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Anyone with bone on bone vertebrae??

jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:39 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease

Hi, I have been told that I am almost bone on bone and likely to have my vertebrae fuse themselves. I am interested as to what that is likely to mean.

I would love to hear of your experiences.

Did your vertebrae fuse themselves?
How long did the disc take to wear away to bone on bone?
If you had surgery, were there any complications caused by the bone on bone / self-fused vertebrae?
How are you now?

Any information would be interesting. Thanks in advance.


  • I'm a bone on bone person too. I have heard that they will fuse as well. However that doesn't seem to effect the fact that a fusion is in my future. Right now I'm not "bad enough" to have it. Meaning I have all these issues (look at my signature), but because a fusion is so risky, my doctor told me the fusion is the last thing to be done. When I get to the point that I am at risk for permanent nerve damage, paralysis, etc, then they will operate. It could be 6 months or 6 years I guess.... The fact that I am always in pain and have no quality of life is not a reason to go in and risk more damage with a fusion. It's a tough concept to grasp when living with it day to day, but I also understand the logic.

    AZ is a conservative state though when it comes to surgery because at one point the malpractice suits were so high, that there is now only 1 malpractice insurer for the entire state.

    As far as how long it took for my disk to disappear, I'm not sure. I had back pain and spasms off and on for 4 years, then I totally blew the disk. I had a 11 milimeter herniation. At that point I was told that essentially my disk was gone.

    I just want you to know, I know that pain you are in. It's terrible. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. I have terrible back pain, like I literally can feel "bone on bone", and I get sciatic pain as well.

    Welcome to the board!!!! You have come to a great place of true understanding and friendship.


  • I am with you. I had a radical endoscopic microdiscectomy and I am now bone on bone. It has not fused yet to my knowledge.

    I wear a back brace at times and I guess that does help to stabilize my spine because I do get some relief when I wear it.
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  • Hi & Welcome to the board,

    I'm a member of the club too. I had no idea of the nature of the spine issues I had til May. I'd had episodes of sciatica, back sprains in past, which I attributed to overdoing it one way or the other. I had my first bout of sciatica at age 25, believe it or not, I threw out my back folding the ironing board to put it away. I believe this was probably when I herniated a disc(s), felt like I'd been knifed when I bent the 'wrong' way. As to when/how it progressed to bone on bone, I can't really say.

    In May, I learned what my problems were due to with flexion/extension x-rays followed by MRI & CT, I was 51 at the time. I made the decision to go w/ surgery since I had major neurological deficits along with pain, numbness, weakness, drop foot. My OSS had anticipated about 2 hours in surgery, ended up about 4+ hours. It took quite a bit of effort to 'pry' apart the fused vertebra and do the repair work needed. I'm 5 months out from surgery and find I'm feeling better & better each day. The sciatica & weakness are pretty much gone, once in a while, I'll get a twinge in my back but nothing major. I do have some lingering numbness in my foot, it is improving and I hope I'll be able to get full function back w/ time.

    Hope this helps
  • I thought I'd read here that someone had needed a much longer operation to seperate fused vertebrae. I guess it was you.
    This does worry me a bit as I've been told that the treatment for my spondylolisthesis is a fusion.
    How was your recovery? Sounds like you are doing really well now.
  • Hi back Jelly,

    I'm not the only one here that had a longer than anticipated surgery. Recently, another spiney (sorry, but I can't remember who) wrote about their experience - 12 hours surgery, multiple units of blood - makes my surgery seem like a walk in the park in comparison. The hardest part of recovery for me were the first 3 days post, I had a lot of trouble w/ horrible back spasming. Fortunately, the right RX 'cocktail' was found and from that point on, it was a slow & steady improvement. A positive attitude is invaluable in recovery. Couple that w/ following the directions of walking as much as possible, resting when needed, no BLT (bending, lifting, twisting), eating well and taking your calcium & B complex supplements (to aid your fusion & nerve healing) and you'll maximize the potential for an easier recovery. One thing I was forced to do was to come to the realization I might not be able to do things the same as before, or I might not be able to do them for some period time, or in certain situations they might be things of the past. I'm very thankful for the progress I've seen so far, but, it can take a year or more to heal from this type of surgery. I just go day by day and have had to learn to be more patient with myself. That was the hardest part for me as I'm really not wired that way - I'm a go go, do do type normally.

    If you have any other questions, please post them, you'll find the group here is more than willing to help another with any concerns they may have.


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  • Thanks for your reply. Do you know what causes spasms in your back and legs? I haven't had surgery, but I still get spasms in both my legs and feet in the early hours of the day, while I am in bed. It seems to happen as I start to move my legs and straighten them after having had them bent while sleeping on my side. Sometimes they progress into cramps, especially in my calf muscles but also the top of my feet. (Hardly got any muscle there, but I get cramp that I don't know how to get rid of it. This morning, my husband was woken by my groaning, and he tried to rub the tops of my feet to get rid of the pains. I do get twitching in my leg muscles during the day as well. I think this is probably all caused by the compression or irritation of nerves, but I wish I knew how to stop them.

    I am trying to keep a positive attitude while avoiding fusion surgery. I walk every day, exercise, and eat well. I've even managed to lose about 25 pounds.

    I am learning a lot on this site.
    Thanks to all for sharing your experiences.

  • Hi Jelly,

    Sorry for the delay in responding, it's a bit hectic w/ Christmas coming up and getting ready for it. I'm sorry that you have a lot of trouble w/ cramping & twitching, I believe it can be attributed to the compression/irritation of nerves. Kudos to you in trying to stay active and the weight loss, all of these help a great deal when you have spinal issues. There's a school of thought that calcium & Vitamin B complex can be helpful with leg twitching and nerve issues. I also find heat and massage helps some, in any case a warm soak is nice regardless. Muscle relaxants can sometimes help too. I'd suggest you ask your doctor if he/she feels the above can be of help with what you are experiencing.

    Please keep us posted.

  • I don't take a supplement for calcium or Vitamin B complex, but now eat very healthily. I will ask my doctor about it. Thanks for the advice.

    I have heard that magnesium is supposed to help reduce cramps and have used Epsom salts in baths sometimes, which has possibly helped.
    I agree that heat is helpful, and think that if my legs are not nice a warm, I am much more likely to have problems.

    Sometimes, I feel that my life has been taken over my the problems with my back, and just wish that I could have a break from it all, and get back to a normal life!

  • Hi again,

    Again sorry for the late reply, Christmas this year super busy for the family. Spinal problems unfortunately do seem to take over, between feeling incapacitated and not being able to do things, many times the 'guilts' take over as well. Women after all seem to want to take care of everything & everyone and get frustrated and angry with themselves when they can't. Try not to be so hard on yourself, remember we're here whenever you need to vent or need some support.

    Take care,

  • It is so helpful to feel that we can vent our frustration and how fed up we feel, with people who know from experience what we are struggling with.

    Christmas was busy here too. I was pleasantly surprised how well I coped with all the entertaining. I got plenty of help from my husband and youngest son. I've had a couple of restful days, ready for another family gathering on New Year's Eve.
    Out for dinner tomorrow evening, which will be lovely. An hour's journey each way in the car though. I'll take my trusty cushion, which really helps.

    I saw my GP today and she is referring me to another surgeon for a second opinion. In the UK that could take 18 weeks, so I needn't worry yet.
    I don't know what I hope he will say. I just don't know what to do. I am so scared of surgery, but don't know how I can live the rest of my life without it. I feel trapped by my back and wish I could escape!

    Hope you have some good days, free from pain. Happy New Year.
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