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Thread: Anyone had Spondylolisthesis (L5 shift forward)?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Anyone had Spondylolisthesis (L5 shift forward)?

    I'm 44 year old mom who had Harrington rod fusion 30 years ago(T6-L4). I've been cruising through life perfectly healthy (except occasional back spasm), until this summer. My lower back began to seize-up (including neck and back of legs) and I started to have lower back pain. I thought I was working-out too much. Recent x-ray shows that L5 (below rod) has shifted forward quite a bit, Spondylolisthesis. I have orthopedic appointment next tuesday. I'm trying to prepare myself. Anybody else with this condition? What did they do? I'm really scared they are going to need to redo surgery.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Geneseo, NY


    Yes, I believe I have this condition. My ability to walk and stand has declined significantly in the past couple of years. My history is much like yours. I am not in severe pain, can still walk maybe 1/2 mile at a time, standing still is more difficult than walking. Probably I can stand for 15 min. before I HAVE to sit down. I also have a condition called meralgia paresthetica, involving the femoral nerve, but probably due to stenosis. My knee feels very tight, then my back muscles tighten, and even my foot gets tight. My foot was the last part to get in on this synchrony. My diagnoses are not entirely clear, but this seem to be the best guess after seeing various specialists. No one feels my symptoms warrant further surgical risk. I already have osteopena (thin bones, not yet osteoporsis) developed symptoms diagnosed as severe osteoarthritis 14 years ago (when I was forty), just below my fusion. I continue to remain active with swimming twice weekly, bicycling as weather permits, and plan to do more show shoeing this winter. I have a routine of stretching and strengthening exercises I do at least twice weekly.
    Last edited by JulieBW; 11-20-2008 at 09:54 AM.
    1966 fusion in Buffalo of 11 thoracic vertebrae, with Harrington rod

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008


    Thank you everyone who sent such helpful messages. I saw Dr. Herschell Becker last week and he wants to try 6 weeks of therapy and stretching exercises. He also encouraged me to go back to my cardio (although no more step or kick boxing... Darn!) He seems fairly knowledgeable, he studied with Dr. Horton at Emory.

    He says eventually I will need the second surgery to fuse all the way down. At which point I'll probably go to Dr. Horton for a second opinion. Dr. Horton has a 4 month wait list though.

    I noticed since I stopped weight lifting that my upper back has become weaker and I'm starting to get pains in my neck and above the rod. All of my current therapy exercises are about core strength. Does anybody know how to strengthen upper back and shoulders without stressing or arching the lower back?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Ottawa, Canada
    I had the same problem with the area above the rod when I had to stop a lot of my exercise due to a herniated disc below the rod. My physiotherapist now has me doing the same exercises I used to do with heavier weights, but now I'm using much lighter weights and doing more repetitions. I now use 3 pound weights and do the bicep curls, lift my arms out to the sides (not sure which muscle this uses) and do these lift up type things. I wouldn't start doing anything like this though until you've consulted a physiotherapist, but this was what mine gave me. I also found using an eliptical trainer has helped some. Also, I bought one of those special cervical pillows at a home health care store and I think it may also have helped with the neck pain. Hope you find something that helps!
    - 39 years old
    - At age 14, curve progressed from 45 degrees to 62 degrees in two months.
    - Surgery in 1990 at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) with Dr. Letts. Fused T5 to L2. Corrected to about 30 degrees.
    - Harrington rod
    - Herniated disc - L5/S1 - January 2008. Summer 2009 - close to making a full recovery.
    - New mommy as of February 2011
    - Second child - September 2013
    - Staying relatively painfree through physio exercises!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Euharlee, Georgia
    Dydiam -
    If you are in the Atlanta area, you might want to try Dr. James at Resurgens in Cumming. He specializes in adult scoliosis patients. I drive 2 hours to go to him. He is very good and does not hesitate to refer you on to another doctor if he cannot help you. I went to him when I developed disc problems. He said he could operate, but the discs would dissolve on their own and sent me to Dr. Danyo for pain management and treatments.
    T12- L5 fusion 1975 - Rochester, NY
    2002 removal of bottom of rod and extra fusion
    3/1/11 C5-C6 disc replacement
    Daughter - T7 - L3 fusion 2004

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Houston, TX
    Quote Originally Posted by dydiam View Post
    ... anybody know how to strengthen upper back and shoulders without stressing or arching the lower back?
    A balance ball in the plank position for push-ups works great.

    Plank position, elbows on the ball, writing the alphabet too!
    Fusion is NOT the end of the world.
    AIDS Walk Houston 2008 5K @ 33 days post op!

    41, dx'd JIS & Boston braced @ 10
    Pre-op 53, Post-op < 20
    Fused 2/5/08, T4-L1 ... Darrell S. Hanson, Houston


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