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Pain 4 weeks after ALIF

sullyssully Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am 4 weeks after having an ALIF procedure at L5/S1. Immediately after the surgery, my only pain was at the surgical site and due to my bowels waking up. I was able to do several laps in the hallways with a walker while in the hospital for 3 days. Once at home, I was able to leave the walker behind after a couple days and 2 weeks out, I was able to walk for 3 30 minute sessions per day with no pain. Then suddenly I had considerable leg pain that the doctor said was normal rebound pain from the nerves waking up (he prescribed Gabapenten which relieved the pain). I then started getting pain in the back around the surgical site that the doctor said was muscle pain (he prescribed Cyclobenzaprene which has had little to no effect). He also mentioned using a heating pad which has had some effect in reducing the pain. At 4 weeks I can barely walk for 5 minutes without the pain becoming so intense that I need to sit. I have been very careful in my movements and always use my corsette. After progressing so well in the first 2 weeks it is discouraging to be in so much pain at 4 weeks. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Is this a normal progression for an ALIF procedure such that I can expect steady improvement from here?


  • Give you the answers you seek. I'm at 6.5 months post alif and still need cane for walking more then a couble of blocks.
    That said we are all different we all heal at our own pace. Unlike you I didn't have the initial relief, its been one struggle after the other.
    Now the meds doc gave are what he said nerve pain for the gabapenten Neurotin. The other is flexril and will reduce muscle spasam. I find alternating heat & ice packs help.
    Just remember you are still very early in your recovery process, there will be milestones & setbacks.
    Listen to your body and rest at this point. Take each day for what it is and hopefully you will be back on the fast track recovery road you were on two weeks ago.
    Keep in close contact with your doc and maybe start to journal what meds you take, activity & pain levels, perhaps you might uncover a trend or pain trigger.
    I really hope you are taking your 30 min walks again real soon.

  • Have they done a recent set of X rays (since pain started again)? If you don't have any relief soon, you may want to request X rays to make sure something hasn't moved.

    Right after surgery (about six weeks) I could probably glow in the dark from all the pictures (X rays)my doctor had taken making sure everything was where it was supposed to be.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I'm so sorry your having so much pain I'm 4 months out from Alif and I'm still in pain It's still early and when i was in agony at 5 weeks i was told by my surgeon that it could be from healing and swelling in my back from healing and lets just wait and see it takes up to 18 months to completely heal from Alif And i know its frustrating when you feel it should be better this is a major surgery its not like getting appendix's out is what my pt guy told me. Keep your head up your doing great if ya need some one to talk to im here
  • It's very discouraging when you have initial relief and then heaps of pain again. 4 weeks out is very early in your recovery.

    Is it possible that you did too much walking and that's caused a severe flare? At the same stage, I was doing lots of short walks and resting. I had post-op back ache/pain for 6-7 months and there were times when I unconsciously overdid it and paid for it with extra pain. I also felt pain in other parts of my body that weren't there before surgery - this can happen as the back settles into it's new position.

    Recovery from spine surgery takes a LONG time and it can be very frustrating, but do try to be positive (easier said than done)and know that this is your one opportunity to get well again. Let family and friends help you and do observe the bending-lifting-twisting restrictions until your doctor says it's ok to do more.

    I was fused by 6 months but it took another 6-7 months before my fusion felt strong, and now I have my life back again.

    Take care


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Trish you give us all hope!.....i still have no bone growth!....and have problems with swelling in left leg but it will get better i hope
  • At 4 months out like you are, I still had lots of post-op pain, and it took nearly a year before I could sit still (computer, meetings)for longer than 15 minutes. It's only in the last 2-3 months where I can sit comfortably for a couple of hours at a time, and like your surgeon said, it does take up to 18 months to fuse and then become strong.

    I didn't have a CT scan until 5 months out and up until then, I didn't have any idea whether I'd fused or not.

    I hope by the time you have your next scan, there'll be some fusion, and too, that the swelling in your left leg will be much reduced.

    Are you able to do short regular walks? I understand that because walking increases circulation, it helps with the fusion process. Physio was the worst thing for me and so I just kept to walking - no more than 15 minutes slow/medium pace for several months outside the house, and lots of little walks up and down the patio whenever I needed to move. With a bit of gentle stretching every day, it was enough to keep the muscles in reasonable condition.

    Take care


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • TRish i can sit more than i can lay down so im in recliner alot!i go back for a ct scan in 3 months he said im doing well and i might just have to deal with leg pain in left leg! i do walk but not far! i do a few blocks a day and i try to increase it by a few houses everyday! i do pt 2x's a week but thats oh wow a killer! i just try to take it day by day and ive come to think that im still better off than i was before alif so im all good soo happy for you! ya give me hope :)
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