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recent tlif l5-s1 - opinions on pain

Hi everyone,

My name is Adam from the UK. I recently had a tlif at l5-s1. I am now 10 days out from the operation and still seem to have quite a lot of lower back pain i was just wondering about the opinion of others who may have gone through this or a similar lumbar surgery what your pain was like for the first couple of weeks.

i have read other forums and looked at other posts and some people say the first few weeks are really rough whereas others say they were walking a lot and felt much better after 2 weeks. I am nowhere near much better and the pain is still much worse than before the surgery; guess i'm just looking for a little reassurance that i've still made the right decision to have this surgery and that the pain will subside and will get better as time and my healing moves on. I know everybody heals at a different rate i was just wondering if others did still have really bad pain around this point of their covery from this surgery. I decided to have it after 7 years of pain and trying everything - chiropractor, osteopath, swimming for 3 years, walking, inversion table, massage, various different meds, injection - nothing worked.

Thanks all and good luck to others in any similar kind of position.

TLIF L5-S1 09/02/2015


  • 2 to 2.5 weeks the pain was quite intense. It, for me, was surgical pain from an L5 S1 PLIF. Pain from the movement of muscle by the surgeon; but also, iliac pain from the donor site. My spine hurt.

    As you'll see alot on this site, it is still too early to tell at ten days. I had spondylolisthesis and dont feel my nerve was severely damaged pre-surgery. I wasn't in pain all the time. My pre-surgical pain was, also, localized, in my low back but felt like it was in my hip. This pain was only brought on by standing, nothing else.

    I'm 5 weeks post-op now. Every 3-4 days, even now, things are getting noticably easier. My spine doesn't hurt now when log rolling as of yesterday. Wishing you a full recovery!
    Condition: Bilateral L5 pars defects and anterior slip of L5 on S1 by about 50% of the width of the L5 vertebral body.
    Surgery: L5-S1 PLIF January 19 / 2015
    Condition: Spinal stenosis at L4-5 immediately above the level of fusion on the basis of broad-based disc herniation. posterior element overgrowth and retrolisthesis of 4 on 5. There is impingement on the L5 root bilaterally at this level.
  • It's normal to have worsening back pain just 10 days post op. You're very early on in your recovery. My surgery was different than yours ( I had a 2 level spinal Fusion along with a bilateral SI joint Fusion), but any fusion takes a while to heal. It can take months in some cases before you start noticing improvements. Walking is really important, even if you have to break it up into small increments. The best thing you can do is follow your post op instructions closely. It's good to write down questions that come to you so you can discuss them with your surgeon at your follow up appointment. Were you given a back brace? I've been surprised to hear so many people say that they never wore a back brace after their fusion. My surgeon stressed the importance of wearing one. It also helps with pain when I'm up walking around. It just shows how every case and opinion is different. You really won't know how successful the surgery was until you fully heal. It's too early to know at this point. What were your symptoms and diagnosis prior to surgery?

    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • Ah man that excruciating pain when log rolling- it's the worst! Same when changing from standing to sitting or vice versa - so painful.

    I'm trying really hard with my walking - managed about a mile today and went to seen nurse this morning - says incision is healing nicely. I've not got a back brace no - I asked at my pre op but surgeon says it wasn't needed. I am quite surprised - it's hard to not find yourself bending or twisting a little here and there and I know it's not supposed to happen. I'm sure a brace would help with that.

    My pre op condition was fairly bad back pain that kept flaring up now and then. Few really bad flare ups. That's what's made my decision to have the op such a nightmare - there have been times I thought I've not needed it and could live with the pain. At 31 however and being on strong painkillers everyday for 18 months my GP said I have to consider the surgery as I can't live on pain medication. I also had worsening pain down my left leg sown to my knew. Surgeon said the bulge from the disc was quite large when he was operating.

    Getting annoyed I'm still on the pain meds now too but again i know it's still early days.
    TLIF L5-S1 09/02/2015
  • Hi Adam,
    I had lumbar fusion of level 4,5 and S1 8 weeks ago and I would say that the pain you are experiencing after 10 days is pretty normal. After 10 days I was still struggling to do much more than shuffle, I was finding it hard to walk at my normal pace and I was worried I'd be walking really slowly/ shuffling permanently. I also had a lot of pain turning over in bed, sitting for any length of time and a kind of constant gnawing aching feeling in my lower back and feet. It took me about 3 weeks to begin feeling better and like I was recovering from the surgery. I would say hang on in there, it will get better and improve. I've been surprised by how quickly I went from not being able to do much at all, to almost being back to normal, although still with some pain. Good luck.
  • Sky1 - thanks so much for those reassuring words sometimes it's what you need. What you describe sounds exactly like me. I'm really struggling with everything still and have the same gnawing ache in my lower back. It's exhausting how ever present it is and I do have to say it feels like I will never get back to doing anything normal. I'd describe it as it feels like Rocky Balboa has punched me in my lower back a few times then someone decided to chisel a few specific areas of bone for good measure! Hardest thing is not being able to play with my two year old little boy - he's struggling to understand why daddies constantly lying on the couch.

    Thanks again for the words - feels less lonely communicating with people who understand the pain ☺
    TLIF L5-S1 09/02/2015
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