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Hi everyone I am scheduled for the above surgery. 10/09...after reading comments from another site i have become afraid with second thoughts ..I have been in pain for 11 months pain just has gotten worse with time...I have done PT...PAIN MEDS...SERIES OF INJECTIONS ..EPIDURALS...nothing has worked...I went from sleeping in the bed to the couch to a reclining chair. I have a sit down job witch became very painful to do as well to constant sitting for 8 hours...I was hoping to get some insight on the surgery and recovery...

Thanks in advance.for your time and attention ...


  • Jerome001Jerome001 Cocoa Beach, FloridaPosts: 118
    Welcome aboard! I recently forgot my password so I had to create a new name and PW and although my info shows just a short few weeks tenure, I've actually been on these boards about a year or so (I think) under the moniker of JRnFLA. I had an L5/S1 fusion with cage and stem cells but mine was an "ALIF" through my abdomen and it was my second for this spot. My first L5/S1 fusion was the traditional method through my lower back. I very much prefer the ALIF approach through the abdomen as the recovery is much better than going through the back for various reasons.From my experience, the ALIF is definitely the way to go. For my first fusion in December 2005 which went through my lower back, I was in the hospital for about 3 days after the procedure. Conversely, for the ALIF in May 2012, I was in the hospital just the night after surgery for observation. I was also able to start moving around a lot faster after my ALIF than I was able to after the initial fusion through my back.

    My first fusion (December 2005) failed after a few months yet it took the docs over 6 years to figure out I needed it redone. I did the ALIF fusion in May of 2011 in a hospital in Jacksonville, FL. One of the great things about these boards is that there are people all over the world and the US so if you want a second opinion you can tell us your geographic area and ask anyone with a doctor or procedure recommendation in your geographic area to send you a private message (PM) with their referral information -our board monitors are diligent in deleting any mention of doctor names; I suppose some lawyer made that recommendation to minimize risk to the board hosts and sponsors. No big deal as we can use the PM method to share that type of information with each other! :)

    After having my L5/S1 fusion done twice, I am still glad that I went through with both of them. Before the first fusion I could not walk more than about 10 yards as my sciatica down my right leg through my calf was intense and debilitating so, even though I ended up still in pain, I could at least walk with the sciatica minimized. My ALIF L5/S1 fusion stablized my back again but did not do much, if anything, to help my pain. From what I've read on these boards and my conversations with my neurosurgeons (NS) and pain management physician (PMP), there does not seem to be any indicators to predict who will have decreased or no pain after the fusion so it appears to be just sheer chance and the skill of your NS and other surgeons - maybe other posters can tell you but I do not know. I've had a fusion in the metro Washington, DC area and also in Jacksonville, FL so if you are in either area, let me know and I can give recommendations in those two geographical areas.

    Please do keep us posted as your move forward. One of the great things (for me anyway!) is the sense of camraderie on these boards and I've learned a lot from reading other posters' comments, including questions to ask my PMP or NS. And, maybe more valuable, just the support and encouragement we get from each other. For example, I woke up at 3:00 AM this morning and, while I'm waiting for my pain meds to kick in, I am on these boards reading various posts and responding to some posts which helps me get my mind off how much I hurt - pretty much a "NORMAL" start to my days! :) We all look forward to hearing from you so keep us posted.

    Best of luck with your fusion procedure on October 9!

    Semper fi,

  • Thanks for responding Jerome001....:)
    What is the S1?....even though you said your glad you fid it I'm sorry you had to go threw two procedures...sounds unfair..I'm located in Ohio.I'm having the L4 &L5... I see a lot of posting from different sites about L4 &S1 or L5 & S1..most which have a hard recovery...I was wondering what was the S1 part of it and if that what was the difficult part....I don't see much about L4 & L 5....trying to figure out if that makes any difference?
  • S1 is the vertebrae below L5. The most common disc to go in the lumbar area is the L4/L5 disc with the L5/S1 disc running a close second. A 2 level fusion, i.e. L4-S1, is much more difficult to recover from than a 1 level, i.e. L4/L5. Is there a reason why your doctor is immediately doing a fusion rather than a discectomy? Is the disc so far gone that its not worth salvaging? Just curious, nothing more.

  • i had ALIF /L4/5/S1 last dec .and it was the WORST thing i have ever gone through in my life the pain on recovery was off the scale .followed by 6 days of hell then 6 weeks like a zombie on my recliner unable to do anything for myself .9 months on i am still in pain living on my recliner 99% of the time anything i do {if i get a little bit of pain relief and i have a little energy] will wipe me out flare up the pain and i have got more problems since the operation like legs and feet swelling and altered sensations .still needing lots of pain killers .its not what i thought it was going to be like BUT i had my reservations the problem with my operation was i waited ..or had to wait THE NHS over here is excellent but you have to wait ..and by the time i had the operation too much damage had been done from the other two operations ,so the fusion was hard work to do and even harder to recover from ..its stabilised my spine but as for pain relief and getting on with life ..NO !.good luck
    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
  • Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
    edited 09/22/2012 - 4:02 AM
    Welcome. I've had a TLIF in Jan. 2010 due to stenosis, sponylolisthesis, and facet joint problems. My surgeon came in after my surgery and said that he was glad he did the surgery when he did because my spine was so unstable, more than he had thought viewing the images prior. Thus, I have a 7" scar for a one level fusion.

    Is your surgery solely for your disc or do you have other problems that need to be fixed?

    The surgery was easy -you just go to sleep, then wake up and it's done. The recovery, however, is fairly difficult. You have to measure your recovery in weeks, not days as it takes about six months to feel decent and a year to feel normal (haha, yeah right). I guess to feel our kind of normal.

    Although it was a tough recovery and took a long time, I'm glad I had it done. Unfortunately, I've got adjacent problems above my fusion, which is common, and am scheduled for another surgery in Dec. I'm not sure what the surgery will be exactly, but know its for stability as I have sponylolisthesis and facet problems again due to pressure put upon those levels because of my previous surgery.

    Tony, above, had a bad outcome, but he's worse off than most and shouldn't use him as a guide. Most of us have some degree of success. Also, know that you'll mostly read bad stories on these and other boards because those that have had a successful surgery with no further problems no longer post because they're out living their lives, no longer needing the support given here.

    Below is a Spine-Health link to TLIF info.


    Take care and feel free to continue to ask questions and vent if you need to. We understand how scary it is. I hope you have complete confidence in your surgeon, as that's imperative.

  • shorty71sshorty71 Posts: 5
    edited 09/22/2012 - 5:58 AM
    Hi B....my paperwork says both so I assumed it was a combination it's all knew to my ears..so maybe I don't quite understand it..it was abit foggy so I made him explain it twice..but I know I still didn't catch it all..I'm just so tired of being in pain and not beind able to get up.Saturday mornings and clean my whole house..I was just lraying that I could trust the surgeons decision but I
    do believe he said the disc was able to be saved that's why he was putting a plate there ...
  • Backache99....I am so sorry u have had to go thru two surgeries ...I'm teriffied of the one...u are very brave..i know how it feels to have a recliner as your bestfriend...I hope u better soon.

    SHORTY 71
  • CATH111...
    Thank You soo much...you have been very helpful. Now things make so much sense...far as the S1and how the combination of that is much more dcifficult tha. Just L4&5....that makes me feel a lot better ...and realizing that there are
    Success stories ..they may not realize how important their story is..I will take a look at that link today thanks somuch..you guys have even given me a few questions to ask my Dr ..before surgery ..:)

    SHORTY 71
  • I just wanted to let you know, since you mentioned that you now have some questions to ask your surgeon, that there are some very helpful articles in the FAQ section, like 30 questions to ask your surgeon and preparing for surgery. Also look at the post-op must-haves in the surgery section. That's quite a daunting list, but you won't need everything.

    I found that silk PJs or sheets (for log-rolling out of bed), a walker, grabber, pillows and raised toilet seat to be among the most important items. And depending on where you live, recovering in winter, a big, comfy blanket (no thumb sucking haha) is very nice to have.

  • but it was three surgeries!! the first was 1997 a laminectomy at L4/L5 then 2006 same operation with an addition of a discectomy at S1 {that's where the real trouble started the last one in dec 2011 was hell and most fusion are not just mine ..thank you cath ♥ .
    cath is correct i have had a particularly bad time of it and in my situation things are unlikely to improve ,,what i have noticed is that my last operation has halted the deterioration because even though i am still in pain and cannot do much my back is stronger and with out the ALIF i dread to think what i would have been like now .
    tony ♥
    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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