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TLIF Are there any success stories out there?

DH is 15 days post-op from his L4-L5 TLIF surgery. He is still in a lot of pain, and the more we read the more discouraging it is. Surely there must be success stories from people who've had this type of surgery. He had a 1 level fusion with screws and rods with a discectomy with cage replacement. Minimally invasive. He was in hospital for 6 days. Diagnosis was spondliothesis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disk disease. He previously tried physical therapy and steroid injections. The doctor seemed to think this was the only solution. He is 56 years old. We really don't know what to expect as to recovery, if he'll be in pain forever, or what. I've read so many horror stories on these forums, It sure would be nice to read of some successes.

He is walking twice a day, keeping a recovery journal, and trying to stay positive.

Thanks for any information.


  • doubleFstandoubleFstan Posts: 4
    edited 06/27/2012 - 1:06 PM
    Hello milliganus, sorry to see you are having a difficult time. I know exactly how you feel. Last August I too had a TLIF to fuse the L4and 5 and the L5 and S1 joints together. Cadaver bone cells, interbody cage, pedicles and 4 screws 2 inches long and rods. My neurosurgeon diagnosed me with spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease and told me he could probably only make me 80% better. Well here I go.I am 56 years old and had been very active all my life enjoying all outdoor activities especially hunting and fishing until one day I began hurting real bad in my lower back. I went to a chiropractor. After she gave me an adjustment, I had to crawl out of their office. She really screwed my back up. I was out of work for 7 weeks. Went to an orthopedic Dr; had 2 epidural injections, took all kinds of meds and I did not get better.So he sent me to a neurosurgeon. He performed the TLIF and when I woke up in hospital I was in HELL.
    Stayed 4 days and was sent home with a brace I was to wear whenever I was out of bed. I was also given a bone stimulator I wore for 2 hours every day. I was hurting so bad I wanted to die. I started walking every day gradually increasing the distance until I was up to a mile and a half. Walk as much as you can. You must strengthen the muscles up in your lower back. I cannot stress the importance of this. Wear your brace and walk . Right now you hurt, feel like shit, hate life and are asking why did you decide to do this. Trust me, it will get better and easier until one day you will be overwhelmed with joy and cry because you will see and feel that you are going to began loving life again. I'm sorry to say this but it takes a long time. Your body must adjust to the foreign materials in your body. The nerves must start their healing process and this also takes a long time, But It will happen, I promise. You won't believe me but I was on the lake in a boat fishing in October with the help of 4 hydrocodone pills a day. I went deer hunting and was lucky enough to kill two deer with my bow, I swear. I climbed a treestand and was able to sit there for several hours at a time. When the deer walked by I stood up without grunting or yelling out in pain, drew the bow back and made a humane shot. I did not field dress or drag them mind you but I did shoot them. So as you can see, I got better real quick and so will you!!!. Walk and do not lay around feeling sorry for yourself. Get up and move I promise you won't regret it. Now for the limitations I have. It is hard to wash my legs when I shower because I cannot bend over to far. I have a hard time tying my shoes. If I drop something I have a device I use to pick it up or holler for some help. Yes I do hurt sometimes, probably always will. I take 75 mg of Lyrica for the nerve pain and hydrocodone whenever the pain gets rough. Other than this, I do not take anything. Later on down the line, your Dr will want to take physical therapy. This is going to help you a great deal also. Do anything you can do to make your stomach and back stronger, it will pay big time dividends. I hope this helps you and I really know you are going to get better and better every day. I am sorry for going on and on but we know what we are going through and have been through so keep the faith. Thanks, Stan

  • llfoster22lllfoster22 Posts: 14
    edited 06/30/2012 - 5:13 PM
    i had fusion 3 months ago. hardware and bone cells placed. wore brace in begining and still bone growth stimulater daily, have been back to work for 3 weeks. the pain that caused surgery GONE. however im am very tired at end of day, lower back feels tight and legs ache, i have been told and believe that this is normal after this type of major surgery. i am done to 1/2 percocet as needed from 2 every 4 hours in begining. i go to PT in pool which i love regular PT was too much for me. yes it does get better a little every day the hard part is trying to remember this surgery has a LONG recovery period. sometimes i am my own worst enemy believing i should be better or that i am a wimp when i get tired. these forums have been a godsend for me to keep my thinking balanced YOU WILL GET BETTER, it does take time, and you just have to try to accept you limitations for now. good luck and God bless you
  • TDD14150TTDD14150 Posts: 5
    edited 07/02/2012 - 6:44 AM
    I had L5S1 TLIF about three weeks ago. I struggled to make the decision for surgery after hearing the possible implications down the line but am currently pleased with my choice. At first, in the hospital, I was in excruciating pain at the incision site, depressed, lonely, and flat out worried I had made a mistake to take this option. It sounds as though your recovery is very painful for you physically and emotionally and I empathize greatly. I believe the love and support I received from my family in the past few weeks has had the greatest impact on my recovery process. As of today I still get help from my wife to shower because I can not bend or twist, but I am able to now get around my house at a slow speed and am excited to begin pt as soon as I'm cleared by my doc. Before my surgery I suffered from constant pain radiating from my ass to my toes that was so intense it could stop me in my tracks while walking or leave me stranded in my seat. I was in and out of pt for over a year prior to surgery and underwent three epidural injections, each time with less and less success. I can confidently say the surgery was a necessity for my situation. That doesn't make the recovery any easier but it has finally helped me get piece of mind. This site has been xtremely informative. I wish u the best!
  • Thanks all for the comments. It is now 6 weeks post op and DH is walking 1-2 miles per day. His original pain is gone but he now has very bad "burning" pain in the lower butt area. This we believe is nerve pain. He is taking 150mg Lyrica a day and is on oxycontin and percocet pain pills. The pain seems to be getting worse and is now as bad (but different) than before surgery. 1st month check up and X-ray looked good. Dr seemed pleased. #2 check up next week. He is very discouraged, thinking that he will always have the nerve pain and concerned that he is becoming addicted to pain meds. Has withdrawal symptoms when he misses a dose or gets behind. So, the saga continues.
  • i just want to congratulate DH for getting up and walking especially since he is in pain. we are all told to walk but could he be walking too much?
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