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Hi, new here, XLIF next week

My name is Odile, I was injured while helping to restrain a violent psychiatric patient this past summer. I have a herniated L4-5 with spondylisthesis (anterior, 8mm, 4 on 5) and sciatic pain bilaterally. A trial of physical therapy, while it maintained my muscle strength, did nothing to relieve the nerve pain. So here I stand (I had my husband move the computer to the breakfast bar) awaiting an XLIF on December 11. I'm not sure what has been more of a challenge, the physical disability or the nightmare of workers' compensation. I don't know if the pain is just eroding my soul, or if the dismal grey December weather is getting to me, but today, while shopping for sweat pants and leggings, I darn near burst into tears at Walmart. Worse yet, my husband will only be able to take off about a week from work, so I need to make some sort of arrangements for some home care assistance, and hope to hell that comp will cover that.

Lots of upsetting thoughts going through my head right now, everything from how I'm going to manage to how nasty I will look in "rehab chic," how to manage long hair in the shower with a brace, and I stumbled across the forum while I was scaring the hell out of myself for the umpteenth time researching my condition.

I guess I'm just hoping for some support and some knowledge that I'm not alone.
I'm not a spinal diagnosis. I'm a human being with a spinal diagnosis.


  • Welcome Odile.

    There is masses of info here that you are welcome to look at. Lots of website articles and posts (just put XLIF into search and go for it).

    Also there is a wonderful thread on pre surgery preparation in the FAQ area, if you haven't found it yet. Do what is there and you will make your recovery so much better.

    A spiney's life is an emotional roller coaster, that's for sure and its normal too.

    Would be interested in a description of your pain, medications and treatments so far. (If you want too)

    How you look in rehab will be the last thing you will be worrying about. Lol. All the best. ;)
  • My lower legs and feet are constantly tingling, and usually burning. I've taken my shoes off to see if I'm getting athletes' foot or something, until I remember, "oh, no, it's your back!" That's the baseline I deal with on a good day. If I get fatigued, or I sat too long, or did something excessive, I get pain in the small of my back that radiates down the back of both legs, out to the "outboard" side of both calves, and then into the arches of my feet. I frequently get spasms in the small of my back which go all the way around to the sides of my body. At the time of the incident at work, I also landed on both knees, and have undergone synvisc injections to both knees to deal with chondromalacia.

    My official diagnosis is bilateral sciatica, anterior spondylolisthesis of L 4 over 5 (8mm) and lordosis. L 4 has a "wide base herniation" and some foraminal stenosis. There is compression at both facet joints. So--the sciatica is the big issue. It's driving me nuts at times, and sleep is uncomfortable, fitful, and rare. Sitting is miserable if I do so for more than thirty minutes, and symptoms start when I'm sitting for more than ten minutes.

    Funny thing is, I've always had great posture: Nursing is my second career. I retired from professional ballet at the age of 42, and I'm 59 now.

    I've been doing physical therapy to try to relieve the sciatica three times a week as well as daily home exercises. A chiropractor who treated me years ago for a psoas sprain reviewed my MRI and told me he couldn't offer me lasting relief, because the disc is so herniated.

    I'm currently taking tramadol three times a day if needed (usually) as well as robaxin three times a day. Initially I was taking flexeril to relieve the back spasms, which worked well. Problem is, my primary would not give me more than two weeks of it (apparently, there's something in prescribing guidelines that recommend that.) The neurosurgeon did not believe that cortisone injections to the facet joints would help all that much.

    The funny thing is that although there is some facet joint arthritis at L 3-4 it is minimal compared to the L 4-5. All, get this, ALL of my other intervertebral spaces have good height and look normal.

    Supposedly, I'm an excellent candidate for this procedure, and I was given a very favorable prognosis for the relief of the sciatica and the spasms, but not the intermittent backache. I can live with an intermittent backache.

    I'm using a TENS unit when the spasms occur. That and either heat or icing seems to help the most for spasms. Continuing to do core strengthening and leg flexibility exercises seems to help as well. The tramadol takes the edge off acute pain. The robaxin seems to do nothing at all. I was taking glucosamine supplements but had to discontinue them last week for surgery. I can definitely feel that my spine feels "crunchier" since I stopped them, if that makes any sense whatsoever.

    I really need to work on my mental attitude this weekend: I'm replaying every medical disaster I ever have heard about, I'm such a control freak that I probably wouldn't be happy unless I myself were performing my care, and of course that is impossible, and yeah, the idea of dressing with elastic waistbands in my pants depresses the hell out of me. I feel a little nuts right now, and don't like feeling out of control.

    The workers' compensation issue is just feeding into all this insanity. Some day, when I have the energy to do so, I'll post that nightmare. Fortunately, it's finally been resolved favorably.

    I'm happy to see your foot drop is recovering.

    I'm not a spinal diagnosis. I'm a human being with a spinal diagnosis.
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