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Recent L5 S1 fusion

I am a 39 year old male recovering from a recent (Oct,2012) L5 S1 fusion surgery. It's 3 day's before the 1 month mark.I have been a lot more mobile this week but still need lots of rest breaks off my feet. Still feeling thatcore pain issue at times but am praying that it will go away. It is still early in the process so I'm optimistic that it wiil subside. My surgeon has me wearing a two piece hard brace to help the fusion to set up. Very limited physical activity for three months then build lifting and bending tolerances slowly. Was hoping I could hear from some people with their recovery process and maybe. Some advice. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks! Vange


  • I didn't have a brace but had to take it easy too. At 3 months, still have to rest off my feet for periods during the day.
    There is a great recent thread on the surgery recovery topic, discussing not overdoing activity, you may wish to read. Lots of good recovery info in previous post and on web site you may wish to look at.
    It takes quite a while for the muscles at the surgical site to relax after the trauma of the op.
    Welcome to SH.
  • My surgeon is adamant about taking it real slow for the first three months. He has a great reputation and seems to be a very active individual himself so I know its not just a biased opinion. A couple sessions on the treadmill for a half hour each day is my program for now. Been fighting this for over a decade now so no rushing it for me!
  • KevculesKKevcules Posts: 89
    edited 10/30/2012 - 12:40 PM
    I had the same surgery as you in July of this year. I still have a fair amount of nerve pain down to my foot. I'm still fairly stiff in the lower back but am mobile enough for anything.
    I keep hearing it takes months, even a year to fully heal. So far I still suffer but don't need narcotics anymore ,so it's not that bad.....I still use gabapentin and tylenol occasionally.
    I'm still amazed at the different directions given by each different surgeon. Your guy says do nothing for 3 months, mine said do nothing for 5 weeks then basically no restrictions...within reason. He wanted me to walk as much as my body would allow, as that's the best excercise for the back according to him. I have consistently walked about a mile ,on average 6 days a week since 2 weeks post surgery. When I walk, i have very little pain. It's when I sit or stand , my gluteus bothers me and the pain will radiate down my leg. (sciatic nerve pain)
    I went through physio at 6 weeks post surgery at a back institute which made the pain worse. Again, everyone says it will get worse before it gets better....They were right about the worse part but the better part I'm still waiting for ! :) Again , no hard drugs needed so I am better.... I'm going to swim in a pool doing laps this month then try to go back to work....Have to see what the surgeon says but I think he will want it too..... Good luck with your recovery and take it slow like your doctor says.... Take Care

    Different degrees of back pain since 1994
    Cortisone shots Jan/09
    Discectomy and lamenectomy April/09
    L5 - S1 spinal fusion July.13th/12
  • Vange, Dave Fusion, Kevcules,

    Great to hear your stories, I have an l5 s1 PLIF coming up on 9 November. My wife is due in March with our first bub, so really keen to be up and about by then to help her out. It looks like I'll be treading a fine line of helping vs jepodising recovery.

    Please keep posting comments, love to hear more on how it goes for you all.

    Because of all the horror stories I've heard, I've set up a blog to track the recovery, heaps of images from scan's going back to 2002

    PLIF L5 S1
  • KevculesKKevcules Posts: 89
    edited 10/31/2012 - 1:29 PM
    Good luck Carlton with your surgery. You "should" be up and around fairly well when the new one comes into the world in March! That should increase your movement around the house which is good for the body.
    I'm 3.5 months post surgery and can do anything I want to but still suffer with some sciatic nerve pain and not back to work yet. . It's not that bad because I no longer need narcotic pain killers .
    Movement creates irritation but movement is necessary to heal. It takes from 4 months to a year to fully heal......... Take Care

    Different degrees of back pain since 1994
    Cortisone shots Jan/09
    Discectomy and lamenectomy April/09
    L5 - S1 spinal fusion July.13th/12
  • Hi, I had a decompression L5-S1 fusion with interbody ( thats what was on the consent form) on Aug 6, so I am shy of three months post op. I was one of the lucky ones, in the sense that I noticed a problem and went to the my spine doctor in April, had two spinal injections for the stenosis of the L5 nerve, then met with the surgeon in the end of June and scheduled the surgery. But in that short time I went from walking up three flights of stairs for my weekly college class to using a cane and dragging my left leg. I had a rating of 7 on the pain scale but for mobility and stability it was very bad. Even though the slippage had progressed to a just grade 2, I had spinal instibility and movement pretty much every time I walked. That, more than anything, prompted the surgery. I have started therapy now, and am getting off the hydrocodone very soon (get my mind back!!!) My doctor has added Lyrica and it's been wonderful not having so much nerve issues: I am on two types of muscle meds to relax the muscles but was still very stiff and rigid. I didn't get a brace. I think that if I had, I won't be in trouble for doing to much to soon! (my husband swears he's going to get a spy cam to watch me during the day)
    I was told that it could take anywhere from 12months to 18months for the fusion to be complete. I was also told to not take ANY anti-imflammatory medicine as it would inhibit bone growth. It is ironic if you think about it, we have a lot of inflammation due to the surgery, but we can't take anything for it! Does anyone find it hard to not do the items on the doctor's don't do list? I am a stay at home mom with two girls and it is hard to stare at the kitchen sink with dirty dishes in it for 8 to 10 hours before someone comes home to do it! I am not allowed to bend down to the dishwasher and not to do more that 20 min of dish washing before walking away (Dr's words) How do you walk away from half-washed dishes? And the Laundry!! Any advice on how to coordinate things better so that I don't keep ending up in charge of the housework? My husband works all day, I have a 10 year old and a 5 year old, both full time in school. Thanks!

    Decompression with L5-S1 fusion and interbody 8/6/2012
    spondylolisthesis grade2
    vertebra instability
    L5 nerve compression
    congenital defect of pars interarticularis

  • i just had my ALIF/PLIF on 10/29/12. I have a brace that I wear except in bed and in the shower. I have to remind myself everyday that I just had a major surgery and that I can't just pick up and go. I'm pretty stiff and still have some not fun spasms but the leg and hip pain I had before the surgery is gone. If I sit too long my hip still hurts really bad. I am progressing though somits just one day at a time.

    Single level L5/S1 360 fusion with 6 screws and a rod (10/29/12)
    Diagnosis: Grade 1-2 spondylolithesis, Pars Defect, L5/S1 disc tear anterior and posterior, DDD, spinal stenosis
  • JulieMacJJulieMac Posts: 5
    edited 11/04/2012 - 7:50 PM
    I am 5 weeks post Op, I had L5 - S1 PLIF both my leg nerves were compressed and I had Grade 2 Spondy. My surgery took 8 hrs and I was in hosp 12 days and in rehab for 1 week. I am still on a few med's Targin, Lyrica, Anti inflam Tablets and Oxy's that give immediate relief when needed ( which I have not taken in about 1 week ).The pain I endured pre surgery has gone which is great. I still have lower back pain when I sit , stand and lay in bed too long. I am not sleeping well at night, just cannot get comfortable. I am walking and doing hydro during the week. The pain now is tolerable but still annoying I do wonder what it would be like if I took NO medication. My neuro has told me that I need 3 months off work, so I am off until Jan 2013. I go back to see my neuro next week and have heaps of questions to ask him. I know I had no other option but to have this surgery, I did try ALL conservative treatment over a 2 year period to no avail. Surgery was my last option. It is still early days for me but do hope things can only improve from here. It's hard to know what to expect. My left leg is still numb since the surgery. It was not numb prior to surgery this came on at about 3 days after surgery. My Neuro is not that concerned about that but cannot indicate when or if the feeling will come back. :-(
  • We're you prescribed these by the surgeon? I thought they were a no no for post fusion patients as they interfere with the fusion bone growth? Hope I'm not putting foot in mouth here. :)

    Glad your your pain is reduced and nerves are decompressed now . Hopefully your numbness will go soon.
  • justduckyangiejjustduckyangie Posts: 4
    edited 11/10/2012 - 2:32 AM
    Vange you sound to be at about the same stage I am. (T1-L2 fusion 10/3) At my 4 week mark is when I started to feel alot better and was up and about alot more. BUT for me I need to watch it and make sure I take breaks which you just sometimes forget - having four kids doesn't help :-). (My husband has been a huge help) Wearing a TSLO brace gives me a reminder to not BLT, although I think I need it refitted. The only activity I'm suppose to be doing is walk, walk, walk. I won't start any type of PT until 3 months. Surgeon said we would talk about that at my 10 week appointment. I still have pain. Alot is muscle and everything being in a "new" place. I don't take alot of my pain meds anymore, if I over do it I'll take one in the afternoon. I sometimes take 1-2 muscle relaxers in a 24 hour period, sometimes not at all. It sounds like you are doing well.

    Healing thoughts to everyone!
    1989 T5-T11 Fusion with Harrington rods for Scheuermann's Kyphosis
    October 2012 T1-L2 Revision fusion for hardware dislodging, bone spurs and degenerative discs above and below
  • Mamacita57MMamacita57 Posts: 53
    edited 11/16/2012 - 8:18 AM
    It is very helpful to ready all of your comments. I will be having a 2 level fusion L4/5 L5/SI in 4 days. I have dealt with pain mgmt for over 12 years and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the surgery works well. Laughterandtears...I hear you...I don't like to depend on anyone. Luckily my boys are grown and one is moving back home to assist and save money. I have been going crazy trying to figure out what I can do to assist everyone while I am down. I am just hoping after surgery I can get rest. I haven't slept more than 3 hours at a time for the past 5 years! Being able to sleep and walk...damn that shouldn't be too much to ask for. I too like the above posts want to eventually get off the narcotics.

    Please keep posting any helpful comments or suggestions. Good luck to all for speedy recoveries.
  • JoeWJJoeW Posts: 36
    edited 11/19/2012 - 4:04 AM
    Got a confirmation for the Dr's office and all's set for tomorrow. She said that she'd wish me luck but it wasn't needed with her confidence in my Doctor.

    Still worried and hope I can get some sleep tonight.

    XLIF 2-4 on 11-20-2012
  • Hi I had a double fusion posterior and anterior at the end sept / beg oct and just found this site. It's great to be in touch with others with similar experiences. I'm doing core exercises and walking. I've had four hydro therapy sessions and start with a spinal physio next week. Pain is relatively low although I do worryingly get some nerve pain in my left foot and leg. Also a few niggles in my back but feel that's probably normal. I'm wearing a body brace all the time apart for bed and showering feel my recovery is going well. I feel very frustrated about not being able to, or ever will be able to bend over to do anything but its still early days and my aim is to get fitter than I've ever been so my body can deal with these changes. Again , nice to be in touch with you all.
  • I am now 8wks post Op and feeling really well. I am almost off all pain medication. If I do too much during the day I do have a very achy back and both my legs ache so I am very mindful about not over doing it. I am so glad I had the surgery now, even thou it was tough and the pain was so intense a few days after surgery. I have seen my neuro 2 weeks ago and he is very pleased how I am coming along. He has asked that I stop Hydro and only do walking and to increase the walking each week. My left leg is still numb but at least I can feel my feet and toes. I have kinda got used to that feeling I do hope I get the feeling back but if I don't then I am not going to dwell on it I would rather have that than the pain I endured before surgery. I wish you all the very best in your recovery, I have found this website so useful :-) Take Care everyone xx
  • Thanks to everyone for posting their experiences. Everyone is different, but I usually find one or two things that I have in common with each post.

    I am recovering fairly well, I think. The first week after surgery was very difficult, lots of pain and nausea. I was in the hospital 5 days. I had trouble with nausea and my blood pressure kept dropping too low. Since then, I have been recovering at a relative's house, as my home is a 5 hour drive from the hospital (just in case I needed to go back in).

    As of 72 hours ago, I no longer take oxycodone or valium, and am using only Tylenol to control the pain, which is manageable. Like others, my body sure lets me know when I've done too much. On that score, I've been pretty darn good about following the rules. I wear my brace ("Miss Scarlett" since it feels like a corset) whenever I am out of bed. I take several short walks each day, and am up to about 1.5 miles total each day. I am using a cane, which I don't need when I start out, but I notice I lean on it as I tire. I'm sure most of you know the fatigue factor. I suppose major surgery does knock the stuffing out of you for a while, but I'm always a little surprised at how quickly I do tire out.

    My only really difficult issue remaining is the constant nausea. It never goes away and I have no desire for food of any kind. I've been hoping that the use of oxy for the better part of the last year has just trashed my stomach and it will just take time to go away. Is anyone else having trouble with constant nausea?

    In a couple of days, I will go home to my family. That will be the real test for me to not overdue it. I have 2 kids and I, too, am compulsive about dirty dishes in the sink, laundry, etc. My husband also threatened me with a spy cam. My kids are 11 and 14 and they are more than capable of doing things for themselves - if I let them. My incentive is that I never want to have to do this again. I already had a microdiscectomy in April, and I overdid it then, to my detriment. With degenerative disc disease, I have to be careful I don't end up needing fusion further up the spine later.

    The only PT I am allowed is walking, walking and then walking some more. I see my NS December 10 for a check up and he may then release me to do other things. Until then, I'm not taking any chances.

    Thank you all, again, for posting. It really helps to know there is a community out there who understands all the details of pain, surgery and recovery.
  • Two weeks ago had my surgery, L5/S1 with bone fusion. Staples removed two days ago...what a relief. Discomfort and tenderness at incision site but was told this is the norm. Feel some strange achiness in my buttocks but try to stretch and reposition often. Stiffness and muscle spasms also occur so I try to breath it through and stay positive....healing includes keeping a strong attitude....it is still very early in my recovery but I am hopeful, afterall the original pain is gone, Thank God...now...what's "Not cool"...my Hubby acccidently rolled in to my back while in bed....I kept my composure but wanted to scream out all kinds of vulgarity...."lil one" in the room so I kept my cool. It felt like a tremendous electrical jolt, I felt a bit nauseous and had a slight head ache...needless to say he went back to snoring and I arranged a pillow wall between us...
    Angie V.
  • Checking in again, just over 3 weeks post op to report that my walking a mile + every day so soon after surgery was too much. I was treating recovery as though I was entering the Boston Marathon and had to be in perfect shape. Since I've cut back on the amount of walking, I'm feeling much less pain and the nausea is all but gone. I really do have to remind myself that I've lived with the pain for years, and I can take a few or more months to heal it properly.

    Kudos to all of you for fighting the good fight!
  • Hi everyone,
    I am 3 month post op of L5/S1 PLIF. At the moment, I am able to go up and down the stairs. I dont feel discomfort going up and down at the moment. and I dont have to wear braces all the time. When I walk, I will need to wear braces. and I can shower on my own right now.
    On good days, I am able to walk and sit all together for 1 hour or a bit more, 5-6 times a day. but on bad days, it will be lesser than that.

    The pain is still there. At the surgery area, inside the incision there is still pain and I was wondering if there is anything to do with taking more time for recovery. I have started physio few times with some pain at times. They asked me to bend my knee while lying down. thats one of the exercises.

    Hoping to recover soon.....
  • It's been a while since my last post. I have had some small improvements since last post. I am still feeling pain at the surgical site and in my left leg. I find if I do almost nothing for a few days that I feel really good. Really surprised at how small everyday tasks can really flare things up in a hurry. I live by myself so it's pretty hard to avoid doing certain things. I really need to be more diligent about not pushing it. I have been for an xray and my surgeon says everything is looking good and the bone is starting to form. Scheduled for another xray in mid Jan to look again. My Dr. says that the pain I am still feeling is normal and that is why it is such a long recovery. He says no physio until month six. He has a great reputation so I'm confident in his plan. Just trying to not get frustrated about the little setbacks. I wish everyone well and keep working at it guys! We'll get there!
  • Vange, It's great your still doing well. Slowly slowly. It's a long recovery. Funny how surgeon said recovery would be 3 mths and now saying 6 mths. I know he is good, it seems that many quote overly optimistic timeframes. Is that because a lot of people would bork when told the realistic ones? (Rhetorical question only)

    Are you still walking on your treadmill or are you walking outside mainly.

    I am enjoying my walking and have just learnt how to walk on real soft beach sand and get good traction. And enjoying the sunrise and sunsets.

  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,314
    edited 12/15/2012 - 6:26 AM
    and i am still in pain and unable to do normal things still on massive amount s of medication 80mg oxycontin x3 a day 20mg oxynorm x6 a day and other drugs still only sleeping for 2 hours them being woken up in agony .just standing feels like i have 6 20 stone mend stood on my shoulders .and trying to do anything like wash or pick something up from the floor load a washer etc is almost impossible ..i have already had previous surgery on my spine at the same level 3 times so my ALIF was always going to be a gamble ..unfortunately its no payed of for me as i am worse now then this time last year {i was in fuerteventura in spain on holiday} granted i was ill on holiday and spent most of the time in the hotel room but there is no way i could even travel to the airport let alone travel to spain now !! good luck to all that are going a lot better then me
    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
  • So after two years of dealing with everything and all the alternatives failing, I'm getting scheduled for a decompression and fusion. I am a 27 year old, newlywed and hairstylist. I have a very physical job and can't afford to change careers. I continued working full time with medication and a brace but my quality of life after work is next to nothing. Literally. I'm thin, walked daily, surfed and I'm otherwise healthy. So the quick downward spiral has been a big blow. I have ddd with central herniations at l4/l5/s1, lumbar stenosis, facet arthrosis and to top it off I have a retroverted uterus, that means my reproductive area directly pushes into my problem area. For you guys with no uterus, imagine having what you have with something physically sitting on it inside of you. Imagine it swelling once a month even more on top of it. I have done everything from physical therapy, massage, Thai massage, traction decompression, light therapy, tens unit daily, medication daily, chiropractor, failed epidural injections with horrible side effects. So now comes surgery because I want to have kids and continue doing what I love. I didn't have an accident at all, the degeneration of my discs and facet joints have led to this. I feel like I've heard horror stories from either people that have been in accidents or have to deal with insurance from accidents or workmans comp. none of this applies to me so I'm really hoping for a positive outcome. I've been working for a year with a surgeon and my primary care doc to avoid surgery. My boss had a fusion and it was her third surgery (she had a car accident while healing from a discectomy!) and my sister had discectomy on three herniated discs. I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts. It's great to have a forum for people that suffer horrific chronic pain. My mid back to my toes are useless. I fear sneezing, coughing, potholes, speed bumps and touch in general. Let me know and I send all my love and healing thoughts to everyone on this board. No one deserves this!!!! Any success or not success. My sister is pain free for three years now and my boss is 7 months post fusion but her pain level is down about 50%.
    Chelsea parker
  • StitchGnomercySStitchGnomercy Posts: 64
    edited 02/06/2013 - 3:12 PM
    I had a minimally invasive TLIF on my L5/S1 3 weeks ago. I'm a doctoral student that works a 20 hour a week receptionist job. I'm back in classes, with the caveat to my professors that I leave if my back gets tired. I haven't gone back to work yet though. I'd been dealing with a grade 2 spondylolisthesis, pars defect, and degenerative disc for over 5 years (failed all the conservative treatments 4 or so years ago, had been on narcotic pain management for 3 years). I attribute me going back to classes so quickly to being in constant pain for so long :-p
    1/16/2013 Minimally invasive TLIF with rods, screws, and cage on L5/S1 joint to treat grade 2 spondylolysthesis, pars defect, degenerative disc disease. Dealt with chronic pain & nerve issues since at least 2007.
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