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L4-L5 fusion surgery in April, advice please...

edited 03/24/2014 - 11:08 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello good people. I am getting a surgery done on April 15th and was wondering if someone can share with me success or failure of such a procedure. I tried to find a thread similar to mine with no luck. I have no disc between l4-l5 and will be getting whatever disc is hanging there removed and replacing it with two what looked like blue plastic discs. The doctor says that once I get these two discs put in place to create a space in my vertebrae which I am now missing, bone will grow around it and fuse the back together in that location. I was in so much pain that day, I could barely walk, and I did not listen to the terms he was giving me. I am just grateful there may be an end to the pain, hopefully. He says they will be kept in place with some screws. I have no pain down my leg, but I cannot stand erect. I walk and stand hunched over and have for the past 5 months. I get jolts of pain when I move wrong in my back that feel like am getting stabbed in the location of pain. So bad, it debilitates me to where I cannot walk or stand. I wish I paid more attention when I was in the doctors office, but all I heard was, lets fix this. I had two pain relieving injections in my back that did not do anything, I really do not want to get surgery, but my life has ended pretty much since this problem started happening over 2 years ago and getting progressively worse. Doctor says it is not a very invasive surgery and will only go from the back area with an incision or two. Is anybody familiar with my jibberish, or has anybody had anything similar to this? Good bad? Do you think I could be back to work in 4-6 weeks? I am currently working now as well, in much pain though. I do not take medications because I work around a lot of heavy equipment. Thank you all for any help or advice you can give me.


  • I had an l4-l5 surgery 3 months ago today. I also had minimally invasive surgery thru the back, but I have 5 small incisions. My disc was replaced with bone shavings that were taken from the foramen. Your doctor may have downplayed the recovery, but it's my belief that if we knew the truth, we'd never have any surgery...lol. Before I scare you, let me just tell you that at 3 months post-op, I feel great. I'm not ready to run a marathon, but I'd say I feel 80% better than I did before surgery. I couldn't walk a block because the sciatic pain in my leg hurt so bad, and the pain in my back was crippling. Now, I'm taking long walks with my grandson and getting back to my favorite sport...shopping! :-)

    Okay, now for the bad news (my own experience). Recovery was really, really painful. Did I say really, really painful? I was only in the hospital for 2 night, but I know many here have been in longer. Make sure you take all of your meds and don't let the nurses get behind on them. My nurse got busy one time and I buzzed her about 5 times before she came. You'll most likely be on a pain pump (mine was dialilud) and you'll be able to push the button every so many minutes. Push it every time you'll allowed to in order to stay on top of the pain. Don't be afraid to tell them if your pain isn't being controlled and you need more pain medication. That goes for after you get out of the hospital too. When you're released from the hospital, you'll be given post hospital rules. Follow them to the T. No bending, lifting, twisting (BLT) is one you'll hear a million times and you need to adhere to it. Before you go into the hospital, arrange everything you'll need when you get out at waist or counter level. Food in your refrigerator, toiletries in your bathroom, put clothes on top of your dresser, etc. Oh, and be sure to buy a grabber and a toilet riser. Those are essential.

    As for going back to work, I have a desk job and went back at 5 weeks and wish I could have waited until at least 8 weeks. If you work with heavy equipment, I think a surgeon would be doing you a huge disservice to say you should go back anytime before 3 months.

    Like I said, I feel great at 3 months out and I'm happy that I did it. I worried and fretted and prayed about it, and my prayers were answered. Good luck to you!
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • edited 03/25/2014 - 3:31 AM
    Thank you Ruby Tuesday for the heads up on what I will be going through. I really do not want the surgery, but I cannot walk 100 yards without stopping and sitting until the pain subsides. I work around heavy equipment, but do not operate it. I am in management, so I drive around in a truck to make sure everyone is working safely and doing the job correctly.
    I do not take meds (doc gave me percocet because vicodins upset my stomach) now, only when the pain is really great and I am at home, so I have been and still am working, and the pain is getting much worse. Do not know if I can make until April 15th, but I am truly gonna try. Luckily, as of now, I do not have pain shooting down my legs, and hopefully do not get it after my surgery.
    If I may ask a little about your recovery process. How soon were you walking and how often and how far. I am reading that after so long, they want you walking up to 2 miles in the first 6 weeks. Now it seems like an impossibility, but I want to be very aggressive in my rehab. I do not want to sit at home for too long and want to get back in the grind as soon as possible, and my back and doctor allows. Ruby, thank you for all of the information. I am nervous yet hopeful. Until then, avoiding speed bumps!
  • Before my fusion I couldn't walk down the street without being in pain. Now I can walk a few miles at a time no problem and I do that on a daily basis. By week 3 post-op I was walking 2.5 miles a day spread between an AM and PM walk. I had my surgery on a Monday and was on bed rest until Tuesday. The PT got me up and into a recliner and I took a few steps. On Wednesday the PT had me walking in the hallway using a walker. On Thursday I was using a cane and going up and down the stairs. My surgeon told me to walk 3 times a day, 10 minutes each time when I was discharged and to build up the length of my walks as I could.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • EscapeFLEEscapeFL Posts: 14
    edited 03/25/2014 - 3:58 AM
    I'm almost at 3 week mark for my l4/l5 fusion. I was up walking the next day without any assistive devices. Both the surgeon and PT said I was ahead of the curve, though. Spent 2 days in the hospital. I was outside walking right away and go three times a day, increasing the distance. I'm at about 3 miles now. Feel like I could go further, but don't want to overdue it. The only pain I have now is a nagging ache on the left side.
  • They get you up and walking the day after your surgery. I was pretty bad at it and needed to use the walker the first few times, but could walk on my own when I was released from the hospital. I did fine walking at home, but I have to be honest, I still couldn't walk like some of these people here. And even if I could, I couldn't walk anywhere but home because I was out during the great snowstorms of 2014. There wasn't one day during January and February that there wasn't snow and/or ice on the sidewalks and roads. I walked as much as I could around the house, but I didn't push it and I'm fine today. Don't do more than your body tells you that you can do. If you're in good shape and fairly active, you should be fine and will be able to get out and walk more than I was.

    But listen to your body! Don't worry if you don't measure up to others. This isn't a competition. :-)
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
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