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Positive TLIF L5-S1 Story

goodbyebackpainggoodbyebackpain Posts: 14
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:57 AM in Recovering from Surgery
For several weeks prior to my TLIF (which I had 11/3) I read everything I could find about recovery, including many stories on this site. Most things I read made me question my decision to have the surgery. Finally, 2 days before the surgery, I decided that most people with positive stories were not writing about them. I knew that I would want to write about my surgery, but especially if I had a good experience.

Now, almost a week after the surgery, I know that I made the right decision. The pain in my left thigh, groin and calf, not to mention lower back, was so severe the day of the surgery that they had to inject me with a very strong painkiller just so I could be still enough for the nurse to start my IV. My doctor found my disc at L5-S1 to be severely herniated and dry and chalky. It was also very flattened out.

I stayed in the hospital for 4 days. It would have been 3 days, but I did have one night of severe muscle spasms that they wanted to make sure were under control. I only had IV painkillers for the first 2 days and then only Vicodin and the occasional Soma. I have been walking since less than 24 hours after surgery and am now up to about 1/2 mile twice a day and sometimes 3 times.

I do not feel much pain at all most of the time. In the evening is when I do feel some pain, but it is never constant. Only twinges of pain directly at the surgery site. I have not felt my old pain since the morning of the surgery. I do find that sleep is easier if I take 5mg of Vicodin and a Soma before bed. I think it keeps me from trying to roll around too much.

Overall, I really feel great 95% of the time. I know that I may still have days ahead that will be difficult and I am prepared for those too. I am very positive that I will make a complete recovery in the near future.

I feel for all of you that have had difficult recoveries. I hope that each and every one of you eventually finds relief. Only someone that has experienced this kind of back pain can really understand it and I certainly do too. And to everyone facing this surgery, I would say to research all you can about the limitations and recovery, but don't let it overwhelm you. Make sure you are completely comfortable with your surgeon. He should be readily available to answer all your questions and concerns.
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Comments

  • just be careful and don't over do it .where did you have it done {i am in the uk} and going for ALIF this dec .so hearing your story is very good for me too! .best wishes with the recovery
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Great story, glad to hear you are doing so good.

    I had my MIS TLIF done on october 28th and share similar results. I had about the same pain you did before i went in for surgery. They had to bring me by wheel chair the day of because i could not walk the nerve pain was so bad.

    All of my initial pain is gone, surgery site hurts a little. The only thing that really bothers me are my hips. Apparently thats from the position i was in on the operating table and i was told will get better soon.

    I think posting positives results on here is a great thing to do. Keep it up as you progress. It helps alot of people. Take care and i hope you continue to improve and feel great.
  • Backache- I am in Texas USA. I chose a Dr. who is our area expert in Microdisc surgery because I thought that's what I needed. Lucky for me, he is also the expert in fusions and knew which one would benefit me the most. Good luck with your ALIF. I look forward to following your recovery.
    Rapp - I have followed your progress as well. Your story was one of the only ones that encouraged me to go ahead with the surgery. I am young (31) and in good physical condition as well, so I think that has helped my progress tremendously. Sounds like our conditions were very similar. I too had to be taken to the OR suite in a wheelchair. Then, even though they make you ride in the wheelchair, I could have walked right out of the hospital 4 days later! Cheers to continued pain-free backs!
  • Im really glad that my story helped you out. It sounds like you are doing really great with your recovery. I am also walking twice a day everyday. Its tough because i still have alot of pain in my hips and my hamstrings are like steel cables. I think this is from the inactivity of being laid up in a bed for three months prior to surgery, walking with a gimp And from the nerve being so compressed for so long. Normally i could resolve this by stretching them but that is really difficult to do when you cant bend. lol Hopefully this will all resolve soon. Overall i am a million times better then i was before surgery and for the first time in a very long time i actually have a positive outlook. Just like you i am aware that i may never be 100% and i also may have other problems down the road but i feel good and really feel that in another 6-9 months i will be fully fused and feeling great.

    I really hope you continue to do great and i think its important for people like us to post our positive stories on here. I read a few positive posts before my surgery and it made such a difference. People need to hear about them more. And to everyone still in pain i am sending positive energy to all of you in hopes relief comes soon. Take care
  • goodbyebackpain said:
    For several weeks prior to my TLIF (which I had 11/3) I read everything I could find about recovery, including many stories on this site. Most things I read made me question my decision to have the surgery. Finally, 2 days before the surgery, I decided that most people with positive stories were not writing about them. I knew that I would want to write about my surgery, but especially if I had a good experience.

    Now, almost a week after the surgery, I know that I made the right decision. The pain in my left thigh, groin and calf, not to mention lower back, was so severe the day of the surgery that they had to inject me with a very strong painkiller just so I could be still enough for the nurse to start my IV. My doctor found my disc at L5-S1 to be severely herniated and dry and chalky. It was also very flattened out.

    I stayed in the hospital for 4 days. It would have been 3 days, but I did have one night of severe muscle spasms that they wanted to make sure were under control. I only had IV painkillers for the first 2 days and then only Vicodin and the occasional Soma. I have been walking since less than 24 hours after surgery and am now up to about 1/2 mile twice a day and sometimes 3 times.

    I do not feel much pain at all most of the time. In the evening is when I do feel some pain, but it is never constant. Only twinges of pain directly at the surgery site. I have not felt my old pain since the morning of the surgery. I do find that sleep is easier if I take 5mg of Vicodin and a Soma before bed. I think it keeps me from trying to roll around too much.

    Overall, I really feel great 95% of the time. I know that I may still have days ahead that will be difficult and I am prepared for those too. I am very positive that I will make a complete recovery in the near future.

    I feel for all of you that have had difficult recoveries. I hope that each and every one of you eventually finds relief. Only someone that has experienced this kind of back pain can really understand it and I certainly do too. And to everyone facing this surgery, I would say to research all you can about the limitations and recovery, but don't let it overwhelm you. Make sure you are completely comfortable with your surgeon. He should be readily available to answer all your questions and concerns.
    I am so incredibly glad I came across your post!! I am scheduled to have a tlif at the L5 S1 on the 29th of this month and I am terrified... literally (age 33, female, normal healthy weight). I was telling my friends that my Surgeon told me to go home and do my research on the procedure and I have all week but came across more horror stories then positive outcomes until yours and now I feel like I can take a deep breath and go with it. It had to be better then the horrible back and leg pain I have had the last 2 years even though I herniated this disc 8 years ago.... I do still have questions and I do not have another appointment with him until the day prior to my surgery so maybe someone can help put my mind at ease?? On the paper, my surgeon marked the TLIF and not the Minimally invasive tlif, I am concerned as to why this is and just how big of a scar am I going to have back there since it is only the L5-S1? also I have a 3 story house with my actually "bath" rooms being up stairs, how long would I have to wait to go up stairs and shower? being that it is 1 disc being fused, how long do you think I will actually be in the hospital if no complications arise? any other advice would be great appreciated. and once again THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting a positive post!!
  • RN32MB - so glad my post helped. I have to admit that the last 2 days have been my worst yet. At 16 days post op, I could not walk due to such severe nerve pain from my butt to my mid-calf that my leg just gives out. I believe that it's due to feeling too good earlier this week and doing too much. Boredom has been my worst enemy. I will stay in bed for a few days and hopefully this will take care of it.

    As for your questions: I did not have a minimally invasive TLIF either. I have 1 incision just to the left of my spine that is about 4 inches long. They had to look at my L4-L5 disc while working on L5-S1 too, so that accounts for some of the length of mine. I also have a very small (so small I almost didn't see it) incision on one of the dimples where your back meets your behind from the bone graft removal. If you have no complications I think you could be released on the 3rd day after surgery. All surgeons are different though. The physical therapist who I saw in the hospital said I could go up a few stairs as soon as I felt like it. I have no stairs though. Be sure the PT who sees you knows your situation with the stairs. Hope this helps. Please ask more questions if you need to. I had many questions and not many answers!
  • Thank you for replying, I am sorry to hear about your pain, I hope that rest is giving you relief!! I went for my pre op blood work and chest x rays today. Did you have to give blood prior to surgery? They want me to come back on Friday and give 2 bags of my own blood for just in-case purposes. Also I watched another member's you tube video and he was fitted with a full corset, did you get one as well? I know all surgeons are different, my mother in law had a 3 level fusion about 5 years ago and she never had a corset, physical therapy or anything afterwards, she was back to work the 2nd week (at a deli/sandwich shop) and she was and still is a heavy smoker but somehow had a successful fusion, here I am trying to be as healthy as possible so that I can heal nicely afterwards....
  • The pain is much better today. Just in case, my Dr. Ordered a steroid pack and neurontin. I did not have to give any blood for a possible transfusion, but I suppose if something did happen I would rather have my own blood back. I do have a corset style brace. I feel a little unstable without it. I was told just to walk every day, no PT outside my hospital stay. Please keep me informed after your surgery. Good luck and I'm always game for any questions.
  • thank you, it is more comforting being able to communicate with people who have had the same surgery, I appreciate it greatly :) I will most definitely keep you updated!! I am glad your pain it better today. I have been taking neurontin as well along with lidoderm pain patches, unfortunately I am allergic to both vicoden and percocet so his plan is to have me on a morphine pump in hospital and send me home with tylenol 3..
  • I have heard some bad things about neurontin. Have you had many side effects? Sorry you're allergic to those painkillers, I found out in the hospital that I am allergic to morphine! I broke out in hives and my veins in the arm the iv was in began to swell and turn red. They had to give me a massive dose of benadryl to counteract it. From then on I took Demerol.
  • I first took Neurontin about 6 years ago and it did a lot of good but after 6 months, the relief wore off and I began taking other measures such as PT, tens unit and eventually injections. I was recently put back on the nuerontin this month to help with nerve pain until surgery, so far no real bad side effects. Well I say that but I have had a daily headache for a month now but I really think that is from my allergies and other meds for that. What have you heard bad about it? I can honestly say though, the Large Lidoderm patches make everything go numb instantly which is good at night when I lay down because the small of my back really aches at night then its my legs all day..
  • I have seen ( on this site) many people complain of, short-term memory problems, goofiness, dizziness, trouble walking, trouble talking....all sorts of strange things. But I guess those things cohld happen with any number of drugs.
  • hmm I've not noticed anything like that as of yet.. I hope you don't either.
  • Hope your surgery went well! Let us know...
  • is still doing really well after surgery almost a year and a half ago. He had a lumbar fusion, laminectomy and discetomy all at the same time and he was 65 at the time. He also was to the point that he would need a wheelchair within a few months if he did not have the surgery.
    And here we are over a year later. He is golfing and probably doing more in his shop than he should but he is living again without pain.I keep after him to slow down but that is not in his nature. He has adapted and works more carefully and avoids unnecessary bending.
    He thinks four things really helped his recovery; faith that the surgery would work, a wonderfully skilled surgeon, walking in the months after surgery and a wonderful physio-therapist who is also an osteopath.

    We don't know what the future holds in store but right now life is good and he has no regrets at all.
  • Today marks 4 weeks post-op. Aside from a few days of pain (see above), I have had a much better recovery than I ever expected. I am in no pain at all now. My incision has healed to a very thin line of shiny pink skin. I expect it to be all but invisible eventually.

    I went back to work on a very limited basis this past Monday. I worked 4 hours that day, 3 hours the next, and 4 hours yesterday. Today I decided to take a break even though I felt that I could have worked at least 4 hours.

    My biggest complaint is the brace I have to wear whenever out of bed (which is most of the day now). It has to be readjusted every time I stand up from sitting. However, since this is my only complaint, I am happy!

    I am still taking 300mg of Neurontin twice a day for the nerve pain. I will continue to take it at least until I go to my 6 week check up. I have had no side effects from it and it immediately ended the nerve pain. Hope everyone is well and I will continue post updates periodically.

  • Well I am finally home after a week in the hospital, I must say I was really regretting ever having this done, until yesterday when my surgeon finally came to check on me, I was in crying like a baby pain down my entire right leg sciatic nerve and he decided to do a CAT scan and turns out the entire nerve was majorly inflamed, so he put me on a steroid pack and by the 2nd does all pain was gone except normal back muscle pain. I am on a lot of meds though. My blood pressure was extremely low the entire time I was admitted so I had fluids constantly pumping in me which resulted in me blowing a few veins and being re-iv'd a a few times. I also had to be placed on oxygen every time i dozed off because it would drop below 50.. but none the less I am home now taking, tylenol 3 every 4 hours, valium every 6 hours, a stool softner 2x a day, nuerontion at bedtime, flovent inhaler, nasonex along with all my normal antihistamines.. I feel like a walking zombie. I have tried to stay up and walking around but find myself quiet dizzy from all the meds. I am also very moody. I was not given a corset or any brace type to wear. I was cleared to take the stairs and showers. I took pics of my dressings before during and after changing by the nurse, I am not sure how to post them but if you wanna see my email is rn32mb aol... so my surgery was Tuesday at 2:45 MT so I guess this would make post op day 4?
  • well, I am still nausea and I have off and on nerve pain in right leg and I can not straighten my left leg all the way out due to a tight muscle behind the knee but got my first x rays since surgery 14 days ago and Surgeon says everything looks right on track..nerve pain is to be expected for some time as are muscle spasms. I did have him switch me to flexeral in place of the valiums (those were making me drugged out big time) he says to take it easy and try to walk at least a 1/2 mile a day and see me back in a month for more x rays. I asked about a brace he says my hardware is enough and he says " I could put a normal person in one of those braces and their spine would fuse as well w/o surgery" so it made sense to me, I guess all Dr.s are different.. anyhow besides the nausea and spasms ,boredom and a little depression, I am still living so that's a plus!! hope all is well with everyone else
  • Sounds like you are doing pretty well and having a normal recovery. I went back to work full time last week and, besides being exhausted every evening, I am doing very well. No pain at all. I go for my first follow up appointment and my first x-rays since my surgery (6 weeks ago tomorrow). Hoping I will be released to drive and start some light stretching. My incision is completely closed and scab-free. I am still taking Neurontin for nerve pain even though I have not had any more pain since about 2 weeks after my surgery. Good luck to everyone!
  • My 6 week post op went great! I have been released to normal activities within reason. I don't even have to wear my brace if I feel confident without it. It was really cool to see the hardware on my xrays. If all continues as it has been, I don't have to see my surgeon again until next December. I did express amazement at how well I have felt 99% of the time and my dr. Said that I am well ahead of most recoveries from this surgery. Wishing everyone pain-free holidays!
  • That is awesome news :) I hope I am at the same point at 6 weeks. I went grocery shopping today with my DH and it just about killed me, the walking and not being in control of my grocery cart..LOL I am so use to doing things on my own it's hard to let others help sometimes.. I am so happy things are going well with your recovery. I have pics of my hardware as well, it's freaky because those screws look super long on the view from the side .
  • Surgery went well, unable to realign the vertabrae but pain I had before is gone. Now replaced with a burning twinge on opposite side at a higher location. Am praying it is surgery related and will subside with time. Am able to walk well, and rising from sitting to standing gets easier each day. However laying down in bed is still an art I have not mastered without assistance and pain. I have follow up visit with dr. on March 7th, exactly two weeks post op. I haven't tolerated the pain meds too well, have cut the dosage in half to keep my head clear, and my stomach from being upset. Seems to be working. I wear the brace at night to keep from hurting myself. I am 52 years of age, female, and have a desk job. I have contended with this pain from spondolylesthesis for about 15 years and have exhausted the physical therapies, and the epidurals, and finally opted for surgical intervention. I am not praying that my choice was the absolute right choice. I appreciate this forum.
  • It has been 2 and half weeks since my tlif and I feel great. Had been bed ridden since December ninth. Woke up after surgery andnerve pain was gone. Rest of day was great thanks to pica pump. Day two was miserable. Physical therapy showed up early for that first walk. Rolling over was ok, but getting up was the worst. Once I started walking the pain got less and less daily. Was walking two miles by the fifth day. Today was my first day off narcotics in three months. I hope the positive recovery continues. If anybody has any questions let me know. I am not what I was prior to back issues nor will I ever be, but I am happy with the early results. Good luck to everyone and keep sharing the positive outcomes.
  • Since I see that people are still reading my story, I decided to update everyone. I am almost exactly 4 months post-op and feeling great. I have some moments of pain in the same areas that I had before the surgery occasionally. They only last a few seconds and are not severe. I call them my warnings. Whenever they happen, I know that I need to slow down. I am completely drug free and so happy about that. I no longer wear my back brace either. No one suspects that I have had major back surgery such a short time ago. I am so thankful that I have my life back. I will never be the same as before my ruptured disc, but I am beyond pleased at my recovery. I wish everyone well and I will continue to post update periodically.
  • I am 3 months post op and feeling the same way, thankfully!! I have been going to physical therapy 2x a week for 7 weeks now and it has made a HUGE DIFFERENCE!! I feel about 80 % better and of course will not reach 100 % till I can run and do all the things I did prior to surgery..I go for x rays again on the 5th so praying the fusion has started ..Glad you are doing so well :)
  • Hello all,

    Just back from seeing my consultant and we have decided that a MIS TLIF is the only route left to us.
    It's the first I've heard about this operation and I'm already regretting watching the YouTube video of how it's done.
    I should be in and done before Christmas. I guess I just wanted to speak with someone who has been through it or is living it now.
    Any advice you all have to share would be great!

    Thanks
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