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ALIF severe post-op colon pain

edited 11/02/2014 - 5:08 PM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi, I'm new to this forum. To give a quick intro, my name is Jenny, I live in Georgia, U.S., and am 36 years old. I am rather tall and of slender build, which my surgeon said would work in my favor. I'm 3 1/2 wks out from having an ALIF on my L5-S1. The disc there was 100% collapsed and the L5 vertebra was retrolisthesed (or slid back) and had 2 large bone spurs that had to be cut off before it could be realigned. Then a titanium cage with screws and cadaver bone was put in. I did a lot of research going into this, so I knew it would be a bad surgery, but one thing I didn't know about or expect is the colon pain. Granted I have suffered from IBS since I was 4 or 5 yrs old, with the pain sometimes being so severe that it would feel as though I was being repeatedly stabbed in the guts, and I would scream and cry for my mom and God and any- and everyone else to help me. However after I was grown, these "colon attacks" as my mother termed them became fewer and further between as well as less severe when they did occur. Well, now more than 3 weeks post-op I thought I was slowly recovering, headed in the right direction, until a couple of nights ago when my colon flared up with a vengeance. Last night was even worse. The pain was so bad I thought I was going to puke and/or pass out. Even now, I am lying in bed trying not to move for fear of making the pain worse. I'm sorry to write so much, especially on my 1st post, but I wanted to explain what is going on, and just really wanted to know if this is normal. Has anyone else experienced this after an ALIF?
Thanks in advance for any helpful info!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • the surgery?
    With an ALIF , the organs are moved, then placed back to get to the surgical area of your spine, so it is possible that there could be some issues . Have you contacted your surgeon to discuss the problems that you are having? If not, it would be wise to call the office and talk to them , and ask them what you should do.
  • I've been using enemas and the last time felt as though I completely emptied myself, so to speak, yet my colon is still hurting pretty bad. I haven't called the surgeon yet as this didn't become a bad problem until Friday night, but I think I will give him a call today. Thanks for your response.
  • I don't have any experience with this particular issue, but I couldn't read and not respond. I had a TLIF about 6 weeks ago and I know how hard that has been without the extra IBS issue. My guess is that the surgery just completely angered your bowels and it's just going to take some time to settle back down, but definitely get in to see your surgeon (and maybe a gastroenterologist). It never hurts to be safe rather than sorry. I hope you feel better soon and get some answers.
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • terrapin1tterrapin1 Posts: 5
    edited 11/03/2014 - 7:09 AM
    I had a microdiscectomy, foraminotomy 7 weeks ago. Everything was going fine until this week. i had the worst setback. Got my feet and left leg first, pins and needles then go numb while on one of on my sneeze attacks. Called my ns, he says "its okay. I have muscle spasms Theyll resolve in 2 weeks." Then the numbness resolved completely in 3 days, but back and leg muscles and even tips of my feet are started aching as hell.  I had the worst pain in my entire story in all over my lower body. I literally get exhausted from it.  Thankfully it(pain) is resolving too.  Its my 7th day of my setback story. All of this time i had progressed IBS-D symptoms. From the first day All of he symptoms are present.  never had this kind of full blown bowel problems before.  I had 2 days of diarreha, Bloating all the time. I eat fruit even when i drink water or tea my bowels are working after and make insane sounds.  One night i woke up with stomach ache even. Very frustrating  (Never had these issues before) Now these symptoms too somewhat subsiding.. no more bloating and weird bowel noises 7/24 at least. but stool is still  very loose. I hope it will get better soon too. As my other symptoms resolve...  Maybe this give  an idea...

    My story: Got a central herniation Waited 2 months of surgery while progressing neurologic deficits. Had affected pelvic floor muscles and %30 strenght loss in left leg. i
  • Thanks Coltsfan, it does help to know someone is listening, even if they're not experiencing the same exact thing. Terrapin, my father and brother both had microdiscectomies and laminectomies. My father last year, my brother the year before that and I know that their surgeon told them that the nerve pain and numbness, burning, or tingling in their legs could persist for months before finally letting up and theirs finally did let up too, so hang in there. I take it you already had IBS?? It's weird that yours is worse if they didn't go in through your stomach during the surgery, but I'm sure that any operation like that can get your body out of wack. I just know it is hell going through this right after such major surgery. I thought about calling my surgeon today, but then remembered that a while back I tried to get into a gastroenterologist and no one in my area accepted my insurance and I feel sure that that is who they will want me to see. It would mean a 2 hour trip by car one way. No thank you for now! It is too soon after my surgery. I'm not up to that kind of trip in and of itself, let alone going through different medical tests on top of it. I'll just suffer in peace and hopefully it will get better in time. That may sound stupid, but I'm really not able to take that kind of trip yet.
  • Not contacting your surgeon, given the type of surgery you had is not a good idea. You really need to contact your surgeon, if this bowel issue is continuing for direction.
  • Can you describe more about the pain and where it's located? I had an XLIF 18 months ago. Several times since I've woken up during the night with horrible recital pain. I've been to the doctor, had a colonoscopy, all is well there and it makes me wonder if it could be related the nerves from my back.
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
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