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Post op TLIF L4/L5: recovery Bumps

Nicklr32NNicklr32 Posts: 28
edited 01/20/2015 - 7:59 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I am five days post op TLIF L4/L5 at home since day 3. So far things have gone ok. Not near as badly as I was expecting! My three biggest concerns are things I hope someone has some answers to! I am also looking for support via this forum as recovery progresses. Have already found that even well intentions from family and friends are already waning thin. I'm really afraid of getting depressed during my long recovery at home alone my of the time. Hope it doesn't happen, but if it does recovery buddies would be nice.

My three areas of concern today are as follows. If anyone has pointers please let me hear them!

1. Super sensitive skin to begin with, but the bandages from hospital ripped my skin off leaving exposed raw places. My brace rubs it even worse. Doc said absolutely nothing can go near incision sites. I do wear a shirt between skin and brace! Any suggestions?

2. A little TMI coming.... Was told absolutely no bending or twisting; however, I'm finding it very difficult to clean after bowel movement without some bend. Any tricks?

3. Last thing: At night no matter how cold the house is I wake up multiple times drenched in sweat. No fevers. Have tried no covers, less clothes, lighter clothes, different sheets, etc. Any ideas?



  • Hi there, I have me TLIF at L4-5 in March.
    I had night sweats due to meds. I bought some waterproof pillowcases to go under the regular ones and had four pillows to swap during the night. Keep a hand towel nearby. And have a fan at the foot of the bed.
    As for bum cleaning, there are mobility tools on Amazon that help with this.
    Hope this helps.
    L5-S1 herniation. Both knee meniscus tear. L4-5 herniation - 2 x nerve block injections. L4-5 discectomy. L1-2 nerve block injection. L4-5 reherniation - TLIF fusion. 2016: L1-2 and L5-S1 retrolistheses and multiple facet joint degeneration.
  • Im one month post op ALIF and I also had the night sweats that were drenching(ugh!) I just slept with a sheet and lighter sheet. Even with long arms, butt wiping is still a bit of a challege :(
  • gspmanggspman Posts: 2
    edited 01/22/2015 - 7:28 AM
  • Hi there! I had TLIF surgery on L4-L5 joint 11 days ago.
    (1) I cannot say what to do with scraped skin areas since you need to keep area clean and dry. Maybe your dressing can cover up that area? I'm feeling scratchy near the incisions but I figure it's due to the skin healing. I don't have any scraped skin in the incision area, although I do have a couple of scabs on the face (from adhesive tape being ripped off).
    (2) about wiping your rear end. I use flushable wipes to feel cleaner. I hold on to a chair which I set up near the toilet. It helps me in a semi standing position. I wipe by putting arm between both thighs. Not the ideal position but manageable for me. I attended a pre-op orientation at which the physical therapist suggested using very long barbecue tongs to hold the toilet paper for wiping. I don't feel I need this because I am pretty nimble.
    (3) I think the heavy sweating is related to abrupt withdrawal from narcotic pain meds in the hospital. All you can do is bear with it. I would suggest drinking lots of fluids to flush the narcotics out of your system.
    Best of luck!
    Lumbar fusion TLIF L4-5 Jan 12, 2015
  • Have been doing good until today. Was walking and stepped wrong causing a harsh quick bend forward nearly 45 degrees. I didn't feel anything pop but am in pain. Is this enough to cause the fusion or hardware to break? I'm so nervous. Was truly an accident. I do to dr tomorrow for staple removal. Hope to find something out then.
  • I had my 2-wk post op checkup today. Staples were removed from incision scars. I'm still having cramps across lower back and down right leg. I was sent to get an X-ray as part of checkup.
    Showering ok but no baths for next 4 weeks. Walking is only allowed exercise. No Bending, Lifting, Twisting. No lifting anything heavier than 10 lbs (1-gal milk jug).
    Lumbar fusion TLIF L4-5 Jan 12, 2015
  • I also had my 2 week check up (13 days actually), had staples removed, no X-ray, and basically have same restrictions as you. I asked about my stumble, and he said it would take a major fall to do any damage. My surgeon wants know X-ray until 6 weeks because he said there is no fusion yet. I can't drive , work, twist, bend, exercise, or lift until at least the next visit. Still wearing brace too, which is a pain. I thought I would feel relief from having the staples out as far as the incision pain and pulling from staples moving, but all I feel is like any second the nine inch incision is going to rip open. I know it's highly unlikely, as it is pretty well closed. I guess I need some type of irrational fear. Going to be a long four weeks.
  • I had a 2 level fusion tlif and laminectomy Nov 5, 2014 . This is a major surgery and it takes a while for your body to recover from the trauma of having nerves and muscles moved around and metal objects inserted in your spine to keep it stable. I remember thinking I would never be able to get back to 'normal'.... the before the pain...
    The 1st 6 weeks were walking and pain managment and a flare up of sciatica. I went to work after 8 weeks part time then full time. Im 10 weeks post op and I remember the 1st 6 weeks were hard as your body is going thru so many changes and there are fears that if you move the wrong way the screws will come undone or something....and then it gets a little easier each day, the changes are very subltle. Its hard to adhere to the restrictions when you are naturally inclined to do things. I was afraid I wouldnt be able to stop taking pain meds and I did....Listen to the docs of no BLT's.
    Walk, walk, walk even when you dont want to!!!!!! DONT over do it when you feel good because it takes you longer to recover from doing too much. I learned the hard way and have to remember this every day.
    You may have mood swings, crying or overly sensitive as the anesthesia comes out of your system, it goes away.

    I say all of this to say, it does get better and it takes time. Be kind to yourself, rest and follow the docs orders and when in doubt check it out with the doc and check the spine forums, maybe one of us have gone thru the same thing?!
    I never thought I would feel better and I do.

    Any questions feel free to ask or pm me


    L4/5 S1 Decompression PSF with TLIF 11/5/14
    Spondylolithesis (congenital)
  • Nicklr32NNicklr32 Posts: 28
    edited 01/31/2015 - 1:33 PM
    Not able to walk outside today due to heavy rains. I've been having a new deep ache pain inside the incision. It's constant. Pain med isn't touching the pain. Not unbearable but worst I've had since leaving hospital. I also have a large knot forming at the top of incision near where drain was. It feels like a balled up muscle. I can't rub it for obvious reasons and muscle relaxer isn't helping. Any ideas what r could be and how to make it go away? My brace causes more pain when it rubs against it.
  • So I'm 23 days post op. have been feeling really good and today I started having really sharp pain underneath my shoulder blade right side. Alarming as I haven't experienced anything like that at all.

    Other random question... I have to sleep ont back and I'm starting to feel odd pressures when I'm lying flat. It feels like a stick under my skin going diagonal in direction of the spine. Uncomfortable and a mild pain but its getting worse as he days go on. Anyone experience this?
  • I'm 10 weeks post op and still feel that sensation from time to time. I think is muscle and scar tissue. It feels great when the PT massages it out. Its a longer and harder recovery period than I imagined. Going back to work tomorrow part-time. I'm still stiff and at about a 3 to 4 pain level. Just taking Tylenol now. You might start feeling better once you start PT but the only true recovery comes with time. Good luck!
  • Had my 6 week post op on Thursday. Dr is pleased and X-ray looked good. He said I needed to start weening myself off of pain meds, which I have been anyway. However, he told me to start bending and get rid of my brace. The last two days I've really been in lots of pain completely across my lower back and in the top of my hips. Don't want to take my remaining meds unless absolutely necessary. I start back to work on Monday, which I'm nervous about. I also have a 45 minute one way commute. Any suggestions to deal with pain without the meds?
  • Same with me I am 10 weeks post started getting left leg pain right after 4 to 5 weeks on 6 weeks visit doctor said x ray is good. your nerves are sensitive start doing exercise. I joined after after 4 th week. I could manage and manging till now using a standing desk, but I come back every day being low and tired as my leg pain hurts a lot while sitting and walking. Dont know what to say, feeling scared to do exercise too as irritates my leg pain. Be Positive and Belive in God, thats all to say. I myself loosing confidence but many people are going through this, believeInYourself and respect the Body.
  • Today I've been experiencing a sharp pain in my lower right hip/buttock.in all the time I've had back pain I've never experience this one. Just a sharp stabbing pain at random times when lying flat. Still walking and doing normal things. I have been bending more than usual, which my dr told me to start doing with proper form. Hope it is just healing pain.
  • I had a post op checkup with neurosurgeon last week: x-Rays and ct scan show the bones are fusing but not fully fused yet. Doctor says it takes about 3 months. In the meantime, I am expected to (1) wear back brace to prevent movement; (2) walk or bike; (3) take calcium and vit D supplements; (4) take Tylenol or Advil pain killers and flexeril muscle relaxant to cope with spasms as needed.
    I'm working out on treadmill, starting with 20 min or so at 2 to 2.5 mile pace. I am feeling the left and right sides of lower back stretching and working, with resulting backaches. My goal is to even out the two sides and muscles on both legs, then walk about 30 min twice a day and then walk a 5-k event (@ 1-hr walk) later in the spring.
    Overall, the key is not to overdo any activity, stop and rest if cramping. I'm much more active than I was a month ago, and the cramping is lessening quite a bit nowadays. Walk, walk, walk! No physical therapy needed so far.
    My other support program is the Osteopathic doctor: this is to support the healing of back fusion and ensure straight and even functioning. Visit once every 6 weeks or so. Latest directive is breathing exercise to help diaphragm support my rib cage effectively. Great exercise!
    Lumbar fusion TLIF L4-5 Jan 12, 2015
  • Michellefrom MIMMichellefrom MI Posts: 2
    edited 09/15/2015 - 5:58 PM
    I am so relieved to see you all have experienced similar issues like me. I had L5 S1 TLIF fusion on Aug.11. I then had to return to work 13 days later. It was hard. But Im a school secretary so no heavy lifting, but a lot of running around and up and down from sitting. I'm 1 month post op now and have the same feeling when I lay on my back that something is there. Sensitivity still from incision sites. I have only been taking extra strength Tylenol for pain as the others make me tired. I have had some issue with flare up sciatica which scares me. TMI it's usually when I use the bathroom. I did surgery to relieve that. How many of you have or had it and it went away completely. Just so I can have hope. I have been getting muscle spams un my back under the shoulder blades. I think from the brace. The brace also still irritates the incision site. Especially the side he said he went in for the screws. I don't have a lot of pain. Just general discomfort. How long does it take for that weirdness to go away. Without the brace I feel very nervous and scared and feel a weird pressure sensation ,like gravity pulling downward. Is that normal or am I just paranoid. I have to wear mine for 3 months. I'm already tired from it. It rubs the incision and makes my back feel sore and sensitive. I also get night sweats but don't take meds. Is that normal too ?i hope everyone is healed and back to new soon.

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  • This made me feel so much better. Thank you. 
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