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Questions About Lumbar Fusion

Posted By Steve on May 26, 1998 at 21:22:50:

In Reply to: going to have fusion posted by Steve on May 12, 1998 at 20:53:07:
Topic Area: Spine

I've decided to have surgery for a herniated disk at L4. The surgery will include fusion of L4-5 since I have a 30% Spondylolisthesis at that segment. The Spondy never caused me any pain but I'm told that a bulging disk at L5 six years ago and now the herniated disk at L4 are direct results of the Spondy segment.
I was a competitive runner / biathlete until the disk budge 6 years ago then switched to power lifting, biking, Nordic skiing, climbing, and competitive tennis  probably not all of these activities were in my best interest. I was given little information by the doctors then and was even encouraged to continue to run and bike by a couple of PTs. I believe that I ruptured the disk mostly because of my ignorance of what a person with Spondy should avoid. I think that if I had educated myself better then I wouldn't be in this fix now. So I want to educate myself now about how to live with an L4-5 fusion so I don't get into more spine problems later.
I hear of people getting only a few years with a fused back before having trouble at the segment above or below the fused one. What should I do or not do to keep the other segments healthy and still live as physically active life as possible? What motions and activites should I avoid?
Dear Steve:
I think that you should continue to be physically active and fit but I do believe that you should modify your physical activity in such a way that avoids putting additional strain on your joints.
Things that are low impact and aerobic in nature are good. Any activity that puts added strain on your spine should be avoided. These include activities that add axial loadind to the spine (power lifting, running) or activities that add extreme amounts of rotational motion should be avoided as well. Activities such as aerobic workouts, cross country skiing, swimming should be OK. This however depends on the type of fusion planned and I recommend that you discuss this issue specifically with your surgeon.
Good Luck!

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