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AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My doctor tells me that I need this surgery, has anyone else had this surgery? How are the after effects? How long is the recovery? Are there any pictures of this surgery
that I can see or mri photos, x-rays? What is the after effects with the pain? I would prefer to only have responses about this surgery in itself. Thanks for your time.


  • More info will help, why are you having the surgery, are you having back pain, pain down your legs?

    I had a PLIF (Lumbar fusion) L2-L5, with disc being removed L4-L5. I had the surgery due to sciatica down my right leg and throbbing back pain. I had instant relief same day of surgery. The pain completely gone that I had pre surgery which was the real reason for it.

    I had pain from the surgery for about 4-5 days, first two days being the worse naturally.

    Recovery depends on many situations, age, overall health status.

    Age due to bone density/structure. Someone in their 20's like myself will generally do better then someone in their 40's or 50's, as bone density decreases and more complications can occur more easily, such as loose hardware and slower overall healing especially fusing.

    Pain tolerance also makes a difference. Can you handle pain to some extent or not. As the days go by pain lessons of course, and as you move around you become more mobiable once again. You wont be able to drive for awhile. If you continue to require the pain meds (almost always narcotics) you won't be allowed to drive. I was allowed to after 2.5 weeks, only took the narcotics for the first week then the pain was all but gone, or decreased to the point I did not need anything.

    This is a picture I found on this site:


    I've got more hardware then that even but I walk normal now. I get tired after a few hours of walking as I found out yesterday but definately doing better then I couldof imagined.

    Overall recovery back to nominal status, as I've been told and have read on these web forums here, seems to be 6 months on average to a year.
  • There is a good set of info on this site and


    Also I found a liveOR web link (it isn't a live link at all) but about 40 mins video of PLIF or ALIF - very good overview of a real time operation.

    I had this in 2 parts - only because of ongoing instability issues.
    Recovery can be 3-12 months. Depends on factors like what happens intra-operatively and how well etc you are. I also think that it also depends on the actual problems the doctors are trying to solve by the fusion.

    These boards will give you lots of insight but your surgeon is the best person to advise you on his expectations.

    Please also remember that many ppl on th eboards have ongoing issues and may present you with a blacker picture than reality...
    300,000 fusions are performed in US each year. The fusion rates vary (lots of papers on this) but latest research suggests that 70% of ppl are very happy clinically a success. A few have problems, complications (again your doctor can advise regards this) and very very few are worse.
    You need to be aware of all the possibilities and go into this with your eyes open.

    Make sure you are well read and ask lots of questions here on SH and of your own doctors.
    Finally, the members here are merely making observations from their own experinces and can't replace the valubale insight and experince of your surgoen.

    Hope that is a start!
  • The reason i was told I need surgery is because of the immense pain, the fact its hard to walk around, my left inner thigh is always radiating pain, my left foot is either on pins and needles or knumb, and my right leg is beginning to ache and my toes are going knumb. They say surgery is thr best bet to get rid of the pain.
  • but i also had discectomey because of annular tears in my discs. Evey surgery is different and recovery. I am 48 and have dealt with this for 2 1/2 years. I m sure I have nerve damage from the time of the injury to the time of surgery. The reocvery is different for everyone. Some are back to work in a short time, others are not. At 8 weeks I am not able to do much. I can drive locally, but days I do not because of my narcotics effects. The recovery is something your Dr should be able to tell you as well as time frames. Every Dr has his/her own way of doing things as far as PT and back to work. What was your diagnosis for the fusion? Have you gotten a second opinion? It is definently something I would not do without 2 opinions, due to the fact of how major surgery it is. Good Luck and keep us posted.
  • Get the very very best surgeon you possibly can. You are dealing with the spine/spinal cord. That is my best advice on surgery... if you are going to do it, don't mess with second-best.
  • There is a lot of good support and good friends on this site. Don't be afraid to discuss anything with us spineys.
    I am 8 months past the same surgery as yours. I am 54 years old, and had some major genetic complications. But,,, I don't regret having it done. There will be some rare days that I am reminded of the buring and some tingling in my feet, but no more sciatic pains. Feel free to PM me for more advice and update me when your surgery.
  • thank you for this information as i am facing possible surgery too. I am scared of surgery, but also hate taking meds.
  • I am sorry that you are having problems. What is your situation?
  • image Here ya go, I had the same ones done. I am 1 year post-op (Feb.8th) And I tell you what, it is not what your surgeon is telling you as far as re-cooperation. It's a hard long painful road, BUT my original sciatica pain is gone!!! Prepare for atleast 2 years recovery in your brain, as I still have a ways to go. Good luck.
  • Ok so jealous, i had the same surgery actully this is my second!! had to do a reconstructive of the l-4 l-5 s-1 n the screws were stuck in my bone s and bones were bleeding but there was no evedence of any bone fusion go figure, but u my friend r doing great doctor say am doing good but my freaken legs r killing all muscle pain!! taking soma other than that am straight i am 6 weeks post opt just tired of this cramping i do lots of walking in the house of couse i live in chicago and baby its cold. i am very glad u r doing so well keep up the good work
  • You'll get there Claudia, keep me updated on your status. Thos complications sound painful :|

    Are you using a bone growth stimulator?

    Ive been very lucky and hope the luck continues. Back surgery has always been so iffy for me, was a giant leap of trust that I had it done, (trusting my surgeon with the rest of my life basically) and it paid off for me.
  • I am 7 months post op for a L4-L5 / L5-S1 fusion.

    I think I have done remarkably well post surgery. That said; it's not an easy road.

    If you are on a LOT of pain meds already, be prepared, it seems that if you have a tolerance built up you don't get the full effects of the meds post surgery - meaning you are probably in for lots of post-op pain. My nurses told me that a fusion is probably the second most painful surgery there is - second only to open heart.

    I, like Jakotsu, took very little/needed very little, pain medication and was able to drive and get around fairly early on.

    I did not go back to work for just over 5 months and I have a job that only requires lifting a max of 45lbs. I am still on restrictions - max of 25lbs, no bending or twisting allowed.

    Some days are tough.

    But, no more radiating pain! No more agonizing blinding shooting pains at all! Now I just have aches & cramps - I can handle aches and cramps. I was in so much pain before that I was willing to risk life in a wheelchair.

    It's a personal decision, do your homework, go in with your eyes open and do everything your dr. tells you - exactly. It's the rest of your life you are playing with after all.

    Good Luck
  • Hi, yes i am useing a bone stim, i keep tis on for 4 hours under my back brace, but you see i have no patience but working on it Nurse said i can go start walking in the pool just walking she so concerned of me falling but i will use better judgement, i think i will start that next week, also in 6 weeks i start therapy, yeah cannot wait, want to get on with my life i miss the gym esp the treadmill, taking my time, thank you so much
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