About Spondylolisthesis Stories ...

Welcome! Spondylolisthesis Stories is a compilation of personal stories involving individual's diagnoses, experiences, surgeries, and life with Spondylolisthesis.

My hope is that this site may offer a voice and platform for those with the spine condition to share their personal stories with the medical community, fellow Spondyo patients, and the world as a whole. Spondylolisthesis Stories also provides a wide array of information, personal knowledge, support and ideas for those with Spondylolisthesis. Whether you were recently diagnosed, learning to live with the condition, making difficult decisions regarding surgical interventions, in the early phase of recovery following an operation, or further into your journey, this site covers it all!

In addition to general stories about this spine condition, personal stories which focus on the subject of Spondylolisthesis & Pregnancy may also be found. These shared experiences detail the matter of labor and delivery, and include women with both unfused slips and those whom have had surgery prior to pregnancy. It has been my experience that this topic is one which is shrouded in some mystery. By sharing these stories I hope we may be able to shed some light on the subject; offering guidance and ideas to those females with Spondyo who would like to become pregnant but fear the unknowns which this condition can create.

I am always seeking new stories and would love to hear yours! Let your story and voice be heard! Please contact me (Brenna), at spondyostories@gmail.com, in order to share your story here. If you are seeking additional help and support from others with Spondyo, please ask to join the "Spondylolisthesis and Retrolisthesis Support Group" on Facebook. *This group is closed, and therefore, offers a higher level of privacy and comfort for all members to share openly and without fear of judgement. It is open to anyone with Spondylolisthesis (or a family members of those with Spondylolisthesis) to join.

Below the Spondylolisthesis stories you will find several survey questions. If you have Spondylolisthesis, please take a moment to review these questions and select your answer(s). You are also encouraged to join in and participate by interacting in the "Community Answers" board, located at the bottom of the page. Feel free to post questions and comments, share stories, answer the questions already presented, and ask your own questions! I greatly appreciate your participation and look forward to reading your answers and comments!

Spondylolisthesis Stories ...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spondylolisthesis Story #6: Louise (Grade 1)

Louise - Spondylolisthesis Story (Grade 1)

I have a Grade 1 Spondylolisthesis at the L5/S1, with Bilateral Pars Fractures. I have been told recently that I should have surgery for this, which obviously I don't want, as it seems terrifying. They want to pin/screw the fractures in place. Then, depending on some x-rays, they will see how the discs are; if they are bad they want to do a fusion with bone graft. 

I will be seeking a second, and maybe even a third doctor's opinion, as I don't want to rush into any surgery. It is a scary prospect and all the people who have had it must be really brave. My pain isn't constant, and when I don't have it or it is bearable, I often think it's not that bad, or kid myself that it's not something that needs surgery. But then I have times when it hurts incredibly to sit, stand, walk, lie down or bend, and all I want to do is scream. I take Tramadol, which is like an opiate, but that really doesn't do much for me at all except make me sleepy. I quite often think if I feel like this with just a grade one, I would hate to think what people with higher grades must experience!

I have a few other things as well, like Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction, two bulging discs and Osteophytes, which I think are narrowing some joint spaces. I have been doing physio with someone recommended by the consultant I am seeing. I can't say that it's helping so far (it's been three months, don't know if that's long enough to tell).

- Louise 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spondylolisthesis Story #5: Victoria (Grade 1)

Victoria - Spondylolisthesis Story (Grade 1) 

I have Spondylolisthesis at L4/L5 and in my neck. The surgeons (2 so far) are recommending fusion. I do not want to do it. It scares me! I’ve already survived Breast Cancer and a lot of surgeries. I am not sure I can handle more. I have pain that radiates down my right leg to my foot (no foot drop yet), and pain that radiates down my left arm (Breast Cancer side). I am getting a third opinion on my neck and back (two slips), but no matter what, I cannot do anything until November 2012. And then the doc wants to do my neck first. 

In the meantime, I have to continue to work. My job is very physical (lots of bending and lifting - I work in horticulture). I have tried PT, the Egoscue Method, Yoga, Acupuncture, Massage, Chiropractic etc. I've even dipped my whole leg into freezing ice water! I have had 9 surgeries in the past 3 1/2 years for breast cancer stuff and I really, really do not want more surgery and the horrible painful recovery that I hear about from just about everyone. Plus, pain meds and I do not agree, so I do not know what I would do to ward off the pain after surgery. I am almost more afraid of the pain meds than the surgery itself! My Spondylolisthesis has caused Stenosis and Bone Spurs, and that stuff is what pinches on the nerve and causes radiating pain. My slip is only a grade 1, but the instability is pretty extreme.

Of all things, I am a yoga teacher! - Isn’t that just too wild. A Yoga teacher with Breast Cancer and Spondylolisthesis in two places. My situation has caused me to explore meditation and I have done advanced training in a form of Yoga called Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep). That practice has helped me a lot. My doc told me the worst thing I could do was to stop moving. I am getting a Cortisone Injection in my Lumbar spine this Wednesday and then that will be followed by a series for my neck. I am hoping these reduce the inflammation and the pain. In the meantime, I have kicked my Yoga practice into higher gear, in terms of its physicality. I was really laying off as I was scared but since my doctor said “yes, do more yoga - it’s great for you,” I am doing just that, but very, very mindfully. I am hyper-flexible, so I am really concentrating on balance and strength. I hope all of the above strategies work so that I can soldier on with the help of the Cortisone, some meditation, and staying strong - and keep the surgeons knife at bay. But if I have to do it, I will.

Thanks to all of you ....

- Victoria

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spondylolisthesis Story #4: Elaine

Elaine - Spondylolisthesis Story

I had my surgery 11 years ago. I did feel a bit better after I had it done, but I feel bad again now. I've never been, what you call 'pain-free,' but just carried on. I'm having grating nerve pains in my lower back now, and a ripping sensation on my skin, which I think is nerve damage. Just general pain all-around really. I am glad I had it done though because I don't know how I would've been otherwise. Plus, I think my pregnancy would have felt an awful lot worse than it did. Gets me down loads. 

I was only 27 when I had the L4 & L5 fused, so that's probably contributing to things now. Plus, all the other different pains I am feeling. Like I say, I don't regret having it done, but I suffer with depression now and I don't think I would be able to go through with another stint in hospital ... spent too much time in them, what with one thing and another.

Backache was moderate whilst carrying my daughter, but after no one listened to what I wanted at the birth, I ended up having a C-Section, as she got stuck. Back-pain was terrible afterwards, plus I had the extra pain from the C-Section site. I didn't get pregnant until 3 years after my back surgery, but wanted a C-Section right from the start ... but no one listened!! Some nerve pains occured whilst carrying, but at the minute I'm dealing with three totally different pains, rolled into one. 

1. I have the dull, constant lower back-pain. 2. The grating, nervey pains, which I think is the framework. 3. The ripping sensations on my skin, which I think is maybe nerve damage. They all happen together, which is not nice at all. 

I've always had twinges in different areas, but I think my consultant found this rather 'silly' if you like, and I don't think she believed me to be honest. Like I said though, everyone is different, and personally I can't see how you can be totally pain-free with that structure inside of you, if you know what I mean? I've never been able to lie flat on the floor on my back Post-Op, as my structure sticks in me; sounds weird, but true. Depending on the style of a chair too, the back rest will stick directly into the area where my structure is, which is a very unpleasant sensation. I haven't had any X-Rays or an MRI for a long time because I am afraid, although I am going to ask to be refered again and see just what's happening inside me. I think that's as far as I'm going to go too, as I dont think that I could deal with things as well as I did 11 years ago, as a lot of things have happened in my life since then. 

If I can help someone else ... then I'm happy. I've always wanted to talk about what's happened and how it's affected me in every way, but you get to thinking that people get bored of hearing it. But, at the end of the day, it's no small issue to deal with! Its' hard as hell mentally and physically, and very difficult to come to terms with what was, and still is. 

- Elaine

Elaine's Post-Op Fusion X-Ray

Spondylolisthesis Story #3: Raj (Grade 1)

  • Raj - Spondylolisthesis Story (Grade 1)

    Hi Everyone, This is my story about Spondylolisthesis. Every thing was going good in my life; I just got married in December 2010. Life was looking beautiful. But then I was diagnosed in July 2011 with a grade 1 Spondylolisthesis at L5 S1. I was 26. At that time I took rest from my office and went to many doctors for consultation. I was hoping it was not a big problem, but when I came to know about Spondylolisthesis, and it's effects on daily life, I went into a depression for the first three months after learning this. I was a very active person and I was running my own business, so for this I had to do a lot of meetings, sometimes I had to do more than 4-5 meetings in a day. At that time I was confused as to how to manage everything and what to do next. But, my business partner is my wife, and family supports me a lot. It's helped me a lot recovering from the depression. I've tried the medications, physical therapy and a back brace. After two months my back pain was less. The only thing that hurts me a lot, is that sometimes my mom and dad have to lift heavy weight instead of me, because I can no longer do the lifting. But I am happy that I was diagnosed at an earlier stage.

    The condition effects my daily activities now, so I have to do less activity. I feel more pain when I sleep on left side, so I can't sleep on left side anymore. At work I usually take a break after 1 hour of being seated. If I work more then 7-8 hours a day, then it hurts. I'm not taking medicine for pain, just doing regular PT. Doing exercise daily has really helped a lot of the pain and so does heat. I love long drives with family and lots of other activities, which I can't do now. I always have fear of long traveling and bumpy roads. I feel pain in my lower back and buttocks when I do longer traveling of more than 1 hour. Truly speaking, I'm not in such real pain now. As for surgery, I'm not thinking of that. I want to spent my life without doing any surgery. Went to the doctor and he said it's not moving forward ... it is stable. But I have to do a x-ray every 90 days.

    It's Life. Sometimes God gives us lots of happiness, and sometimes we are on the other side.

    - Raj

    Raj Prajapati Pre-Op X-Ray Grade 1

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spondylolisthesis Story #2: Dena (Grade 5)

Dena - Spondylolisthesis Story (Grade 5)

Hello, My name is Dena and in 2002 I had an Anterior/Posterior Spinal Fusion with instrumentation and bone graft from my own hip (2 cages along w/2 titanium rods & 6 screws.) 2 Disks were removed and everything was fused together to stabilize my spine. I have Isthmic Spondylolisthesis Grade 5. My vertebra had slid off of the track completely & was holding on only by nerves...this happened over the course of my life. I was unaware until finally pain that wouldn't go away caused me to seek a doctor. I was 32 years old at the time of surgery.  I am 42 now. This September will be 10 years since my Spinal Fusion. I could write a book!

The Surgery was 100% successful, but going in I knew that they wouldn't be able to put my vertebra back into place, as they would have paralyzed me from the legs down.  For me the only hope was immediate surgery! They couldn't believe that I had no bladder or bowel problems or any other problems except for the lower back pain that was daily getting worse (I had lifted a heavy box at work and after that felt I pulled my back but the pain wouldn't go away and was getting worse). My X-rays and MRI...had the techs asking me if I had been in a terrible car wreck or fall) I was told if I didn't have surgery ASAP I would start having bladder/bowel problems, pain, numbness, tingling, etc until finally I would be in a wheel chair with too much damage to be able to correct. I found the top Neurosurgeon at The Mayfield Spinal Clinic here in Cincinnati OH. I live in Northern KY, close to Cincinnati. He met with a team of doctors because he told me I was the youngest patient and had the most difficult spinal problem he had ever seen and it was going to take more than just him. He wasn't sure on what the best way to go about my surgery. So after 2 weeks of meeting with these doctors they came to a decision. That neurosurgeon (brain surgeon as well) and an orthopedic & vascular surgeon spent 8 hours doing surgery on me. To this day I continue to see the Neurosurgeon ...he is my hero!
Jumping forward to how I am doing after the surgery...I have no bladder/bowel problems, I can walk fine no problems, I am in a lot less pain then before surgery. I was also told I would always have pain as they couldn't FIX my back only stabilize it from moving anymore and getting worse. I had to sign a bunch of papers releasing them of responsibility because of possibly damaging nerves causing me all sorts of other problems.

I am not in a wheelchair. I do however after the surgery have numbness in my right leg and tingling in my foot only when sitting or standing too long in one place. I have to get up often or it gets really bad. I have a lot of stiffness in my back when I don't do my exercises. Also if I walk to much I start feeling tingling stinging pain in my buttocks and back of my legs, so I can't keep up with some of my friends when walking. But I have to keep pushing forward and never let it get me down! Always reminding myself how lucky I am not to be in a wheelchair and lucky not to be wearing depends diapers. I also remember having a 1 in 500 chance after surgery to drag my foot when I walked and a good chance cant remember the numbers on that one but a good chance to be in a wheelchair anyways.  So now I manage my pain with meds and keep moving and exercising and being smart with taking care of my back.

I had two young children at the time of my surgery and have had another lovely child after my surgery....so yes it can be done! (I went off all meds while I was pregnant) I was in a back brace specially made for me...for 4 months after surgery and in a hospital bed in our spare bedroom for 3 months. I could not bend my back for that duration for complete correct healing! And let me tell you I did everything my doctors told me to do!!!!!!!! I had to relearn to walk and I had to borrow all of my grandfather’s things such as his Walker, Grabber to reach things, The raised Toilet Seat, Portable Potty...it was a very hard experience that I could go on and on about. I couldn't shower by myself, put clothes on or even tie my own shoes. I couldn't even roll over in bed or get out of the hospital bed without my husbands assistance.  Something as simple as brushing your teeth at the sink is hard to do when you can't bend over to spit. I did however wipe my own butt after I came home from that week long stay in the hospital! That is a great feeling to be able to do that own your own!!
But 10 years later...Scars from my middle of my back to my butt crack, my belly button to my pubic area, and a 3" scar on my hip....I still have a sway back....and the daily back pain...I just remind myself what COULD HAVE BEEEN if I didn't have the surgery.
Please take care of yourself, get 2nd opinions, get the best doctor, do what they say, do your exercises, stop smoking (it interferes with bone healing), get the extra weight off, all those things will help your pain! IT is amazing how much less pain and stiffness I have just when I exercise daily. Walking is the best...and swimming. I would be more than happy to answer any questions and I remember how scary that road was to travel...but I did it!!
Thanks for reading my story.  I look forward to being a part of this Group and talking with everyone.  I can remember back before my surgery I found great relief to going to the Message boards and chatting with people facing the same fears or having the surgery...it was very helpful...so I think just talking to someone can be the best medicine!

-Dena (From Northern KY)

Dena - Post-Op X-Ray Fusion L4-S1
Dena - Post-Op X-Ray Fusion L4-S1

Share Your Spondylolisthesis Story!

Would you like to share your personal story and experiences involving Spondylolisthesis? I am currently seeking others to share their respective experiences with the spine condition; including symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, surgeries, and all of the details in-between. Have your voice be heard & help make a difference in other's lives by telling your story here! If you're interested, or would like to inquire further regarding this project and website, please contact Brenna through the Spondylolisthesis Facebook Page: FB.Spondylolisthesis, or email Brenna at spondyostories@gmail.com! I look forward to hearing from you and getting your story posted!

FB Comment Box. Please use this box to elaborate on your survey answers seen below.

Spondylo Polls

Please take a moment to review and answer the survey questions below! If you'd like to further elaborate on any of these polls questions/answers, please comment in the FB Comment Box or participate in the "Community Answers" section below. Thanks!

What grade is your Spondylolisthesis?

At which vertebrae is your Spondylolisthesis slip?

What is/has been most helpful in treating your pain associated with your Spondylolisthesis?

Have you had Laser Spine Surgery to treat your Spondylolisthesis?

Did one or more pregnancies cause your slip to progress in grade?