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ALIF 3 weeks ago

patgibson93ppatgibson93 Posts: 67
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi everyone - I'm new to this, but I've really made use of this site over the past 18 months. I had an L5-S1 ALIF 3 weeks ago. I injured my back 18 months previously and followed a conservative treatment plan which included 3 epidurals, months of PT, and pain management. Surgery went well, although I had to spend an extra night in the hospital. The first 2 weeks were rough but my surgeon put me in an Aspen Quick-Draw orthosis which has increased my comfort. Although I knew this was going to be big surgery, but I don't think I was really prepared for how wiped out I was going to be. It will be 3 more weeks before I see my surgeon again. If the Xrays still look good I will start a walking program. For now I walk around our house as much as I can. It's not much, but I'm not up to much more than that. The good news is that the unrelenting preop pain has been replaced by surgical pain. The numbness & tingling in my sciatic nerve has diminished as long as I don't sit very long. So I will continue my recumbant existence and post updates as I progress. Trying to remain positive!
Pat Gibson
L5S1 ALIF 2-22-11
Now L4 Retrolisthisis


  • Sounds like your surgery went well and the 24/7 pre-surgery nerve pain has gone. That's how it was for me and today, I'm relatively pain free and "living" again. I had an L4-5 ALIF.

    It's important to rest and then walk as much as you can, but not overdoing it.

    I didn't push things with my recovery and had domestic help for 4 months. This is your one time to concentrate on healing. At times it'll be boring and frustrating, but I'd encourage you to keep looking forward to when you'll be able to do more. It feels like a long time, but that day does come! I was fused before 6 months, but it took another 6-7 months before the fusion felt really strong.

    Please do let us know how you're getting on.


    PS Before I married many years ago, my name was Patricia Gibson!!


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • i am due for this surgery sometime this year .i am having 3 levels done my consultant told me that recovery would be long {36months} three years ! but he said with this type of very invasive operation many people make the mistake of rushing things because they think that they feel better then they over do things .i have been warned to take it very easy post op.as i wont get another chance of surgery due to the state of my spine from previous surgery and degeneration .so i hope all goes well for you but please take my consultants advice and dont over do it !
    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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  • I had alif 2 weeks ago and am now home trying to be patient with my recovery. I no longer have the pre surgery back pain (thankfully ) and the post op nerve pain is getting better. 2 more weeks until my follow up so hoping fusion is holding.
    I miss going out and having fun... Better days ahead for us, right?

    Hope you continue to feel better and stronger!

  • I had my ALIF on 8/24/2010. I am still recovering.
    For me the recovery has been hard. My early recovery period was hindered with many minor complications and set backs which I think or actually I know delayed my healing process. With that said I am now over the 6 month mark and have not been able to work!

    My post op pain was much more severe then pre op (I would never have imagined, as I was in so much pain prior to surgery).

    For me, I now know I should not have proceeded with an ALIF as it did not correct all of my lumbar issues. I consulted 4 NS prior to surgery and had put it off for 5 years (did every conservative treatment out there and bought me time).

    Only one NS offered the ALIF the other 3 agreed fusion was warranted, however they felt PLIF would be best for my case.

    I went the ALIF route as the NS led me to believe that although it would be a full view surgery (not mini or micro)that the recovery would be quicker then a traditional PLIF as no back muscles would be cut. The approach and close was done by a Vascular Surgeon. The NS said I would be looking at about 8-12 week recovery (2-3) months!4 months at the most... I was sold!

    Since then I have had a series of epidurals, trigger point and cadual injections. This all to address the bone spurs and forminal stenosis that still exists in my back, specifically at the surgery site. Tomorrow I am going for selective nerve root blocks. Hopefully it will do the trick.

    The surgeon who performed my ALIF did state from the start, that he was not sure if he could fix my leg issues. At 4.5 months into recovery my surgeon PRN'd me, just said he is sorry and that he wanted to help me and wishes me the best!!! "Call if you need". I was shocked, no sign of fusion, I am in extreme pain and using a cane to ambulate and he was like... see ya!

    Thank goodnes, one of the other NS I had seen prior to surgery is now following my case.

    Now with that said, I am finally starting to feel a little better (lower back pain) and have been able to cut back on pain meds. My sciatic & leg issues have not calmed down and I still have chronic back pain, its just not as severe, thank god. Perhaps its because I did wait so many years to have the surgery, I may have caused nerve damage (I am having NCS & EMG on April 6).

    Everyone has different outcomes with surgery, many wake up and have 100% relief, others take more time, some never recover.

    I wish you an easy and speedy recovery Pat. And like Trishdownunder said use your recovery time to recover and heal, dont push yourself and listen to your body and head and rest, rest and rest. When you get the green light for PT & walking take it a step at a time.

  • Also wishing you a full and speedy recovery from your surgery! I am glad to hear that your pre op pain has subsided! That is fantastic!
    Better days ahead!YES, YES & YES :-)

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  • 3 levels, yes major procedure. I will pray for you. Do you know when you will have the surgery?
    I respect your doctor for being up front and honest or rather realistic on your recovery time. So that you know what to expect and understand the lenght of time and duration of the healing process.
    I really hope the surgery will fix your spinal issues and you are one of the ones who wake up and say... backache, what backache???

  • Update. Thanks to all who posted welcome messages. They all mean a lot. My progress has taken an odd twist. I had been prescribed a boatload of medications to include Nucynta, gabapentin (pre), ativan, zanaflex & oxycontin (post). Saw my pain doc Wednesday and he told me to take oxy in the morning and nucynta for rest of day. Did that Thursday & Friday and it over sedated me. Stopped it. Continued with nucynta. Have been experiencing hypoglycemic type symptoms, hotflushes. Called pain doc who dismissed as withdrawal from oxy - but nurse seemed horrified at everything I was taking. She said I was taking meds incorrectly. I wasn't satisfied with the answer or how I was feeling so I called back this morning requesting a phone consult (they are an houraway) only to find out that my doctor had left the practice as of yesterday without notice! I'm seeing the senior doctor tomorrow morning. I have no idea what to expect. Drug reaction, over medication, withdrawal, infection? I don't know. Tonight I have a wicked headache and feel awful. It's disheartening & scary.
    Pat Gibson
    L5S1 ALIF 2-22-11
    Now L4 Retrolisthisis

  • Hi Pat
    Sorry to hear of your twist and the loss of your doc. But mostly about your issues with the med dosing, I can tell you I had a very bad reaction to nucynta, I will never take that again. I had been on vicodine at the time and doc wanted me to try the nucynta instead of the vicodine. I had trouble breathing, blurring vision, massive headache and very fog headed and left me loopy and scared, like I was going to die.
    I can tell you the ativan is a benzo med, similar to valium but lighter.
    Gabapentin also gives me headaches, I have a love hate relationship with that med, helps with leg nerve pain, but the headaches.... it’s a trade off.
    I am no expert on meds other then my own experiences but I don’t believe I have heard of using nucynta as breakthrough med with the use of oxycotin, usually it is percocet or oxycodone for severe to moderate pain.
    Have you called your pharmacy? Perhaps they can give you some info tonight (especially with dosage and any contraindications, as I can understand that you are obviously scared and rightfully so).

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • Hi Pat

    That sounds like a lot of medication to be on. All I was on when I came home was Oxycontin and Gabapentin, and Oxycodone for breakthrough pain. They kept the pain under control but didn't stop the big post op ache. Gentle walking up and down the patio helped a lot, especially with my left leg - that wasn't pain but very restless.

    Hope you get your meds sorted out soon so that you're not like a zombie half the day.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Just got back from seeing pain doc. After reviewing meds & exam, it was decided my issues were not caused by meds. Their concern is an infection somewhere. I was sent for labwork and xrays. Surgeon's office called to tell that urine was clear and Xrays showed that all hardware is fine. We'll get bloodwork back tomorrow. I'll let everyone know what the results are. For now I'm taking a nap.
    Pat Gibson
    L5S1 ALIF 2-22-11
    Now L4 Retrolisthisis
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