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L5-S1 ALIF Success Stories

Hey there -

My wife is about to have L5-S1 ALIF on August 20. After over almost a year and a half of pain, all of the steroid injections, disc analysis (there's pretty much no disc left) and more pain meds than a human should be taking, she'll be getting "fixed" soon.

The internet is full of horror stories. We've got one of the best doctors (in the world, I think) who actually invented the current device that most doctors use now to put between the two vertebrae and restores space. He already fixed her cervical spine with a similar issue two years ago, and just as she was healed and running again, boom - her lower spine began having issues.

I have no doubt surgery is the way to go and although she has anxiety, she knows it's the only option left.

Anyone have similar stories and success to share? Tips post-surgery? Running was her love - anyone successfully been back at running post-fusion?

I'm hoping she (and I) gets her life back.

Thanks in advance!
Phoenix, AZ


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 08/02/2014 - 8:20 PM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I was wrong
    I apologise
    I have had some experience with this particular operation and I can tell you that depending on various factors will affect the outcome .please let me explain
    first if your wife is .with the exception of her back .otherwise healthy and this is her first operation on her spine and at present has no peripheral abnormalities such as neurological deficit in her legs /altered sensation /bladder or bowel issues then there is a good chance of a successful surgery
    success is measured by technical success IE did the ALIF fuse? that would be classed as a technical success
    has your wife any pain now after the ALIF other than post operative pain ?
    what to expect
    following the operation .on recovery she will be in pain this should be managed with a PCA device she will be tired and maybe spend around a week in hospital
    recovery is long and hard work .don't expect your wife to be herself
    I hope you are aware that ALIF is primarily done for spinal stabilisation and not pain relief many are not advised of this until after the operation when they still present at their consultants with on going pain she may be one of the lucky few and get pain relief many don't
    I would like to take this opportunity to wish you both the best of luck with the surgery and patients with the recovery .
  • I had a 2 level (L4-S1) 360 ALIF in 2007. Early on, I had total pain relief from the area causing me pain. But, after about three months I began having pain that was much worse in a different broader area. It has since been determined that I have a lot of scar tissue and osteoarthritis that has developed in the area. My sciatica has increased substantially which could mean L3 is getting worn out. I'll cross that bridge when I get to the point I can't take it anymore.

    Many people who have successful surgeries move on and don't post here anymore. This site is great for giving those people who are still having pain support to get through it.

    I think it's fair to say that your wife, surgeon and yourself need to have a consult as to the "realistic" relief she may have from this procedure. I used to be an avid runner years ago and I can do short (very short) jogs now. It's actually more speed walking than jogging. I think she will find lumbar surgery is more difficult than cervical fusion. That's simply because the amount of weight and stress the lumbar area carries. Having positive support at home helps tremendously. Just remember, no BLT and follow doctor's orders! Tell her not to rush things or she will pay the price! I think we all have done that at one point or another while healing and the body will push back!

    Best of luck to your wife!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I am one of the successes. I had ALIF at L5-S1 18 months ago. At first, it was miserable. I couldn't do hardly anything for about a year without some kind of pain or pain pill. Now, I am using the Butrans patch, and am working out 4-5 days a week (and hard...Zumba, Step aerobics).

    There is a pre-surgical preparedness list on this forum...very helpful!

    Let us know how it goes.
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