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What to expect 2, 4, 6 wks / 2lvl ALIF w/ Posterior instrumentation

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
On December 10, I had a six hour procedure to fuse L4 - 5 - S1 (ALIF) and to insert instrumentation via a minimally invasive technique on the posterior side. I am hugely thankful that the procedure is now done and I can't believe that it is 10 days out :D .

What I wonder is what lies ahead :B . How did you feel at two weeks ... how long could you sit, stand ... how was sleep? What about 4 weeks ... improvements in mobility, tolerance for sitting, walking ? Six weeks?

I know that I have quite a journey ahead of me and am so thankful that the surgery that I inched my way towards for 10 months (injection after injection, MRI's, Xrays, horrible discograms) is now complete.

Any perspective you can share would be great!



  • I had an L4/L5 fusion also. I had an ADR from the front and instrumentation from the back and it took just over 2 hours! I wonder why yours took so long or mine so short? I guess it doesn't matter as long as it works! I was walking down the halls several hours after surgery and went home the next day and walked 1 mile a day since. I am almost 6 weeks out and feel like I can do anything even though I shouldn't. The only thing I don't like is sitting on a hard surface for more than an hour. I just can't sit without squirming around. I feel like I never had a back problem even though I suffered through all the injections and medictations that only masked the real issue. I wish you continued success and recovery just don't overdo it. You will overdo it but try and limit yourself. Get sleep whenever you can and rest, rest, rest. It gets better everyday.
  • Hi,
    Im glad your surgery is over, its a relief when the anxiety and anticipation is gone after surgery. Now comes the part of patience which I found has been KEY to my own recovery. I am now approaching three weeks, and for what its worth this is how I have done so far.
    My surgery was L4-S1 PLIF so it was through my back and not the front with the big rods and screws to hold it together. I went home about three hours after surgery and the surgery itself only took I think approx. two hours or so I was told. The first week was difficult, I was able to walk once I got up, but needed assistance getting up and down and also having my hips moved if I was lying on my side. By the second week I was able to do most things by myself, sit, stand, shower myself, get dressed etc...sitting is still my worst position I can tolerate it for about ten to fifteen minutes and then I get squirmy and have to move. I dropped my pain medicine drastically by the end of the second week only needing it once a day. Walking has only been a challenge because I had drop foot (numbness for over a year) which makes walking...feel odd..as its almost like relearning to walk and that leg is much weaker. Overall the recovery has been better than I expected. Patience is vital, rest is vital, but also being proactive with your recovery is also vital. Walking is the best, just dont over do anything out of frustration listen to your body and your doctors including physical therapists if you have them. Good luck in your recovery and if you want to pm me ever to just talk go right ahead. I have found that this site is full of people who understand and are so willing to give encouragement opinions and to share there own stories. It has helped me feel less alone in the process and progress. Best wishes
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  • Wow! It is great to hear that folks are doing well and making progress. This is my second back surgery and the amount of emotional anxiety that I had for the big one (two level fusion with instrumentation) was much greater than for my microdiscectomy 18 months ago.

    Sometimes it can be a real challenge to balance everyone in my family / friends desire to know when I will be better with my own fear that better may never come :SS. I really just hope for improvement ... significant improvement would be awesome.

    Thanks for the replies and I will be in touch on the boards. Take care.

  • Well today is two weeks for me (L4-S1 ALIF with instrumentation (posterior)). I would say that two weeks out, I am moving more =D> but have to be really careful about overdoing it. My husband tookk me out to dinner last night because I was house crazy. We live in NH so every bump in the road was a jolt to the core. I seem to hurt a bit all the time ... not horrible want to cry but not comfortable ... never really comfortable.

    What I worry about is I am not ready to ramp down the pain meds. I have a fentanyl patch and percocet. And I still hurt. Please let me know your experience at two weeks and beyond including anything that you can share about when you were able to ramp dn pain meds.
  • I had anterior/posterior fusion, etc 5 months ago. I think the anterior surgery took about 6 hours - I don't remember how long the posterior surgery took. Obviously, the methods of surgeons differ quite a bit.

    Anyway, as others have said, patience is the key. I think if you went out to dinner at 2 weeks post-surgery that is wonderful. I could not have done so as sitting was just too uncomfortable. And I know exactly what you mean about never really being able to get comfortable - I kept saying that I was not really in pain, just not ever comfortable. That part lasted quite a while for me - and some days is still a problem, especially if I have overdone it the day before. Walking was the most comfortable thing I did for a long time. That (walking) along with rest and good nutrition will speed your recovery.

    If you search this forum you will find many postings about folk's progress through this "adventure". For me, even knowing we are all different in our recovery, it made me feel better to see that others had experienced the same things I was going through.

    Best wishes for your recovery!

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