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2 weeks away from ALIF

robgz66rrobgz66 Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone, as the title suggests I will be having ALIF in 2 weeks to fuse L4-L5-S1. A little excited and nervous at the same time, heve been looking at the forums and have gotten a load of info on what to expect after and things to do after to make everything go better. But I am wondering what should I do before hand to make everything easier? Any ideas from others that had the surgery that they wish they would have done before hand??

Thanks in advance


  • Hi Rob

    I had an ALIF two years ago, which has been successful. I'm about 80% pain free and enjoying life again.

    I live on my own with two large dogs, so had a lot of preparation to do at home. I prepared and froze meals for 3 months in advance. Same with the groceries.

    Because of the bending-lifting-twisting restrictions, I put the things I thought I would need at waist height on a table/benchtop.

    There were lots of light jobs around the house and garden that needed to be done.

    Sounds like you've looked at the thread on Post Op Must-Haves at the top of the page. The thread on How Long Will it Take is also essential reading. The grabber was essential.

    Once I was able to, I did lots of short walks. I needed one of those walking frames with wheels for a couple of weeks once I started walking outside the house. It was really good because I could sit on it once I got tired.

    The physio in the hospital will give you exercises to do while you're there and at home.

    I had to do a bowel cleanse the day before surgery and that helped with stomach comfort afterwards.

    The things I can't do a lot of even now are sitting and standing. I have to break up my activities into smaller sections. I do have other issues with my spine, so that could be the reason. For any age, sitting will be restricted to about 15 minutes initially.

    My pain levels in the hospital were well controlled and I was sent home with Oxycodone, Oxycontin and Gabapentin (Neurontin).

    I had a domestic service come in once a week and that helped heaps. Friends and family also called in and helped where they could.

    It was 6 months before I could start walking my dogs again (on lead).

    It was 6-7 months before I felt "normal" again. There were days when I got depressed, especially in the early part of recovery. I watched heaps of TV but even that got boring. It was very hard getting comfortable. You'll need lots of pillows to put behind you, under the knees and one in between the knees. It was a few weeks before I could sit in the recliner, and now that's where I'm most comfortable. I was determined to get well again and I'm sure that's what helped me a lot. I was fused prior to my 6 months check-up.

    I was driving again at about 6-7 weeks. Don't be in a hurry to get back to driving because if you had to brake suddenly or twist at an intersection to see oncoming traffic, you could hurt yourself. Your surgeon will guide you on this, as well as with the BLT restrictions. Don't be in a hurry to get back into activities too quickly because there's a lot of healing to take place. Go with how your body feels and don't compare your progress to other's because each person's recovery is different. You'll soon know if you've done too much because you'll get a pain flare, and that happens to us all.

    Even though I'm not a 100%, I'm really happy with my fusion.

    Hope your surgery goes well and do post again.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Hi Rob,

    I had ALIF in March 2009 to fuse my S1-L5 & L5/L4. That operation really helped with my sciatica which caused dropped foot, pain/numbness, etc. The operation took about 6 hours. I was in the hospital for 5 days/4 nights. Stayed at home from my office job for 6 weeks, then worked half days for a month, before returning to a full time schedule.

    I agree with the comments Trish made about recovery experience - good to plan ahead before coming home. I walked around in my house for the first 4 weeks, before going outside. The activity of walking really helps the blood flow and the fusions to take.

    Overall, the ALIF wasn't a bad experience and really helped with my back/pain issues. Although, I'm currently having sciatica pain, but just in my thigh area, not lower. I suspect that may indicate nerve issues at the L4/L3 & L3/L2 area. Anyway, good luck!

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