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Looking For Information On Fusions

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, I am new to the forum but would like to get information from others who have had a 3 level PLIF. I am scheduled for a 3 level PLIF on April 27th 2009 for Levels L2 to L5. I have been reading the forum a lot for weeks now and would like to get input from others who have had this procedure. Specific questions I have are regarding what to expect after surgery and what to expect long-term. I'm wanting to find out how will my "mobility" be affected afterwards. Will I still be able to move normally with these 3 levels fused? I know I am not explaining myself very well. I have been advised that I should never lift anything (and that I shouldn't have been lifting anything before) but I just want to know how much can I expect everyday tasks to change once I recover from the surgery months from now. Have any of you been advised on what to expect down the road as far as will future surgeries be required etc? I appreciate any input anyone can provide me and let me say I pray for the best outcome but I have been preparing for the worst and that I feel the best thing I can do is to stay positive but do not want to go in with blinders on either.


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  • Hi Leslie, and welcome to Spine Health. I had three-level fusion (L3-S1) almost a year ago, and if your recovery will go as smoothly as mine, you have nothing to worry about. Of course, there are no guarantees, as every one of us is different. This being said, I can tell you that other than trying to avoid twisting movement to protect the level above the fusion, I can do everything, providing I do it right. I never had any pain issues either, so I was very lucky with my surgery. If you read the postings on this forum, you will see that some people have more problems after surgery, but I think the majority can benefit from it. My doctor accurately predicted that I have a high probability of success, so ask him, he knows you and your situation the best. If you have any questions, you can PM me.

    Best wishes,

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  • Hello Leslie, I had a 3 level PLIF L2-L5 done on January 29th. I have my three month checkup with my surgeon this Friday which is the "big" one for me. I started fusing (bone growth visible on x-ray from the surgery) at 6 weeks. So my surgeon said I would be off all restrictions this Friday as long as nothings wrong ;)

    I can tell you expect pain the first week, its hell week as we spinies call it. Your back muscles are cut and take time to heal, which inhibits mobility greatly! But they generally heal within a month or two back to nominal function, or at least mine did. I used a walker for the first few weeks, then after that a cane for stability a few weeks after that.

    For me getting out of bed in the hospital was rather traumatic, but I am 6ft 350lbs which adds a different level to it with my back muscles cut ;) Took 3-4 people when normally 1 person could be able to helpya out.

    I had severe sciatica, My L4-L5 disc was a blob and had to be removed, a spacer was placed. L2-L4 had buldges which wouldof caused future surgery, so we fixed them all at one time to prevent that, which I am glad we did.

    At home I recommend a recliner or a couch chair. When I first came home at 8pm at night, I went straight to the bed , but couldnt get up in the morning without family and friends helping using a pully system!!

    So I did the couch chair. Easier to get up using your walker alone. I was getting up on my own by the end of the 1st week, moving about much better and pain was SIGNIFICANTLY improved! By 2 weeks I was off all pain meds.

    The first 2 months I was wondering if my mobility would improve, as I was having bad aches, very stiff, but I can say now at 3 months I am basically normal mobility wise. Not quite there but I can tell a huge difference each month.

    Biggest recommendations I can give you:

    Make sure you have someone with you 24/7 that first few days home out of the hospital, and after that have someone at hand in case anything occurs.

    Get a "GOOD" grabber, not a cheap walgreens one. Home Depot has the good ones, worth the price. You will drop stuff constantly.

    This is something I didnt add much thoughtof, but, personal hygeien falters immediately after surgery as you can not shower and you can not wipe yourself for a few weeks-month. A personal issue but one that you need to add thought to about getting that taken care of. If your married problem solved :D

    Theres a post herehopefully someone will grab with other recommendations but those were the big ones for me ;)

    As far as lifting goes, at 6 weeks I was allowed to lift up to 15lbs, but no pushing or pulling. This Friday I can tell you what I'm told but as I said everyones situation is different. I am 25 yrs old so I will basically be back to normal if not above normal function once released and I get back into the "groove".

    Let me also add at 3 months I am completely pain free, no sciatica (was gone immediately after surgery). I do get wierd aches tho I never had before, but they arent to bad and should go away as I return to normal duties and get my muscles back up to par.

    I can bend down and pick items off the floor no problem.

    See my sig for more information, and if you have any questions please feel free to ask, nothing is too personal.

  • Kin,

    I really appreciate you taking the time to respond and the great information. It is good to hear such great success stories and my neuro is very confident that it'll go great but it is good to hear it from patients too. I would appreciate any advise you may have in trying to prepare "the day". I know I'm probably forgetting something that is pretty important. Thanks for the great information!!! =D>
  • Hello Jakosu,

    I really appreciate all the great information from you too. I have purchased a grabber. Believe it not I got it at the aquarium store!! I figure my husband can put it to good use in the aquarium AFTER I'm done with it. As for the personal hygiene issue, I have thought of that and been wondering how I'm supposed to deal with that and how big of an issue it would be. So I guess its good that I'm married! :/ Also, the couch chair idea is something I may look into as I don't have a recliner either. Thank you so much for sharing your progress so I'll know what to expect for progress. I'm sort of in the same boat as you were regarding why he decided on a 3-level. L4-5 I had discectomy a couple of years ago and it worked great but L3-4 has become pretty bad and L4-5 herniated to other areas after the surgery. He considered a 2-level but he said L2-3 is going to go once we do the fusion so we might as well address it now rather than later and I agree. Its just I've read so many bad things about 3-level fusions, I started to have doubts even though I fully trust my surgeon. So again, I really appreciate all the information and your time.
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  • No problem Leslie, never hesitate to ask, this site is great. I came here about 2 weeks prior to my surgery and it has truely helped me a lot.

    Another issue I had sleeping in a couch chair is it doesnt recline, and at the time I was more comfortable with my legs down anyways (sitting position). After a week of this my legs and feet got real swollen, which can lead to blood clots among discomfort.

    A friend gave me one of those foot rests for couches and that has helped a lot.

    And remember take it easy! I did very little other then walk for 2 months, and even at 3 months I have taken it easy. Walking is just about it.
  • You might check on renting a hospital bed for a couple months. Your insurance might even pay for it if it is ordered by Dr. I am in one after my 2 level PLIF and discetomey on Dec 11. Makes it easier to get up and down having side rails to use to turn and stuff. Hope you get along well.
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