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How Long before Fusion Surgery effects other levels? - opinions....

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

Here is the golden question...How long after having a fusion, does one tend to have the next level deteriorate??
(if at all)? :?

I know the surgeons tend to give us 10 years.
I haven't actually read anything to support that???

So i wondered what your experinces were?

Thanks in advance! :D


  • I wish I would know! Meanwhile, we just have to do everything we can to protect that new back of ours. Five and a 1/2 months post fusion surgery, I just began doing PT. I am learning how to move properly in order not to stress my spine. Interestingly the PT had shown me how to bend while preserving the same spine position and pick up something from the floor, but she said I should avoid any twisting of the body. Apparently, that is a no-no. So I will follow her orders, and also will work in strengthening the muscles around my spine, hopefully that way I can avoid future surgeries.

    What I mean to say is, that other than doing our best to protect our spine, there are no guaranties.

  • My neurosurgeon and physical therapist both believe that it is crucial to build up the core muscles and like Kin said, avoid twisting. My NS said that it is sometimes possible to avoid a second level IF the muscles are strengthened and a person continues the PT exercises at home. He has told me that I have to make a lifelong committment to preserving my back. So, at almost 11 weeks out I spend two hours (one in the morning and one in the evening) doing those exercises. And, my PT told me to do 20 abdominal isometrics and 20 buttock squeezes every waking hour! Then my family doctor told me that losing weight would help, too.

    At any rate, I never want to have to go through this again. If I were 10 years older, I don't think I could!

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  • question to my O/S who said to assume that I would never need further surgery and to remain as fit as possible. He said that was the best attitude.

    As ann said make it a lifelong task to keep your back happy and hopefully we will never need it.

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • This is a subject I try to avoid. I had my fusion last month and I'm only 22. So... I'm hoping for the best, but being realistic and understanding there is a good chance my surrounding levels will deteriorate faster now. I have a herniation at T11-T12, and that's not causing issues right now, but like I said... I'm only 22. I also heard something about 10 years, how much discs they say deteriorate based on normal wear and tear... Forgot what they said about regarding a fusion. But based on normal wear and tear...... That's how my first disc becamse degenerated. Only 22 years worth of wear and tear. Haha. It's cool, I'm focusing on now, I just try not to think about the future regarding my spine.
  • My OS told me that in my case specifically, I should expect more to come, sorry to say. The level above my fusion is allready damaged (DDD,DJD), but not enough to warrent fusion. I should have fought the issue, but he said it was better to recover from 1 level than 2. My surgery couldnt wait for the 2nd level to go because the shifting of the 1st caused bowel and bladder issues.

    My doctors "Plan", is to get me thru this recovery, fight to get me a breast reduction (has been denied in the past by insurance even though I have recommendations from my PM, NS, OS, Chiro and PCP), lose weight, then I may be a candidate for ADR at 2 other levels. Thats thinking positve, but more than likely it will end up as a fusion again at least at 1 of the levels.

    I try not to think about it, worrying wont help me recover now,lol. Everyone is different, so you can only do the best to protect your back, by using proper body mechanics and keeping those core muscles strong.

    Take Care,

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  • I had a curious thought...
    surely if you have an ADR with hardwear, that is not a fusion is it?

  • that about 15% of people who have back fusion will end up with problems at other levels. He didn't provide any timeline.
  • Maybe that's just based on his patients? Sounds really off. Considering that a lot of disc/spinal problems are genetic and can be hereditary, more likely than not, if someone has one problem disc at any point, they will have another. So that would be more like 60/40 or so. OR maybe some people who have been through one fusion deal with the pain of other damaged levels and opt not to have any more. I would go through it again, but I wouldn't want a PLIF or another ALIF (The internal stomach, digestive, etc stuff was the WORST. Kept me in the hospital longer than necessary) I HATED that part. The rest of the pain, meh, I'd do it again. Lol.
  • You are very young to be having these problems. I noticed you on the Oct/Nov thread but just noticed you while looking on this one.

    Our autistic son is now 22. When Aaron was 5 years old I didn't know what his future held but knew it would be a long haul. It wasn't easy even with my husband and I along with my parents, mostly my mom, all working together. When we moved to our present location when he was 5 and we actually got the label instead of 'autistic-like', we hooked together with other families and became advocates. A mother of one of Aaron's schoolmates became longtime friends, helping/advocating for each other. That particular time was very difficult ~X( , but it did get better. I hope and pray that you join a good support group. If you do not like that one, don't give up until you find one you feel comfortable about. I don't know how you do this as a single mother. Hopefully you have help.

    Like I said though, you are very young. Take care of yourself and work on those core muscles and keep it up. You are doing great. Keeping up with a 5 year old is work, and one who is autistic is WORK!

    Aaron is high functioning because we pushed him to learn to do things and he is so proud of each accomplishment. That said, Aaron makes the coffee. He brings me my coffee and the paper with a big smile on his face. Then he makes my father (lives with us - has alzheimers) his breakfast then brings me my cereal. One of these days he will be able to go to a residential place for high functioning adults about 20 minutes from here, but he loves helping out and living here with his own freedom. My husband works strange shifts but Aaron is there for us as much as the other way around.

    Good luck on your recovery and rehab.
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