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TLIF scheduled for July 16th. How long before I might be able to walk around?

BrihtwulfBBrihtwulf Posts: 69
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
So, I had my appointment with my neurosurgeon today. He went over my MRI imaging with me on the computer there, and while I was expecting some unpleasant news, it was a bit worse than I expected. I've had a couple trips the ER in the last few weeks, and even with high-dose vicodin I'm still in some bad pain between doses. But, back to the MRI...

After reading the report myself (which I always do after any imaging), the results seemed pretty disheartening but nothing screamed "surgery!" about the words on the page. But after hearing the NS tell me I have a serious and severe case, he took me in to view the images first hand. The disc was completely blown out, so much so that there was less than a mm of tissue keeping my L5 and S1 vertebra from touching. The disc was also completely dehydrated. Then they panned to the side, and it looked as if my vertebra were almost lit up, the image was so bright/white. Apparently this is a sign of edema, which he was quick to point out to me was quite prevalent. So, that's just some background on what I appear to have going on...

My questions are about what some of you may have experienced in terms of time until you can get up and at least make your way around the house. How long did you spend lying down? What kind of pain did you experience after you went home? With the pain meds, is it any worse than the pre-surgery pain? I have a hard time imagining what the pain is like in comparison.

Some possibly important information:
I'm 30 years old (male)
I'm 5'11", 200lbs. (a bit overweight I believe)




  • For me, the day of surgery I was expected to sit on the side of the bed(which felt good to move) and walk with a walker on the day after surgery to the bathroom. Before I left the hospital, I was able to walk quite far with my walker. In fact, I even escaped from the 7th floor of one building to the first floor(elevator, of course) of another building while I was in the hospital.

    The first three weeks were the hardest for me. I was always able to move from couch to bed to bathroom with walker, but if I did walking during those first 3 weeks like at Walmart, I would pay for it the next day. The whole thing is kind of a yo-yo, and a two steps forward one step back thing. You feel good, so you overdo it, then feel bad the next day.

    They won't(shouldn't) send you home from the hospital without being able to walk, sit down, stand up, and do a few stairs without someone helping you(but you can use the walker, it's really helpful.) I did do some garage sale shopping in the first few weeks. My mom drove, we would only go for a short time, and it was nice to get out. I would sit in car, she parked close, then I would get out with my walker for the very short walk then back to car to rest. This helped my spirits a lot to get out but not be committed to long walks at first.

    So while the first 3 weeks really sucked painwise for me, I was always able to move to bathroom by myself and such. I recommend risers under your bed so that it is easier for you to get in and out of bed by yourself.

    Even with pain meds, my back hurt really bad the first 3 weeks. After the postop visit at 3 weeks, I really noticed a big change in my pain level and my activity level. Don't know if I had started healing or if it was a mental thing getting the OK from the doc to do more, but 3 weeks was a definite improvement for me.

    Good luck to you.
  • Are you thinking about getting more than one opinion, or are you satisfied with this NS?

    Are you having surgery fusing one level or more? You just mention the L5-S1, so I am guessing it is the one level.

    I don't think it makes too much difference between one or two levels in terms of recovery. More levels than that, there is usually a much bigger difference...the more levels that are fused the more complicated things are in general.

    I ended up having surgery in the evening, getting to the hospital room around 11:00. They let me sleep all night and then I was up around 8 the next morning, walking a bit with a walker. I had a catheter so didn't get walked to the bathroom, but they did walk me down the hall.

    As ernurse indicated, they will not let you go home until you can handle whatever your home situation is. If your bedroom is on the second floor, they will be sure you can do the necessary stairs. You will be able to toilet yourself, wash yourself, etc. I use the walker a couple days after I got home, and then it was no longer necessary. I couldn't walk very far at first. I would stay in bed until I needed to use the bathroom, then I would take my walk around the house before returning to bed.

    After about 10 days, my son and I went out to lunch. I just used his arm for support and was able to walk into the restaurant and to the table. I was still on all my pain meds at this point...and continued on them until the 10 week point.

    I can't really answer your question about whether the pain is worse. It really depends on what your pain levels are prior to surgery, how long it lasted, etc. In my case, the surgical pain was very different from the pain I had prior to surgery. I was kept well medicated, both in the hospital and after. As a result I slept a lot the first two weeks.

    It is important to realize that recovery is a long process. Think of it as an investment in your future and do not be in a rush to meet deadlines or try to make your body heal faster than it can. Rest and walk, rest and walk...those are the two most important activities while you recuperate.
  • Did you say you got to go to yard sales ,that is my thing every weekend im worried when ill be able to go . having spinal fusion hopefully 2nd week in july or 3rd . glad to hear you done good after surgery i hope i will too . im really scared but have an awsome support team all you guys and my family pm me if you get a chanceRebel R :-C enee
  • I am also scheduled for surgery but have a firm date of July 28th. I can't wait but at the same time have nervous times. I am doing everything I can to prepare and plan on asking a ton of questions when I have my first pre-op appt on July 7th. I have a long list so while they are poking me and going through all of the tests I will be yapping and asking more questions.

    Good Luck!
  • JJ, my surgeon has all his patients walk a mile a day, from the day after surgery. I think it really helped my recovery. After 4 weeks, the walking goes up to 2 miles.

    Pain? Yes, although the lumbar stenosis pain was completely gone; left in the OR. My pain was controlled pretty well with Oxycontin. After about 3 weeks, I transitioned to Hydrocodone for another 3-4 weeks, then no pain meds. I did have a lot of stiffness and cramping, controlled pretty well with Soma. I'm 18 months post surgery, and haven't taken so much as a Motrin or Advil after getting off the Hyrocodone.

    At 8 weeks, I started 4 weeks of P.T., 3 times a week, with stretching, lifting, and other exercises on the off days. After P.T was over, I hooked up with a neuromuscular massage therapist (which insurance doesn't cover), and he helped get the kinks out and certainly enhanced my healing.

    At about 9 months post-op, I knew I was fully fused. At 12 months, I was able to do anything I wanted to do. A little slower, perhaps, but able to do it.

    I hope your recovery is even faster and better than mine!
  • I was up and walking (no walker) the morning after surgery. I did eventually come to use a cane because of balance issues, but that got kicked to the curb fairly quickly too. No more lying about in bed -- that's a thing of the past.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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