I've found this site when I first opted for surgery a month ago, and I am very thankful for the contributions from all of you. I am having some trouble finding first hand experiences with others who have had the OLLIF/OLIF (I believe they are the same, my doc calls it OLLIF).Some background:
I'm Nick, 25, and live in Alabama. I am a smaller guy (5'6" 135lbs and fit, not athletically fit - due to not being able to anything physical for the last 2 years) I was passenger in a car accident in February of 2012. I first visited the orthopedic in November of 2012. He was very adamant from the beginning to keep me away from surgery due to my age. I received an XRAY and MRI and was diagnosed with a small herniation at L5-S1. I did 3 spinal blocks as well as a few physical therapy sessions hoping to give my back time to heal itself. Over the course of the next year nothing was getting and better and actually the pain was increasing. In March of 2014 I received another MRI and XRAY and was told I now have a massive herniation and collapse of my L5-S1 disc. In doctor's terms, "segmental instability with severe lateral recess and foraminal stenosis and radiculitis".
With the doc I opted for an OLLIF (Oblique Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion) as his recommendation made this the best option for recovery as well as longevity of my spine with minimal issues.
I did a lot of searching, but like I was told by doc, it is a fairly new procedure and there is not a lot of info easily found, specifically actual personal experiences.
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Anyways...I had my surgery a week ago, 5/5/14. As things usually go for me, there ended up being complications and the surgery went longer and my recovery was worse than it should of been and I ended up having to stay a night instead of being released "out-patient". Instead of one simple incision I have 3 incisions on each side, my one-hour recovery turned into a 32 hour hospital stay and being discharged with a walker. I was told my disc was not able to be completely removed with one incision and then another was made to allow access to my hip for additional material for the graft.
As far as my recovery so far, the first few days were extremely painful and somewhat typical of what i've read regarding fusions. I was not able to "be up and walking the next day" as I was told and have read. After one week (today) I'm pleased to say my back pain is actually at a minimum and am hoping I can start weening off the Percocet. The only thing I still cannot absolutely do is sit. I cannot sit at all. I can lay down or stand and that's it. If I try to sit I feel like my spine is crushing. So much for "being able to drive in a few days" as well.
The one major concern I have as of today is the incredibly intense pain I have had in both my legs since I woke up this morning. Percocet did nothing for it this morning and I'm also on Tizanidine for spasms and it had very little effect as well. I've done a little reading and it seems this may be the "nerve pain" part of my recovery from my damaged nerves trying to fix themselves. I didn't call the doc due to it is only the second week but also because I'm sure all I'll hear is the normal spill from the nurse. I will end up calling tomorrow though if the pain is the same. The easiest way to describe it is imagine doing 500 squats and the way your muscles would feel the next morning. If my muscles are relaxed it's not near as bad, but bending my legs, trying to walk, stretching at all, causes some extremely intense pain. I am scheduled for my first follow up on 5/20 as well.
I apologize for the long read but thought I would try to give some experiences for others that may be looking as well. Also if anyone has anything else to add or any suggestions/expectations I would greatly appreciate it. I really am looking for some more insight on recovery expectations.
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