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Proposed fusion

Hello I'm new to the forum. I am 54 year old female in very good health other than my back and the fact that I am 1yr 5months out from stage 3 breast cancer. Doing great. I have been a lifelong runner but relatively short distances. 2-5 miles since I was in my twenties. I had lamenectomy at l3 andl4 in 2002 with very good results until last year I twisted and hurt my back. MRI show no disc between 3 and 4. And degeneration. Doctor recommends fusion. Here is my question. I have almost constant pain down right thigh as well as numbness from knee to ankle along shin area and pain from time to time in my back. Even though it's bad I live a somewhat normal life that's very active. Days include walk or short runs and I have two young horses I'm able to ride. My fear is that I might relieve my pain but lose my activity. Anyone been through a similar experience and if so what were your results and your advice? I also bend well and am able to lift most things if careful how I do it.


  • LizLiz Posts: 8,835
    edited 04/29/2014 - 7:19 AM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Those questions are ones that I would strongly encourage you to discuss with your surgeon. Until the fusion is completely healed and solid I can't imagine that riding would be an option, and even then , the risk of a fall and further injury might be contraindicated for a fusion surgery...
    I would make a list of questions for discussion with your surgeon and see what his answers are for you , regarding activities, running, horseback riding, and the actual length of the recovery process for fusion , which in most people is about a year.......although the acute phase of recovery is 3 months, that is just one small part of the whole fusion recovery process....
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  • Fusion can be rough. Very rough. It really is a last resort kinda deal. As in you can't do much of anything, your life is falling apart and you reach a point of saying to yourself " it can't get much worst than this". A that point a fusion would be considered a good option, as it was in my case. I will tell you what my doctor has told me and I've been says ever since...... The outcome is broken down into 33%'s. 33% see good relief. 33% see no relief. 33% get worst. So weigh your options VERY carefully and pick your doctors wisely. Depending on your insurance capabilities of course.
  • My surgeon told me my one level fusion (TLIF) has good results 90-95%. He said I will not have a back of a 20 yr old after recovery, so don't get that illusion. He said I might have residual tingling in my leg or foot, but my overall sciatic pain should subside. I was also told by my Pilates instructor that your recovery is also affected by what shape you are in before surgery. Considering my ability to do any type of real exercising has declined considerably for the last 18 months due to back pain made that statement worrisome. My surgeon also said that his older patients that have had this surgery do a little better in recovery time because they are not running around and trying to have a busy life while recuperating. Younger patients either have a job to get to, kids to take care of, etc. if you have the surgery, let yourself relax and heal before trying to go back to an active life right away.
    Julie K
    L4/L5 fusion TLIF for spondylolisthesis on 5/12/14
  • There are a handful of people on this forum who are active horse riders after spinal surgery. Would I ride a horse myself after my fusion? The answer for me is no. I have invested too much time, money and tears to put myself at risk of a fall or further injuries. But that's just me. Talk to your surgeon about your desire to stay active and ride. He/she will most definitely tell you his/her professional opinion on what post-surgery activities are reasonable and which ones are on the 'never' list.

    My 'never' list includes horseback riding, skiing, running, bowling and golf. Giving up horseback riding and the skiing has been tough, but I know they are simply a risk I personally don't want to take.
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
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  • Hi, I agree with some of the others discuss in detail with your Dr. It should be a last resort. I am 46 and still recoverey from my fusion that I had 6/28/13. It is a rough recovery and my personal experience has been really tough. If I could of waited I would
    have. Everyones situation is different but it sounds like you do quiet a bit of things, it will take some time before and thats if
    your able to do them again, everyone heals differently, really think it, and discuss everything with your Dr. and decide if it is
    the best for you right now. Good Luck
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