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Was wondering how long was your PLIF recovery

MLT01MMLT01 Posts: 172
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello Everyone,

I'm wondering how long your PLIF recovery was and when did you begin to feel better,sleep better and starting to get off meds ect. I'm a little over 3 weeks not sure If I should feel father along than what I'm feeling!


spondylolisthesis at L4-5; stenosis,
Lumbar surgeries 1999 L4-L5
Lumbar staph infection 1999-2000"
Meningitis x5 in 1999-2001
Brain shunt 2000"
Brain shunt removed 20001"
ALIF/PLIF fusion 8/5/09
Failed fusion and Failed Hardware
PLIF Fusion scheduled for 10/29/10


  • My 2-level PLIF was September 29, not quite two months ago, and as of today I am off of ALL medications for my back. I went off my regular pain med, hydrocodone, two weeks ago, and have been weaning myself off of the Lyrica since last Tuesday. Am feeling wonderful and as I've posted elsewhere on the forum I'm having a hard time remembering I had back surgery! I am sleeping well and have resumed all my pre-surgery activities, although I am still being cautious about what I lift. I cut 3 wheelbarrows full of fire wood last Thursday, with no problems and no ill effects. I'm out of the rigid clam shell brace and just wearing a cotton corset for rigorous activities. :)

    Now, I'm just left with some nasty arthritis in my hand. Oh well, life would be boring if we didn't hurt one place or another!

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • My PLIF was L4-5-S1. I was fully fused at about 8 months. I was back to work at 11 weeks but was still using a little vicoden and flexerile here and there. I remember saying that each week/month I felt a little stronger and could last longer in my day before medicating.

    Not everyone can go off medication early. We all heal at our own pace- I remember being here and reading some of my "surgery buddies" posts and they were telling how they were off all meds early and not having any issues. I was jelous. I had plenty of pain and I was not ready to stop my meds let alone start walking 3 miles a day (like some of them).

    But- I too eventually healed and weaned my self off the meds. I had my surgery in the summer of 2008 and by the following spring I was feeling better than I had in years. Then I hurt my neck again :)

    At 3 weeks I was still in a great deal of pain and pretty heavily medicated. I think that is when I started coming upstairs more during the day and walking around my home. Started crawling out of my hole so to speak, but not really leaving the comfort of the house. Although I did drive myself to the pharmacy (1 mile away).

    Feel better,

  • Julie,

    Thank you for your response...I'm relieved to hear that 3 weeks out you were still in pain.Sorry I know that does not sound good when I said glad you were in pain. please don't take it that way! I sometimes think it's just me where others seem to bounce back so quick.

    Glad to hear you are doing well!!

  • I had my surgery two level 4/5/S1 on October 3rd. I stopped my neurontin on the 17th (I was only taking 1 a day though). I also starting taking half my pain dose than as well and stopped taking valium unless needed. Now I am off all meds except my oxy 15 which I am taking 1/2 a pill of every 8 hours.

    Now, I am doing not much of anything. I get exhausted really quickly. After I am completely off the meds I am going to do some short driving trips and after my 6 weeks appt. I am going to start walking. My doctor told me to just take it easy and do nothing that hurts. On the other hand, He also has not given me any direction to do anything either. So here I rest until my next appt.

    I want to go back to work on January 3rd (and it will be a flight across the country no less) so I am hoping that he ends my disability during the holiday break. While it won't be great to fly (I will just make sure to get up often)..and it will be interesting to see what happens with my fusion and the scans. It will also be good to avoid my day to day job by being at a meeting for 2 weeks.

  • Everyone heals differently but I was barely moving around other that to walk at three weeks. I had a 3 level PLIF Sept 16 so I am about 10 weeks post op. I still medicate on a schedule because if I don't the pain gets so bad I feel like I cannot stand it. I did very little around the house as in almost nothing. My husband took care of me and all the household chores. Our children are grown. I have some fusion showing on the xray but the Dr. still doesn't want too much going on in the physical area. I do try to do a little bit around the house each day but I am retired (47 years old) so I do not have a return to work date. I am sorta glad so that I can let this surgery heal good before doing very much. Don't get down and discouraged because you will probably see some vast improvement in the next couple of weeks. Three weeks is just so soon after this major surgery. Your body is trying to heal the "trauma" that it has been though. Take care and rest all you can - it will get back to normal and you will be wishing you could rest. Traci
  • Maria,

    A PLIF is MAJOR surgery with a long recovery time. Personally, I think the people that have such quick recoveries and no pain are not the norm. Don't feel like you should be where they are in recovery.

    After my 2 level PLIF, at 3 weeks I was still pumping in meds 24/7 and not doing much except little walks, showering, preparing easy meals. I also had a toddler at the time so someone was always with me because of my BLT restrictions. Talk about suffocating, LOL!

    Take things slow, recovery is not a race. I know it is hard to read posts and think "how come I'm not doing that well?", but we are all different and there are so many variables to recovery: age, health at time of surgery, extent of damage to spine, etc.

    Also, take into account the type of fusion: 1 or 2 levels? ALIF or PLIF? I have had both, and both were 2 levels and I can tell you that my recovery from an ALIF was sooooo much "easier" than my PLIF.

    Hang in there, take good care of yourself and listen to your body.

  • Oh Lisa thank you!! I sometimes fell like I'm crazy! Thinking is this pain really that bad? can I make it to 4-5 hrs without meds ect. I know you understand especially 1)ou been through this before and 2)you have kids! I had a 360 17 months ago! I do not remember the back hurting like this I agree with you the stomach was less pain...

    I also is the one who ALWAYS entertains for the holidays and this year is so hard. Sometimes I wish I waited till after the holidays back but, I couldn't I had a non-union and they thought I had one loose screw (LOL ) when he went in ALL the hardware was loose and it all shifted. The pain was so bad so I couldn't wait any longer. It's just hard I'm the type of person who invites everyone for the holidays so no one is left behind well this year I feel left behind and it is very hard emotionally! It's going to be the parents my kids and husband!. Sorry as you see I'm really struggling emotionally!!

    I hope you recover well and have a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

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