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"The hip pain I had experienced sleeping, standing, and walking for nearly 15 years is gone!" Michael B.

I received a diagnosis of grade 1 L5-S1 spondylolisthesis in my late 20s.  I was able to manage my hip and back pain and remain physically active as a runner in the years that followed, but my symptoms gradually worsened as I approached my early 40s.  

My symptoms took a real turn for the worse in 2015 at age 42.  My slippage had progressed to a grade 2, and I was unable to stand or walk longer than a few minutes without significant hip and back pain.  I experienced numbness, tingling, and weakness in both legs from the nerve impairment.  I could only sleep in a recliner.  Steroid injections worked initially, but ultimately proved ineffective. The final tipping point was the onset of foot drop symptoms at the end of 2015.  At this point I had stopped exercising and had limited most activities that required me to be on my feet, including playing with my 3 young children.

I saw other doctors, but I wanted someone that specialized in treating my condition.  I did some research and found Virginia Spine Institute and I'm so glad I chose them. The entire medical team was excellent at helping me understand what to expect before and after surgery, and I knew they had 25 years of experience.

I had both anterior and posterior lumbar fusion (ALIF and PLIF) procedures (L5-S1) in April, 2016.  I spent a total of 3 nights in the hospital, and I was walking short distances with a walker by the time I left.  The first few days at home were the toughest and most painful, but after that I saw steady improvement.  I went through physical therapy and also did as much walking as my body would tolerate.   At about the 10 week mark I was walking 2 to 4 miles on most days, and as much as 7 miles on longer days.  I credit much of my recovery to the walking, it really helped to strengthen me.

At this point it's been 6 months since my surgery.  The hip pain I had experienced sleeping, standing, and walking for nearly 15 years is gone, as are the lower back pain and foot drop symptoms.  It’s only after the fact that I realized just how much my condition had affected my life and my level of happiness.  Before surgery I had come to subconsciously dread physical activity.  Now the cloud has lifted.  I am running 10 to 15 miles a week, and I am able to enjoy playing with my children and other activities with my family that I couldn’t before.  For example, my entire family recently went to Europe for vacation.  Our trip involved a lot of walking and sightseeing.  I would have been in agony prior to the surgery; instead I was pain free, and it was one of the most memorable and enjoyable vacations I’ve ever had.

Choosing to have lumbar fusion surgery is a major decision. At the end of the day, I’m very glad I did it.  It has been worth it not to live in pain every day.  I was fortunate to have it done before the nerve damage had progressed significantly.  I would recommend Virginia Spine Institute to anyone; they are top notch, and they have made a huge difference in my life.  Thank you!