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My Experience-L5-S1 PLIF

Dan-CDDan-C Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone,

Thought I'd share my experience and offer some encouragement to those considering surgery.

I'm a 38 year old male and had a PLIF with cage on or about January 24, 2011, L5-S1 because of a pinched sciatica, right side, all the way down into right toe. The last year or so I couldn't stand or walk for more than 3-7 minutes, so surgery was more or less unaviodable. Hospital stay was five days then off to my wonderful father's place for 10 days or so. I live alone so it was great to have the help. I used a walker for the first couple weeks after leaving the hospital as I live in Toronto and it was winter here so a fall obviously is bad news. I then used a cane for another 2 weeks or so. Another thing to note was that I was off the Percs and Oxy 7 days after leaving the hospital, surgeon said that's unheard of, I'm very fortunate as those things can be addictive. As for the hospital stay I don't remember much other than not much sleep at one time and very sweaty. At one point I had my gown just covering up my privates, friends said I looked like I was in a diaper, but man those meds made me hot. My appetite was good and my bodily functions functioned!

Saw my GP at the 3 week mark to check out the incision and was cleared to get in a pool so off I went, 4-5 days a week for a month or so, just walking. Was back to work at the 2 month mark, I have a desk job, so no problems there. I was also taking public transit at about the 3 week mark as well as driving at about the 1 month mark. I had a 2 month check up with the surgeon and everything looked fine.

At the 2 month mark I started seeing a Physiotherapist. At first it was twice a week then down to once a week, for about 4 months total. The big issue was getting my right big toe going again, and working on my balance, which is still not very good. She gave me various exercises, which I was quite diligent with, and though the toe is much stronger now (it was dead before the surgery) it still does tingle when I do certain things. The balance is still not great either, even with all the exercises I was doing. The PT didin't do very much manual therapy, nor accupuncture, I'm not sure why as I thought when she did that stuff it really helped.

Anyways I was back to the surgeon at the 5 month mark for a check-up and the fusion had occured already. Doc said I could go and play golf and do more or less whatever I wanted. At the six month mark I did a week long canoe trip, portaging and all and boy was it tough. Crawling out of my tent was not a pretty site! I was also playing golf at this point, and I had started spin classes. They were tough at first but are fine now. I swam twice a week for a few months but swimming inside is boring as heck, for myself at least.

Guess I'm at about the 10 month mark now. I rock climb 3-4 times a week at an indoor climbing gym, spin class twice a week and go to a yoga once a week. I also do some yoga stuff at home. My back is sore at times, especially in this crappy chair I'm in! Yet, my quality of life is up tenfold since the recovery started occuring. I have had no nerve issues at all down my right side, just some minor stuff down the left, which is almost non-existent now. My balance still stinks, which is kinda disappointing considering all the work I did on the ball and bosu, and I still get on them once a week, just one of those things I guess.

That's all that I can think of. Put your faith in something greater than yourself and everything will work out just fine! As far as my back goes I'm not normal, but I'm in pretty darn good shape for a guy who had a rod put in when he was 15 to correct scoliosis and now a PILF.

Take care and all the best!


  • It's not always good news that we spiney's hear. I had the same surgey in July of 2010 and while the doctor considered the surgery a success because the bones fused, my pain level never changed.

    I am so happy that it worked for you.

  • Hi Dan

    Isn't it wonderful to be active again !!

    You're doing soooooo well, probably because you're still young. At the same stage, I couldn't do what you're able to, but then I'm much older.

    We're never able to go back to what we were before back problems, but concentrating on what we can do brings lots of joy.

    Keep doing your balance exercises and in time, you will become steadier. It took me several months. I do the Tai Chi walk and an exercise called Golden Rooster Standing on One Leg. If you haven't done that one, your Yoga instructor should be able to help you.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Glad to have you join us here! It is wonderful that you took the time to tell us about your great recovery. It's true that alot of the stories we here on here are not so encouraging, as alot of people who have success stop coming because they are back out enjoying life. That is why it is so great that you shared your story.

    I am a fellow Ontarian, and am currently awaiting fusion, so your story made me smile.

    Like Trish said, keep working on your balance, I too have balance issues, no feeling or movement in toes, and walk with a cane, but continue to try to get things moving.

    Look forward to hearing more from you.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Hey thanks for the responses guys and gals, I hope I posted this thing in the right place. I also should have put in my title I'm 10 months post op. I don't think I can edit it now.

    Just a suggestion for anyone having problems, or anyone not having problems :-), to get into the water and at least doggie paddle. I find swimming boring but I'm gonna start up again, at least once a week. Community centres also have aquatic programs, and our taxes pay for that stuff, so use em!

  • I had L5-S1 fusion the end of march. I am also fused L1-L5. I find you must always do your balancing and core strengthening and stretching. I love to swim and can't wait to get back in the pool after my surgeries. I love the feeling of weightlessness.

    I swim with a masters team so the comaraderie is fun. I have swum masters for many years, they welcome everyone. Maybe there is a program near you. I think the website is USMS.org to find a local pool. Not only do you improve your strokes you will make some new friends and its never boring. Its a great total body workout and improves cardio.

    Good luck with your recovery. I also fused quite fast and its great to be back doing things. Keep you the good work!!

    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.
  • Thanks for sharing your story! I will be having surgery on Monday 10/31/2011, PLIF L5-S1. Looks like we were having some of the same issues. It is good to hear that you are back to a full life.

  • Awsome of you to share :) It gives hope to a lot of people!!!!!!!
  • Hey janiski, thanks for the info, and good luck CathyDee!

    Also my math stinks, I'm at 9 months post op, not 10.
  • Carlton FordyCCarlton Fordy Posts: 15
    edited 10/28/2012 - 1:13 AM
    Great story Dan - nice to hear a postive one!!

    I'm having an L5-S1 PLIF on 02 November 2012 - having many of the same issues as you.
    I'm also blogging the recovery to try and get a positive message out there a little more and to keep myself active if I can't move for a while!

    Blog is http://l5-s1fusionrecovery.blogspot.com.au/

    PLIF L5 S1
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