Chris, I am so very sorry that you have a failed fusion. It is certainly extremely painful and I pray you find some relief soon.[br> You may have been given some misinformation. Spondylolysthesis is not degenerative disc disease, it is a condition in which a bone (vertebra) in the spine slips out of the proper position onto the bone below it.
Degenerative disc disease is a natural part of aging and over time all people will exhibit changes in their discs consistent with a greater or lesser degree of degeneration. However, not all people will develop symptoms. In fact, degenerative disc disease is quite variable in its nature and severity.
Unknown to me or my parents I was born with a mild scoliosis that went left undiagnosed. After enduring years of physical abuse, at the age of 34 my spine started to collapse (Spondylolysthesis). It took 10 months from my sponylolysthesis to go from grade 3 to grade 5. At which time 95 percent of my left leg muscle usage was gone. The pain was unbearable and I could not walk. I was very, very blessed to have found a neurosurgeon who would even attempt the surgery. My doctor only gave me a 5% chance of ever walking again, but I felt the 5% chance was better than never being able to walk again. The Spinal Fusion worked.
My doctor removed half of my coccyx (tail bone), to relieve the pressure to the sciatic nerve, removed a piece of bone from my left hip and with that bone fused the two slipped vertebra to the one above. It took about a year for me to get back to walking in marathons and doing the things I enjoyed doing (a soft side water (waveless) bed helped with the recovery pain).
A few years later I started having sciatic nerve pain again and was forced to go on SSDI. I had to have surgery to relieve Spinal Stenosis and was told that I had a failed fusion.
After going to several doctors, all but one agree that there is nothing more that can be done with "my" spinal fusion. I am facing another Spinal Stenosis surgery in about two weeks, which will relieve some of the leg pain but not much of the back pain.
I beg of you, never, let a "spine doctor" or an orthopedic doctor touch your back. Go to a Neurosurgeon, they are the doctors that are specialized in dealing with spinal problems. I had a "spine doctor" tell me last year that I needed metal braces inserted up and down my spine....I refused. My new Neurosurgeon said that That procedure would have done nothing for me except cause me more pain. So Please, go to a Neurosurgeon for a proper diagnosis and possible treatment.
I cannot tell you how important it is to try to get doctors to use your own bone for fusions. Your body is not as likely to reject your own body tissue in these type of procedures as it would a foreign object (screws, etc).
We do not know why my fusion failed, only that it did. Steroids over long term use can cause bone loss, and my theory is that after years of steroid injections to relieve spinal pain, that fusion just started breaking up. Now, I refuse all steroid injections/medications and I do not take any pain medications unless I have surgery. There are ways to relieve your pain, but you and your doctor have to decide what is best/comfortable for you. I just did not like the side effects of pain medications and of course the horrible side effect of the steroid injections.
I pray with all my heart that you will find an understanding and caring doctor who is willing to give you the correct answers. If you do not trust a doctor on your first meeting, find another one, and it that one doesn't suit you, go to another until you find one you can trust to do what is right for you. You must be proactive in your own health.
I wish you the very best and will keep you in my prayers.View Thread