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ezraeezra Posts: 72
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:51 AM in Chronic Pain
I have finally found a Dr that has agreed that a two level (L4-S1) ALIF is a good option for me. My last Dr. said that fusion would not help my pain at all only to tell my PMD that he really doesn't want to do it because I'm so young. I went to Neuro today and he explained everything to me so much better than any Dr has before. He has told me my option at this point is to continue going in circles with pain management/ injections and PT or to have surgery that he thinks has an 85% chance of making me feel better.

I understand the risks involved in having this surgery as well as what I have to do to even get the surgery and I have decided that I'm going to do it. I have been instructed it would be best if I lost some weight before hand and I have to have Pyhsc clear me because of my mental history but I'm glad to do these things in order to feel better. He is worried that my metal health will suffer if the surgery doesn't work, which is a very reasonable thing to worry about IMO. Basically I am just relieved to know that there may be an end in sight. I know it might not work and that I can end up worse and will most likely end up having more surgeries down the road but I'm okay with that if there is that good of a chance that my life can change and I can play with my kids. Recently I've had a large increase in pain and have ended up having to walk with the dreded cane more often so I'm ready to find the end.

Mostly what I'm writing here for is to let those who have helped me before know that my new dr is thinking this is a good thing for me and also to get point of views on ALIF, your experiences and so on.

Did it help you, yes I know this is very from person to person?
What did you do to prepare for the surgery?
Is there any excersies that are back friendly that can help me in losing some weight? Could water arobics aid in this?
If you have had to have more surgeries because the disks below or above have given out, how long were you able to go in between surgeries, again I know this is very?



  • I don't know whether to say congrats or I'm sorry, but if this surgery helps you like my TLIF helped me, then I believe it'll be a congratulations.

    Mine was posterior and at L4/5, but after a year, I'm doing very well. I have some residual pain still when I do certain things, but I'm so much better than I was before. The first few weeks of recovery were pretty tough, so be prepared for some rough patches, but once it moves on to surgical pain instead of the pain you're having now, you'll really be glad you had it done.

    As for preparing, look at the must-haves list in the surgery section. You won't need everything, but for me and many, a walker, shower chair, pillows, and toilet riser were imperative to have. Also a "station" set up where you'll be most comfortable and can go to rest, either a recliner, the bed, a couch or a hospital bed. My recliner with some adjustments worked for me.

    Take care a please keep us posted.
  • Good that you've found a surgeon who will be able to help you with your pain. No surgeon can guarantee that fusion will work, but it would be good to have more mobility and less pain. My surgeon aims for 80% - 90% pain reduction.

    I had an L4-5 ALIF in 09 and I'm relatively pain free and have got my life back again. I was fused in less than 6 months but it took another 6-7 months for the fusion to feel really strong.

    Recovery is hard work and can be boring and frustrating, but if you can keep looking ahead to better times, it'll help. You'll need family and friends for support and help at home.

    At the top of the page, there's a sticky called Post-Op Must Haves. If you go through that, you'll find some really good suggestions. Good preparation for home is essential. A grabber will be your best friend.

    I believe that exercise doesn't help much with weight loss, though it is an essential part of each day. A good diet, such as the Mediterranean Diet, which is actually an eating plan for life would be good for you to look into. Type that into your search engine and you'll get lots of links for info. Prior to surgery, you don't want to be on a stringent diet that is very low in calories because you'll need to be as healthy as you can. Gentle exercises in a hydrotherapy pool would be good for you before and after surgery. Talk to a physio who runs sessions at the pool.

    My discs above and below the fusion aren't much good but my surgeon wanted me to go as long as I could before any more surgery. At about 7 months post-op I started doing gentle Chi Kung and Tai Chi exercises from DVDs at home, and that has made a huge difference to my back. I'm 17 months out from surgery and the adjacent levels are fine. Incidentally, I have osteoporosis.

    It's very important not to overdo activities during recovery and walking is the best exercise you can do and some gentle stretching. In the hospital, the physio will guide you with mobility exercises.

    Your tummy will be very sore and swollen for quite a while, but eventually it heals. I had quite a bit of nausea in the hospital and afterwards, but medication helped. Today, my scar is so fine, it can hardly be seen. After about a month, I was able to put Bio-Oil on it to help soften the scar. There are other oils which can be used.

    I hope all works out well for you.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
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  • i am waiting for an ALIF too the only thing the consultant said was it may help the pain but the main reason he wants to do it .is because ADR was not an option due to arthritis and damage from other operations .the ALIF is a big operation and it can take up to 3 years to recover from so be prepared .a rise and recline recliner would be a valuable piece of kit for you after the operation {and now} and an electrical adjustable bed would also help .i have been told to expect at least 4 months of hell post operation and life foe the first 12 months wont be easy ..it has taken me over 2 year to come to this decision .just make sure that you are doing it for all the right reasons .i am older than you 44 but i know that's still young ..don't have the operation unless you are very sure that you want it .get as much information from people that had had the ALIF .i need 3 levels doing .good luck with what you decide and please let me know how you get on
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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