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L4-S1 PLIF fusion

BigbaoziBBigbaozi Posts: 4
edited 10/11/2014 - 7:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey everyone!

I'm new here and doing research over the past bit has brought me here.

I bit of history on me:

I'm a 30 year old male (month shy of 31) and have had lower back and leg pain for a few years now.

The pain started as a pinch while doing a very heavy lift for strongman training and has been up and down ever since. Following the injury, I had an x-ray done and wasn't contacted before heading back to Beijing (I lived there for a few years), so I assumed it was just muscle pain that could be fixed.

Eventually the pain got so bad while walking and being upright, that walking became almost unbearable. I then made the decision to try out Chinese medicine before coming back home to Canada for treatment. I had an MRI done in China and I'm no expert, but something definitely didn't look right...

I had acupuncture and cupping done and was given hamstring stretches (holy crap were those painful) and a legs-together type squat. After about 2 weeks of almost daily acupuncture, I had absolutely no pain at all! Was great! Due to no pain, I sort of made myself believe that the problem was fixed and continued with kickboxing (like really hard training at points, 6 hours a day in Thailand). At about the year and a half mark, the pain started coming back and this was very disheartening.

After this, I decided to come back home and start getting second, third and fourth opinions. All 3 surgeons here recommended that I undergo a fusion, as I was diagnosed with a pars fracture and grade 1 spondylolisthesis. I tried physio, which actually helped to a point (keep in mind I was mostly laying down during the day, so that could also be why.

I eventually got a job while waiting to see the surgeon again (sitting job, which absolutely killed my back). I finally saw the surgeon again and am confident with him, but I'm still not so sure about the surgery. He said it could eventually slide further and cause more damage.

I had him compare an MRI from before I was doing all that kickboxing and after, and he did say that there was a slight progression, but not severe.

The pain is very annoying but not constant... If I lay down or sit, I have no pain... and after I sleep and wake up, I can usually go for a jog or a walk without any symptoms at all. Later on in the day it will start up and progress as I stand longer.

I have the surgery scheduled for the 21st of October (so it's fairly quick), and I'm really second guessing it, which seems natural.

I guess I'm just checking if anyone on here had success in pain relief without surgery? I am pretty certain I could just get acupuncture done again and be pain free for a year or so...which seems like a pretty good deal, if I can continue being really active like I was when I was pain free.

The thing that worries me most is being more hindered than I am now post-surgery and not even being able to be very active again. I actually don't get too much pain while doing kickboxing, it just gets crazy after, until I lay down again (which doesn't seem like much of a life to me).

Sorry for my long-winded and generally crappy organization, actually about to head out and am pressed for time (also have ADHD and I could easily stretch this post into a book lol).

Thanks all!


  • Second guessing surgery is a good thing, it means that you are thinking about the seriousnness of spine surgery......as we all should.
    Fusion surgery is no picnic, and one thing that you need to know ahead of time is that spine surgery is not done for pain relief. It is done to correct an anatomical or neurological issue. Do some people wind up being pain free, yes, they do.......do others have on going pain post op (meaning months and years later- yes, they do).
    With a pars fracture and spondylolysthesis, you have two issues going on, most probably related to one another......the pars fracture allowed the vertebra to slip a bit.....so fusing those areas would make logical sense and stabilize the vertebra from slipping any further. As to whether or not you would be pain free post op? There is no way for anyone here to know that.



  • Thanks for the reply! I think my biggest issue is seeing people writing how they can't run post op or do some of the more "hard" activities or sports. I can do some of that now pain free, it's just sort of random and sometimes the pain really is a bit much, to the point that it is affecting my life... I've gained tons of weight as I'm no longer doing kickboxing or running...Just walking sometimes. It's really confusing because for instance, right now I have no pain at all... I helped my mom move some tires and was outside walking a bit, 0 pain... and yet, I could have a lot of pain at any moment... It's not sharp pain though, it's like a weird pulsing toothache sort of pain that goes down to the middle of my calf, very annoying!

    My main concern is, hey if I can control the pain with acupuncture (which has worked), maybe I don't need surgery? But the main reason I decided on having the procedure done is that even though I was pain free during that time, it did slip a bit further and in about a year and a half...so makes me wonder what would happen if I waited 5 years or longer?

    It's very confusing because some days I feel fine (mind you I do lay down a lot, which sucks), and some days I feel like a bag of crap...It's making me depressed and affecting my life quite a bit, as I'm used to being very very active, and now I basically lay down in bed a lot and play clash of clans... lol. It seems that sitting for a long time will cause me a lot of pain later on as certain muscles become tight from sitting down, so something definitely needs to be done for pain, whether it's surgery or acupuncture.

    I've had an epidural injection which did pretty much nothing for me.

    I actually have confidence with the doctor and he's supposed to be very good! Just a bit confused now is all.

    Sorry for another post filled with random ideas :)
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  • Spondylolysthesis can worsen or it can stabilize.......and there really is no way of determining which will be which.
    As far as the posts stating that they can no longer run or do more physically demanding sports, in some cases that is true. It depends in large part the type of surgery that you have, the condition for which you had it, and how you recover post op......along with the risks associated with the particular sport.
    A herniated disc and a discectomy surgery and running post op on hard surfaces probably isn't the best idea.......but it may be that once you are fused, that kick boxing isn't a significant risk so it is something to discuss with your surgeon. He knows what the condition of your spine is, and what limitations he might have post op for you......
  • Ya, I just talked to my sister a lot about it and she had a chance to ask her friend (doctor) about it and she basically said that if it's slipping, it's probably best to have it stabilized and then work on core strengthening exercises and flexibility after... I think I'm going to go through with it and I'll keep you posted on how it goes! Just tired of having the pain and being so lethargic in order to avoid it...

    Thanks for the input :)
  • PiccolinaPPiccolina Posts: 6
    edited 10/19/2014 - 5:14 AM
    Will be following your posts as I too am told I need a two level fusion. I am a group fitness instructor and herniated the last time (this past June) after I think fatiguing my legs and core from a 60 mile, very hilly bike ride. Just sitting at my desk the next day, I turned to face the computer and ow! So after a couple cortisone shots, PT, traction, yoga, etc., I am at a plateau. I have pain at the end of each day but am pain free if I sit and relax. But I want to be active! I want to be pain free without ibuprofen or vicodin! Nothing on these forums has made me believe my situation will get better from surgery so I am in a holding pattern. Depressed, getting fat, pushing myself to stay strong through gentle exercise but I am resentful that I can't run 5 Ks or take boot camp like all my friends and colleagues can. I would, however, be willing to accept that I can only do non or low impact cardio and light weights if it meant being pain free. I can barely walk more than the grocery store without having to sit. Is there anyone who was very active before and after a two level fusion and who achieved complete relief from pain after the surgery or am I expecting too much?
    L4-5 and L5-S1 laminectomy 2001
    now bulge @ L3-4, spondylolisthesis grade 1 @ L4-L5, new herniation @ L5-S1
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  • I was actually scheduled for surgery tomorrow at noon, and cancelled it at around 23 hours before the surgery... I actually felt pretty bad about it (relieved for myself), as I'm in Canada and the waiting lists can be long, but in the end, you have to confident and positive about the surgery and to be honest, I'm not ready for it.

    I'm going to continue physio (which was helping before I had a sitting job that murdered my back when I'd stand up) and get back into shape (I'm like 260 lbs and usually walk around at a lean 215-220ish).

    I had acupuncture done in China, pretty much daily for 2 weeks...had no pain for a year and a half...no pain at all, didn't matter what I did...pain came back in the end, but it was nice being very active and light on my feet.

    I'm going to try to get into shape and be more positive, so that if I do get surgery, I'm ready!

    Piccolina...I really feel what you're going through...it's absolutely awful going from being a very active athlete, to a sedentary couch potato...Try acupuncture if you haven't! Worked significantly better than a cortisone shot (had the one and it really did nothing while I was working...also caused pain at the injection site for a good month)...

    Keep me posted!
  • LindaMacLLindaMac Posts: 49
    edited 10/22/2014 - 11:55 AM
    I also had grade 1 spondylolisthesis for quite a few years before undergoing fusion surgery at L4L5 in August of this year. My nerve pain disappeared immediately after surgery (except for foot pain which I was warned was permanent). I've lost about twelve pounds so far and can walk 4 km with no trouble. I am very glad I had the surgery. I hope your acupuncture helps.
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