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Approval for PLIF - HELP

TraciTTraci Posts: 92
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Well I am new here asking questions but have been reading and trying to get all the knowledge that I could about surgery. I hurt myself at work and therefore having to go thru w/c for the surgery. The dr has said that I need a PLIF and it has taken alot of time to get the surgery approved but now that it is I am scared. I have a couple of questions. How long do you normally wear the brace? and how long is the pain going to last after the surgery? I have been taking Lortabs and Soma for years as this happened orginally in 2005. I had a microdisectomy that worked for a while then I had to start back on the pain meds. Is this going to cause the Dr. to be unable to control my pain because of the long time use of Lortabs and soma? Thank you in advance for you help.


  • Hi Traci, I can only give you my experiences. Had PLIF for L4/L5 on 5/19/10, I am still wearing the brace they gave me, but only in the car and for my regular power walks. Some doctors do not give a brace, so do. I am almost off my pain meds, down to one 2mg dilaudid twice a day. I had surgical pain at the sight until really, 6 weeks, it doesn't hurt now, but if I sit against something hard, it's a little tender. Can't answer your question of the pain meds. I was lucky enough to have the doctor see signs of "fusing" at 6 weeks, but really have to be good about not bending, lifting or twisting (BLT) for another 6 weeks which will bring me to my 3 month visit and hopeful release from doctor so I can start out patient PT. Since the operation, I've only been allowed to walk, walk, walk. Send me a private msg. if you'd like to talk further. Good luck. BTW, I'm in no pain....pretty much all the time since the operation. :))(
  • I had 2 level PLIF on 14 July - just one and a half weeks ago. I don't have a brace (I don't think it's used much here in the UK, but of course I could be wrong). Post-operative pain was (and is) sore, but that's to be expected. I am only taking paracetamols, very occasionally, and really to help me to sleep at night.

    I've had 5 years of disc problems, facet joint osteoarthritis and foraminal stenosis - I've had loads of different medications, loads of conservative treatment (you name it, I've probably had it), and have done loads of things to try and help myself beat the pain barrier - all to no avail. Hence the PLIF at S1-L5, L5-L4.

    Everyone recovers differently of course. It will depend on your fitness levels, age, support, surgeons, knowledge, and how you look after yourself afterwards (with the usual no bending, lifting and twisting etc.).

    All I can talk about is my own personal experience, which has been brilliant (so far). I've experienced 'fidgety' legs in the past 2 days, why I don't know (probably because I'm not doing a hell of a lot at the moment!!).

    I'm so pleased I've had the surgery done (well, I'm sure I will be when I've fully recovered). All I know is that I don't have the same back pain I've had for the last 5 years and I'm now so positive about the future and can't wait for the time when I can make choices that don't revolve around whether it's gonna hurt my back etc. etc.

    The recovery is totally up to me! Bring it on!!!!

    Hope this helps you a little. Be positive - get all the information you can - FIND A SURGEON YOU TRUST!! - try not to be too scared (I was really terrified I'll be honest, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be).

    Hope everything goes really well for you.
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!

  • and welcome to Spine Health. You will find lots of friendly and helpful people here and also some very informative articles on various spinal problems.

    I had a lumbar PLIF (L4/L5) in March, and like Mel and Sue, have had a very good outcome, which has been much better than I had feared.

    I am also in the UK and haven't had a brace.
    I haven't had heavy duty pain meds during my recovery, and just had paracetamol and diclofenac in the first few weeks, then nothing.

    I walk about 2 miles every day and do about 30/40 mins of exercises. I am having PT now and getting better and better each week. My knees have started giving me trouble now, but hopefully with rest, they will settle down.

    You have found a great support network here.
    Do ask any questions you may have. Have you looked at the list of useful items for recovery after fusion surgery?

    I am so glad that I had surgery. :-) I am so much better now and am getting back my life. :D
    I hope that you have the same outcome.
  • Ditto Mel, SueD, and Jellyhall! My story sounds very similar to yours in respect to pain and pain meds. I am in a hard brace until my 6 week mark. At that time it'll be determined if I need to still wear it.

    I'm pretty much past the incision pain, although I still have an infection of the top inch of the incision. Fininshing up with the antibiotics. I don't anticipate that this will cause a further problem though.

    My leg pain is now completely gone. :) :) :)
    There are days that I am taking less pain meds than prior to surgery. Hopefully those days will become more frequent, as this was the whole point of surgery.

    I was also nervous and scared before surgery. My thinking was: plan for the worst but hope for the best. That seems to be working out pretty well. I'm still early in my recovery, but I'm very optimistic that this was the very best choice for me.

    I wish you success with your surgery.
  • Thank you so very much for the advice. I have not looked at the useful items for recovery Jellyhall but I am going to now. I see that this is a very helpful and caring forum and I hope to be able to offer good advise one day just like y'all. Thanks again.

  • Don't be overwhelmed by the very long list of useful items.
    There are some that are essential, but others you can manage without.
    Essentials are at least 1 grabber (I had 3; 1 in the bathroom, 1 in the bedroom and 1 downstairs in the lounge),
    I found a sports water bottle good in the first few days, because I could drink lying down.
    Bendy drinking straws were useful to drink without having to sit right up.
    I had satin bottom sheet which made turning over much easier.
    I had a shower chair and also bath board; I did use both, but you probably only need one of them. I found sitting on the shower chair I could put my leg on the bathboard and shave my legs! Not at first! :O
    I didn't need a raised toilet seat, but others say that is essential.
    I had a 'bottom buddy' but didn't need it.
    I also had one of the turban style towels to wrap your hair in after shampooing. You can put it on without bending, and I was always exhausted after showering and washing my hair, so I could wrap it in the turban and lie down for a bit, before drying it.

    Talk to your doctor about the pain meds you are using. I have read of some people who are advised to try to get their pain meds down to help with pain control after surgery.

    Do keep asking your questions here. It will help us to get to know you and we are always very happy to try to help you. Each of us has received a tremendous amount of support here, and we want to do the same for others. :D

    I think you'll be glad you found us. :H
  • Hubby had his fusion six weeks ago. We are in Canada and he did not have a brace either. His pain was gone immediately after the operation and the incision site has healed very quickly. He was off all pain meds two days after he came home. He found the raised toilet seat to be of great benefit and he used a cane to steady himself when walking for the first few weeks.Now that his leg muscles have built up again, he does not need it. We have a step-in shower and I helped with the drying off part. He is now walking at least six kilometers a day and is driving a bit. We don't go back to the surgeon until August 24 so we won't know if he is fusing until then but he is certain that he is. Hope he is right. But he has no regrets whatsoever about the operation.
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