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Newbie here - TLIF scheduled w/discectomy and fusion L4-L5

llev22lllev22 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
After 7 years of excruitating pain, I am scheduled for surgery on the 16th. I have DDD and scoliosis. They will be removing what's left of the disk between L4 & L5 and doing a fusion with bone from my iliac crest. My doc is the director of spinal surgery at the hospital so I'm confident in hi abilities. He says I'll need to take it easy for 6 weeks but that I could be back to work after 2 weeks. I am an office manager and my bosses will work with me if I need to shorten my schedule. My biggest concern is the recovery. Everyone says it's a long hard recovery but the question I have is what type of pain is it? Is it incision pain, muscle pain or bone pain? I think I can handle incision pain or muscle pain but the bone pain has me a nervous wreck. Oh I forgot to mention that they will be using metal rods or plates for my fusion. Anyone have any advise? I'm 37 year old female that has been suffering for 7 years. I do have scoliosis but not in the surgical area.


  • I think your doctor is being a tad optimistic in his time frame. I was still on major pain killers at the end of two weeks (I had PLIF at L4-5 for spondylolisthesis and central canal stenosis). I did not begin to drive until about 10 weeks...and yes, everyone is different, but most of the generalized material you will find in books and on the various internet sites will say that a standard recovery is months rather than weeks.

    I seriously doubt you should be sitting for more than about 15 minutes at a time at 2 weeks post fusion. There is tons of information on the internet. I suggest you read through lots of it so you get more realistic expectations.

    I'm sure some people have gone to work at 2 weeks, but I do not understand the desire to rush the process. This is a BIG surgery, much more difficult than hip replacement, etc. and you want to be sure you give yourself every opportunity for a successful outcome. You are young and you will want your fusion to last a long time without the need for further fusion at adjoining levels. The best way to insure this is to give your body a chance to make a good, solid fusion. This takes time and a great deal of patience and minimizing motion while you are healing.

    I would say the pain is all three types that you mention...and the reason why many people are still on pain meds for quite some time after the initial surgery is performed.

    I'm sure others will have a variety of experiences that they will be happy to share with you. People here are very supportive and helpful. Feel free to ask lots of questions and share your experiences, expectations and fears.

    xx Gwennie :H
  • I am having PLIF (no hardware) from L4-S1 on March 10, and my doc just sent me the copy of the note he filled out for work for me, says I am off for 6-9 months!! Wow! I work in a call center and sit for 10 hrs per day. He also told me to find a new job because he does not believe I will be able to return to sitting for that time period and be functional (I can only stand for breaks and lunches). :(

    I thought he was bieng a tad conservative, but from the posts I have read and the internet research, it could be a possiblility.

    He also doesnt use any hardware as he feels more often than not he is taking it back out again. I must admit I am a little nervous about the fusion not taking. Anyone out there with 2 level fusion and no hardware? That could be the reason for the 6-9 months off work too.

    I certainly hope you are able to return much more quickly than I, but from what I hear overdoing it is a very bad thing that will set you back. So be careful!

    Good luck to you! Hopefully you will be back on your feet again very very soon:)

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