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L5 S1 fusion surgery

apimo2aapimo2 Posts: 11
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Lower Back Pain
:D Hello...Im a newbee here.Was wondering if anyone else has had surgery for a sever herniated disc on the L5.I am currently scheduled for surgery On Jan 5 2012. Wondering what to expect....other than reading about it..tyvm
Thanks Matthew


  • Oooops...forgot to mention this will be a spinal fusion....have had lower back pain radiating through the left buttocks and down trough leg and ankle past year or so and has been progressively worse. went to a spinal specialist and they said therapy shots would be a short term thing..so I elected surgery...
    Thanks Matthew
  • I hope your surgery helps you.I've had pain in my hips,legs and feet for three years now.Have done therapy, acupuncture, massages,chiropractor and changed what i'm eating and so far it hasn't gotten any better.I wish the best for your outcome.I've never had a low back fusion so i can't tell you how it will be or how the recovery is.I've only had neck surgery. There are a lot of people on here though that have gone through this and i'm sure will chime in.
  • I had an L5-S1 fusion back in July 2011. I won't sugarcoat anything, the pain afterward was beyond belief! Having said that, I hasten to point out that 5 months later my pain level is now just a bit below my pre-op pain levels. The surgeon will tell you to take your recovery week-by-week, not day-by-day. Take that one to the bank. Recovery is quite slow.

    Here's another thought to keep in mind. I had a one-level fusion and hurt like hell for the longest time. I know another person who underwent a three-level fusion. After the surgical pain disappeared (2-3 weeks post-op) he no longer has any significant back pain. His surgery was sometime around September 2011.

    My point here is that the post-op pain that you will experience is highly personalized and unpredictable. You will have post-op pain of some sort. The only questions are how bad will it be and for how long. You simply won't know until you get to that point. I do not regret having my fusion, or even the pain that followed. I am recovering, slowly but surely, and that is my ultimate goal.

    Disability retirement
  • I waited over 2 years to do it. Too many people told me it was a bad idea, not to mention the countless horror stories on the Internet. I am so glad I did it. I know its likely to soon to rate, but I had leg pain in both legs making it pretty hard to sit or drive. My right leg would go numb if I stood in the same spot for too long. The pain was very limiting on my life. I woke up from the surgery with no leg pain. My legs have felt great ever since. The post op pain in my low back was pretty bad the first few days home, but I found out I wasn't taking enough pain meds. I'm walking everyday and am really focused on recovery and know it will be months until I'm fully back in action, but I hope to get back to work in the next week or two. I wish I got the surgery sooner.
  • I'm new to this site and posting, just looking for some other perspectives and opinions. I had L4/L5 disc replacement and fusion surgery 17 days ago. They went in through the front to access the spine and disc space; they did all the work and then flipped me over and made an incision over the L4/L5 space and basiclly cleared out any remaing pieces of bone and free up all nerves. This issue I am having is my Doctor basically said I should not be in any pain after the 2 week mark and is essentially not going to give me any more pain medication, not anything for back spasms, etc... I'm furious!!! I have a 4 in incision in the front and a 3 in incision in the back, a spine fused and all my internal organs shifted around and all kinds of low back and abdominal pain. What should I do or say to this Doc to listen to me and give me something for my pain. I'm in the military so I don't have a lot of choices and he thinks that Im tough I should be able to handle the pain. Well I can't, its tough to walk around, can hardly dress myself, etc... any help would be greatly apprciated. I feel like I'm at the end of a rope and I'm gonn fall into this abyss of pain and I don't want that to happen. I think its totally avoidable. Thanks again, Harry
  • Sorry to hear about your experience postop. If I were you I'd ask your primary care doctor about pain meds. You shouldn't have to go through what you're going through. >:D< , Ess
  • Hi Essmoe29,

    Thanks for responding and the advice. I have 1 chance on Monday with this Docs PA who was in on the surgery for a follow up appt and she actually ordered my post op meds (but he was and is controlling it) so I can explain to her the situation and she what she says. If it's a NO then I'll try my primary care Doc. Do you think the docs will do this back and forth thing of "I didn't do your surgery go see the surgeon" or will primary doc be inclined to help. I rarely see mine so now I'm curious. When you look at me and it looks like I got run over by a truck with the bruising and incisions you gotta know I'm in pain so I don't know why he wouldn't.

    Thanks again, you've given me something new to try. Appreciate the help! Harry
  • I'm 3 weeks post op and only had 1 incision through my back. I'm still on pain meds and would really have a very hard time without them. I think you surgeon should at least be giving you something for pain! I have reduced the amount I've needed over the past 3 weeks and am looking forward to being off them, but I still need them. I would think with 2 incisions you would need pain meds for months not weeks. Recovery has been more painful then I expected and I really hope you get something to make it more comfortable.
    Also, thank you for your service!
  • Desertreg
    I just cannot imagine not having postop meds!!! I had my L3-S1 fused in 2004 and I didn't take enough meds right after getting home, so I understand what it feels like. I cannot imagine....don't hesitate to get to your primary care doc. I found a pain management doc that I have been seeing since 2006 and he is a life saver. Can't recommend enough that you should find a Pain doc. They do understand...

    Good Luck and try to let us know how you are doing.



    L4-5-S1 fusion 2004
    C3-4-4 fusion 2006
    Laminectomies, Foraminotomies
    Herniated or bulging from T12 to L3
    Complete disc collapse L3-4
  • My boss was told he needed a spinal fusion but found a garment to help correct his alignment and posture. He was then able to avoid having surgery all together. Take a look at Alignmed.com.

    I just ordered another shirt from there and it has helped tremendously with my lower back pain. THey are actually having a 2 for 1 shirt promotion right now. HOLIDAY241.
  • Apimo2, Wishing you all the best for a quick recovery,I had L5/S1 decompression and fusion on 17th nov 2011

    Good luck with the healing process. :)))

  • Hi. I had an L5S1 fusion last July. I had very little pain after the op, was off the paracetamol I had been prescribed within a few weeks and doing physio exercises the day after the op. I was also walking up to 5 miles a day on the treadmill within a couple of weeks. My recovery has been really good and the fusion has corrected the mechanical problems I had with the lack of disc causing the spine muscles to spasm.

    I am really pleased I had the op and I am now back to normal with no pain or problems that I had beforehand.

  • I am so pleased to read from people who have gone through this procedure, I have to make the descision in six months time as had to many operations in that part of my back in a short period of time so they want it to recover.

    Now on 50 mcphg fentanyl patches which has taken some of the pain away and last attempt to avoid surgery is the Wolfson pain clinic.

    Had 2 decompression and disctomys on l5-s1 then two operations to remove a big bad back abcess from an infection post op.
  • Hi everyone,

    I'm new to the forum but I'm so glad I found it! I went and saw my neurosurgeon 2 weeks ago after going through physical therapy and epidural spinal injections with pain management. The shots only helped for a few days in relieving some of my low back and left leg pain. The surgeon is suggesting a L5-S1 fusion, and I've been really anxious about deciding to have it done or not. After talking with family and my fiance about whether to have it done or not, I've decided that at this point I'm willing to go through with the surgery. I've got to go back to see her on Thursday to sign consents and set up my surgery date, which is nerve wracking to me. I'm just glad I found a place to come to and have people understand what I'm going through!

  • if i have read and understood what others have written ,i am 3 weeks post ALIF 2 level i was in hospital around a week and when i woke the first thing i did was scream my head off {i was told this may happen due to the amount of oxycontin that i already take for chronic pain and have done for the last 5 years. and other weaker drugs for 15 years in total] i have never felt pain like it in my life .i had 2 PCA running one with diamorphine and the other with morphine .then every 2 hours the anaesthetist would give me a shot of ketamine,this just kept the pain bearable .i was totally lucid all the time and able to communicate with my pain /surgical team without any problems .even they were amazed at just how many drugs they needed to give me just to keep me form filling the horrendous pain .luckily i has an excellent pain team and they understood about long term pain and short term pain .i was discharged with a large amount of oxycontin and oxynorm to help me with the post op pain and new pain from the bone graft and just being handled in theater .my consultant told me it would take around 3 years to fully heal and even then i would not be running marathons !{its because i have a previous bad history spinal surgey }and my consultant just did his best .its been three weeks and i am barley able to shower myself without passing out .i get tired quickly and have not got my appetite back yet and i am drinking for England.a fusion is a massive spinal operation and is a last resort option .if you are thinking about a fusion or ADR think long and hard and should you decide then find someone that come with recommendations from others.this is one area of the body that you don't want to fuxx up .in all fairness i was told that may fusion would carry risk higher than others as my previous surgey was a mess an i am on a stupid level of pain killers .so its going o be a long slog for me ..if you are young less than 30 slim and otherwise healthy you may have a better outlook
    good luck#
    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
  • I don't want to discourage any of you who have had surgery or have it coming up. However the facts are that each of us react to the pain afterwards totally different and for different time lengths.

    Two people of same age, weight, injury ect. can have the same surgery done by same Dr and have a total different out come.

    Also sad but true surgery is not a guarantee that it will releave you of all or even any of your pain.

    Each person heals differently and at different time rates.

    Your Drs should know this and be there for you!!!

    When I had both my knees replaced (both done at the same time) I woke up screaming my head off! They gave me as much as they were allowed to give me and even had the Dr come into the recovery room to give me some extra as the nurses were not allowed to go beyond a specific amount. Now a friend of mine had her hip replaced and she did not need ANY pain meds. NOTHING. She finally took 2 Tylenol to stop them from bugging her about not taking anything. ;)

    My point is we are all VERY different and your pain should be handled as an individual.

    I hope each of you have great success, a good recovery and help with your pain. Please keep us updated how you each are doing :)

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
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