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PLIF L4-5w/instrumentation+decompression

chinacchina Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all....well have had pain for 5 yrs and epidurals are lasting 2 months now. Am considering surgery...I just want to get back to life. Was always very active but cannot seem to do much with out the painful consequences....last time it landed me in bed for 10 days. Any PLIF stories out there ? Need help in my decision making. Am terriied here. I am 55 and otherwise in good health.


  • A little more info...I have spondylolisthesis grade 1 and moving at L4-5. I have scheduled surgery for Aug but I would love getting any input. I am quite terrified. Am beginning to get some numbness in left foot in toes. aching in calf and pain in low back has been there for 5 yrs off and on. Epidurals were lasting 5 months up until this yr. Doc says it will not improve but will get worse and will perform surgery when I am ready so I hav scheduled.
    I wish someone could tell me I am doing the right thing. I am so tired.
  • hi all,

    i have been browsing these forums for ad finally decided i need to post.

    I am 4 weeks post op of PLIF of L4-L5-S1 and i think i am healing and makg progress slowly. I am on norco(325mg)every 6 hours and 2 days ago stopped soma.

    my trouble is i am soooooooooooo emotional. i cry all the time. i think i am frustrated, as i am ready to be well, but are the pills helping with all the crying.

    Also since i have stopped the soma i am getting nerve pain again which was completely gone after surgery. i am getting the nerve pain down to my ankle. it started yesterday. why start 4 weeks post op?

    this has not helped with the crying at all, in fact now i feel like crying more.

    is this normal?
  • oops sorry my reply was supposed to be a new post. still learning this place sorry
  • China,

    I am in the same boat as you - scared of surgery. I am scheduled for a TLIF on 3 Aug, but am considering canx. I also have grade 2 spondy and large herniation at l5 s1. My ortho surgeon also said he is ready to do surgery when I can't deal with the discomfort. I have on and off numbness and tingling in both legs - herniation is on the right. My pain is managed fairly well with neurontin and mobic, but I have stopped taking the mobic to see if I can manage without meds - can't be on them forever especially an NSAID. I can't do ESIs because of an adverse reaction to an oral steriod.

    Unfortunately I don't think anyone can tell us we are doing the right thing. My doc does not necessarily think the spondy is a pain generator, but the fact soemthing is broken in my back and i can feel it slipping sometimes is freaky. As you know, success is not a guarantee. I don't know what I am going to do and I spend way to much time thinking and reading about it. All the best, Mike
  • I hear you. I have a grade 1 spondylolisthesis and have had shots for 5 yrs now. I am awaiting surgery Aug 5. Not sure if I will go thru with it but I keep thinking that 55 is young enough to fight back. I am an active person and have gradually seen myself succumb to the back issues. Yesterday I washed car and by nightfall I was in the chair trying hard not to complain. It seems I have gotten to the point that I try to keep it in for my familys sake....you cannot understand if you haven't been there. Maybe I should trust the Dr's God given abilitys and put faith in Gods decisions for me. Anyway....it is scary and some of th things you read on this site are pretty depressing. I wish you well also.
  • Hi China! Here's a sort of "success story" altho I had 2 priors which I hope you don't have (hope you have a "virgin back"!) I had exactly the same thing you have: spondy grade 1 & all the nerve issues, etc--tried the shots, PT, what-not to avoid the fusion, but did have it ---now @ 1.5 yrs, I am 90% fused (saw my NS last Monday) but have continuing leg pain & nerve issues (but that is mostly due to my priors, which may not apply to you)
    Yes, it it's scary. And there are no guarantees. But if you trust your doc & are tired enough of trying to tough it out, fusions DO help w/ spondy pain(I have NO pain anymore @ L4/5 except for the hardware, but that's just me I guess) so w/ a 90% solid fusion there now, at least THAT will never move again! :)
    You have to know when to give up, I guess. If your quality of life is deteriorated to the point that you hurt all the time & have tried everything else, I'd say go for it. It'll keep the spondy from getting worse. May not help the leg pain much, but your back will be stronger & maybe you'll have a better over-all result if this is your 1st procedure.
    I was 57 when I had the fusion....so we CAN grow nice new strong bone @ our age---we Boomers are fighters! If you have it done in Aug, don't expect much until Xmas in the way of relief, as the surgery is very painful, I won't kid you there. But I turned a corner @ about 9 months out, returned to teaching F/T this year, & altho I'm still on pain meds (& probably always will be) my situation was perhaps different from yours b/c of all the stuff he did b4 the fusion...
    You need to know when you can't take it anymore. You say your're "tired"...I know what you mean. Mentally, emotonally & physically, I'm sure. So be terrified (I sure was!) but trust your body, your doc & the Lord...if you decide to go for it, you'll be OK!!

    Sorry for the long post! Just wanted to reassure you that it DOES work (my x-rays are lovely! :)) & altho you'll never be 100% again, you could be much better than you are now!

    Let us know what you decide---we're all here for you! This is a wonderful site for support, encouragement & love!

  • Hello China and Mike

    I'm in a similar situation as you. I've got a grade 1 spondylolisthesis and stenosis L4/5/S1. I've had this for 5 years and had a laminectomy/discectomy/lateral decompression last year, which didn't help - in fact after about a month, the pain became worse than before, possibly because the disc wasn't the main cause of the pain.

    I'm 63 and the pain is there 24/7 and drives me nuts and I'm now waiting to see a second neurosurgeon next month. I want to go ahead with surgery in the hope that the pain will eventually reduce rather than be in increasing severe pain for the rest of my life.

    I'm on Lyrica and Oxycontin - both medications help, but not enough to give me quality of life. I have to be careful with medications because I've got a very sensitive stomach and take slippery elm.

    If you feel you can't cope with the pain long term, then I would encourage you to go ahead with the surgery in August.

    I've read several posts here from people who've had successful fusion surgery and they've been given their lives back again. I also have a few friends whose surgeries have been successful. Everything I've read here indicates that it is a long hard road to recovery but worth the fight.

    Let us know how you get on.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • When you have spondylolisthesis and are in pain, there really isn't too much that can be done to alleviate the pain other than having surgery. Many people live with spondy for a long time and are not aware they have the "condition" (situation) because it is not causing pain. But once you are in pain, chances are good that spondy is at least contributing to it.

    China, my situation was almost the same as yours. My spondy was at L4-5 and I also had bad central canal stenosis. The combination of the two was causing horrendous sciatic pain. I waited over three years to have surgery because I kept thinking there must be a better, more sophisticated technique to deal with this problem. I went to eight specialists looking for answers...but to a doctor, I was told I needed fusion...that it was not an emergency, but I would know when I was ready.

    Finally when I was driving to the end of my driveway to get the mail and I could not stand longer than a minute, I KNEW. I was turning into a shut-in, missing concerts I had bought tickets for because I realized I just couldn't manage an evening out, with all that walking, the long trip to the restroom, etc.

    You will know when the time is right for you, too. However, if you develop bowel or bladder problems, or foot drop, go immediately to your surgeon. Those conditions are considered an emergency.

    The most important thing is to find a spinal specialist that you have researched, that you know is the best surgeon you can find and that you are comfortable with, and then you will be ready to proceed when the time is right.

    Many people wish they had not waited so long...and I think I may be among them. (I haven't quite decided yet!!) I spent three years in horrible pain when it was not necessary...and I MAY have caused myself permanent nerve damage by waiting. (I can't really get any doctor to commit to that idea.)

    I am off to acupuncture and my "rearranger" and will check back later. I am happy to answer any of your questions. I am quite a "layman expert" on the topic by now!!

    Hang in there. Better days are ahead!!

    xx Gwennie
  • Boy do I need to hear success stories....thanks Lakeside.
    This will be my virgin surgery...I have never had any surgery of any kind. So...I really saved up for a biggie.
    The doc tells me I will no doubt be asking myself why I did it for @ 2 months. Most of my pain lies directly in the lower left back just above the b-cheeks. I have been experiencing some calf aches and some numbness in last three-four toes on left foot. They will be using BMP for fusion. It is just very hard to come to realization that normal is out the window. I was told that I would realize hardware was there....does the hardware cause pain for you?
    Is so....am I just trading pain? I realize I must at some point stop the spondy but am I trading that pain for another? This is a huge pill I am swallowing. Do not mean to sound negative...I am just trying to learn and accept what I must. Then I will work on positivity.Thanks..China
  • hey thanks for the post....I am still trudging thru daily stuff but realizing that every time I do anything which requires a lot of back strength...I end up hurting. I do realize that I am beginning to avoid things which I know will end in painful result. One of my concerns was "what am I doing that is doing further damage by ploughing thru teh pain?" This is a concern,but it seems as long as I can plough thru...I do. Am just getting to the realization that something will have to be done..be it now,be it later. Just digesting....and looking for peace in my decision.
  • I am just writing this to follow -up and to thank the folks who were so upbeat and supportive to me while I was in the process of being completely terrified. I had my PLIF w/ instrumentation 9 months ago now and am in the process of fusing now. The surgery was painful but I am on the mend now. I am not on any meds at all and have been able to stop them since the end of the first month. I do however take Tylenol when I have overdone or had a particularly stressful day backwise. I do feel the metal in my body and it is what I refer to as "the wierdness" but not pain. As I lived in pain for 5 yrs ...there is no doubt that it is gone.
    I mainly want to come back to tell a positive story to those with spondylolisthesis who suffer. There can be help from surgery...the hardest part is coming to terms with it. The pain of surgery is not even as difficult. It was mental torture tho getting to the point where I decided to have it.
    My advice is research your problem well....ask questions...get 2nd opinions...ck out all types of surgerys available for your specific problem and then trust in your choice and most importantly ...first and last....give it to God. Allbest, China
  • For that positive update. I pray you heal completely. I can't imagine going 5 years in pain before surgery. 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
  • Thanks for returning to let us know your successful story :-)
    I agree about how stressful it is to make the decision for surgery.
    Once I'd made that decision, I handed it over to God, and received an amazing peace about it.
    I am just over 2 months out, and think I am doing well, although frustrated at how long this recovery is! I knew it would be, but time drags when you can't do much.

    Hoping that you just keep getting better! :-)
  • Thanks so much for the prayers...we can all use them hey? china
  • hey jellyhall....just take your time...in my case it took @ 4 months to make that first transition into feeling more like myself. Then I started a once a week massage program which truly helped with the rigidity of the tissue. Everything just happens in little blocks of time. Quite honestly.. I am only now beginning to feel like my "whole" self. I mean body and mind are beginning to align again.
    Yoga(therapeutic) has been the latest step in road to recovery. Believe me when I say I cried my way thru the first 2 classes tho. Not because it hurt but because I believe I truly began to let go of the grief of the whole back ordeal. You know, grieving the changes in my body. Anyway...I just wanted to pass along hope to everyone out there...you hear some pretty hard stuff when you are sick and I equate it to having a bad meal and raising cain about it to everyone. But when you go back and try the restaurant again..and the meal is good....do you tell the folks you raised cain with? So....Here is to hope....I wish you a successful recovery..be patient and take care. It is lonely but be patient. Wishing you the best! China
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