years ago, I put together a thread The Blend . There I talk about the total package. Keep in mind what I wrote can help almost anyone, but its the concept that is most important.
    Taking bits and pieces out of my ideas and people can tailor something that works for them.

    Keep a positive approach and outlook on your medication condition and do the things within your control to make things more comfortable.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Jill55JJill55 Posts: 101
    edited 12/09/2015 - 8:21 PM
    I had the same as you for over 40 years. I didn't get as far as an MRI until 2 years ago. When a slip was shown. By the time I had my fusion I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. I also had foot drop which I still have from time to time. When my neurosurgeon operated he found that my spine hadn't formed properly in the first place. Therefore my spine had to be broken a disc removed and then my fusion. I understand that you cannot see everything until they go in to operate. I am now left with balance problems that are quite severe. My legs are also very weak I do not know what sort of outcome I can expect. As it is early days. I also suffer from fatigue which I had before my operation.
    There are loads of people who write on these pages who have had a fusion at a much earlier age than you. I certainly wish I had found out what was wrong with me sooner instead of being in pain for decades. Time to seek further opinions I think.
  • Could some of the activities you describe such as stretching and yoga be aggravating you? Some stretches such as bending forward to stretch your hamstrings can do more harm than good, also some poses within yoga are positions that actually can cause back problems!!
    I had a PT in the past say that flexibility is the last thing that anyone should be concerned about and is typically not even in a treatment plan.
    Just a thought, sometimes we think we are doing good and we are actually doing more harm. Kind of like picking at a scab and never allowing it to heal.
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