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Scheduled for PLIF July 25th

LizinalLLizinal Posts: 30
edited 07/12/2013 - 2:28 AM in Lower Back Pain
I posted this in the new member forum but have gotten no response so I thought I would repost here.

I have suffered with unrelenting back pain in lower back, rear end thighs and now in my foot.

MRI showed severe facet disease, a bulging disc and 2 synovial cysts causing mass effect. The cysts are compressing the nerves coming out of the tail bone which was termed Cauda Equine Syndrome. I had trouble urinating for a month until the pain management Dr. Injected cortisone in the area which reduced the inflammation.

I have had multiple facet injections and a nerve ablation on 4 nerves. The pain Dr. Insisted my issues were with the nerves pinched by the facets. I felt it was the cysts. I finally went to a well known ortho Dr. In my area who was very alarmed at the size of the cysts and said I needed surgery immediately.

Due to instability of the spine (Spondolythyisis) I will be getting a Plif, facetectomy, disc reduction and of course this will be using hardware. He will use titanium.

I am petrified and worried that I will have issues. I am trying to remain positive and I have complete faith in my Dr. But after reading so many stories of people who have had a very tough road I am even more scared.

Has anyone had the same issues and has a positive experience they can share? I am also wondering what to expect during my hospital stay.

One last question, I have two wedding invitations 5 weeks post surgery. I don't feel I will be ready to travel but my husband who had a laminectomy 2 years ago says I should be fine!
Synovial cysts L-5 causing mass effect 5mm and 7 mm in size
Severe lumbar facet disease
Bulging discs


  • Hi and Welcome to the forum. I saw your other post but decided not to reply because I have never had cysts so that's a little different. I am fused from T6 down. I don't see what level(s) you are expecting to get fused but I feel pretty sure you are having one of mine fused. All of mine were done from the back, and I see yours will be too. I know it seems more and more common for surgeons to do ALIFs or TLIFs, but my surgeon didn't feel like those were the best options for me. I'm assuming your surgeon feels the same for you.

    As far as your comment about a tough road... well, yes... its going to be a VERY tough road... fusions always are... but most people do get through that part and go on to live normal lives.

    The wedding invites.... well, there would have been no possible way for me to go to a wedding 5 weeks post op of my last fusions... I did have many levels fused and a lot of work done (2 surgeries in a week totaling around 20 hours) but I was also 32, relatively young. As far as your husband's laminectomy... well, that's a much lesser surgery *usually, everyone's experience is different* so you are not going to be able to compare the two.

    I think the best decision about the weddings should come from your surgeon. You should just ask him at your next visit what he thinks. He doesn't have a crystal ball either, but he can give you some predictions based on your procedure/medical history. I know my husband and I had a cruise scheduled for 3 months after my surgery and my surgeon said basically that since it was a "free" cruise (husband's work) to go ahead and plan to go but that he wouldn't have thought going with my children to be a good idea (they weren't invited, spouses only) nor would he think we'd want to plan/pay for a trip because I wouldn't be able to truly enjoy it. He was right... we went, I survived it, even enjoyed some of it, but I wouldn't have wanted to spend my own money on it... so basically your surgeon can tell you a little more about what to expect for you.

    Best of luck to you! What surgeries have you had before? I've had many surgeries and really the hospital stay is about the same with the exception of needing more assistance turning over and getting in and out of bed for the first few days.If you think of any specific questions feel free to ask!
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Thank you!

    I am getting L4-5 fused. I did wonder why I was getting a PLIF instead of a TLIF but figured he needed to get at the cysts.

    I am sure that the surgeon will say no to the travel. It would involve plan travel etc.so I am going to plan on not going. I really want the graft to take and I don't want to do anything that would interfere with my recovery.

    I have not had any surgeries, this will be the first. The Dr. Was wondering how I got to the shape I am in without seeing someone years ago. I did have some pain management intervention and chiro care. I had a nerve ablation on four nerves etc. no pain meds but I do take some ibuprofen which I am to stop taking next week.

    I am very concerned about pain management after surgery as pain meds make me very sick. I am going to talk to the dr. And let him know to keep that under consideration when prescribing meds and while in the hospital. I do understand the importance of pain control after surgery so that I can rest and start walking etc. pain can definitely slow down healing.

    Unfortunately for me, my neck is in bad shape so I will be getting c-6 and c-7 fused when I am fully healed from this. The discs are completely gone in this areas and I have a rather large spur pressing on a nerve as well as a bulging disc.

    I will have my sister here for a week after surgery as my husband has to work. Once she leaves I hope to be ambulating well enough to be alone all day.
    Synovial cysts L-5 causing mass effect 5mm and 7 mm in size
    Severe lumbar facet disease
    Bulging discs
  • I have had synovial cysts along with spondylolithesis, I have also had a number of radio frequency treatments. I had fusion surgery on April 23 of the L4/L5, I thought it was an ALIF, but it was actually an XLIF with fixation from the back. I was scared to death but as it turns out it really wasn't that bad. I spent 4 days in the hospital and truthfully, the pain was really bad until they switched me over to Percocet by mouth. I woke up from surgery in a great deal of pain and then had the pump with Morphine for about 36 hours. I got home and day by day just started getting a little better and a little better. The pain was never out of control, I was always comfortable. My husband and children were very supportive and I was able to attend a double header soft ball game at 2.5 weeks post-op. I thought my husband would need to take me home between games but I felt okay and after that I got out if the house nearly every day. 5 weeks was the turning point for me and attended a couple of graduation parties. At 6 weeks I took my first airplane trip complete with long car drives and since then my life has become pretty normal. I'm currently 11 weeks out, I take Tramadol when I over-do it and occasionally a Norco or two. I'm walking 40 minutes on my treadmill every day @ 3.5mph and not having any pain with it. My worst days now are better than my best days before surgery. I have a few complaints; some infrequent leg pain and my right side, just above my hip hurts around the incision. All in all, though, I consider this surgery to have given me my life back! I'm 52 years old and have been suffering back pain since 2003. I hope you'll have a great recovery and will be able to attend the weddings.
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
  • Your post made me feel much better and I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Your story gives me hope that recovery can be tolerable.

    I hope you are soon completely pain free! I promise to post and let you know how I do after surgery.
    Synovial cysts L-5 causing mass effect 5mm and 7 mm in size
    Severe lumbar facet disease
    Bulging discs
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