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Good News for PLIF Recovery...Anyone?

This is only my second post on the site. Im 35, female and 3 weeks post TDR in C4-5. I am going tomorrow for L5-S1 PLIF. I am way nervous about this one than I was about the neck surgery. I have heard a lot of bad things about fusion and read some unfortunate post about recovery and the lack of. My doctors tell me this will help me, so I believe them. I am hoping there are people here that have positive outcomes from this surgery and they could share their experience. I will continue to share mine. I hope it is a good one!


  • I have had good PLIF recovery in the fusion aspect of it. I don't have any pain from fusions anymore and i do not take any pain meds. However I am battling a staph infection, and i have a collection of fluid on my spine that is being removed today. despite my infection problems i believe that I have had good results from my fusions. Oh yeah I was fused in feb and june of this year.

    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.

  • I have probably missed you reading this before your surgery.

    I had a PLIF with decompression in March 2010 and would do it again to get the great amount of relief that I have got. It is a long recovery but as long as you follow the rules, you shouldn't flare things up too much. The danger is that on a good day you do too much and the pain returns for a few days. I had a grade 2 spondylolisthesis and my surgeon managed to pull my spine back into a good alignment at the same time. My pain levels are so much better now.

    Wow! Having a PLIF just 3 weeks after a total disc replacement in your neck. What happened to you? You are young to be having so many problems in your spine.

    I have problems in my neck which will need surgery. This has not been caused by my fusion as I had the symptoms before I had my lumbar fusion.

    I will look out for news of how you are doing after surgery.

    >:D< >:-D< :hug:
  • So the doc said surgery went great. He said there was more damage he saw once he got in there that was not showing on the MRI. He fixed it tho. I haven't had a chance to talk with him since the op room except for his partner. I am hoping to get more info on what he found. my back and neck started to bother me in 2009, but i was rear ended on my way to work in Jan and made everything worse and the kind of pain change from being muscular to feeling like bone on bone in lower back and sciatica in my hip down my entire leg and same with my neck, very tight painful and numbness in my arms and fingers. none of the therapies were working and i had started on narcotics this june that i would quickly build a tolerance to. 3 doctors opinions said i needed surgery and since both were flared at the same time we did the neck first so not to compromise the spinal chord in the neck if we did the back first. The Cervical TDR was very painful for me post op but everyday felt better, Immediately relieved pain in arms and recovery time was pretty quick. I was feeling pretty good after a week.
    Now, I after the PLIF I had a horrible time keeping the pain under control and I had a few imbeciles for nurses. They would let my drip run to empty before ordering another one from the hospital pharmacy. The pharmacy would take their time 20 minutes before getting it to the floor. and one night they took forever then the nurse broke the bag and had to order another one. there was nothing they would give me in the meantime scheduled. I was still not allowed fluids, it was my first night, so they couldn't give me pills. I told the nurse when she said that she broke the bag that she needed to call the doctor now to find a back up and she just stood there staring at me and said yes ok. but didnt turn around and go do it, so i said you need to go call the doctor now before I get angry! and of corse the doctor told her to give me norco even tho it wasnt yet time to drink fluids, but that order took time to write up an i got the norco about 3 minutes before the new bag came for the pump. yet even the pump i was up all night counting the minutes to press the button for myself. Finally the next day the Docs associate said "double" whatever she's on now. then I finally got relief and I didnt have to count the minutes between pressing the pump. Unfortunatley the problems continued...same thing waiting 30-40 minutes for refills. nurses that would roll their eyes and me and my family. and nurse supervisor who turned an eye to their behavior. my nurse was being paged to come in 3x to take my blood pressure cause i felt sick when the tried to get me up. she walked in the room and said "whats the problem now!" so unprofessional. when she saw my BP was 80 over 60 her tone turned very sweet all of a sudden. I kept asking them to take my temp cause i felt i had a fever. when they finally did it was 100.9 low grade fevers are normal but this was effecting my pain level im sure, so they gave me xtra tylenoI. i would tell her Im nauseated, sweaty, hot, constipated, etc, etc her only response was "well you are on a lot of pain meds. It took the physical therapist to get her to give me anti nausea meds thru IV. I went 4 days w/o BM now stool sofenter even tho I asked for it AND the nurse saying "be careful with how much narcotics you take they will mess your bowels" and this was minutes after she just told me i had to keep pressing the pump. GOD! its inconceivable how these women are qualified to care for others!. We did finally get to talk to someone about the poor care and I did get different nurses. But since my pain meds protocol was so messed up by the time i got to the Rehab floor I was sobbing in agony.I was in pain cause my bladder was full, my bowels we full, i just got my period and everyone just kept saying we cant give you anything right now. that is just part of my horror story with my hospital say.
    Now I am in the inpatient Rehab unit. I got here saturday and its been a lot better care. I have a pain management doctor and they upped narcotics over the weekend until i could see the PMdr. Im on a fentenol patch and norco 1 every 4 hours. I have PT and OT 3 hours M-Sat. Today we had a conference with the doctors, my family, OtPt, nurses and case manager to talk about my progress and when i can go home. the plan is for the 25th . a week and a half. I feel I am about to turn a corner with the pain and I will then begin to improve with Ot and Pt. I have my fingers crossed, I like pretty much everyone here and they really are rooting for me. this is nice. I can't wait to get home to be with my husband and kitties!
  • You have had a horrible experience so far!
    It can only get better from here. It sounds like you are now in a more caring place to continue your recovery.
    I would imagine that having 2 major spinal surgeries in a month is going to be a hard recovery. I gues that is why you are in a rehab place.

    Having your pain well controlled is so important to help you to relax and allow your body to heal.
    Hopefully now that is the case and your recovery and healing can begin.
    You may have some other 'bumps' along the road, but hopefully they will seem minor compared with what you have suffered so far.

    Now take care, follow all the rules and listen to your body. It is so easy to overdo it in these first few weeks. Just give yourself the time it needs to heal. The time will come when you are able to get home again, but you are still going to have to be very careful for a long time yet.

  • Hello,
    I have a new mantra to deal with the pain..."Its going to get better". I have to say that out loud. and instead of saying it hurts, im in pain, i say its gonna get better.

    I have been in the hospital 16 days, 14 of them in inpatient rehab. The Rehab has been great but aim ready to go home. I have developed horrible nerve pain in my calves. its worse on my right side, the side that was bad before the surgery. Its so painful to walk and stand. it even hurts with the light brush of a hand or sheet at times.the pain management dr wants to wait and see if the drug cocktail im on now will work before altering it. I see him in 3-4 weeks. Im hoping that i'll get more rest at home and the pain will subside. but overall im getting better and i believe i will get better. I will get home health care when i get home. a nurse will come, physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) will come too 2-3 days per week and i have exercises i will go home with. Having Rehab in the hospital has been great, there are so many tricks and tips for managing life in a brace with limited mobility. I cant imagine how id get by w/o it. After home health care I will go to Outpatient Rehab. I need to reach certain goals with walking distance, balance, strength and endurance before I graduate to Outpatient.I meet with my Neurosurgeon 9/4 and i will find out how things are going.
    i will keep writing about my progress and experience.
  • Keep saying that aloud. It will, I promise. It is going to take a while, and a long time until you have finished healing and reach that point when you are as good as you are going to be. I think even at 2 years after mine I felt better than at 1 year. You have had a very rough journey, but there is lots of hope that by the end of your recovery, you will be very much better than from January.

    I did have all sorts of pains and weakness in my legs and back after my lumbar fusion. I could hardly lift my left leg up and had to lift it with my hands. It did improve. I have several problems, but nothing like you. My surgeon started to operate on the wrong level; I had a bleed during the surgery and they had to save my own blood to give it back to me; my incision opened up at the top and then got an infection; as it was healing, I got overgranulation tissue that had to be cauterised with silver nitrate. Everything seemed to take for ever, but each problem was dealt with and now I feel the surgery was a success.

    Shame I am now having problems with my neck.

    I wish you well and hope that things will start to really improve and you will feel that your recovery is moving forwards.
    Do keep us updated with how you are doing.
    Take care,

  • I am getting better, I feel pretty good. I am still using a walker. I have home PT but honestly I think I am beyond that and should go to OPPT. My PT guy is giving me exercises one would do immediately after surgery, but I had 2 weeks in the hospital and they work you out there! My Insurance cut the number of home visits for PT anyway so after this week I'll go to Outpatient. The Home OT guy came and said I was doing fine and he didnt need to see me anymore after one visit. I can understand that too, I was doing well even before I left the hospital. I am doing the exercises I was given and walking everyday. Yesterday I FINALLY got out of the house and went to target. Which now im not so sure I should have done. My neck is really sore on my left side, I was crying out in pain last night before bed. I used one of those scooter things they have and I am worried I gave myself whiplash. I hate those things. But i dont have a wheel chair. I can walk pretty good, slow but good, but I get tired an then there is no place to sit down. My husband was suppose to pick up a rental wheelchair last week for me for $25 per month, but he didnt and now he cant go get it to Wed and we will see about that. I'd only use it for outings. I can push it and walk then if i get tired someone can push me. or at least i can sit down. Anyway last night i got so freaked out and i still am a bit about my neck it still hurts like a 7-8 last night oh it was a 9! i almost wanted to go to the ER. but my husband thinks im crazy. It hurts right at the base of my neck on my left side then right in that space on the top of the shoulder between the neck and the rotator cuff it feel like someone is stabbing me, then it goes down to my shoulder blade and down the back and stops at the waist. it also comes down the front under my breast down the side and stops as it goes slightly under my rib cage. I thought I couldve have a clot or heart attach a pinched nerve, whiplash or my artificial disc replacement slipped out of place. I still have the pain but it doesnt hurt as bad. I am gonna do my exercises and see if that'll help.
    AnyWho, on another note. I've been getting numbness in my hands, mostly in the right hand. and its not the same fingers as before the TDR. its the middle finger and the ring finger mostly but is sort of is the whole hand too. My joints feel swollen so it hurts when i squeeze my hands to get felling back in them. I also have some numbness in my left hand and the tip of my middle finger goes numb. I was having a little of this before the back surgery and after the neck surgery but if felt very different. it was very slight almost like a ghost pain. The doctor said this is normal. and I had heard that this would happen and was normal that the nerves are trying to repair themselves. But now its aweful! It started in the hospital infrequently. I thought it was carpel tunnel from being on my computer. It still could be. But this last week its happening everyday, it starts when I wake up and on and off all day. I cant write for much. I keep a hand written log of my pain level and activities and every time my hand goes numb after just a few lines. Then last night I was woken up by the numbness and pain. And it was in the fingers that are associated with the disc that was replaced and the pain was 7-8, it was horrible!
    I have a home nurse coming by today...i know its a holiday! how strange! And I will see what she says about all this neck and numbness stuff. I see my NS tomorrow. ( there is a reason I left him out of this post, i may bring up in a later post )
    Other than that my PLIF is doing well, the pain is getting better everyday. I have a walker, but Im starting to use it less when Im in the house. So in that area I think Im on the mend. I hope when I go in for check up that everything is setting and healing properly.
    Please let me know if you have had any similar experiences with pain and numbness in the neck and hands after a Cervical TDR.

    Happy Labor Day
  • Hello,
    I went to Post Op appointment yesterday. He took the rest of the steri-strips off. He checked my extremities for weakness and numbness. Things went well except the top of my hand felt numb. Weird. That morning had been the worst yet for the pain in my hands. He ordered a ct to be done in 2 weeks for my low back and an EMG for my hand problem. he suggested carpel tunnel from the walker. its possible. Im waiting to get insurance approval for the tests. i found out I have a health advocate as part of my insurance plan that is free. So I am going to take advantage of her checking in on these tests and stuff. I was suppose to get a bone stimulator, its been a month and I still don't have one. OH! and I found out the dr ordered a different brace than the one I got. SO she is going to check into that. Hope she helps!
  • I was re-reading my posts and it's amazing, that pain I had in my neck down my back and rib cage was the embolism. I woke up on the 10th in severe pain under my left breast and behind my shoulder blade. I couldn't breathe in w/o intolerable pain. I went to ER where the CT confirmed I had clots all over my lungs the ER doc said. I was in the hospital til that Friday. In that time I found I had a DVT in my rt lg. And an empty chamber in my left. I had no symptoms in my right leg and just a little swelling in my left ankle. If it wasn't for the pain in my chest I'm not sure I'd be here! Also they found I was passed a genetic mutation called prothrombin gene mutation which can promote clotting after trauma or injury. That pain I had in my calves while in the hospital was probably the early stages of a DVT in both calves! Now I'm on blood thinners and trying to figure the right dose. I feel great now. 6 weeks post surgery and I don't feel groggy which was blamed on the meds, pain is low and manageable. Life is stressful, but what's new. Starting outpatient therapy soon, I should have done it from the get go.
    Signing off
  • I posted this under another thread, but thought I would add it here as well....

    I am 35. I had cervical stenosis caused by herniated C5-6 & Degenerative Disc Disease at L5-S1 with herniation causing sciatica. July 20th '12 I had Total Disc Replacement at C5-C6 and my neck feeling good at my 2 week post op appointment we set up a PLIF for August 8th '12. I spent 3 nights post surgical floor then moved to inpatient rehab where they decided I would benefit from a 2 week Physical Therapy and Occupational stay. Thank goodness!! I was not responding well after the surgery to the pain, I built up a tolerance to the meds so when I was inpatient rehab I had a team of nurses, a rehab dr specialist, a pain management dr and a staff of PT and OT that understood what happened and were caring and helpful. The hospital food got old, tho. Recovery was rough for a while and then it was complicated by a Pulmonary Embolism a month after the surgery. Turns out I have a rare genetic blood clotting disorder. Then getting off the narcotics wasn't real easy. I am well on my way to being off them. I am just past 3 months and on 12 mcg Fentanyl, valium and Oxycodone PRN. But I usually take tylenol and the valium helps relax the muscles. At my 3 month appointment my CT looked good so the dr said, he saw some additional bone growth from the 6 week mark. he said no more scans and I can stop wearing my brace which I was wearing all the time except when lying down. I got approved for part time work which is awesome to be back. I have been doing PT and OT 3x per week since a week after the PE Sept 10th. and now I am down to 2x per week. I am feeling good. I need less and less of the meds and should be off the fentanyl in about a month ( I see a pain management dr to help get off w/o the withdrawal). I am sure others have recovered faster and others slower, but I am happy I had the surgeries and really the PE although it threatened my life it was a blessing b/c we had been trying to conceive and now I know I need to be on blood thinners when that time comes again, thus possibly preventing a miscarriage. we had done an egg retrieval and were set to do an embryo transfer before those plans were postponed due to the severe neck and back pain. The Last few months have been a fog and its been really hard at times and this entire year not so great. But the fog is starting to clear and and I can begin to see light and a pain free ( most of the time) future. And that is why we choose to have surgery.

    A Note about FMLA...I had exhausted my 12 weeks yet my employer kept my job without a hitch. There was no fire and rehire. Its been more than 4 months and now i am still only Part time. I was extremely fortunate to have an employer who cared about me and appreciates the hard work I do when I am able. That is why they kept my job for me, same pay, same benefits. I am blessed.
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