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Multi lumbar fusion

edited 06/11/2012 - 7:54 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I will make it quick ; I was told by one Dr. not too long ago, I was a candidate for ADR (multi-level lumbar / hence some HOPE for some return to life / work.
I recently saw a "big time guy" at Cedars-Sainai LA,CA. After he did some x-rays he did not hesitate to tell me there was too much curve in my spine for ADR. He stated "I have to straighten you out". I am told I need a three level L3-S1 lumbar fusion. Anterior and posterior approaches. Needless to say it was a bad day as I had hoped beyond hope to be an ADR candidate.
From what I have read most people are worse off after a multi level lumbar fusion. Or remain the same , kind of like exchanging 4 quarters for a dollar (if your lucky). I was very active prior to injury and have too admit I am experiencing depression in regards to the above. Anybody out there with experience with this? What activity level can you expect to return to? How do you prepare for something like this? Home / driving etc.
Thanks!! ,I would appreciate any input.


  • Hi Brody,

    Welcome. This is a wonderful place to get information.

    I am fused from L1 to S1. It happened in 3 fusions. First a laminectomy L4/L5, then a 360 fusion with instrumentation L4/L5. Vertebrae were slipping forward causing weakness and pain in right leg and right big toe. Seven months later my spine started collapsing in on itself and my bodies response was a bone spur that was pressing on the nerve. Fused L1-L5, this time posterior only. Three years later L5 started slipping forward and I had L5/S1 fused. Anterior approach this time. They should have put in zippers.

    My spine is very deteriorated from a hit and run accident. I was knocked unconscious by a snowboarder. When I came to I could not feel my legs, I thought I was paralyzed. It was a hard hit, got a concussion, bruised kidney and torn cartileges in both knees. But the worst was putting my SI joint in another time zone. So my spine has been deteriorating for over 10 years and the fusions are the end result.

    I have been pleased with the results as they have fixed the problems that I had. I do not know if the fusion above L5 caused it to move forward. I have heard there is more of a chance of that to happen once you start getting fused. For me it was worth it as I couldn't have functioned without my spine being stabilized.

    I was a competitive athlete before and it is hard coming back from 3 fusions in 4 years but I am very determined. The first thing you do is start walking. Then I was able to swim and I swim with a masters team. My most recent fusion was the end of march and they had to separate the vertebrae to put in a spacer since the disc was so degenerated. This is causing my recovery to be prolonged and more painful. With my past fusions I was able to ride my bike after a month or 2. I started out with my commute bike (more upright) and was actually able to ride my road bike and after 3 years of hard work stretching my glutes I was able to get back on my time trial bike. I was able to return to running after the 2nd fusion but don't know if I will be able to after this last fusion. I work hard at core strengthening too.

    Because I was in good shape I think i had easier recoveries but the recovery is long and you have to be patient and follow the doctors instructions. No lifting, no housework, etc etc. I have a long handled shoe horn, a grabber, a broom with a long handled dust pan and a safety bar on the bath tub.
    I stretch a lot as I only have my hips now for bending. I don't bend, I squat down or get down on all fours. You find ways to adapt.

    Hope this has been helpful. Let me know if you have more questions. You can also send me a private message.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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