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11 weeks post op/L4-L5 fusion

noble26nnoble26 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Ok a little background on myself. I am a 31 year old male, 6'1'' and 210 lbs. I am an active person and I am in good health (other than this major back issue). I had L4-L5 spinal fusion just over 11 weeks ago. This procedure included metal rods and a laminectomy due to bi-lateral pars defects. Before the surgery I would get bouts of throbbing pain directly over my spine and this I had an almost constant pain radiating out from the spine to the left, downwards and into the upper left buttock, but never down into the leg. After several spinal injections and physical therapy, I researched and found a doctor here in the midwest who is a top 10 spine surgeon in the country. While under this doctors care, I had some additional spine injections. While having the last injection, I felt intense pain when they injected the steriod that seemed to originate from my problem area (the left pars defect). Any relief from these injections was short lived, and I elected to have surgery. Now I am 11 weeks post-op, and the total recovery time is 4-6 months. I'm still having the pain down into my left buttock, this pain has shown ZERO improvement. The doctor says that this nerve pain can take quite a long time to get better, but I can't help but to be concerned. I am following his instructions and walking (or eliptising) for a minimum of 3 miles every day. I am also stretching every day due to extremely tight hamstrings (left hamstring is worst and made worse by this surgery). As a matter of fact, all of my pain and discomfort is on the left side, tight left hamstring, continuing pain around left buttock and waist line on left back side. Is this all somehow related? Additionally, I have started to experience pain higher in my back with in the last week or so, on the spine just below my shoulder blades....why the heck am I experiencing pain in an unrelated area?! I have yet to return to work because of having to take strong narcotics to keep the pain at bay. I hate taking these medications but the doctor has refilled them as needed without any hesitation which leads to believe that this is normal.

I don't know anyone, let alone someone as young as myself, who has had any type of surgery like this. I definately underestimated the magnitude of this surgery and I know that I will never take my health for granted IF I ever get back to normal. While I am well within the 4-6 month window of recovery, the slow process and zero improvement I've experienced so far is starting to bog me down........Is there anyone out there who has had this type of surgery that can offer any words? Thank you for your time.


  • I am a 33 year old female and mother of three young children. I had a anterior spinal fusion of my L5 S1 due to degernative disc and spinal stenosis around eight months ago.
    I also live in the Midwest and thought I found the best surgeon to do the job. He was a great doctor, but left the practice right after my surgery.
    I wanted to reply to your posting because all of my pain is always on the left side of my body, it is the strangest thing.
    I have the pain in the left buttock, and down the left leg, it feels like a lightening bolt is going to come out the bottom of my foot.
    I had an MRI this morning and found out I have degenerative disc of my C5 and C6 with bulging in my neck now. I am in no position to go through another surgery like the fusion....believe me I am sure you are experiencing everything I did...and only 11 weeks out: you have along way to go.
    I see a pain specialist and he tells me no bending, lifting, or twisting allowed...he also told me 50% chance of improvement with the fusions and pain will be there for the rest of my life.
    It is a hard pill to swallow, knowing there are so many things we will never be able to do again.

    C. Flath
  • Noble36, I think what you're feeling is fairly normal, but you need to be getting some good rehab support from a physio specialized in this area. I'm at 11 wks now and I agree I also underestimated the surgery, although I did know it would be big. I expected more pain early on, but less by now. I'm fit and healthy otherwise too, and don't carry extra weight. I think all this helps. But I'm still having a lot of the pain I did before surgery at the moment, including nerve pain. The surgeon explained to me that with the nerve pain, if your nerves have been compressed for some time before the surgery then it can takes weeks or months for them to recover. The same with pre- op pain. If you've have it for a long time, your brain has learned to feel that pain and it can take months for it to stop registering it.
    I'm also walking 30-45 mins every day. Your gait is important. This could be aggravating your upper back, especially if you are in pain and so holding yourself tight. A physio could help you with this. Also try to do some relaxation and deep breathing exercises regularly. It's boring and you have to practice but it really helps.
    I hope you are starting to feel better! Good luck.
  • i have seen post where some think that they will be fine and back to normal in 6 weeks !!! {i was still unable to move after my ALIF } after 6 weeks i was still very ill .its been 4 months and i am still in pain and i too have had no real pain relief at all.personally 3 miles a day is a lot ...and very hard work for your spine .my consultant does not agree with long walks post surgery and he doesn't agree with physio until the patient feel well enough to do it .even if that many months from the surgery.swimming is what he recommends but only short burst no more than ten mins at a time .and only when you feel well enough to deal with it ..many forget that the real reason ALIF/PLIF is done is for stabilization NOT pain relife ...if there is any pain relief then that's a bonus
    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 had/have upper back pain following both my surgeries. I still get it now if I am having a bad day or do too much. My new surgeon says it is because I am using my back differently.

    I found the recovery from fusion really tough. My surgeon wasn't that understanding and I was back to work at 11 weeks post op. It was really hard - I wish I could have had another month to recover. If you are being "allowed" the time then take it and don't feel bad.

    Good luck.
  • kwell2012kkwell2012 Posts: 8
    edited 10/08/2013 - 2:30 AM
    was wondering if anyone know how long this procedure takes to heal and when you can stop pain meds thank you
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