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L1 thru L5 Spinal Fusion

I'm undergoing L1 thru L5 spinal fusion tomorrow. I have three herniated discs and severe scoliosis and stenosis. While my back pain has been terrible for more than 5 years, I fear the surgery I am about to undergo. More specifically, the post op recovery process has me very concerned. I've read many horror stories and so reach out here on this site to see if anyone has a true recovery story that may be a bit more positive. And while I'd like to hear more positive stories...I still need to know just how tough the recovery process is going to be. I'm fortunate in that I'm in good physical health and condition. Up until this past week, I have been a daily swimmer...around 4500 yards a day. Can anyone give me a realistic report on what I can expect in the first few months of post op? Thanks so much for your stories and your help.



  • hi aquabud

    welcome to spine-health

    i am amazed at the amount of swimming you are still able to do with your condition.

    patience is an essential during early recovery.  your surgeon or physio may only want you to walk, little and often at first, increasing when possible.  good control of pain relief helps with this, so take exactly as your surgeon orders and contact your team if you have any problems in this area.  i won't lie, early recovery is challenging but good pain relief, will help you mobilise which in turn will prevent more pain from just laying.

    recovery, the most important phase

    i have added two links below to help new members with information and these also contain the forum rules.  there is lots of material to research that will give you the power of knowledge.

    welcome to spine health

    good luck tomorrow and look under 'forum topics' for surgery buddies groups to help during recovery.  just join in with a message.




    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015
    L4-S1 TLIF with decompression June 2017
  • I appreciate your concern about the surgery- I had a TLIF and fusion L1-S1 6 weeks ago.

    Here's a positive story:

    I also dreaded having this done, but my curve (degenerative scoliosis) was reduced from 30% to 10% and I'm almost an inch taller. The early recovery is no picnic, and I had my challenges and meltdowns along the way. BUT, I was off of the narcotics after two weeks, now only take Tylenol intermittently, and feel optimistic about regaining activity that I haven't been able to do for years. Hope this helps and let us know how you're doing.

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  • Steffie, I am also facing a L1-S1 fusion soon, though mine will be posterior. My doctor is reluctant to stop at L1 because he says there's too much instability there. They usually go up to T11. Did your doctor express any of these concerns? Also, how much restriction of motion do you anticipate when healed?  This really scares me.

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