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Preparing for L5-S1 fusion

Hello! I am new here. I am 45 years old and having an ALIF/PLIF in a week. Does anybody have any helpful hints for managing recovery? I do have my Mom here for 2 weeks (thank goodness)! Silly question, but will I be able to lift my arms up enough to put hair in a pony tail, brush my teeth etc? Any tips are appreciated.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I'm four weeks postop from ALIF L4-S1. I didn't have posterior, and had 2 levels, but your abdomen will be quite sore. I'm 40 and could easily move arms fine, but have struggled with left leg strength due to some groin pull from the muscle manipulation around my pelvis. It will definitely depend on your body and what injury you have. I'm still unable to do much, but I have additional bilateral pars defect that wasn't repaired. Listen to your body. :)
  • The essential equipment for me post-op were(you rent these at a med supply place): raised toilet seat, shower chair, long pincher-grabber tool, & a 3 pronged cane. Ask your mom to make about 2 wks of meals that can be frozen before she leaves. Let neighbors and friends help. If you can afford it, use a cleaning service for a month after your mom leaves. Get Netflix if you don't already have it. Stool softener are a must while you are on narcotics. I may think of more later...best wishes to you!
    PLIF Sept. 2013

  • I have bought enough food, drinks and household items for probably at least a month. I'll only need milk and bread. I am trying to make it easy on me and the help I am going to have the first 2 weeks. I bought a grabber and today clean house and did all I could to be ready. My surgery L5 fusion is this Friday, 17th. I have hired a lawn service and a cleaning service as looks like I won't be able to do much for a while.

    I bought a lot of frozen dinners and easy to cook items. I also just rejoined Netflix as I am sure laying around is going to get old.

    I am in a group on here for anyone having surgery in Jan. I am new so not sure how to copy link, I'll figure it out and PM you. Please join us over there.
  • Hi,

    I have had many fusions including ALIF/PLIF. All the previous mentioned things are good suggestions. Elastic waist band pants are a must as are slip on shoes (I wear clogs). I had no problem with my arms or my long hair.

    It will be hard to even stand in the hospital w hich they made me do the next day. I had to go for daily walks with a walker which just about killed me (and I have competed in the Ironman Triathlon World Championships. The first day at home I could only walk to the end of the driveway but everyday gets better and by the end of 3 weeks I was walking 7 miles a day. I started with short walks several times a day. I went back to work after 3 weeks but total recovery takes a long time.

    One of the things I found most helpful was swimming. It feels wonderful to be weightless.

    Good luck and keep us posted on how you are doing.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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