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Just had ALIF at L5 S1!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in New Member Introductions

I'm excited to report that I had ALIF at L5 S1 on 6/27/08 and my recovery has been terrific. The only post-operative surprise has been nerve pain in new locations, where there was no previous pain.

I woke up after surgery in extreme pain in my hips; at first I thought it was the hard hospital bed. By mid-afternoon I insisted that the pain pump wasn't doing enough and after consulting with my surgeon they switched me from morphine to dilaudid. I was surprised to learn that I'd been on morphine and that it was doing nothing for the pain. Within a few hours of being on the dilaudid my hips began to feel normal again.

My surgeon said that I may have new pain in my back and legs for up to 6 months because so much disc space had been restored and my hips realigned. I've had no pain in my back since surgery, nor any real discomfort at the incision site (it was sensitive to touch at first). I was up and walking the day after surgery. I've been fitted with a lumbar support corset to wear for a month. After 4 days in the hospital I came home with prescriptions for percoset and valium (to minimize muscle spasms).

I am already walking about a mile a day with the use of a cane. I did go to the emergency room on 7/11/08 because discomfort in my calves was intensifying tremendously, but a ct scan and x-ray showed that medtronic cage was in place and no bone fragments against nerves. A prescription of prednisone resulted in immediate leg relief!

I'm 36, slim, and previously quite athletic. My mother's been with me since surgery to help with things like putting on socks and shoes, but I can use the squatting techniques shown by my surgeon to start water for showers, and I've been able to shower by myself since the 2nd day following surgery. I could not have survived the hospital without a family member with me round-the-clock! Nurses only checked in every 1-2 hours, and when I called for nurses, it sometimes took 30-40 minutes for anyone to arrive.

My family's been amazed at how well I'm recovering. I honestly had much more pain in the weeks following my discogram than I have since the actual surgery!

I was in daily pain for almost 6 years. After being diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and facet joint disease, I had numerous facet and nerve root blocks, as well as three times undergoing a painful procedure called rhizotomy to severe the nerves going to that area of my spine- not to mention physical therapy. Nothing helped.

After surgery we asked what could have caused this (heredity, a minor accident I'd been in years before), and my surgeon said that only heredity or a major injury could have caused the degeneration in my spine- he expressed amazement after surgery that I'd not been in extreme pain in both legs (I'd only ever had pain on my right side). My surgeon did use the BMP for the fusion process, and his nurse said they've seen completed fusions in as little as 6 weeks, though they've cautioned me to expect 3-6 months.

I'm thankful to be able to be part of this online community now and sharing and learning with everyone.

K :)


  • Welcome to spine-health...
  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can! you were so fortunate to have your mother there to help you. you seem to be moving along at a good rate and recovering well. check out the "Good News" forum for more success stories. good luck and i will see you around the forum! Jenny :)
  • Our stories sound very familiar regarding our symptoms etc. Glad to hear how well your doing, my back feels pretty good but like you my hips and legs hurt still, good for you keep up the good work!!!

  • Great to hear you're doing well. Keep up the good work. I'm glad to hear you have your mom to help out. I know that without my dad being near and helping me I would never had made it through the rough patches.

    See you on the forum.

  • had procedure done oct 19 last month.prior to surgery my condition was herniation on l4,ruptured l5,ddd.after surgery there was an immediate since of decompression in and around my spine.before to cough or sneeze would almost put me to the floor.there is some pain in the right hip as many have commented about.this is the same type of pain I experienced prior to the surgery.I am told by my surgeon that this is do to the prior impingement of the sciatic nerve.I am taking it easy and have only walked out to the mail box once,since the surgery.every day I roll out of bed I feel a little less pain,I know this was a multi level fusion with cages,plates,and screws.I believe I may be a slow healer based on injuries of the past,so rest may be the best medicine.I like what I read earlier in another post,we should listen to our bodies if your feeling pain from walking at an early stage in recovery take it easy,one last comment I had there is an issue of circulation in my right foot not so much now as in the first two weeks or so.but the right foot seemed to be cold to the touch as the left was almost on fire,as well there seemed to be a strange feeling in the left leg a bit of a pulling sensation near and radiating along the ham string.I am eating lots of protein and dealing with alot of the same stomach issues as many have discussed,thank god for you guys and this forum,I will keep you posted,oh by the way my wife thinks its just so funny I walk around the house wearing one sock on my right foot due to the lack of circulation ha ha ,the kids call me footsy collins.
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