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Reconstructive Spinal Fusion

Hello All,

I want to thank all of you for your posts, which have been a wealth of information for me over the last three years. I thought it was my time to give "someone" information that may be helpful as you all have been for me.

I'm the typical low back struggler since I was a young teen; I'm now almost 40. I was a competition gymnast and extreme runner for many years. All contributed to my back problem, but I had a degenerative disc disease. I guess it was just a matter of time for me and my younger activities definitely didn't help.

So for the good stuff! In 08 my back started to really cause me problems and affected my work. In 09 I finally had an injection in the nerves of my back. I have to say, I will never do that again...worst pain than natural child birth. Several hospital vists later and three MRI's I decided to take my MRI's to three different Dr's for their review and opinion. All three Dr's had the same prognosis, spinal fusion of the L5 S1 section of my back. While I was in the hospital, I asked the nurses who were the best neurosurgeon's in the valley. I went with the number 1 surgeon, who happened to be tall dark and handsome...darnit. :) Anyway, I had my first spinal fusion in June 2011. It was done posterior, because I didn't want a scar on my stomach...I'm so vain. LOL The recovery was tough, there is something about having hardware put into your spine that is just not natural. My body was not pleased. I found it was hard to get up and walk as the dr recommended. I did walk many times a day regardless as I was very motivated to heal as quickly as possible. Things were going well for a few months and at around 5 months I started to really hurt very badly. I could feel the pain deep in my spine as well as my hardware. I pleaded with the dr that something was wrong and may need to be fixed immediately. He reassured me that is was the recovery process and I just needed to work through it. I continued PT and walking with no relief whatsoever.

Finally, my one year exam came and I was still is massive pain. It was to the point where, if this is my life, I don't want to be here any longer. I know that is horrible to say, but I was in a dark place as I sure many of you can relate to. So, he said I needed to have surgery by going into the Anterior aproach, so I got the stomach scar after all :) The dr removed some random bone growth that was impeding the progress of the original fusion. So he replaced the disc and cage with the next size up to releive more of the leg pain. They sowed me up and flipped me over and opened my back up again and completely removed my hardware.

I am 2 weeks post op and doing amazing. I actually went to work yesterday for a half day and did very well. I'm using pain medicine sparingly and walking like a fool. I have a treadmil and I walk for 10-15 mins every 45 mins during my waking hours. Walking has been the best tool to my recovery as well as removing the hardware. I have to say, it is just unnatural to have the foreign objects in your body. I did research on the hardware and found that it is only for a temporary use, not meant for long-term use. As a side note, I own my a commercial real estate company, so my father has be my driver. I would never drive with pain medication in my system.

What I want you to take away from my experience is, listen to your body. The dr may think they know best, but you know your body better than anyone. I know pain is in your head, but it starts at the source, so you are not crazy and don't let anyone tell you different. My other recommendation is to push push push. If something doesn't feel right, make them get you back in to fix it. Don't continue to struggle if you don't have to. The dr's really look to you for confirmation regarding how you feel and what you need. To them it's just a crap shoot, seriously!

I really felt compelled to let all of you know that it gets better; you have to be proactive. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me or post back.

Good luck to all of you out there struggling to make it through each day, I wish you the very best and hope your recovery is speedy.



  • you managed to go to work for half a day 2 weeks post op from ALIF and } PLIF revision} that's amazing .i was still om my recliner crying at every move and unable to do anything for myself for at last 8 weeks post ALIF .your doing so well well done.i am now 8 months post op and the DEEP PAIN you described ,,well i am having that too as well as worse back pain and NEW leg and foot problems ..i am unable to walk unless its absolutely necessary and then only for a short duration due to pain ...i want to wish you well and a speedy recovery .please note that i did not have any abdominal pain until around the 6 months from the ALIF so be on the look out for that it could be vascular from the surgery .i am waiting for a CT scan .good luck my friend
    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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