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Just had a L-4/5 and L-5/S1 fusion Surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Two level PLIF with 6 screws and 2 rods.

:''( ~X( I am sure that I am not the only one on here with this type of post-op pain. OMG!!! my pain level is 10 times as bad now that I have had the surgery. After sitting for 15mins or so my Rt leg starts to hurt like heck, and then my foot goes numb. It's been 9 days now, how much longer do I have to go before this goes away? Should I realy do NOTHING like the Doc told me to do for 4 weeks?

Thanks for any and all comments!



  • Were you told to walk or literally, to do nothing? I've never known anyone who was told to do nothing. Many patients are told to avoid any activity that involves bending, twisting or lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk for the first three months. I would also add, no reaching overhead or sideways, pushing or pulling. But walking is the very most important activity you can do as it stretches out the spinal nerves which helps to prevent the formation of scar tissue around the nerves, and it gets freshly oxygenated blood to the surgical site.

    Usually sitting time is limited to no more than 15 minutes at a time at the beginning. You are much better off lying down when you are not on your feet walking. Sitting puts 30% more force on the spine that standing...and obviously from the pain you are feeling, your spine is not strong enough to handle it.

    Healing time varies greatly. I was on pain meds for the first eight weeks and didn't feel like leaving the house. By twelve weeks, I was starting to feel better...but I did not start PT until around 15 weeks. (Again, that is the surgeon's individual preference -- some start much sooner.)

    Some people feel better sooner.

    Fusion is a very difficult surgery and takes a long time to recover from. Some surgeons are not as up-front about this as they should be.

    Good luck to you. Try to be patient. There is little you can do to rush the process. Try to learn to listen to your body and remember that total healing is a slow process.

    xx Gwennie
  • You are very early in your recovery. As Gwennie said, my Dr told me no sitting unless going to the potty or eating. No longer than 15 mins. But to walk around the house, up and down driveway etc. Just take it slow. No BLT as Gwennie said. Log roll getting in and out of bed. I was on pain meds for a long time afterwards. I had my hardware out,in Sept and hoping that it helps. You will have good days and bad days, and you will slowly feel better. It takes about 3 months before you start to feel half way normal. Hang in there, and keep your chin up. It will get better. Love,Robin
  • My dear, you have a long way to go and are going to have to adjust accordingly!!! I am 9 wks out of my fusion surgery and still do not sit unless I have to, to drive etc. I am either standing, walking or laying. Still no blt, and sitting is a major sorce of stress and pain for your back right now. I feel your pain and am thinking of you. Just hang in there, treat yourself kindly, talk alot either to us or friends, and walk around the house or outside frequently. Keep in touch and let us know if you need a smile or hug!!!
  • I was told no sitting also! You should be up walking around and going out for short walks as tolerated (unless you have to go out in snow and ice) to help get your movement back. Otherwise you should be resting, preferably in a spine-neutral position with your knees up. I am almost one whole year out from surgery and YES - I AM STILL RECOVERING! I had one more level than you did, but still -- you need to realize you had major, MAJOR (yes, I'm yelling) surgery, and you need to take it easy. Until your spine begins to fuse, you run the risk of really hurting yourself. Relax, take your drugs, move forward in baby steps. You'll get there.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Well I didn't really mean "do nothing" Gwennie. Just it's nothing to me, I was a VERY active person until now. Now I Feel like I am just in the way here at home. Anyhoo the Doc did tell me to walk as much as the pain will alow me to. Now I have a new problem I was walking around yesterday and my cut started leaking "something" not bleeding just leaking a clearish fluid with some blood in it type stuff after my walk. Is drainage normal?

    You are right on Isteller I had NO idead what the post-op Pain and Limitations were going to be like. My Doc was very up front about the surgery. I just thought it was going to be like the Mico-D I had back in 2002. Didn't have a clue the recrovery was going to be this long
  • i had L3,4,5 laminectomies with spinal fusion at those levels.i am6 weeks post op. i have lower leg and feet numbness. it is difficult for me to walk.i was not prepared for this at all. my surgeon did not say much about post op possibilities.i am finding out that my symptoms are about normal. normal is diffent for everyone.i have had 4 prior surgeries for ruptured discs atL4,5.that could be a factor in this recovery.anywaay thanks for the info.it is helpful.i am sitting too much. i walk but need more.stay positive. keep walking. thanks mike
  • Sitting and recovering is almost as bad as the whole procedure, boredom is so hard to fight, the endless days on the couch "resting". When this is all over I am going to burn my couch!!!
    Anyway, hang in there, it's a long haul!!! (Today feel's long for me, I really need to get out and take a walk!)
    Take care,
  • Mr Man...I just read the post and hope that by now you have contacted you surgeon about any kind of drainage at this point. Dont ever be afraid to call them with questions. Better off knowing what to do than wishing you had called. Dont try to do marathon walks. Just frequent ones and increase distance slowly..Like do the dame thing for 4-5 days and then increase a little and 3 or 4 days, increase a little. Just dont have a great day and double it or something. It will set you back like you wont believe. Baby steps in everything you do...And it will get better, trust me, been there done that...

    Mike, Try getting a roller walker, if you dont have one. When I have had bad days or weeks, they help cause you can stop and rest or it is just helpful to have the walker for stability. I was scared of falling for so long. It helps. Keep your chin up guy, I know everyone tells you that, but time does change alot of things for us. Hope you have a good weekend..Love, Robin
  • I keep fretting about the pain I have. It is truly terrible. I'm 10 days post op from 2 discs being fused. Had all the other issues too. I don't remember ever having seen where I should not sit up. I sit all the time crocheting, watching tv etc. Is this harmful in some way? I can walk a few steps at a time, but mostly with my rolling walker. I'm currently on Percocet, Dilaudid and Neurontin. I barely make it to the 4 hour mark for taking more meds. I feel worse than before! I can't tell if there has been any improvement yet. I do acknowledge that I am way early in the recovery and try not to expect too much.

    Unfortunately my surgeon isn't really proactive. Rather standoffish I would say. Everything is cut and dried by the book for him. His out of work note simply states I can return to work in 3 months with no limitations. Is this even possible? Well I guess it is just different for everyone.

    Oh one more thing have any of you experienced strange sort of spasms in your body? I am getting these like 'jerks' and it happens anywhere. Leg, foot, arm, hand, and sometimes my entire torso which causes a great deal of pain.

    Thank you all for being here this site is the best thing that happened to me since all of this started.

  • It is very normal to hurt, it is a very major surgery. As for sitting, it will definently harm your fusion. You are only to sit to go to the bathroom or eat. You can recline, walk, stand. But sitting puts 30% more stress on your fusion. Definite NO NO. Also when you get out of bed, make sure you do the log roll. Walking, takes time. You are doing ok. Just do it several times a day, and try to increase it gradually. Like a few steps this week. Next week to the kitchen and back. Next after that, down the driveway. 10 days is very early. Keep up with your pain meds, so pain doesnt get ahead of you. I took mine every 4 hours also. The spasms are normal. If they get bad, you might need a muscle relaxer to keep them calmed down. I will be more than happy to help you in any way. Just PM me. Remember no sitting, recline or lay down or stand. No driving, no riding in car, only local and to dr. Keep your chin up, better days ahead, I Promise..Love, Robin
  • I am so amazed at how many of us here were caught of guard at how intense the recovery is from this surgery. I really feel that the surgeons should be more forthcoming in what to really expect. I think they don't because they are afraid of scaring people away, I know I might have been really scared if I knew what the reality of this was going to be!!! Kind of like childbirth and raising kids, if we all knew how really challenging and hard it is at times, maybe we would have thought twice about doing it!!! Maybe ignorance is bliss!!!
    Well, here is to better days ahead!
  • I am getting ALIF and PLIF l4-l5 Wed monring Nov 4th. I was also told dont worry you will be up and going in a few weeks. Although I am 33 and active still, swimming, cutting wood, among many other things. I know each person is different but I think I might be in for an awakening. I have a high pain threshold to start but have never thought of this as MAJOR surgery. Call me crazy, I have just got by with this issue for 7 years and have been planning the surgery for 2 years. I will make sure to be very careful when I get home.

  • You seem to be someone who is in good physical condition, maybe this will help you heal faster. The swimming especially works so many muscles and helps you with aerobic breathing, you might just be able to handle this better than some of us. I very much hope so! That being said, this is huge surgery and expect to be knocked off of your feel for a while. Keep us posted and Good luck. Don't forget the list of must haves, take this time to get ready and be prepared.
    Take care,
  • And of course everyone else. Yes I am blown away by the intensity of the pain. I had 3 shoulder surgeries and was told it was the worst. WRONG!

    Robin I so appreciate your kindness. It meant alot to me! I am very blessed to have a daughter and her fiance here helping me with anything I need. Today they will be going out to find something that will help me recline in bed. Does anyone know where something like that can be found? I will go nutty if have to lay down all the time!
  • I am having PLIF surgery on Wednesday, the 4th as well (single level L5/S1). I have had two previous back surgeries (laminectomy in '97 and diskectomy in '04) but from what I'm reading those surgeries are NOTHING like this one will be! I am REALLY getting nervous and scared! I am trying to stay positive, but it doesn't help with the fact that I can't get a return phone call from my ns nurse and am about to run out of my Percocet pain meds tomorrow afternoon!

    I really appreciate the info about sitting. I was not told anything about sitting. I'm assuming sitting in a recliner is okay? I am so sick of laying on my couch--I can really relate to the person who wants to burn hers after recovery!

    I wish all of you well who are either recovering from surgery or are about to have surgery. I'll tell you, this site has been wonderfully encouraging and insightful for me. :)
  • Have to tell you I am in tears, of relief. I "sneaked" a percocet the last 2 nights just to get some relief. I had had 2 Tylenol#3 with no relief over the past week or 10 days, believing I was taking too much meds for pain and that I was supposed to be so much better than this.
    Your posts and information prompted me to contact my nurse and she gave me a green light for the percocet and said I was NORMAL. Oh, what a relief! My husband and I expected so much less discomfort and so much more activity than I am able to do. I actually felt better Last week at 4 week follow up with the doc. Amazing. Maybe my pool workouts and swimming have been a bit overdone. Ya think?
    BTW, I had laminectomy on each side of L4 and some more, can't think right now, rods/with fusion at L3-4 and L4-5.
    Thank you all so much!
  • Listen people. What is it with the fear of drugs? If God hadn't wanted us to take them, he wouldn't have allowed us to invent pharmaceutical companies! For gosh sakes!! Someone said they were getting afraid of the surgery. My first thought was BE afraid -- BE VERY AFRAID - but then you won't care about it because of the drugs! You are about to go through something that is right where all your pain sensations come from. DO NOT feel you are being a baby if you need to take the drugs. That's what they are there for. Now, if you start taking two-three times what the doc recommends and you're calling different drug stores trying to fill the same prescription in different places to get more, more, more -- then you have a problem! If you take what is prescribed for you, you'll do okay. Your doctor should be watching out for you. The surgery is gonna hurt. They are going to cut into your body near the main root of all your nerves. YES, but God, it WILL HURT. I can't sugar coat that for you. You will, however, most likely be okay. There will be people there to take care of you. You will have a few days of feeling like you'e been run over by a truck. You may feel like that for weeks. You take baby steps. You walk as they tell you to, you don't lift, bend, twist. You take the meds, stay on top of the pain, and let your tissues rest. You'll get better. Don't try to cowboy or cowgirl up about this. There is no one who is handing out medals at the end of the trail. All you get is the "I told you so" award when you start crying.

    Phew! Okay, so do you want to know how I REALLY feel about this stuff? ;D Now buck up, go have the surgery, take your medicine, and get BETTER!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • hello , this is really awsome to have people to talk to that really know what your going through. my surdery was in Dec. last year so i'm not quite a year out. I am definately worse now than before the surgery. My doc has referred me to a pain clinic. She put me on percocet 5/325 and flexerill which doesnt take any pain away, my question is if you have a failed spinal fusion would anyone recommend a second surgery or try to manage the pain with meds?
  • I have read several people getting hardward removed. does this mean if I am having fusion surgery with rods and screws that I have to get these out at sometime?
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Having spinal hardware is very common and there's no reason to remove it unless it causes you problems or you develop the need for more surgery. I had a PLIF 16 years ago and now have problems at a different level. They will take out my old hardware to extend the fusion and since it's the "old" kind of bulky hardware. But if I had no problems the hardware would just stay in forever.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Hello to all , new and first post. Persephone is the name of my,now, drydocked sailboat, b/c of this rotten back I have created.I am 62y.o. male WASP. L3/4;L4/5 ALIF 9/09.
    MrMan , I too was a VERY active person,which created my problems.Motorcycles,racquetball,tennis,waterskiing,swimming,scuba diving,sailboating,WEIGHT lifitng,aerobics,nautilus,
    I chose ALIF b/c "less pain and quicker recovery".If this is "less and quicker" thank God I didn't go posterially. A briefhistory :Weightlifting herniated L4/5, 12/04 ,micro-
    discectomy 2/05 full recovery.So good that by 9/05 ,call me hard headed and stupid, blew it out again in the gym,same excercise! 11/05 removed most of what left of L4/5. Recovered,felt great until 2/07.Took a fall and herniated
    L3/4 ,resulting in microD. 7/09.No help. 9/09 brought on the ALIF 8 screws,2 inserts w/BMP
    Give it time.I am beginning to feel human again now
    not quite 2 months post/op. Hang in there. It's hard for the
    "physically inactive person" to understand the torture we weekend athletes feel by doing NOTHING. Walking to us is NOTHING. I have decided to listen to the Dr. this time. DO NOTHING for 3 months , then start rehab.
    BUT, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
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