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Return to sports post successful fusion?

horowmehhorowme Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:55 AM in Exercise and Rehab
I have consulted with three local surgeons regarding traditional fusion (apparently not a candidate for "dynamic stabilzation) at L4L5 to treat severe central and foraminal stenosis with an unstable spondylolithesis. Retired physical education teacher and former certified strength and conditioning coach still quite active prior to progressive worsening of back. The general concensus among the three surgeons is that the extent of my athletic future will include lifting the remote control, and rigorous games of checkers :). I understand the immediate restrictions as you await solid fusion (6 months to a year) but why would they be so pessimistic over the long term, assuming a successful fusion? Under promise over deliver? Anyone return to a reasonable level of activity one year post fusion? I am 55 years old. Want the truth, but would like to hear some encouraging stories.


  • Hi and Welcome to Spine Health. I am 62 years old, an athlete (running, cycling, swimming, triathlon; qualified for Ironman Triathlon World Championships and placed 2nd in age group at age 50). Anyhow I was knocked unconscious by a snowboarder and that started the deterioration of my spine (I teach skiing).

    I have had 3 fusions in 4 years, am now fused L1-S1. I worked hard to return to activity. It starts with walking which I hate, but when its all you can do its not so bad.

    As soon as my incisions healed I was able to return to the pool. No flip turns at first. Its wonderful to be weightless.

    I also was able to ride my bike, starting with my commute bike, which is more upright. I made it to my road bike and after 3 years of working on my flexibility was able to get on my time trial bike. I had been given the ok to run and was actually able to complete a sprint triathlon.

    I do core strengthening exercises, and have for many years and I think that helped my recoveries as well as being in good shape.

    My last surgery was the end of march, L5/S1 fused. The disc was so bad when they got in it had to be replaced with a spacer and the vertebrae had to be stretched so my recovery is a little longer. I have ridden a little and am back in the pool.

    I think with guidance from your doctor and physical therapist and taking things slowly you can return to activity. Its never going to be the same but its better than playing checkers!!

    Good luck and keep me posted on how it goes for you.

    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.
  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. As far as wether you can return to sports or not, is something that really can't be answered. It will first depend on the surgery itself and how well you do. Then of course you will begin physical therapy, and progress from there. The one key thing I think is depending on wether you have nerve damage or not. The nerve damage is what keeps most members from moving forward. But going into surgery keep a positive attitude and who knows, you might get back all of those things within a year or two. It is definitely not something you will be doing in the first 6 months, it is going to depend on your fusion.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Good luck with surgery.
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  • Appreciate the practical comments and now understand that the outcome of the fusion, and the degree of residual nerve damage will be determining factors in the degree of activity that I will be able to resume.
  • I am a girl, not a gentleman!!

    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.
  • Jani--You are an inspiration!--Mazy
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