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2 years post-op PLIF L5/S1

stevebssteveb Posts: 95
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
It's been a while since I have been to this site, so I thought I would post a short update.

I had PLIF on L5/S1 in October of 06'. Things went well and I progressed very well. The one year mark is where I felt I had completely recovered, and for the most part I had.

Fast forward to 2 years post-op, and I am 100% healed. I think I will always have some sort of back pain, muscular mainly, but it will be there. I just finished my racing season on my mountain bike and I finished 2nd over all in the series in my age group (40 to 44). It was nice to be competing again since I hadn't since the fall of 2005.

I tried to officiate hockey last season, but it was just too painful so I threw all of my gear in the dumpster so I wouldn't be tempted to skate again this season. For those that don't know me here, and I know there are a lot, I used to officiate pro hockey, then my back went out and I had to hang up the skates. So, no more skating for me. It's just not good on my back, or anyones for that matter.

I tried to play golf this summer, but it didn't work out real well. I think the problem was I just jumped right in and palyed 18 holes in a tournament. My back was killing me by the 10th hole, but I finished anyways. I was hurting for about two weeks after that. I realized that if I had gone to the driving range a couple times, then played 9 holes a couple of times and then hit 18, I probably would have been fine. But, I just don't really want to play that much anymore, so I did the one time thing, and payed for it.

All-in-all, I would say I am back to normal activities, but there are some things I can't do anymore. Those things tthough are things that most poeple don't do anyways, so now I am just normal, which I am OK with.

If anyone has any questions or want to speak with someone that has had a successfull outcome from this horrible surgery, please feel free to PM me. I will check back to this site periodically.

BTW, I have been a member of this forum since the winter of 05/06.
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Comments

  • Steve, thanks for the update, I hope I do as well as you! I am almost a month out of ALIF/PLIF surgery. Artificial disc through the front and hardwear through the back. I feel so good I just cannot sit down for long. I will try and learn from your lessons about doing to much stuff. I had to sell my motorcycle because it hurt to go over bumps before surgery and we'll see if I get another one. I want to be myself again and skate too but as you said, some things we just should not be doing. I love hockey but since moving from Chicago to the Green Bay, Wisconsin area I don't get to go that often unless it's the local team playing next to Lambeau Field. Ever since they moved the stadium in Chicago it just didn't feel the same; you know, the pipe organ and stuff. Besides that my husband doesn't like hockey as much as I do. Well good luck too you and thanks for the update. Merry Christmas to you!
  • Great to hear of success stories, thank you so much for comeing back and sharing, woohoo, thank you , thank you
  • What a wonderful thing to here such positive news. I long to know what happens to those that go on after a few months. At 6 months out, I find myself impatient. Just to read your timeline and what you are capable of is SUCH A WONDERFUL motivator to help us over the hump....thank you!!!!
  • Congratulations on your successful recovery <:P I do agree that we sometimes have to change what our normal is with these surgeries, but to be nearly painfree, it is worth it. A new normal is much better than the old pain. >:D< Sue
  • hi Steve i had a PLIF L4 L5 S1 nearly 2 years ago in february.I still suffer sore hips and now and then the middle of my back flares up, did you suffer any hip pain?
  • Hi riversider!
    May I ask how long your midback flares up for? I ask because my flare ups tend to last about 10 days from start to back to mostly normal. Everyone else seems to only flare up for a day or two??
  • I'm so glad you had the relief intended!! Thanks for sharing so people can see both sides of the story!! I think sometimes the people who have great results go on with their life and aren't found posting on health boards. Gives kind of a one-sided view.

    Enjoy!

    Cheri
  • SteveB -

    How great to hear from you and better yet to hear how well you are doing. It gives me hope that Chris may still get through this ordeal and get his life back. he's now 8 months out from a L2-5 instrumented fusiion w/ L4-5 TLIF. Recovery has been a roller coaster. I keep hoping he'll turn the cormer soon.

    Terri
  • Thanks you so much for paosting this and giving us all some encouragement.
    And congratulations on coming 2nd in your cycling event. Mountain cycling must be pretty hard.

    It would be really interesting to read of your progress, any hiccups you had along the way, did you have a brace, when you started PT etc. If you ahve the time it would be really encouraging to see a time-line.

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • hi carol,my back flares up for a few days especially after i have been standing for too long or been bending over doing diy.I have to ease it with a hot water bottle,i have not tried ice though, maybe that would be better.

    Hope you are feeling better
  • It's so encouraging to read great news from others. You make me feel hopeful that the one year mark was your "turning point". I'm 9 months post PLIF. SO much better, but surely not 100%---not where I thought I'd be 9 months out. Good to know that progress, although I'm sure slow, still comes ahead.

    I think I was meant to see your encouraging post. I used to be on the boards frequently, but like many others, the better I feel, the less I'm here. Divine intervention that I checked on today and read your post.
    Best wishes to you-----
  • I'll try to answer some of the questions.

    Riversider: I had hip pain the first couple of weeks, due to the surgeon chiseling bone from it. After that, no hip pain. I did have a lot of mid-back pain, but all muscular. A few deep tissue massages really helped me lose that pain.

    Angelback: I wrote up a time frame for my recovery many months ago, maybe even a year ago on this site. It's been so long now, that the details are a little fuzzy. I do remember that weeks 4 to 8 were the absolute worst, maybe even to week 12. I pushed myself pretty hard to get better, which always seemed to set me back a few weeks. I never did PT with a therapist, the surgeon told me I could do it on my own. Since I spent a lot of time in PT before surgery, I knew what to do. As I look back though, I think a professional may have kept me from all of my setbacks. I did have a brace after surgery and was required to wear it for 3 weeks, which I did. I started doing my own PT at week 6 I think. But, that was just stretching my hamstrings and lower back. I don't think I did anything strenuous until the three month mark. Like I said earlier, it's all a little fuzzy now.

    I'm glad I could lend a little encouragement to those on this board that are going through the same nightmare I went through. I know it's not a fun process, but it is one that most of the time must be done. The old saying holds true, "no pain, no gain".
  • murry33 said:
    It's so encouraging to read great news from others. You make me feel hopeful that the one year mark was your "turning point". I'm 9 months post PLIF. SO much better, but surely not 100%---not where I thought I'd be 9 months out. Good to know that progress, although I'm sure slow, still comes ahead.

    I think I was meant to see your encouraging post. I used to be on the boards frequently, but like many others, the better I feel, the less I'm here. Divine intervention that I checked on today and read your post.
    Best wishes to you-----
    I think around 9 monts out is where I found myself in the most trouble. I thought I could do things, and did them, then paid dearly afterwards. I started racing my bicycle around the 9 month mark, then had to quit, per surgeons orders. I also tried to play golf, and that kept me in bed for a week. Once I rested and just worked on stretching my back muscles and strenghtening my core muscles, everything got better. That was probably at the one year mark. Hang in there, it does continue to get better.
  • we need a lorry full of that!!

    =))
  • Hi everyone!
    Yes, I'm one of the guilty ones who hasn't been on here much in a while. I was doing great, but like I saw on another post this cold weather is really hurting me. :''( I am not quite 3 mos post op of a PLIf L5-S1 with hardware. I have done my pt and am finished with it, and that really helped, I only wish the dr had prescribed it for a longer period of time. I had the opportunity to do the pool therapy and it was wonderful!
    Now I am suffering from a cold and I've coughed so hard and so much that I actually hurt all the way down into those muscles around the surgery site. :''( I wish a successful recovery.
  • Hi Steve,
    Glad to hear your good news.
    I had same surgery six months ago and feel like all is fixed back there. I had Isthmic spondylolisthesis and DDD
    Im doing physio at present.
    Did you have very tight hamstrings post op? After the surgery I was measured and I was half an inch taller.
    Im thinking perhaps all the muscles get used to being shorter hence the hamstring problem.
    I am also tired most of the time. Do you recall anything similar?

    Thanks man, its great to hear of all turned out okay for you!

    Ironman
  • That 's positive advice and glad it worked out for you. Glor I hope you continue to heal and would you be able to get more pool therapy? Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • ironman said:
    Hi Steve,
    Glad to hear your good news.
    I had same surgery six months ago and feel like all is fixed back there. I had Isthmic spondylolisthesis and DDD
    Im doing physio at present.
    Did you have very tight hamstrings post op? After the surgery I was measured and I was half an inch taller.
    Im thinking perhaps all the muscles get used to being shorter hence the hamstring problem.
    I am also tired most of the time. Do you recall anything similar?


    Thanks man, its great to hear of all turned out okay for you!
    Yes, my hamstrings were wound tighter than a prostitute visiting the Vatican. Other than my lower back muscles, they probably were the tightest.

    I was also very tired most of the time, but that was due to lack of sleep at night. I just couldn't get comfortable and wasn't able to sleep more than a couple of hours in bed.

  • LMBO, love the analogy of the prositute! It is soooo great to be able to 'grill' someone who has healed well. Hamstrings being tight was an issue here and glad to here that can be the 'norm'....have stretched out pretty well but still working on them. You're a breath of fresh air!
  • Thanks for the encouraging news on you recovery . I'm new here and just 5-weeks post-op.All going well except developed slight vertigo from being Soma for to long. Anyone out there with similir complaint . And realistically how long to get back to working a some what physical job . thanks , dfitz.
  • It is encouraging anytime I hear success stories. I seemed to be doing good 2-3 months post op so I thought I would take a chance and go on the annual girls' 4 wheeler ride. I just bought my new 4wheeler a year ago and it was killing me not riding it. Needless to say, it was pretty stupid and I am still paying for it. I just hope I didn't do any permanent damage. The ortho just laughed at me when I told him about it. We were both laughing together because I realized how stupid it was. I told him I thought I would be fine since it had independent suspension and he just laughed some more and shook his head. Once the cold weather set it it's gotten worse. I've had a CT scan and xrays and everything looks ok so I am going for SI injection on Thurs. Hope this helps.
  • Carol said:
    LMBO, love the analogy of the prositute! It is soooo great to be able to 'grill' someone who has healed well. Hamstrings being tight was an issue here and glad to here that can be the 'norm'....have stretched out pretty well but still working on them. You're a breath of fresh air!
    Carol,

    I also had very tight hamstrings--I asked the PA if I could stretch them out a week after surgery--she said yes. I stretched them mildly and couldn't stand in one place for up to a week, and it still hurts when I stand in one place--like someone is stretching my hamstrings. I haven't stretched since then--but I am wondering if I should start--I know they need to be dealt with or my PT told me I would end up with the next level up being fused down the road. Does any recommend stretching the hamstrings at this point (4 weeks post-op/L5/S1)

    Chuck
  • It's always wise to get an ok from your surgeon before embarking on any new exercise program. Since we are not familiar with everything going on in your back, and the surgeon is, we are really not in a position to advise. I'm sure some people have done it with no adverse effects, but check with the doc first. >:D< >:D< and God Bless!
  • It is good to hear that there is hope out there after years of suffering.

    I recently Spt 23,2008 had microendoscopic PLIF L4-L5 & L5- S1. My workers comp and I are in a struggle so I have not been able to start pysical thereapy yet. Also I had a very bad wound infection that lasted approx. 6 weeks --enterococcus faecalis. MD said it put me a t least 6 weeks behind.

    My question is what are people doing at this stage post op? For fun, work, around the house, etc? I have no idea if I am doing things I shouldn't or not doing enough.

    I am walking at least every day and can go for a good distance. But I started jumping back into house work after feeling like a sloth and now feel like I have done too much. I am doing basic stretches doctor ordered.

    My doctor ordered back brace and cane and said to use my judgment--well sometimes I don't have the best! I find using the brace when I am going to be out walking or sitting for any length of time helpful. I use cane 100% out of the house. We have snow and ice, I have grippers for my boots and ice prongs for my cane. Both make me feel more secure.

    Thanks for any advice!
    Jody

    From White Mountains NH
    Work related injury 2003, Bulging discs l5-S1 and some problems at l3-l4 & l4-l5. Bulging disc at T12.
    Had Laminectomy/foramenotomy and incomplete discectomy L5-S1 2005. No real change. Numerous epidural injections, PT for years, chiropractor

    Micro PLIF L4-S1 with BMP, & decompression, hardware, & Sept 23 2008. 5 days hospital and then home. Major wound infection left side incision w/ enterococcus faecalis led to antibiotics for 6 weeks.
    No PT

    Obviously immediately post-op I was on drip and left with fentanyl patch 50 mg. Now back on pre-op pain meds. though using less on some days.
    Kadain 220 md qd, MSIR 15 mg for b/t pain, zanaflex, celebrex 200 mg, Lunesta, Valium 5 mg, Wellbutrin Xl 375, Lexapro 20 mg. Before injury on NO meds!

    Trying to be patient but would like to hear what others were doing at this stage. I find it very hard to sit still and not do. But I also do not want to screw up this chance at recovery. Any ideas greatly appreciated.

    PS for those with constipation problems--I eat a serving of non fat yogurt and a serving of Kellogg Yogurt bran flakes every day. I have never had to take a laxative or stool softener except when in hospital!
  • Chuck,
    Obviously check with your surgeon, but he let me do a standing stretch with brace on. It's a runners stretch up against a wall. Your hands are on the wall, back in a neutral position with brace. Put one foot forward and do a small lunge. This will not loosen the hamstring greatly but will loosen them a tad, keep calves stretched and hip flexor a little stretched. That is all I could do until 12 weeks and he only let me do piriformis and standing hip flexor at that point then at 5 mths. I could do much more. He told me he wanted the fusion well healed before I started too much and ofcoures...walk, walk, walk.
  • Ming said:
    It is encouraging anytime I hear success stories. I seemed to be doing good 2-3 months post op so I thought I would take a chance and go on the annual girls' 4 wheeler ride. I just bought my new 4wheeler a year ago and it was killing me not riding it. Needless to say, it was pretty stupid and I am still paying for it. I just hope I didn't do any permanent damage. The ortho just laughed at me when I told him about it. We were both laughing together because I realized how stupid it was. I told him I thought I would be fine since it had independent suspension and he just laughed some more and shook his head. Once the cold weather set it it's gotten worse. I've had a CT scan and xrays and everything looks ok so I am going for SI injection on Thurs. Hope this helps.
    I did the same thing, and really still do. I still have to keep in mind that I have two rods and four screws holding my spine together. Sometimes I forget.
  • jkestrell said:
    It is good to hear that there is hope out there after years of suffering.

    I recently Spt 23,2008 had microendoscopic PLIF L4-L5 & L5- S1. My workers comp and I are in a struggle so I have not been able to start pysical thereapy yet. Also I had a very bad wound infection that lasted approx. 6 weeks --enterococcus faecalis. MD said it put me a t least 6 weeks behind.

    My question is what are people doing at this stage post op? For fun, work, around the house, etc? I have no idea if I am doing things I shouldn't or not doing enough.

    I am walking at least every day and can go for a good distance. But I started jumping back into house work after feeling like a sloth and now feel like I have done too much. I am doing basic stretches doctor ordered.

    My doctor ordered back brace and cane and said to use my judgment--well sometimes I don't have the best! I find using the brace when I am going to be out walking or sitting for any length of time helpful. I use cane 100% out of the house. We have snow and ice, I have grippers for my boots and ice prongs for my cane. Both make me feel more secure.

    Thanks for any advice!
    Jody

    From White Mountains NH
    Work related injury 2003, Bulging discs l5-S1 and some problems at l3-l4 & l4-l5. Bulging disc at T12.
    Had Laminectomy/foramenotomy and incomplete discectomy L5-S1 2005. No real change. Numerous epidural injections, PT for years, chiropractor

    Micro PLIF L4-S1 with BMP, & decompression, hardware, & Sept 23 2008. 5 days hospital and then home. Major wound infection left side incision w/ enterococcus faecalis led to antibiotics for 6 weeks.
    No PT

    Obviously immediately post-op I was on drip and left with fentanyl patch 50 mg. Now back on pre-op pain meds. though using less on some days.
    Kadain 220 md qd, MSIR 15 mg for b/t pain, zanaflex, celebrex 200 mg, Lunesta, Valium 5 mg, Wellbutrin Xl 375, Lexapro 20 mg. Before injury on NO meds!

    Trying to be patient but would like to hear what others were doing at this stage. I find it very hard to sit still and not do. But I also do not want to screw up this chance at recovery. Any ideas greatly appreciated.

    PS for those with constipation problems--I eat a serving of non fat yogurt and a serving of Kellogg Yogurt bran flakes every day. I have never had to take a laxative or stool softener except when in hospital!
    At 6 weeks, I was just trying to survive. Like I said earlier, that was probably the most difficult time for me. I think I was just stretching and walking. There were little milestones all along the way, but at this point, I don't remember when they occured. Just remember to have a little celebration each time you do something for the first time. For example, the first time I was able to put my socks on all by myself, I celebrated by having an ice cream cone at 10:00 in the morning. It's the little things that will keep you sane, or make you insane.
  • This is a thread to keep going!

    Pre surgery I used to also be a cyclist. Took awhile to figure out how to get back to being normal but it can happen if you do it right.

    I have not gotten back into competition cycling... yet, but may down the road. I am able to get out and do 1-2 hour rides at a competitive pace pain free though. I would like to get back to doing some criteriums locally, it is only a matter of time.

    There are some things that will cause flare ups such as golf, standing for long periods of time, and an occassional bad nights sleep but it can be done.

    Great thread everyone!!
  • Thank you so much for posting your first post. It really made me feel good!!! I am almost 1 year (Feb.8th) from my 3 level fusion. I (like you said) am definately still in mild pain everyday. It gets so frustrating, as you know....

    Did you finally get to the point where you only take pain meds ONLY WHEN you over-do it? And not everyday? I still need about 3 percocets a day at one year, and can't wait till I don't them them except for an occasional one when I over-do it. I still use my Tens Unit whenever I need to go down to the city to shop, or drive, or going out to eat. But I don't wear it at home.

    And yes, I have totally accepted that life will always be different than before my injury and surgery. Which is totally a drag, but that's life, I just do things differently now, and NEVER pick up anything over 20#'s. I've learned to adjust, I do everything differently.

    How is your pain level after 2 years? What your doing is way beyond what I would even attempt, but in doing these things, is that the only time you experience a lot of pain?

    You have definately given me hope, as I look forward to year #2 in my healing process!!! I'm already experiencing that "light at the end of the tunnel", but you just re-confirmed it!! thanks
  • Hi Steve,

    I'm pretty much like yourself. A glutton for pursueing competition. I didn't skate, but I took up skiing (in my 30's), I always had a back problem from weight training, college football and rugby. I managed for years with a chiropractor and the sh_t hit the fan with a blown disc. I had foot drop, siatic burning, numbness and an absolute mental drive to pt myself instead of surgery. I couldn't even walk! I pt for 3 months. Was able to sleep and sit. But the burning, pins and needles was there. I went back to work. I drive for a living and my leg went numb every day. I was watching people run, walk and ride on a trail next to my local gym. That was it. I had surgery. I apllied myself to train my way back to health. And have had two flare ups since. I experience leg and back burning from this, is this how your flare ups present themselves?
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