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Questions about ALIF

I have struggled with lower back pain for the past year. Recently I had a discogram. It showed that I have a level 4 tear on my L4/L5. The Dr. wants to do surgery. A fusion. I have seen two differnet surgeons. One wants to go in from the front, the other from the back. Both Dr.'s have given me only a fifty-fifty chance of feeling better. I really do think I want to have the surgery. I have to choose surgery or live with the pain. I can no longer live like this. I have five young children to take care of. Has anyone had good or bad experiences with the ALIF surgery on their L4/L5?


  • I have had successful fusions and am fused from L1 to S1 (3 different fusions). I have had 360, anterior and posterior. My most recent was thru my tummy again (they should have put in a zipper!!). My surgeon says that is easier to recover from since they have to do thru all the big muscles of the back.

    Either way you do it it is a long recovery and you must pay attention to your doctor's orders of no lifing, twisting, bending. I went back to work after 3 weeks but everyone is different. It takes a year to really recover.

    My pain was relieved and I am glad I had them done. Sometimes the recovery seems so slow you want to give up but then all of a sudden you make progress.

    Walking is very good, short distances at first several times a day. I had a safety bar put in my tub/shower and also used a plastic stool to sit on. I found a long handled shoe horn very handy. I wore clogs mostly but it was handy putting on my (former) running shoes. Also a grabber.

    You will want lose fitting elastic waistband pants. Forget about socks, shaving your legs, painting your toenails.

    Get your house organized so that things you use everyday are handy and you don't have to bend for low cupboards or drawers.

    Hope this has been helpful. Good luck and keep us posted.

    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.
  • I had the PLIF first, and a minamlly invasive ALIF, and the ALIF,(minamally invasive) was wayyyyy easier. I had the first surgery and started making progress and two more discs tore at 5 months. Had the second one, bingo, at 5 months 2 more discs tore. So I am awaiting letter from surgeon after a discogram Probably another ALIF, min invasive like the 2nd one. I was almost 85 % pain free the second time. So I know that it can work..especially for torn discs. Have faith in your surgeon though, it is half the battle, It is a long recovery, but the 2nd was alot easier after first 2 weeks or so..PM me with any ?.. Good Luck!
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