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12 weeks post-op ALIF L5-S1

aimlessaaimless Posts: 372
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I saw my surgeon this week for my 12 week post-op followup. I've been doing really well - sleeping better, no medication (occasional acetaminophen) and keeping up with the walking (2-3 miles just about every day). He's pleased with my progress and lifted all ROM restrictions. He did say that any athletic pursuits should be sports where I am in control, to minimize risk of injury (so rugby and horseback riding are not recommended). He encouraged me to stay active, that it would keep the blood flow in the spine. To me that means walking and Pilates, not sky diving).

I have a twitch in my calf muscle of my left leg, the nerve compression was on that side. He said that is residual from the nerve being compressed for so long, and it may or may not go away. Its annoying but its not painful, I can live with it.

I asked about diagnostics to see if I am fusing, such as an MRI or CT. He said the best gauge is really how I am feeling, and that imaging is tricky with metal in the spine - he doesn't think we would necessarily be able to see if there is fusion. I guess the only way to truly tell is if he goes back in and looks, and that isn't going to happen as far as I'm concerned!!

I also asked him about the disc above the fusion level, which is bulging. He said that bending over, and lifting while bent over, should be avoided. Just lifting - I need to be really cautious. I'll see him again in July for 6 month check in.

I feel really lucky.


  • I-wish-you-a-complete-recovery-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
  • I am 5 weeks post op with my ALIF and discectomy at L5S1 today. I had 2 surgeons, 1 general to go tho my old c-section (had triplets 16 1/2 years ago) and move guts out and over for the neuro surgeon to go in and do his thing. I recieved cadavier bone and 2 titanium pins and a small guard. Then the dicectomy tho back about 5 1/2 hour surgery, 3rd in 15 monthes. Our history seems so similar. I am stiff in the morning and my stomach is sore on the one side, I think from tightening my tummy muscles during water PT. Sometimes my leg feels funny after driving.I think it is more muscular than nerve. I had an xray yesterday and see my Neuro on Tuesday. I got the impress he can see the fusion/bone growth per standard xray tho complete fusion can take up to 2 to 5 years. Do you think 12 weeks is a reasonable amount of time before returning to work. I work 3 days a week at a very busy high paced oncology practice, on my feet most days all day. Your story really gives me hope. I was so glad to get rid of that disc. No BLT is so hard, but trying to obey that rule. Twisting is hard, don;t realize I am doing that, until I am. What do you try to avoid doing? I really needed to hear a success story. Thanks, Patty
  • Thanks Charry! (and you as well!)

    Hi Patty - I agree, twisting is the hardest! But this whole post-op experience has made me so aware of my movements, and hopefully I'll keep the "good habits" i.e. bend as little as possible, stay really conscious of how I'm lifting etc. I went back to work after 8 weeks but I also have a desk job so its a bit different from your situation. One thing I do find is the need to frequently get up and walk, or work standing up (my desk is on a lift, so this is possible) so you may be okay.

    Its hard to tell if I am fusing based on the xray, because of the carbonfiber cage between the vertebrae. My surgeon looks at the x-rays to ensure the hardware is in place, and has advised that I should monitor for any pain as that would be more an indication of failed fusion than anything else.

    What do I avoid doing? I have not done any "core muscle" exercises or had a massage, I am now cleared for both. My doc essentially told me to leave that whole area alone. (At 6 weeks post-op, he did clear me for stretching my arms and legs). I definitely avoid any unnecessary bending, and still have a hard time with heavy doors. And if I can get someone to help me lift (i.e. my suitcase or laptop bag when traveling) then I don't hesitate. I hate asking for help but I have no choice, and I don't want to go through this again!!

    Best of luck to you - PM me if you like.
  • I'm back for some pre-op support and found your post. I go for my ALIF next Thursday. Didn't think this day would ever come. It's been a year and a half to get to surgery since making that decision. Yay free health care (I'm Canadian).

    Love to read the positive stories as I'm starting to freak out a bit.

    Best of luck to you and I hope you continue to feel better.

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