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Swelling along spine 6 days post L5-S1 APLIF


I'm at day 6 post L5-S1 APLIF, and I can feel quite a bit of swelling along the spine from the top of my butt up to a few inches above the surgery incision. It's just tighter/puffier tissue underneath the steri-strips and dressing along the mid-line of my back, and it itches from the swelling pressure. There is a fairly distinct "end" to the swelling in my mid-back where the puffiness goes away and I can feel spine bone ends again.

Anyone know how long this ought to last? It's about 6-8 inches long top to bottom (pun intended). I'm treating it with nothing but occasional cold packs when I put on my back brace. I'm taking some oral antibiotics prescribed when I left the hospital, dilaudid, and soma. I have reflux and allergies so I'm also taking nexium and Claritin as needed.

The itching is whats killing me, and the only sleeping position that I can find that is even half-way comfortable is on my back so I'm resting right on the swollen part whenever I lay down, and the back brace pushes right on it whenever I wear the brace. I'm worried that any slight movement is making the brace pull/push on the swollen part which might be making it swell up more.

I've been told by the doc to not take any anti-inflammatories. Next post-op doc appt is in a week.

Any ideas or suggestions? Or is this just typical and I need to cope with it until it goes away? Cold packs feel ok for a bit but it itches a lot after removing them.

Thanks in advance.


  • I had a hemilaminectomy at L -4 & L -5.
    I was told to use ice for the swelling and the itching means it's healing. I do scratch lightly around the area of the incision. Seems to help. This is my very first post but I have been following spine-health for quite a while. Hope this helps you.
  • In my situation , the swelling didnt subside until about week 4. After which, it decreased rapidly.
    As for the itching , I found an ice pack to be helpful. Hang in there as it does get better , with some time!
    At 6 months post op , I'm feeling pretty good! Almost BACK to doing all physical activities.
    Wishing you a great recovery!
    Bilateral L5 spondylolysis L5 with grade I anterolisthesis L5-S1.
    Stable multilevel degenerative spondylosis contributing to mild canal
    narrowing L2-3 and L3-4.
    360 ALIF & PLIF L-4 - S-1 on 8/11/14
  • Thanks for the comments. The swelling is down just a little bit, and the ice pack seems to have helped. I got an in-home visit by a nurse to check it out and she said it was doing fine. She swapped out the steri-strips so she could get a good look at it. Now its just the waiting game...
  • I am three months out and I still have swelling. It seems to go down slowly. My back is spasming make it harder at times than others but it is still there. Hang in there and take your meds, hopefully you will be back on your feet shortly.
    Pain, Pain and more Pain
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