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Recovery After ALIF L3-S1

Ashley101327AAshley101327 Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi All:

I'm new to spine-health and I'm looking for anyone who has been in a similar situation with the same operation. On May 29th I will operated on at New England Baptist Hospital to have a ALIF L3-S1 with percutaneous screws.

I'm 29 years old, 5'11" and herniated my L4-L5 when I was 19 playing college ball. Since that first injury, I went on to herniate my lumbar discs repeatedly over the last ten years. The injuries have been contributed to playing sports my entire life and I was told it could also be hereditary.

I have had a nucleoplasty procedure done in 2003 which failed. I have tried medication, PT, injections, acupuncture, yoga, etc. I have been very anti-surgery my entire life but now my x-rays and MRIs are showing signs of scoliosis and I can no longer maintain an active lifestyle at the level I want. I can still hike and go to the gym but playing the sports I love - softball, basketball and running have been out of the question since the end of last summer.

After a 3 level spinal fusion has anyone been able to return to playing sports?

I was told my stomach will become distended after surgery. How long did it take for swelling like that to go down?

How long before you could return to work and normal activities? i.e. going out with friends, food shopping and other errands

What was the hardest thing for you to do when recovering? i.e. shower or using the toilet?

In my research, I haven't found too many people my age that are getting this surgery done. In fact my doctor said it is very rare that someone my age and athletic ability has to go through this.

Just want to know if there is anyone out there with a similar story.

Thank you,

Ashley M.
Boston, MA


  • hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i am not famaliar with your upcoming procedure but i did want to wish you you the best of luck in your recovery!!i hope you are able to play those sports you love when you are well.. check out the "Back and Neck surgery" forum for some answers to your questions..be sure and keep us informed.. i am sure some spineys will drop by with some info for you!! be sure and follow the doctor's orders.. good luck! Jenny :)
  • i have had ALIF at L4/5 {AND S1 i have only recently found out about that from my consultant}.i always thought it was a 2 level fusion .anyway .i will give you my verdict .i was in hospital for 6 days on the day of the operation i went to theater and was down for 5/6 hours but when i woke i was in so much pain there is not a words available to describe it ! the reason for this is i take load of oxycontin and oxynorm to control the pain and i have done for many years ..i noticed after surgery i was very ill very upset and unable to do anything for the first five days even eat .my vocal chords were scratched so i could hardly talk and because they needed to give me massive amounts of pain killers i was zombied even when i came home it was 6 weeks on my recliner and again i was unable to do anything .its been 5 months now .i am still in a lot of ache {not pain } to me pain is sharp this is dull tooth ache type pain ..just the same as it was before the operation .i still cant sleep for more than 2 hours then the ache will wake me .i end up every night on my recliner .showering and cleaning oneself is very hard as i can't twist {you will understand after your op}.life is more or less the same as its always been ...but i was a bad case 5 other consultant would not touch me as i had previous surgeries and my spine was a mess ..my spine in now nice and straight and i no longer have a twist and i am over 30mm taller.you asked about swelling ..after the op ..i was ok my stomach was fine the surgical pain went very quickly {about two weeks } but the mechanical pain is still there and has gotten worse ! ..its a massive operation and you will require help after .get yourself a grabber {amazon sell them as do many disabled shops} if you can afford it a rise and recline recliner would be a very good purchase too.as for returning to sport .that could take many months even years .gentle stuff like swimming can be done as and when you feel well enough .i go when i feel well enough to go .remember its massive surgery and you can damaged yourself if your not careful
    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
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