Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

ALIF surgery

I everyone. I am new to this let me start by giving a little background of myself. I'm 30 years old and have been dealing with lower back pain for 10 years. At first it was just every once in awhile I would "tweak" my back and I would be "stuck" in a bent over position for a few days and a few chiropractic visits. Well my condition has rapidly progressed in the past year and a half. This year alone I've had 8 epidural injections, 5+ pain medications; traction; pt; and have tried yoga, pilates and YES good ol' fashioned bedrest. Finally this past week I saw a surgeon and i have been diagnosed with DDD and a herniated disc. Surgery is set for June 20. I am very scared but at the same time excited for the chance to live a somewhat normal life. I don't expect a pain free life. But right now I cant even hold my 1 year old. Mornings through 1pm are so bad for me I have to feed my son on the floor because I cant Pick him up to put in his high chair!

I am hoping this forum can provide me with encouragement: support; and education. So anyone who had been in my shoes please feel free to respond!

:I really want to know the following:
What to expect once I wake up from surgery
Typical recovery time
Success rate
life after this surgery

Condition is DDD; herniated L5 S1


  • i will tell you my experience {others may tell you different} my version is not sugar coated ! .for the last 16 years i too have suffered with awful lower back pain and leg pain .my pain started after a car crash .i was 30 and very fit .i had a laminectomy and it worked well for about 5 years the it failed and i need a redo of the same operation and by this time S1 had blown too .roll on 2011 and i have been suffering for the last few years with no surgeon wanting to touch me {because the previous consultant made a mess of my spine } but i found a top end consultant that offered me ALIF .NOW i waited a year to get on the table .the operation lasted 6 hours and when i woke up i was screaming in agony and wishing i was dead .i was in so much pain there is not yet a word for it .the reason i was in so much pain is i take large quantities of Oxycontin every day .so i spent the night in recovery with my own consultant /anaesthetist/and medical technician .because i was too unwell to return to a ward and HDU was full as it was xmas.i will never forget that night it was awful i was given diamorphine 4mg every 4 mins and ketamine every 2 hours and oral oxycontin and diazepam {the anaesthetist was astonished at the amount of drugs i could take and still hold a conversation !!.the following morning i was moved to the spinal unit and i had my own room and i was looked after very well.but the pain was awful.i stayed on IV pain killers for 3 days the pain came down enough to go back on oxycontin and oxynorm after that {i normally take 450 mg a day} in hospital i was on 1000 mg a day !when i came home for the first 6 weeks i was total unable to move from my rise and recline recliner {would be a very good idea for you to get one NOW} .my wife had to shower me and my appetite had gone my vocal chords were scratched so my voice was almost gone for about 8 weeks .i did sleep better on my chair as i was so tired .be warned this surgery is massive and recovery is long and hard work .
    its been 5 months now and i am still in pain and my mobility is poor .cleaning myself in the shower is hard work as i can't bend i still cant sleep well {2 hours max} and i still need large amounts of pain killers .,i was warned by the consultant that the operation was being done to stabilize the spine and NOT to reduce pain ...i am about 20mm taller and my spine is nice and straight ..unfortunately i am no better of pain wise and it looks like i will be like this for the rest of my life .my consultant told me that recovery will take 2 years .bit after 6 months i should know how things will be long term .any spinal surgery should be treated as major and last resort you should be made aware of the danger .before you sing your life away .some good things to buy a rise and recliner a grabber a remote control fan .a walk in shower if you can afford it and am electrical adjustable bed .{i sleep on my recliner every night } memory foam pillows on your chair help tempur make one called the millenium queen its expensive but excellent if you buy one go for the large and shop around .don't go to tempur i saved 33 percent ..you will need help for at least 6 months post op .but you are 16 year younger than me so you have age on your side .i wish you all the luck and a speedy recovery .i live in the uk and if you do i can give you my phone number {we do that on here many of us regularly talk to each other }.again best of 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
  • A laminectomy involves a small portion of the bone being removed in the spine known as the lamina. By removing this small bone pressure is alleviated on the sciatic nerve. During this type of surgical procedure fragments of the ruptured disc may also be scraped away. A small incision is made in the lower back and the overlying muscles are spread and the lamina is removed.nose right
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I had an ALIF L4-5 nearly 3 years ago which is successful. Prior to surgery, life was 24/7 pain. Today I have my life back again, but I'll never be 100%.

    I'm in Australia and was in hospital for 5 days. My pain was well controlled, and when I woke up from surgery, all I can remember is that I was in a daze (as expected) and ever so thirsty. It was a couple of days before I was up walking. I had a catheter in, plus a drip and PCP. I had the white stockings on as well as the flowtron DVT things. On the third day, I was changed over to Oxycontin, Oxycodone and Gabapentin. I was also given a med for nausea and each night an injection in the stomach as a preventative for clots. On the day after surgery, I had scans done. Mine were fine. You're likely to get constipated with the meds, so either take something in with you or ask the nurse. I was on liquids the day after surgery and then on a light diet.

    When you get home there will be bending-lifting-twisting limitations. Your surgeon will let you know when you can do more. You'll feel very weak for quite a while, but that's normal - the body has a lot of healing to do. I live on my own and at the time had two large dogs, but my friends and family gave me lots of support. I had a domestic service come in once a week to do the cleaning and washing. I also prepared my meals in advance to last for 3 months.

    The first month isn't too good and I got that awful four walls syndrome because of having to rest so much. You'll need to take your pain meds as prescribed. I was on them for a few months. You will gradually improve and walking every day, just a little bit at a time, is essential for healing. I started to feel normal at about 6-7 months mark and I had fused before the scans which were done at 5.1/2 months. The time for recovery is an individual thing. It then takes much longer for the fusion to become strong. I found I could do more at around the 12-14 months mark.

    I had to limit my sitting for 15 minutes at a time and the same with standing. Because I have degeneration at the levels above and below, I still have to watch this. My surgeon didn't want to fuse these levels - not sure why.

    Today, as long as I don't overdo things, I cope pretty well. I take my dog out walking in the mornings. Also take her out in the evenings, but it has to be a shorter walk, otherwise I'm in pain. I do lots in the garden, but not heavy stuff.

    Do check the threads on Post-Op Must-Haves and How Long Will It Take - lots of good advice.

    Hope all goes well for you on the 20th and once you're well enough, let us know how you're going.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • jpayseurjpayseur Posts: 8
    edited 06/28/2012 - 10:28 AM
    According to the Spine-health articles,

    From page 2 of Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) Surgery,
    "Fusion rates for an ALIF should be as high as 90-95%."

    For some good info about recovery times and what to expect when you wake up: Postoperative Care for Spinal Fusion Surgery

    Rehabilitation can limit your movement and activities for up to 6 months while the spine is fusing - and hopefully the fusion is successful.
  • Hi - I am new to this forum too but looks really helpful....it has also freaked me right out!! I had a very nasty fall off my horse almost 2 years ago and my surgeon said the only think to stop the pain would be ALIF surgery - I had a 40% compression fracture of my L3 and I am living in pain. He is going to fuse my L3 and L2.....I am 41 and very fit and strong with a very physical lifestyle! I am terrified that I am going to be in pain still after this surgery plus not be able to do all the sports I am currently doing!!?? Wondering if I should just live with the pain but scared as to what the very strong pain killers are doing to my insides!!!
    Thanks for listening and I will read on!
  • is BIG surgery there is no doubt about that .as you are young and fit there is a good chance that you will recover well {better than i did] .the operation is brutal there is no way i would lie to you about that .i was in agony after my operation .and like a zombie for the next 8 weeks .its been 6 months and i am still no better regarding pain .but in my case the operation was done to stabilise the spine and not for pain relief ..[that would have been a bonus].you will ...regardless of you health and fitness...require a lengthy recovery period post op i would say at least 6 months at the very minimum.and even if you get a good result you wont be able to do some of the things you once could .bending and twisting {as to wash yourself and put on sock etc is very hard work}..my advice ..read as much as you can and then you will have a better idea of what to expect .but be warned you will be in pain post of ...one last thing ..have you had a discectomy ??? i ask because that's normally a good indicator that the consultant knows his/her stuff ..i discectomy it to test the strength of the above and below disk to make sure they will hold the hard wear ...if no discectomy is being offered ..ASK WHY ?? {even thought they are nasty too the pain of having a discectomy is short lived }
    good luck hoped i have not freaked you out too much
    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
  • Just wondering how the surgery went and how you are doing.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • HI Everyone. I am having ALIF (L4/L5) in Aug 2013 and am constantly reading up in others experiences. I am not in excruciating pain all of the time, but I have no disc left at this level with bone on bone pressure. I need a fusion to stabilize my spine. Also to relieve the compensation on the above discs. I had a Lamiectomy in 2003 and now 10 yrs later need this fusion. I am highly into Alternative Medicine and am going to get Acupuncture after. I was wondering if anyone else out ther has used Alternative Medicine methods during recovery? When I had my laminectomy, the doc prescribed Arnica Montana both before and after my surgery. I am going to do the same this time. It really helped with the bruising and swelling in addition to the pain. I am not wanting to be on pain meds at all, but think it may be necessary initially. If anyone has any good experiences with Alternative Medicine after ALIF, I would like to hear from you. I hate reading all negatives about this surgery and realize that it is what it is for each individual separately. But, as for me, I want to think on a positive note and recover in a good way. I look forward to hearing back about this surgery.
Sign In or Register to comment.