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L4 L5 fusion coming up soon, Advise needed

I have had 2 laminectomy surgeries at L4 L5 over the past 3 years. Several other back surgeries as well but this question is for the L4 L5 area. I am to have a L4L5 fusion done on Dec 3rd. I am concerned as nothing to this point has worked or helped my pain. My last surgery was October of 2010 and in the recovery room the surgeon and another doctor came to talk to me asking for permission to go back in and fuze my back together. I refused at that time and was OK with the pain levels I have had for years. I just turned 43 in August of this year and the pain I have been experiencing is unbearable. I have passed out from the pain on several occasions and get nauseated from time to time from the pain level.
When I went to talk to this Neurosurgeon that is at the same hospital that my wife works at, came highly recommended as one that isn't one to go straight to surgery. He told me after looking at my MRIs that I needed surgery as soon as I can have it done. Well, I was a bit freaked out thinking I might have other options to try. I have tried most everything in the past with no luck, but was hoping not to have surgery again. The disk is completely gone at L4 L5 and the vertebrae are sitting on top of each other grinding away as he put it.
Looking for advise on the surgery what to expect and how soon can I get back to my so called normal life. I just retired at 42 and started another business up. I don't want to be limited to what I can do if I do have the back surgery and not be able to travel and work with the charities that I help out with.
Thanks for listening to me ramble. Pain level is very high right now, and I don't use pain meds because I have reactions to most meds.



  • You have come to the right place for moral support. I HAD TWO previous minimally invasive procedures in 2007 and 2010. On 10/03/12 I had a 3 level fusion L3-S1. I did have a little bit of disc left, so I cannot fathom your pain. I knew when I woke in recovery that the fusion had fixed my back. As far as how long you'll be out of your norm routine, ask you surgeon. Im sure he's treated many cases just like yours!!! I have a long recovery ahead of me bc of the three levels, but I would do it again...i can finally see the chance to be back in to my routine down the road! I do know that you will only get worse the longer you wait! I hope this helps you at least a little bit!!! Let me just encourage you by saying that knowing what I know now, 4 weeks after a three level fusion, id make the same decision again! God's speed buddy!
    2007 and 2010 L4-S1 Microdiscectomies; helped for a total of 3 years between the 2 of them.
    08/2011....pain returned.
    10/03/2012....back reconstruction L3-S1...large titanium "seperators" were put at each level with synthetic bone graft material.
  • I am 3 mths post op for a L5/S1 fusion. Saw the surgeon yesterday and he said it will take 9 mths to recover. I am slightly older than you, so you may be a little quicker. Interestingly, he said adolescents recover 3 times faster than adults. Anyway, the physio gave me a new exercise regime yesterday that will keep me quite busy, as it will take 4 hrs a day to do. :) But it will help me on my way back to a new 'normal life'. So you may wish to factor in an extended rehabilitation period (i am looking at it as an investment for my future) to prevent future surgeries (hopefully). Surgeons generally seem to state the most optimistic of time frames.

    You may wish to checkout http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/spinal-fusion/spine-fusion-post-operative-care.
    There is other good articles that may interest you around that area of the website too.

    Additionally, you may also wish read "Pre and Post Op Must Haves" from the FAQ section - which you will know quite a bit about from your other ops - at

    Welcome to Spine-health.
  • Thank you 1995 and Dave for the replies. Dave the first link you posted didn't go through. Got the dreaded 404 file error, lol. So far my Dr has said 6 months to a year for recovery. 6 months for the fusion to have taken place between the bones. I am hoping that by August 1st that I will be able to ride my motorcycle as I am an event coordinator for a charity and rally for that first week in August. I am one that does listen to the dr but will also push myself and get back on my feet as quick as possible. My last surgery was back to work 10 days later, I had a desk job if that mattered much.

    Another question I have is how soon after surgery can I fly? I know it will be about 4 to 6 weeks before I can drive depending on the dr allowing it. But I need to fly to Jacksonville, Fl for a meeting about three weeks after the surgery.
    Thanks again for the replies
  • My PT explained that the no driving was due to the risk of having to slam on the brakes in an emergency situation and hurting oneself. Makes sense to me.

    I found that sitting in a train made me stiff and sore afterwards. Was explained to me that the jiggling causes the core muscles to work and that they have been weakened by surgery. But must not stand. Only sit in train preferably facing forwards not sideways.

    Flying, no specific comment other than I had a friend who had scoliosis surgery, incision from neck to buttock and multiple fusions and flew on a two hour flight to get home. This was a couple of weeks after surgery and was without dramas.
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