Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

How bad is the post op pain?

Annie-mAAnnie-m Posts: 108
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I know everyone's different but I would like some feed back of how bad the post op pain was. Was there pain in the back where the fusion was done? What about the incision site? I want all the feed back I can get!

ALIF April 2011 but it turns out I broke before it barely fused.
L4-L5 posterior fusion December 2013


  • Hey Anne -

    You'll be fine - not to worry. First 3 days post-op are the worst, not only because of the operation itself, but also b/c you are transitioning from the hospital to home. You're not only switching meds (strong to less strong), you're also dealing with getting comfy w/ your bed, couch, etc. For me, once I got past the first three days, things were much more manageable.

    Toughest pain for me was in the back - really sore, pounding. (I had c-spine ACDF - pain was in back of neck and back.) Found out later that was due to the position in which they operate on you - they put you in traction to open things up as much as possible while they work. So, you are simply in an awkward position and your body hurts from this. Second was the throat - you will have a very sore throat due to the breathing tube, as well as them digging around in your neck (if that is where your problem is, of course). But, really not that bad. My back pain was worse.

    All of this gets MUCH better after a few days. At a week, feeling like a 3 on the pain scale (1-10). I'm at 2 weeks now, and already cutting down the pain meds. Still stiff, still hurt, still going slow - but pain isn't constant.

    My nurse told me it was kinda like working out - first day not so bad, but the soreness really kicks in a few days to follow. Quick tips - speak up if your pain meds aren't working, have a recliner ready-to-go at home (we bought one first day b/c couch just wasn't working), use a heating pad to help aching muscles.

    All in all, not that bad. I'm sure everybody has a different experience, but I felt pain was very manageable, toughest part was first few days, after that - challenge is just find ways in which to be comfortable.

    If I can answer any more questions, happy to do so. I know surgery is very scary - hang in there. Good luck!

  • My husband said it was bad but in no way as bad as it was before the fusion. He had morphine for a day and then percocet for three more and then, after we came home, he took nothing. He says he really did not have a huge amount of 'pain' as such after but he did feel as if there was a box under his skin which made it hard to get comfortable. Once the staples were out, that was gone.
    Of course, it was uncomfortable to move until the incision healed but he has also stated that the area where the drain was was far more annoying than the actual incision and his incision is very long.
  • I appreciate all the info. I'm one of those people that does much better with the more info I get. I don't think I'll be in traction because it's the L4-L5 that I'm having done.

    Thanks again, Anne
    ALIF April 2011 but it turns out I broke before it barely fused.
    L4-L5 posterior fusion December 2013
  • Hi Anne

    My pain was controlled really well with Fentanyl in the PCP in the hospital and I hope that the hospital you're going to will look after you as well mine.

    Is the surgery being done from the front or back?

    I had an ALIF and coming home from the hospital after 5 days, I had a lot of nausea and couldn't wait to get into my own bed.

    The anaesthetist will prescribe medication for you to take home with you. I was given Oxycontin, Oxycodone and Gabapentin and that lasted for nearly 6 weeks. I had to get more Oxy from the doctor to take me through the next month or so.

    In the early stages of recovery, it's very important to take the pain meds as prescribed so that you keep ahead of the pain, even in the middle of the night.

    Once you're able to, it's also very important to do lots of short walks around the house and patio and then gradually start walking down the street. You'll be surprised how fatigued you get - it's the body putting most of its energy into the healing process. Whatever you do, don't push yourself too hard - you'll need lots and lots of patience, and there'll be good and bad days. You'll also need to rest and rest and rest. Healing from fusion is a long and slow process.

    Do observe the BLT restrictions until your surgeon gives you the ok to do more.

    The grabber was my "best friend" and also a stick with a hook on the end of it so that I could pull up my pants. It had one of those "rubber thumbs" on the other end and that was good for turning the power points on and off. Lots of pillows to cushion your back and under your knees is a good idea.

    My fusion is successful and today I can do most things and enjoy life.

    Try not to worry too much and keep as busy as you can before your surgery and perhaps treat yourself to something you've been wanting for a while.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I'm having ALIF of the L4-L5. I guess I can take the pain meds on a schedule but I'm afraid of getting addicted to them. I surprised to hear that I will get so fatigued so easily @) I'm thinking the doing the stairs in my house might also fatigue me. Maybe I should have the insurance provide a hospital bed for me down stairs? I've dealt with this problem for about 18 yrs now and I have done every other kind of conventional therapy. God I hope this will do the job ~LOL~

    ALIF April 2011 but it turns out I broke before it barely fused.
    L4-L5 posterior fusion December 2013
  • Please allow me to add my voice to the tired bit.
    The first time I showered and dressed on my own - about 3,5 weeks out - it took nearly 30 minutes and by the time I was finished I felt like I had run a half marathon - went back to bed and slept.

    Am now 4.5 weeks out - am working a bit from home, which is way more tiring than you think, walked for 30 mins in total yesterday and today am really feeling it.

    As a longtime member of AA am terrified of narcs and got off them after 2 weeks but everyone if different -Plse feel free to PM if you have other questions or just need to chat.
  • hello annie i had alif l4 -l5 and a mass of bone spurs they went through my tummy,i guess same for you.after surgery wasnt near as bad as every 1 said it be .with the pain med they give you .you will be fine my big was the morning they got me ready for surgery i was shaking mess with my nerves never had any type of surgery at all..i asked for something for my nerves and she gave me something dont know what it was.but man that helped .when they told my wife to leave it was time that made me nervous ,i couldnt ask for better wife of 23 years ,other then that first 15 days you will be sore just rest and dont over do anything,do what they say and you will be fine,and start right away for bowel movement,because it be hard put any strian on your stomach.i eat yogurts and soft food for 15 days.this is big i think that was my worse time ..and try not to sneez what ever you do or cough,because that hurts .sneezed 2 times and oman.cig smoke seem to cause that ..gl im prob forget something.o yeah stay at the hospital till they run you off.i left 3 days early,and payed dearly for that.pain med they give me didnt work so it was 28 hours of hell for me,my mistake which never happen again ..lol gl
  • o annie no stairs im sure the doctor will tell ya that,got start small steps and walking on flatt surface,,no steps doctor will tell ya do and donts,,gl
  • Holy crap, I live in a two story house and the showers are up stairs :O My bed is up stairs too! No no no, there must be some way for me to do stairs I hope :SS

    ALIF April 2011 but it turns out I broke before it barely fused.
    L4-L5 posterior fusion December 2013
  • i had alif l4 and l5 ,that was the first thing they told me ann no stairs good luck i hate you might have to deal with that,keep us posted hope all goes well,it be over with and its not as bad some lets on like it is,im big chicken of doctors and surgerys.if i did anyone can lol and say good prayer i did and cant remeber hardley anything from mine,gl
  • I had alif also in nov and i was told no stairs no blt bending lifting twisting!.....and walk walk walk its the best thing you can do to help get better!...not gonna lie its a tough recovery as you have already read but id do it again!....if i had to!....if i was you i would get up those stairs than stay up there if you can! get ya lil minni fridge and keep it up there!....wish ya the bst of luck let us know how it all goes if ya need to talk im here huggsssssssss
  • Interesting comments about stairs - I was not allowed to leave hospital UNTIL I could do stairs - I have not had an issue with stairs at all so i guess it all depends on the doctor.

    I am up and down 3, 4 times a day to get out of bed and go walk/eat etc so - dunno!
  • I could not leave the hospital until I could do stairs. Its pretty much impossible for me to avoid stairs.

    As for the pain, everyone is different. The first day for me was terrible. I had a alif/plif (360 fusion) at L5-S1. My front incision never bothered me at all. It actually was almost as if i never had it! Make sure to take meds on schedule at home. Do not miss a dose. I slept through a dose my first night home and it was awful the next morning. Also, make sure you are taking something to prevent constipation. Bad side effect of most pain meds!
  • I guess I'll just have to tell them all that I have to deal with stairs and see what they say. Thanks for the input everyone. T minus 36 hours and counting now 8}

    ALIF April 2011 but it turns out I broke before it barely fused.
    L4-L5 posterior fusion December 2013
  • like i said ann if you get nervous while you waiting or when you get there get them to give you something pain and nerves this relaxed me and helped me great deal.and the stairs you will be able to walk up them and down.but i wouldnt unless you just got to,remeber you get a fusion and sure dont want to mess anything up,first month ide say the doctor is going to tell you no bending ,twisting,and stairs if he dont it will surprise me.and dont be scared to use the pain pump,me i had pain pump and 2 percocet 10 every 2 hours and stayed out of pain the whole time,and he will want you up and walking day 2 and thats important that you do..good luck and keep us posted .you should be able to get back on by the weekend if not before..best of luck and dont be scared the doctor will take care of you....ray
  • I did not have back surgery but on 3/15/11 I had both my knees replaced at the same time.

    I had to get a hospital bed and a bed side potty. I take kitchen sponge/sink baths and wash my hair there too ;)

    IF you can't use the stairs there are several ways that they can help you work around it. Be sure to ask to be on the safe side.

    Please keep us updated.

    My prayers will be with you :hug:

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • United health care has already had a nurse call to to let me know that they supply anything the Dr orders. If I think I'll need something I'll get the Dr to order it for sure!

    BTW, my right knee might be next for me too

    Anne >:D<
    ALIF April 2011 but it turns out I broke before it barely fused.
    L4-L5 posterior fusion December 2013
  • This is the way to go! Get your Dr. to perscribe you a hospital bed and you will be glad you did. They set much lower to the ground than most beds plus you can raise and lower to get in a comfortable position. I kept mine for a month till I could get out of my bed easily. I slept in my bed and spent the day in my rental when I was home alone.
  • When is your surgery? I was thinking today but I guess I am incorrect....
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • My house is like yours. I was released from hospital the next day. Barely 24 hours. Fusion L5-S1. Same neighborhood. You won't be thrilled about doing stairs. First few days it is best to sleep downstairs and use bathroom on that floor. Sponge bath.



    Get through the first 72 hours. See how you feel. You must have a helper, period. Then if you must do it and do it once to go shower and bed. Don't bend in the shower, have something to grab, as you'll be tippy from the drugs.

    Don't start repeating a lot same day. It will completely drain your energy doing stairs. You'll think you ran a marathon. Take several breaks going up. Couple of steps, catch breath, repeat.

    Pain is all varying from person to person. First 2 weeks really sucked. Then it was not bad. My problem was couldn't deal with heavy meds and used light weight pain killers after 3rd day. So it was painful getting through the initial phase.

    Good luck.
Sign In or Register to comment.