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alternative treatment - ALIF surgery

Hello , I wonder if I could get some guidance or opinions on alternative treatments before undertaking ALIF surgery. I have had a discography on L4/L5 & L4/L3 discs. The consultant who completed the procedure has told me that my lower back pain and thigh pain is due to damage to L4/L5 which has led to the L5 nerve being somewhat compressed . He has recommended ALIF surgery to L4/L5 vertebrate and a pedicle screw fix to L4/L3.
This procedure would be undertaken in 2 stages, stage 1 would be the fusion to L4/L5 and stage 2 , the pedicle screw fix.

I have done some research on the procedure and understand the risks associated with it. My concern is the length of time needed to recover and if the benefits will be worth it in the long run,

I wonder what alternative treatments there are for this ... I have been in pain now for almost 2.5 years and am not doing much in way of sport activity because of it.

I am 46 years old if it helps.

Thanks for reading



  • 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
  • this is my experience .{any reference express are from my own experience and not medical advice]over 17 years I have had a laminectomy /discectomy countless painful procedures with the pain clinic still in pain and with no other option I went to see a guy that specialises in ADR and fusions after a discography {they hurt ] I was told that there was insufficient spinal material to have ADR so a ALIF fusion was done ..this is about the worst procedure that I have gone through .I was very worried about the surgery as I did not want my abdominal cavity opened ,I have tried all other options but the ALIF was my last resort .I was taken in on the day of the operation and it lasted 5 hours .I woke in agony .as the anaesthetist has got my IV pain relief very wrong he had grossly underestimated my requirement he had given me one mg of morphine per 4 minutes realising his mistake it was upped to 4 mg of diamorphine with 2 hourly ketamine IM to boost the pain level ..it was so bad that I was kept in the operation recovery room because I was not stable enough to be moved to the spinal ward and ITU was full .so after a night of hell I was put in to the HDU department and they tried to get my pain level down ,after 7 days I was allowed to go home I spent the next 6 weeks on my recliner unable to do anything on my own .my wife had to help me shower and even go to the loo as I was unable to bend .at about the 8 week mark I could just about shower on my own ..but I was worn out and fit for nothing .my pain level had not dropped and I felt low .6 months on and felt very weak and low .anything would defeat me I wondered why had I put myself through this .my house is set up to accommodate my requirement {like a downstairs wash room /electrical rise and recline recliner and an electric bed with a high end {second generation} memory foam mattress .but I find I spend most of my life on the recliner ..I sleep for 2 hours then pain will wake me and I end up back on the recliner ,there are no alternatives to a fusion apart from ADR if your body can stand it .when you are offered a fusion the consultant has reached the last trick in his bag of ideas .if I were you I would get a second opinion and if the next consultant says you would benefit from a fusion and you have the support back home then you may benefit from one BUT DONT EXPECT MIRICALS ...and expect s long recovery with the possibility of more surgery within the next 10 years .if you don't own a recliner now is the time to get one ..if a new one is out of your reach then have a look in the free adds or loot .there are many almost new ones for sale ..many bought for ;;granny;;last in her last years and many don't make it so the family members want to get rid ASAP //a friend of mine got an almost new leather electric one for 200 pounds a saving of 1000 pounds and they delivered it free ,I have seen many for sale in the home version of auto trader ..have a look at post op must haves thee is a long post on this site with things that people have added ..things that may help you ..read up on fusions there is plenty of information on this site .good luck with what every you decide
    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
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