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Back Surgery

JAK35JJAK35 Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:58 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi. I'm having Back Surgery on Monday 5th Dec - Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion L4/L5 S1 with bone graft. Has anyone had this same procedure - any advice?


  • Welcome to Spine Health.

    I had an ALIF L4-5 two years ago and it's successful. My recovery was pretty good, though it was no picnic. It's a time to focus on yourself and to keep looking ahead to better days. It was 6 months before I started feeling somewhat normal again.

    Do look at the threads at the top of the page on Post-Op Must Haves and How Long Will it Take. Make sure that you have everything you'll need for recovery, because it will take a long time. I was fused before my 6 month check-up but it took up to 15 months before the fusion felt strong.

    The physio in the hospital will give you gentle stretching and mobility exercises which you'll be able to do.

    My tummy was swollen for a few months and after a month or so, I used Bio-oil on the scar, and today I can barely see it.

    It's quite normal to be constipated post-op, but there are medications you can take. You may not feel like eating much once you get home, but when you get your appetite back, eat foods which are high in nutrition and fibre. I eat quite a few prunes every night.

    It's most important to observe the bending-lifting-twisting restrictions and be guided by your surgeon. Don't be in a hurry to drive again as you could hurt your back if you had to brake suddenly. It was about 6 weeks before I started driving down the shops.

    Don't sit for more than 15 minutes at a time during the early days, and then no more than 30 minutes later on. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on the spine.

    You'll need lots of pillows to prop you up. I used a pillow between my legs or under my knees at times. It was about a month before I could sit in my recliner again and now it's where I'm most comfortable.

    I had a problem with sleeping (and still do) because of pain/discomfort, but that too is normal.

    I was on my own with two large dogs to look after but friends dropped in regularly to help. I had a domestic service come once a week to clean and do the washing, and they did this for 3 months.

    I prepared and froze meals to last 3 months and did enough shopping to last for that time. I also put the things I'd need on a table, which is waist height.

    I bought a grabber, dressing stick and a long handled shower sponge.

    In the early days, resting and walking is all you'll want to do, and most important to take the pain meds as prescribed. Energy levels will go right down, but that's normal. Once I started walking outside the house, I used a walker (with wheels and brake)for a couple of weeks. When I got tired, I was able to sit on the front of it for a little while. I did lots of short walks and the body soon told me when I'd done enough. I didn't compare myself with what others could do but concentrated on what I could do.

    There will be days when you'll get so bored and fed up with the healing process, but that day does come. There isn't much you can do except watch TV, read books and listen to music. Very important that friends call in to cheer you up.

    Hope your surgery goes well for you on 5th December, and post again and let us know how you're going.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
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