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Hello June Surgery Buddies,

I had PLIF L4-5 on June 6, 2017. I am closing in on 6 weeks post-op. 

I am a 50 year old active female.  I had progressive pain (over a period of about 5 years) in my lower back, right hip, and numbness down my right leg into my toes. In recent years I have been an avid road cyclist and occasional runner.  In April 2016, while training for a half marathon, run/walk I experienced excruciating pain in my right groin area, leading me to seek help from a physical therapist.  After continuing PT faithfully for 6 months along with regular chiropractic treatments with little relief, I got an MRI and was referred to a neurosurgeon.  The neurosurgeon pointed out my spinal deformity, and suggested spinal fusion.

Since I work as an elementary educator, I had to postpone my surgery 8 months until the end of the school year.  In the meantime I had a course of 3 epidural injections to help with pain Ann was prescribed gabapentin.  I made it to June, with minimal pain relief from the interim meds.

My surgery was a success.  My surgeon said my surgery was complicated due to the severely deteriorated condition of the disk material. However, he indicated that my vertebrae easily moved back into correct position after the dick material was removed.  I was released from the hospital after only 2 nights.

My recovery seems to be progressing well.  I have been able to go off the narcotic pain reliever quickly and at my 2 week post op checkup, my doctor said I was doing great. I also weaned off the gabapentin and flexiral.  

At 5 weeks I had a slight trip.  My foot caught on a door mat and i had to catch myself on a hand rail.  My core muscles contracted sharply to stop me from falling. Since that happened, I have been having back spasms.  I have been taking Tylenol and flexiral again but it seems that every time I engage my core muscles, the spasms return.  

Is this normal?  Of course, like everyone on this forum, I worry constantly about messing up my fusion as I heal.

Thanks all!



  • @sharonf welcome to spine health! i hope you find some much needed advice and support from our members!

    while you are waiting for replies please click on the welcome link below as well as the system tutorial.

    welcome to spine health

    all new members should take the system tutorial 

    wow! i think you are doing great in your recovery! i would contact your doctor, and tell him about your new symptoms. i do know muscle spasms are common around your hardware, as your body adjusts. it would be a good idea to contact your doctor though. you don't want anything overlooked. have you had any x-rays after your fusion to see how your fusion is progressing? 

    Retrolisthesis C4 of C5 and C5 of C6
    Spondylolthesis C5/C6
    Disc protrusions with Annular Tears C3/C4, C4/C5, and C5/C6
    Disc Material Compressing Spinal Cord C3/C4
    Severe Forminal Stenosis C5/C6
    Ankylosing Spondylitis 
    Annular Tears L3/L4 and L5/S1
    Enlarged Facet Joints/Facet Anthrosis L3/L4/L5
    PLIF with Rods, Cage, and Pedicle Screws-L4/L5
  • Update: I just had my 6 week post op checkup with my surgeon. My X-rays looked good.  All hardware is where it is supposed to be, and there are indications that the bone is growing.  My doctor cleared me to begin physical therapy. He said the muscle spasms are a normal part of the healing given the nature of my surgery. I am continuing to take flexoril regularly to help with spasms.  Also the spasms have calmed down a bit.  I mostly feel them after laying down for a bit and trying to shift positions or get out of bed. 

    Thank you for the encouragement! I will continue to post.

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  • tkdttkd Posts: 53
    edited 07/22/2017 - 10:27 PM

    Hi SharonF,  sounds like you are doing well. I had my surgery in March, L5-S1 TLIF. I to was cleared to start PT at the 6 week check, and the first thing the physio worked on was to try and teach the core and back muscles not to spasm too quickly. Good to hear your muscles are settling down after your fall, and the surgeon is also happy with your progress.

    Definitely talk to your PT about it, hopefully they can givee exercises to help.

    Keep up the good work, keep walking and be patient.

    I just had my 4month check, with a CT...first scan of any kind since my op.  It is good to be told everything is where it's supposed to be and there are signs of bone growth

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