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Facing PLIF and spinal decompression in a few weeks!

kathyykkathyy Posts: 580
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello everyone. I'm so glad to have found this forum. I am(was) an active, healthy 56 yr old woman who began having excrutiating pain in my lower back about 3 months ago. After MRI and xrays, doc confirmed a level 2 spondylolisthesis with severe spinal stenosis. Tried PT for 2 months but any, and I mean any, exercise causes extreme, progressive neurological symptoms. Burning, shooting pain, both legs. Numbness. Heaviness and unsteady gait. Can't stand for more than an hour or walk for more than 30 minutes. Just 6 months ago I was walking 3 miles a day so I am in shock.

Anyway, at this point, after much research and not many other options aside from progressively loosing my ability to walk, have opted for surgery as my surgeon has recommended. My husband and I own a service business and I run the office. Can anyone, from experience, tell me what to reasonably expect in terms of recovery? I hope to be able to at least commute via computer to my office to help my poor hub within 2 weeks after surgery. Surgery is PLIF with decompression at L4-L5. They tell me I'll be in hospital for up to 5 days. What can I expect? Kathy
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Comments

  • I understand what you are going through. I had level one Spondy. with severe DDD and severe Spinal Stenosis. My L4 and L5 were fused, also i had a Lumbar Laminectomy, PLIF.
    I can only tell you what i did and what my doctor said to
    me. I was in the hospital six days because i started walk-
    ing as soon as they gave me a back brace and a walker. I'm
    one of those people who is very independent and who doesn't
    want help from anyone. My sister who lived across the
    street from stayed with me for a week and i sent her home
    after i saw i was able to do so many things for myself.
    The hospital would not of let me go home if they thought
    i had no one to help me. I walked and walked so much that
    i recovered sooner then expected. I have spokened with
    other people who had disk removed and vertabrates fusied and they all said they went back to work too soon. The
    doctor said i was not to sit for more then 20 minutes at a
    time and to always put a pillow behind my back when sitting.
    I do not smoke or drink so that was not an issue. I take
    fossomax and calicum for my Ostioporosis(spelling)??
    Eight months after my back surgery i had Tumor surgery and
    i am now exercising on a treadmill everyday on a 6.0 incline
    for 30 minutes. I found that using a cane was better then
    the walker after about a month post op from back surgery.
    I hope this wasn't too long a statement. PM me if you want.

    Evelyn :H :)
    Please do what your doctor says word for word because he/
    she knows best.
    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i am sorry you are facing a surgery. ~X( have you gotten more than one opinion? the more information you have the better. you don't mention if you are trying to exercise now. even getting into the swimming pool is easy on your joints and pain free. you don't mention if you have tried a nerve pain medication for your sciatica in your legs. it is not the same as a pain medication. your doctor could tell you more about it. :-C keep doing your homework and ask all the questions you have. good luck and keep us informed of your progress. Jenny :)
  • I was trying swimming and light walking. Any exercise I did made my legs much worse. Got to the point that my physical therapist was alarmed at how quickly I was losing strength in both legs and got me a "next day" appointment with the surgeon and I was advised after another MRI that my nerves were as severely compressed as they could be and my spondy had progressed in just a couple of months. Since the surgeon I am seeing is one of the best spinal surgeons in the southeast, I've had to wait for 2 months for surgery. In order to avoid having to have "emergency" surgery I've been advised to avoid exercise. I don't exactly have traditional sciatica. I have equal disability in both legs all the way to the toes with extreme weakness in both. Apparently my situation is a little out of the ordinary. I'm the case you read about with rapidly deteriorating neurolgical function (claudation I think it's called). Very scary from where I sit (which is all I seem to be able to do right now) ;) Kathy
  • I am so sorry you are in pain! I can totally relate. Last summer at age 58 I suddenly developed back pain that sent me to the ER. I had had some back issues on and off for a few years but nothing that ibuprofen and the occasional injection did not control. ER doc ordered MRI that showed spondylolisthesis and a piece of a disc broken off in my spinal column. Rapidly progressing pain and fear of paralysis and incontinence convinced me surgery was necessary. I had ALIF/PLIF July 21 and 23.

    About recovery - it is SLOW. I am 3 months post-surgery and sitting is still uncomfortable after about 1.5 hours. For the first 6 weeks I limited sitting to about 20 minutes at a time - spent most of the day either walking or reclining. The first two weeks were the hardest - I needed MUCH more help then than I had expected. You will want to plan to have someone with you for at least the first week you are home. Be sure to read the list of post-op must have's on this site - it is very accurate! I did not really think I would need most of those things - but I did! I have never really been ill and had only one other surgery - a total hysterectomy after which I was back at work in 2.5 weeks. Frankly, the hysterectomy recovery was a picnic compared to the recovery from fusion surgery! I was completely unprepared for how slow the recovery from fusion surgery has been - not horribly painful - just slow and exhausting. Two close friends, both very active mid-50's women, have had recovery timelines similar to mine.

    I would strongly urge you to get more than one opinion before having surgery. See a good pain management doc who does lost of work with people with spinal problems as well as another surgeon who specializes in spine issues.

    Keep us posted!





  • Please take a look at the surgery section and you will find lots of folks there telling their recovery story from surgery such as yours. There is also a post there on things that you will need post op that is very informative. Keep in mind that everyone recovers at different paces and there are lots of variables like what kind of shape you are in to begin with. Good luck and please keep us posted.
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