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Successful ALIF L5/S1


Its been a while since Ive popped on here, but i thought i'd give those facing a fusion some positivity.

I had my fusion near 6 months ago, and I consider it a huge success.
Prior to my fusion, I'd had to go on sick leave from work as a ward nurse as i couldnt stand for more than a few minutes nor walk any distance without agonising pain. Having tried a discectomy and copious amounts of opiods, I finally was offered my lifeline of a fusion due to the debilitating back pain and leg pains.

Although you hear a lot of negatives, like most say its because those success stories dont come back, they're off making up for time lost, which is why ive popped back to offer some hope.

I wont lie, the recovery is boring and painful at the same time. The 1st 3 months were very restricting as I didnt feel "stable" and i had back pain.
Although, an "unstable" feeling, I returned to work in an administrative capacity at 17 weeks post op.

Being back at work 9 weeks after having 18 months off, its been great. The first weeks were tiring and i had difficulty sitting, but as the weeks have gone by its got better and better.

In the next 6 weeks, im going back to physical frontline nursing (cautiously)as I feel like im back lol. Work have been very cautious to the point of thinking i could no longer nurse, but occupational health and my surgeon have been soooo supportive and helped me achieved my goal.

I still have a stiff sore back in a morning, but once im up and about it eases off. I do take paracetamol and codeine when required, but the needs for medication are reducing.

I have my 6 months post op check in 3 weeks, hopefully the xray will show fusion because somethings happening for the pain to reduce and get my life back. Just getting rid of the leg pains alone was good, but back pain reduction and full mobility back.........bonus :)

I hope this gives others some hope that fusions are not all bad news.

Carol (UK)
L5/s1 discectomy & decompression 2009
ALIF l5/s1 2011
Awaiting X-ray & consultant to see if fused, but experiencing a lot of pain again :( 2013


  • It is very welcome to hear your encouraging story, I've been out of work all year and between throbbing irritation to agonizing pain for just about two years now. I am on the forefront of an ALIF 4-5 as soon as it can get authorized and scheduled!! I've been all over the forums this year and just joined this one, I have already had a few posts like yours make me feel better about my choice, so thanks!! And good luck getting back into the swing of things at work ;) ;) it will take a LONG time to get me able to return, as my work requires at least an hour or two in the car every day, lifting up to 50lbs all day as well as constant pushing and pulling pallets of heavy merchandise, twisting, kneeling, bending, stooping..... needless to say, it will take at least 6 months to get me back up to that (if i even GO back to that job) :)
  • Congrats on your successful recovery from surgery.
    Just still take'r easy and dont push yourself to hard.

    I'm facing an ALIF at the l5s1 level, awaiting approval, and i dont know why but i'm nervous about this one.
    I've had thruout the years 4 previous surgeries 2 cervical, and 1 knee, and 1 lumbar, and i have not felt the way i do right now.

    For some reason this one is bothering me, i'm hoping it's just the stress that i'm under right now.

    Anyway continue to take care of yourself.
  • Why not use this time to get an online course or skill where you don't have to lift bend and be so physical and not have to drive. What kind of work do you presently do?
  • I am going in for the same thing on the 28th. Only good thoughts :)
    I am glad to read your story!!!!!!!!!!! <:P
  • I should find some kind of course to take... unfortunately though I already finished most of the online courses towards my degree that I can take. I've been working as a route manager for a large beverage distributor since I was 20 (8 years ago) and online was a convenient forum while working full time. At work I am in charge of selling product to my accounts but I also help my workers move and work product all day too. I should even take something for fun online as a distraction from all the down time :) I am an avid drummer/percussionist so as soon as I am ready I can at least practice lightly, also I hope to read a lot about some new drum theory and technique... and maybe even learn more than 4 chords on a guitar :) ;) What, if any surgeries have you had?
  • Most recently I had an L4-L5-S1 ALIF with cages and posterior screw and rods fixation at the same levels, with bolts/ screws from my S1 fusion into my pelvis. July 22.

    And just for a little encouragement, in 1986 I had laminectomies and fusions with grafting from my hip at the same levels and for 24 years was able to lead a 99% pain free life where I could ski, ice and roller skate, snow board, golf, yoga ,pilates, have another child, etc. So I think 24 years from that kind of surgery is an amazing success!!!

    I anticipate that the surgery that I just had will also give me tremendous results. Just got to listen to the doctor and be very patient and know that it is a process that with time will improve. Lengthy recovery but, improvement should be measured in weeks/months as time goes by.

    PS. It's very cool that you are a drummer. I love all kinds of music and have seen most of the great concerts from 1968- to recently!!!

  • That's more than a little encouraging!! Seeing as how I'm only 28... 24 more years without chronic pain sounds pretty amazing!! If only those next 24 would go as slow as my first 24 did! :)

    And even though it will be a very different sceneraio recovering. At least I'm already pretty well acclimated to convalescense! I was completely babying myself from February until a month ago besides PT exercises. I wanted to give myself the chance to really heal if possible. Once I realized that healing wasnt in the picture... and my doc told me that he didn't feel that my symptoms would progress into paralysis... I've been getting as much done as pain will allow! But thurs I will see my surgeon and get the ball rolling on a surgical date!! ;) :)

    and p.s.

    I envy the shows you must have caught between '68-'79... OK and even some 1980's shows too, they weren't ALL that bad.
  • I was 34 for first surgery and the recuperation was slower and worse at that age than for the surgery which was in July and was very intense surgery. I am approaching my 60 th bday and the recup is going better at this age. Yeah, me. Believe me, it's no picnic, first 2 days so not happy. The drugs did not even come close to taking the edge off. I was supposed to be in hospital for 5 days but checked myself out after 2 night's because I found out the only reason they were keeping me there was for IV pain relief.
    The nursing care was good but Iknow me and I like to be in my bed with my meeds lined up next to me and be in total control, rather than nurses telling me when and how they can give me morphine and dilaudid. I had to let them know that the IV was not in the vein and was not going thru my bloodstream and was causing burning with every injection for 8 hours. I suppose I have no verbal filters when in great pain and I accused the nurse of being a f___ing idiot. Not very lady like on my part and then I constantly apologized and groveled explaining that when I am in pain the gutter girl comes out in me!!!

    I have been very lucky and prepared for this surgery. Had private duty nurse at night after I was out of intensive care, rented a hospital bed for when I got home,
    Had help in the house to feed, shower etc. All things that made recovery easier
    PS. Was at wood stock, saw the dead 4 times, Allmond bros, stones too many times to count, Clapton, the who, Stevie wonder a couple of times all the great black groups...the list gos on n on. Never saw the Beatles live or Hendrix tho.
  • Congratulations on your successful surgery and recovery and return to work. I had L5/S1 fused the end of march. I had the disc replaced with a spacer and then the whole mess bolted to my pelvis (I am now fused L1-S1.

    It was a longer recovery than I anticipated because some ligaments got stretched when the disc was replaced. But as with my other fusions it was a success in getting rid of the problems I was having. Two of my fusions were for vertebrae slipping forward and pressing on the nerve and one was for my spine starting to collapse in on itself. I am very grateful to have a top notch surgeon.

    I was out of work 6 weeks for this most recent fusion instead of the 3 weeks I was off for the first two. I still have some back pain but its nothing like it was!!

    Keep us posted on how you are doing.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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