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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

Hi everyone. This might be long, so please bear with me.

Last summer 2016, I had a high impact crash from a skydiving accident and fractured my L5. I had lower back surgery at L4-L5-S1 with 6 screws and 2 rods inserted. The doctors called it a spinal fusion.

The recovery sucked. Months later, I was still in a lot of pain from post op. It felt like someone one was constantly forcing me to bend backwards and a very bad "dragging/pulling" feel on my spine. Sleeping and sitting on recliners was almost impossible.

I decided to get the hardware removed and had the removal surgery on January 2017.

Recovery was a lot quicker compared to the first surgery, and there is a significant amount of difference in pain level. My back feels a lot better, somedays it feels like I never fractured it. Sleeping/turning around it bed and reclining is still a problem.

My first neurosurgeon who did the spinal fusion said no actual fusion was done and only hardware was inserted.

My second neurosurgeon said he removed the screws and rods and put in artificial bone to fill gaps from the holes made by the hardware. He said I should bounce right back with minimal back pain, no restrictions after 6 months and no long term effects.

(2 back surgeries done by 2 different surgeons, because of where I live and go to school)

But during the post op visits, I didn't see my surgeon and instead saw a completely different doctor. I'm confused because the new guy said that my lower lumbar is fused and I do have a few restrictions such as participating in some sports, sexual activity(positioning) and may have arthritis at a younger age or other problems.

Prior to the accident, I was healthy and physically very active. I absolutely love to run, rock climb and zip line. I'm scared that I might have to give it up after the recent doctors appointment. I'm only 20 years old.

The following is a description of the procedure from my medical synopsis:

Preoperative Diagnoses:
1. Lumbar spondylosis
2. L5 fracture deformity, posttraumatic, warranting stabilization L4-S1

1. Exploration of previous fusion mass of L4-S1
2. Hardware removal

Patient is 20 years old female seen in the Clinic for debilitating back pain. This was referable to an L5 fracture which was treated at an outside institution with segmental stabilization. The fracture itself appears to have healed. It sounds like initial index operation, they talked about putting latter in as an internal fixator and she was advised to have the hardware removed at a later date. She is presenting to us for hardware removal. Imaging studies do not show any robust posterolateral fusion mass at L4-S1

Description of procedure:
The patient was taken to the the operative room... Previous fusion mass was explored. There was really no fusion mass. The lamina however decorticated. The hardwares were explanted L4-S1 and the screw holes were packed with Gelfoam. There was no instability preoperatively and so I did not feel the need to commit her to any revision instrumental fusion. There was some healing along the screws and screws themselves were quite loose. I did place some MASTERGRAFT at L4-L5 on both sides and autologus iliac crest bone marrow aspirate was obtained from the right ilium. Meticulous hemostasis was achieved and the wound was then closes...

Can someone please explain the procedure to me?
What is fusion mass?
Am I fused from l4-s1?
What does it mean if the lamina is decorticated?
What did they do with my bone marrow?

I know I have to avoid bending, twisting and lifting, but is that forever?
Can I resume to be as active as before again?
-For example, is it okay for me to go swimming, surfing, kayaking, rock climbing and zip lining again?
Do I have a high chance of getting arthritis years down the line?

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