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1 week post op L5-S1 TLIF - How do you think I am doing?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all!

I had my surgery last Monday. I was in the hospital 2 nights. The surgery went well, no surprises. The Dr said the nerve looked very inflamed, but that he decompressed it and in a couple weeks should notice an improvement. I was on morphine the first night but it made me dizzy and itchy and it didn't really help the pain. They switched me to Lortab the next morning and added muscle relaxers which seemed to work pretty well. I had one bad episode of pain that had me in tears and the nurse gave me shot of demerol, I think, which helped. I wasn't able to go to the bathroom until the next day.

I spent my first few nights at home sleeping in the recliner and used a cane, but by the end of the day I was exhausted and my husband had to help me up. But I notice a difference every day in how much easier it is to do more thing. Not being able to bend really sucks. But I am walking as much as I can, over a mile already today. How far were you walking at this point? I don't know if I am walking to much or not enough. I maybe take one or 2 pain pills and usually in the evening. The one thing that is scaring me is that yesterday my nerve pain came back for the first time since surgery, I know its too early in recovery to know but I hate feeling it after everything. I haven't been able to sleep well because I am just so uncomfortable on my side and back. Does anyone sleep on their stomachs at this point? How long did it take for that lower back stiffness to go away? Did it seem to lessen the more you walked?


  • Christine,

    I didn't a fusion but I had an compressed nerve at L5S1 too. I had two MicroDs to relieve the impinged nerve.

    Overall, I think that you are doing great. Being able to walk a mile a day is good. I don't know about sleeping on your stomach. For me, I cannot be on my stomach until I start physical therapy.

    Yes, it sucks that you can't bend, but your quads should be looking nice after your recovery. Luckily I have a long grabber, so I don't have to bend as much.

    Like you, morphine didn't do anything for me after the surgery. However, the two Lortab did. It is interesting how pain meds affect people differently.

    By the fact that you are only taking two Lortabs is another good indication that you are doing fine. You are probably having some nerve pain because your surgeon had to move it around during surgery. Many people on the board will probably tell you that you feel some nerve pain about a week after the surgery. Your surgeon most likely washed the operated area with steroids and now it is wearing off. If it get unbearable, I would call the doctor. I've taken oral steroids after surgery to calm the nerve.

    Good luck you in recovery! Seems like you are going great!
  • NO, NO to sleeping on your stomach. It puts too much pressure on your spine. You will be better off in the long run if you train yourself to sleep on your side. Put a small pillow under your head and a small pillow between your knees. The idea is to have your top leg more or less line up with your top shoulder. This keeps the natural curves in your spine. For now, you can support your back with additional pillows behind you. Some people find it comfortable to use a big, squishy body pillow that they kind of hug. You can put it between your knees, hug with your arms and it keeps you from rolling over onto your stomach.

    The distance you walk is not that important. It is better to take several shorter walks than one long one. You do not need to walk fast -- a slower pace will accomplish the same goal, which is to help stretch out the spinal nerves and to supply freshly oxygenated blood to the discs.

    Sounds like you are doing great! Don't push yourself. Recovery is NOT a race. Your job for now is to rest and walk, rest and walk. Learn to be PATIENT.
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  • ...with Gwennie - do NOT sleep on your stomach. My PT told me that sleeping on your stomach is the worst thing you can do to your cervical spine.

    I'm glad you're doing so well. Keep it up.
  • Christine, It seems as if you're doing well. I am four weeks post op from a TLIF L5/S1. I too have ddd,m spondylolisthesis, a grade 1 slippage and bilateral pars. My sciatica didn't really go below the knee. This week, I stopped using a walker and yesterday I walked 3.1 miles. I still have some pain, but I take two percocet before I walk and from the lack of walking I have foot pain, but that's about it. What kind of weight gain have you had since dealing with the pain?
  • Lovinggardener - I agree about pain meds being different for everyone. It seems like morphine would work for everyone! The nerve pain isn't awful, just an annoyance that I don't want to feel anymore.

    Gwennie17 - I do take numerous short walks. And I do walk slow. I try to get up once an hour and walk around outside for 10-20 minutes. Although my then end of the day my body starts getting tired. I haven't slept on my stomach. I wound up sleeping in the recliner last night. I was in bed the night before and I was just so uncomfortable. I have not slept good since surgery.

    Red1614 - I was actually pretty lucky with weight gain before, I stayed at my usual weight, I had the OK from my Dr. to exercise so I took ibuprofen and went to the gym about 5 days a week for the last 3 months. Right before surgery I gained about 6 pounds with the stress of everything.
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  • No bending lifting or twisting till you're fused, ok! You can't cause your not supposed to.

    It sounds like your doing great. My nerve pain did also return a few days post surgery, which was slightly discouraging at the time. Although, at 3 months post op I noticed a significant decrease in the amount of my nerve pain.

    Sleeping in the relciner is normal, and I also wasn't able to sleep comfortably until about month 3 as well. Heck I spent probably 80% of my time in a relcliner for 2 1/2 months. So, give yourself time, as most people on this site will tell you, this was a major surgery, and it takes up to a year for damaged nerves to heal.

    Also from what I have learned is that after your surgery the surgeons usaually flush the surgical area with steroids and lidocane? (which has an analgesic affect). This is why some of us feel a reduced amount of pain for a while after surgery then it returns for a while.

    Don't give up hope, with me, most of my nerve pain has subsided at month 3 and I expect full relief soon. Hang in there be a patient, patient, keep up the walking, and don't do ANYTHING to mess up the fusion!

    I think most of us take it lightly when our doctors tell us it takes a long time to heal, we think it is like a hip or knee surgery and we are gonna be a lot better at 6 weeks, this surgery takes a lot longer to heal.
  • It sounds to me like you are walking enough -- some old=fashioned doctors used to tell their patients that you had to walk one miles by x time, two miles by y times, etc. I don't know anyone who now thinks the distance is important. It is just important to get out there and move the legs so that the nerves have a chance to stretch. This helps with the fibrosis issue and gets blood flowing to the area.

    I think you are doing very well -- way better than I was doing at this point in recovery. Just remember this is a "tortoise and the hare" type situation, and you are the tortoise. You will only regret it if you push too hard too soon.

    I assume you bought a "grabber" to substitute for bending over? It is a very important piece of recovery equipment.

    Keep up the great work. You are well on your way to a successful outcome!!
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