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Getting surgery in 4 days - UGH

pepper09ppepper09 Posts: 138
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am getting posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery this Thursday (March 19th) and I am getting very scared. I had a right-sided laminectomy 14 weeks ago and felt good for a couple of weeks, but the leg pain came back and an MRI shows:

"The L5-S1 level, there is evidence for prior right-sided laminectomy. There is a large recurrent central and right posterolateral disc extrusion. A portion of the extruded mass is relatively bright in signal intensity indicating some component of granulation tissue associated with the gragment or multiple fragments of disc. There is severe compression of the thecal sac and origin of the S1 nerve roots bilaterally greater on the right. There is a rudimentary S1-S2 disc."

I have shooting pain down my right leg when I get up from a seated position and especially when I get out of the car. I have felt this pain down my left leg a couple of times also, but almost always down my right leg. I don't have a lot of back pain...it has always been nerve pain. But, I have been taking pain pills since November of last year...the mornings are painful before I take the first pain pills. The pain pills take the edge off of pain.

I really hope I am doing the right thing by getting surgery again. I just hope that I am better off after surgery and that surgery doesn't cause more pain or problems. It's all so scary. I'm 41 and didn't "injure" my back. The doctor said it could have been caused by normal wear and tear. If I just had normal back pain I wouldn't get the surgery, but it's the leg pain and the thought that I could have permanent nerve damage if I don't get surgery......

Has anyone had posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery?


  • I had a PLIF, posterior laminectomy interbody fusion, about three months ago to relieve pressure on the nerves causing drop foot and spasms in the low back from L4 to S1. So far mine has been a sucsess and has fixed the spasms 100 percent and the foot drop 90 percent. Im sorry to hear that you have had this hiccup in your recovery and need a second surgery and wish you the best on this surgery that it corrects the pain this time and that there is no nerve damage. Remember you will be fresh out and these nerves will have been tinkered around alot and the inflamation can cause similar pain, just keep asking your doctor questions and like always dont over do it when it comes to bending lifting and twisting. Best Wishes
  • Hi Pepper, I had PLIF L4-5 back in August. I am doing great. I was off work for 15 weeks, I am a nurse. I too had hip/leg pain and thankfully that is gone. I also had back pain, but the motivation for the surgery was definitely the nerve pain. It is a difficult recovery for certain, just make sure to take your meds, follow all your restrictions, and think positive. Have you seen the post-op must-haves lists at the top of this forum? Check it out for invaluable suggestions. Let me know if you have any questions I can answer for you. Take care, >:D< Cali-Cue
  • I had a PLIF done last August for a partially collapsed L5/S1 disc, that also had a bulge compressing a nerve root. By the end of week 1 post-op, I could tell the original pain was gone. Since then, it has all been dealing with post-op issues.

    While recovery from such a surgery can be rough, overall I have found it to be not nearly as bad as I thought. I am 7 months post-op now and the only issue I have is some continued discomfort/pain. Now that warmer weather has arrived, everything is beginning to feel better.

    The key is to follow your restrictions and be patient - recovery can take a long time.

    Good luck with your surgery.
  • Thanks for such positive replies! I am trying to think positive and I know that the surgery that I am getting is minor compared to other back surgeries. I hope that by getting this surgery that it will prevent further problems. My surgery is in 60 hours :&
  • I had a two level PLIF on Dec 11. L4-5, L-5-S1 and discectomy. I am doing fine. My surgery was long almost 8 hours. But not the norm. I dont know why it was so long, my surgeon only said 4-5 hours. Anyway, I am feeling better each month. I dont go by days, I go from Dr appt to Dr appt. You are having it done at a good time of year. Lots of walking and you will be able to go outside. I did mine in the dead of winter in Iowa. Not a good idea. I am looking forward to sunny days and spring strolls. Good Luck and keep us posted.
  • I got a call from the nurse and my surgery will be at 7:00 am this Thursday instead of 11:00 am. I just want to get it over with and I am getting nervous. I was sick today...almost felt like I was going to faint this morning. Once in awhile I will get that feeling and then feel sick most of the day and I'm wondering if it is from having so much pain all the time or if it's from taking 8 - 10 hydrocodone pills a day? Either way, it's a very scary feeling because I really do feel like I am going to pass out. I start getting a clammy, sweaty feeling and all I can do is either stay laying down or put my head between my knees. So, I'm scared that I'm not going to be well before my surgery but I'm hoping that tomorrow is a much better day than today.
  • Are you able to eat? I hope you are not so nervous that it is taking a toll with your nutrition. I know I would not be feeling well if I were taking that much hydrocodone.

    Is the same surgeon doing this surgery? Often it is a gamble as to whether a surgeon should try to get by with a laminectomy or if he should be on the safe side and just do a fusion to begin with. Obviously, we would all prefer to have the smaller surgery, but sometimes it just doesn't work out. I'm sorry you have to go through this again so soon.

    You will find that fusion is a bigger surgery and recovery will take longer and be more difficult. The success rate is higher for cases where there is mostly leg pain rather than back pain, so that statistic is in your favor.

    Hope you have a good day tomorrow and feel better, so you will go into your surgery feeling well-rested. It will all be over with before you know it and you will be on the road to recovery. Spend some time tomorrow doing some activities that you find calming and soothing...maybe listening to music, soaking in a tub...whatever works for you. Staying calm and positive will aid your healing.
  • The same surgeon is doing my surgery. I do trust him, I think that he really thought that the 1st surgery would work in my situation and who would have known that just 2 weeks after the surgery that I would have more loose disc fragments. He did mention that a 2nd laminectomy could be done, but I know in my mind that the same thing would happen.

    Hopefully after all of this is over I will be able to stop taking hydrocodone.....it is very addictive.

    I feel better this morning, but not 100% well, but I haven't felt 100% well since after the surgery 2 1/2 months ago. I really think that pain can make a person physically sick too.
  • Pepper, sending positive thoughts and prayers your way as you go into surgery tomorrow. >:D<
  • Well, I had my surgery on Thursday, March 18. I stayed 2 nights in the hospital and was in a lot of pain. I'm still in pain on the 3rd day, but not as much as in the hospital...I think that people recover at home better (unless they need to be hooked up to an IV or gas).

    The doctor prescribed neurontin and I took one today and feel totally "out of it", but it helps a little. Maybe after a few doses I won't feel this way.

    I have a lot of pain when laying down or trying to get out of bed, but I've been moving around a lot at home and feel better. OT and PT at the hospital recommended several pieces of medical equipment (raised toilet seat, walker, reacher, sock reacher) and this has helped me so much already today at home. I wish I would have come home a lot sooner. They were going to release me yesterday, but I told them I wasn't ready because I was in so much pain. The stay there last night was just horrible. My room was too hot and I sweated all night. I was in a lot of pain and had to keep calling the nurse to give me pain medication. I had to call the nurse to even go to the bathroom after they took the catheter out. And to top it all off, it was my time of the month which just multiplied my problems.

    I can't believe how much better I am doing since I got home. I don't need to use the walker. I have been sitting up most of the rest of the day since I got home and at the hospital, I only sat up twice. The nurse told me to start eating meals in the chair, so I ate one meal sitting on the chair and when her shift was over, I just sat in the bed and ate. I know that laying for 2 1/2 days probably didn't help my pain and probably didn't help speeding up my healing.
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