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Back pain and abdominal pain 4 months post-op ALIF Spine Surgery

I have read many posts regarding the continual back pain after ALIF Spine Surgery. I had this surgery done on 5/21/12.
for the L4/L5, L5/S1, and have been unable to return to work due to the back pain and abdominal pain. I am still on Hydros and muscle relaxers around the clock just to manage the pain. The Vascular Surgery that did the incision on my abdomen used the old C-Section scar. about an inch above the naval all the way down. It's been almost 4 months now and I am still experiencing extreme tenderness in the lower left quadrant. I know that this is a major surgery and the Vascular Surgeon had to move things out of the way to get to the spine, but after this amount of time, it looks like the pain and tenderness in the abdomen would be gone, not to mention the back pain.


  • fear not ALIF is a MASSIVE operation and what you are going through is NORMAL i have been through it too the problem you mention in your lower left fossa is because when the consultant put back all you bits at all doesn't go back as it came out and sometime you can get the same pain as a hernia {or even a hernia} .it take many months just to get over the surgery and can take three YEARS to be as well as you are going to be ..in my case i have had 2 previous spinal operation and my spine was in a bad way .i had problems after the operation with serious pain and need to be kept in the recovery ward all night on massive amounts of diamorphine and ketamine .i remember everthing ..it was pure hell thankfully i had a very kind male nurse that stayed with me all night and he was in my corner and nothing was too much trouble .after that night i was transferred to the spinal unit where i suffered for another 6 days but there was another nurse there a pain specialist and she {knowing that i have a massive tolerance for pain killers as i have been on them for many years ] made sure that i got what ever i needed .//back home the first 6 weeks i was zombied !! and unable to do all but the most basic of things i spent all day and night on my electrical recliner with my {nurse wife} doing everything for me .{she is a nurse by the way!] .its been 9 months and i recently went for a check all's well but i have leg and foot problems that i did not have before the operation and i too get pain around the scar on my abdominal area ...have you tried a TENS ? as well as your medication ?? you will be going for your 6 months check up soon you can ask your consultant any technical questions .but from what you have said you are going through normal recovery ..forget the people that say you will recover in 6 weeks !! that's B/S at the minimum its going to be 12 months .realistically more like 2 years even 3 .you may be in pain for the rest of your life ...things like your age /your health/weight /fitness/ and previous operations on your back will all have a bearing on your recovery .i am here should you ever want to talk
    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
  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 118
    I've had the L6/S1 fused twice - old school style going through my back in December 2005 and the ALIF in May 2011. While I had a couple of hiccups with my ALIF recovery, including an ER visit when a couple of stitches came open and I was beleeding a bit, recovery was fairly quick in terms of the abdominal wound healing but my back pain is just as bad as before my ALIF. If I were you I would see the surgeon or at least the GP so they can at least do an XRay and give you some peace of mind. Keep us posted and good luck. Jerome
  • Thank you both for the response. I have just past the 5 month mark, I am still on pain medication and still have the abdominal tenderness, and since my last post have developed severe vertigo along with a possible torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder.
    I saw my Spine Surgeon on 10/4, and asked him if some of his patients had longer recovery time. I agree with the previous post. 12 weeks seems to be a quick recovery time, due to all the people I have talked to that have had it.
    I actually started crying like a baby in the Doctor's office. I am 51 and have lost my job, my health insurance and benefits.
    I was allowed 12 weeks FMLA and it is now 5 months. My Doctor wants to see me again in 3 months. He wants me to go to pain management, and back to the Vascular Surgeon that did the abdominal incision to rule out a possible hernia.
    For now, I am just trying to take care of me, to recouperate.
  • my consultant told me that recovery from ALIF can take upto 3 years ..12 weeks is far too optimistic
    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
  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 08/25/2013 - 2:07 AM
    WHAT A 20 MONTHS ITS BEEN .I have never been so ill in my life .the ALIF was a hellish operation the recovery was agonising .every day I feel low /in pain .I don't want to do anything as anything that I do make me feel lousy .I have lower leg problems [did not have before the ALIF] I have abdominal pain sometimes very bad .again did not have before the ALIF I can't sleep due to pain .I feel that I was not a suitable candidate for the ALIF and I should have taken notice of what 4 other consultants told me ...don't have ALIF !! ..IN MY CASE its been a disaster I go to bed and I do not care if I don't wake up that's how bad things have gotten ..I am not one for taking my own life [we have had 2 suicides in our family ..not on my side ! and I have seen the devastation for the other family members left .when I had the operation I remember thinking I don't care if I don't come out of this operation .even when I do sleep I always dream horrible dreams .I hate the situation that I am in .I have so many nice things around me but I can't enjoy them .PAIN stops me for enjoying anything it never goes away I am on loads of pain killers [I have just asked the doctor to REDUCE them as I don't think that they are helping me .I have asked for more valium as that does help ..but only for a short time ..I was such a happy ;;nice ,person and now I am a recluse I don't like to mix with people as I can't fit in anymore .even if I swim p[when I have the energy to do it ..I always end up in pain .I am worried sick about possible bowel cancer or crohn's disease .I am 47 and I just want the last 20 years of my life back .I understand how people feel about long term illness brought on by ongoing pain etc .I feel for you but I have no answers .I never thought that I would be as I am at my age .I was so lively pain has killed me ..the car crash that should have killed me 17 years ago is doing it slowly !!!..
    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
  • EmilyEEmily Posts: 112
    edited 09/03/2013 - 8:34 AM
    I am now at the 27 month mark after my rescue ALIF. The initial progress is not going to be what you want it to be and it's really only once the bones were fused (at about 18 months for me) that normality seemed to return. It's going to be a new normal and in my experience working and KEEPING working on your core is the secret to a good recovery.

    I am not pain-free and did not expect to be, but it's fine. I have no leg pan, the abdominal discomfort finally went at about the 2 year mark and I am just back from a 60 minute hill walk with my dogs.

    I was off work for 12 weeks total and have been working full-time since then. Yes, I have to get up and stretch and need a flat seat for flights longer than 2 hours, but really, everything else is back to normal.
  • im so emotional beause i feel the same pre-op pain. how much longer til i feel better? im 39 and this is my 3rd back surgery.
  • I am 5 months post op after an ALIF that was supposed to repair herniations at l/4 l/5 and l/5 and s/1. Because i am overweight the Drs could not do the l/4 l/5. They only fused the l/5 s/1. I am still having pain in my lower back and middle back. I have had a spinal injection at the 4 month mark and it helped with my joints because they locked up, but still the pain and aching is there. I have lost all enjoyment in my life. I go and do because I
    Obligated to my family. I hurt and suffer through sitting, walking, and standing. I wondering if I'll ever be able to enjoy my life again. I can't lift any thing without pain. I have pain in my left side where my incision was when I overdo. I hope the best for
  • JennyJennyJJennyJenny South CarolinaPosts: 1
    Susan our stories sound just alike even down to the right torn rotator cuff!! Are you finally feeling some relief?
  • I've been sick since my surgery but lifting isn't the issue and I get around okay. I think my surgeons did  a good job but my nurses kind of sucked and let me get thrush and sent me home with it and the continual coughing gave me a hernia. They say hernias can be quite common with the procedure because of the manipulation of the digestive track, I suggest you see both your surgeons and find out why you are still hurting so bad. I know tomorrow I'm calling my General because I finally put 2 and 2 together about the coughing and the hernia so I'm going to go get it checked out to be on the safe side. I want to enjoy life and be productive again I didn't do this thing to be in more pain.
  • bogeybobbbogeybob North Las VegasPosts: 2
    I am 60 years old and have had pain on the right side going down my leg for years- but off and on- as I have gotten older it has become difficult to stand for longer than 5 minutes without the feeling that I am being tazed down the leg to the foot. However, I am able to golf, bike, kayak and ski- anything that involves bending forward- I just can't stand upright. Finally went to the Doc and he recommends ALIF for a L5 S1 fusion. He told me that in my case this is a birth defect, that I have had this and most people have the surgery long before this.  I am in pretty good shape- working out several times weekly and able to swim a mile. I have been an RN for 40 years and am now in a desk job. I am torn between having the surgery and living with the pain. That is until my wife asks me to walk around the block. At the halfway point I am in pain. Being in the medical field I am aware that 50% of back surgery patient say its the best thing they ever did and the other 50% not so much. I am going in in October and will keep you updated from an "insider" point of view. Each case is different I know- just hoping that being in relatively good shape works in my favor. Thanks for any advise you can give.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 09/13/2016 - 6:59 AM
    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I am closing it.
    I suggest you create a new discussion using the link below

    Please click on the link for useful information

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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