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A lot of Negatives, but Any Positives For Recovery

As with any forum, most come to vent when their results are not positive. I, at times, fall into this category with many other topics; services I received, products I purchased, etc. Very really do I take additional time to provide positive feedback.

I was hoping there are some of you that hang out in these forums that have had success from ALIF, PLIF, or 360?

I have an 8 mm A-P (anterior to Posterior) herniation at L4/5. Injections have stopped working. My Ortho has finally suggested surgery. he thought it would be a discectomy. However, the actual surgeon suggested 360 fusion due to my active lifestyle.

My back pain probably limits my lifestyle now to about 80%. I can still golf, bowl, motorcycle, and workout. I pay the price the next day. But I can no longer run, squat, ski, racquetball, tennis, etc

I know surgery will not make me younger, but after reading these forums, it sounds like invasive surgery does NOT usually provide relief, or a return to normal activities.

I wanted to get some feedback from post surgery members that have been able to return to an equal or better lifestyle after surgery.

The whole 12-18 month recovery is not very appealing.

Thanks,
Jim
2004 - diagnosed Herniated discs
2004 - 2013 - 12+ Epidural injections
2008 - present Chiro with Decompression
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Comments

  • I am 6 weeks post op for l5s1 fusion, back at work and drving. I was off all medication in about 1 week, only occasionally taking painkilllers before bed. The pain has not been as severe as when my back was particularly bad before operation. I know i have been very lucky and would certainly not describe my back as fixed yet, but i am cautiously optimistic. I am only 43 and had felt much older due to chronic pain and am really hoping this will give me a new lease of life. I only turned to the forum when i needed post op advice so maybe success stories are not posted as often.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,922
    But on a site that deal with chronic pain, once someone gets past that point, we may never hear from them again.
    But that is good news.. In fact its very good news. Knowing that some people come here looking for help and through some of our workings and follow on activities that person is good again.

    I wish that would happen to everyone and instead of having a membership total of over 20,000, a number like 10 would be so much better.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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  • Twowheelyankee: hi.

    The time to recover is dependant on a number of factors, such as, ones's fitness, age, weight, smoker vs non smoker, post surgical complications such as infection etc, pre surgical depression or not, pain management post surgery quality, inclination to follow PT instructions, etc. Some of these you can influence pre surgery.

    As Ron said, and as you will see by following many individual's stories here, the vast majority get better and get on with their newly revitalised life and fade away from here. Having said that, some unfortunately, aren't as lucky.

    So choose your surgeon wisely.

    Research, research, research here, so you are in control of the whole process, pre and post surgery, to get the best treatment and be in front of any bad issue that comes up. You can't afford to rely on 'the system', as it sometimes is not perfect. You will be the one that has to live with the consequences for many years.

    If you do the above, hopefully you wont be here long.

    Good luck.
  • twowheelyankee said:
    As with any forum, most come to vent when their results are not positive. I, at times, fall into this category with many other topics; services I received, products I purchased, etc. Very really do I take additional time to provide positive feedback.

    I was hoping there are some of you that hang out in these forums that have had success from ALIF, PLIF, or 360?

    I have an 8 mm A-P (anterior to Posterior) herniation at L4/5. Injections have stopped working. My Ortho has finally suggested surgery. he thought it would be a discectomy. However, the actual surgeon suggested 360 fusion due to my active lifestyle.

    My back pain probably limits my lifestyle now to about 80%. I can still golf, bowl, motorcycle, and workout. I pay the price the next day. But I can no longer run, squat, ski, racquetball, tennis, etc

    I know surgery will not make me younger, but after reading these forums, it sounds like invasive surgery does NOT usually provide relief, or a return to normal activities.

    I wanted to get some feedback from post surgery members that have been able to return to an equal or better lifestyle after surgery.

    The whole 12-18 month recovery is not very appealing.

    Thanks,
    Jim
    Hi TwowheelyankLee!
    I am 7 weeks post op from a MIS TLIF fusion L4/5 and doing very well. Off all painkillers one week post op, walking every day and also able to drive. I feel I could do even more, but hold back a little to please my PT. I realize it is early still, but I had (and still have) a lot of the same thoughts you have.

    Have been suffering increasing back pain for the last 5-6 years but postponed any surgery thinking it had to be the "final solution". Managed my pain with painkillers, antiinflammarory and physical therapy. Playing golf, running, biking etc. but with increasing pain. For the last couple of years the situation got gradually worse and after a meeting with an orthopedic surgeon we decided to go for it. I will say my lifestyle was at about 60% at the time of the surgery. Golf is my number one activity and I have been able to play, but with shorter backswing and pain. Gave up running two years ago, biking one year ago.

    I am determined to get my active life back (maybe with some limitations) but I am very optimistic at the moment. It is a long journey, I realize it is, but in my mind I will be playing golf, running and biking in less than one year from now.

    Time will show :-)

    regards,
    Øystein
    Isthmic spondylolisthesis L4/L5 with collapsed disk and nerveroot compression. MIS TLIF lumbar fusion surgery February 2013.
  • I wanted to thank you all for the responses. I was first diagnosed 10 years ago, and have avoided pain killers and surgery for that time. However, the epidural injections have finally stopped working. However, decompression at the chiro still has some positive affects. I may add pain killers to my next regiment of treatment because my research at surgery is bleak. It does not have seemed to progress as much as I would like it. PLIF, ALIF, and 360 fusion seem to destroy too much muscle, ligaments, and bone (lamina). Moving my guts to the side to access my back is not something I am willing to risk now.

    However, if the artificial disc replacement procedure progresses in the US like in Europe, that may be a possibility even though they go through the front. Only time will tell. Not sure if my insurance would cover ADR.

    Thanks all.
    Jim
    2004 - diagnosed Herniated discs
    2004 - 2013 - 12+ Epidural injections
    2008 - present Chiro with Decompression
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  • LA_runner_chickLLA_runner_chick Posts: 91
    edited 03/25/2013 - 9:56 AM
    They are just fewer and further between on Spine Health, since as Ron says, most of the people who have really great recoveries go off and live their lives and stop lurking around on the forums.

    I am about 4 months post 360-degree fusion from L4/S1, and while my recovery has not been fun, it's probably been a heckuva easier than you seem to fear it will be. And I, too, am an athlete -- runner, swimmer, hiker, pilates-er, etc, and this was definitely a consideration for surgery: would I be able to get back to the lifestyle I loved?

    The ALIF part does sound brutal -- yes, they go in through the front and move your guts, but many doctors, like mine, bring in a vascular surgeon to assist with the moving of the guts and the blood vessels. To be honest, yes, I was sore for a long time, but I am already getting my muscle tone and abdominal strength back.

    The PLIF part can be minimally invasive, so they don't have to cut anything in the back. Mine was done with some kind of instrument that gave my surgeon a direct view of…again, sorry that I can't be more specific, but the stuff back there, and screw placement was further assisted with another tool that helped the doctor visualize where the nerves were so he could steer clear of them. The incisions were so tiny, I can hardly see them back there.

    Recovery has been much easier than I thought -- I was only on painkiller for ten days, and I take an over-the-counter strength Tylenol when I need it. I feel terrific -- by the time I reached 6 weeks, I was up to walking 7 or 8 miles a day (then I developed tendinitis, which is neither here nor there). At my last post surgical followup, I got approval to start swimming again, go for moderate hikes (which I will do, once that infernal tendinitis is gone), ride a bike, and go back to the gym. If everything continues as it has, I will be cleared to run again at the six-month mark.

    Does surgery suck? Yes. But it can also return you to the things you love, if you are patient. I was given the option to continually conservatively manage my conditions, but I knew those treatments were only like a band-aid, and not improving anything. I am still early in recovery, but I am glad I had the surgery and very pleased with the outcome.

    The very best thing you can do for yourself is get an awesome doctor. Make sure he or she is choosing the right treatments for you -- your body, your long-term life goals. And I firmly believe that the better shape you are going into surgery, the better off you'll be coming out of it.

    If you search the web, you'll find scads of success stories. I know I did! While I was still trying to decide on whether or not to do surgery, I found the blog of a woman who'd had the same surgery about 18 months prior. Her blog was well written and informative -- and I decided to track her down, via email, and ask her additional questions. She was so helpful, giving me honest answers to all my questions and totally letting me know what I might be in for.

    Best of luck -- hope you don't end up needing surgery but know that if you do, there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about it.
  • I was back at work by week 3 1/2, walking 8 miles per day by week 6, and now back in the gym! I started off wondering what the hell I had done, now I wish i had done it earlier! I'm a multi level 360 fusion plus tdr patient :)
    Keewee
    2 level Discectomy 2000 open surgery
    L4/5 Discectomy & L5/S1 Laminectomy 2005- (Cauda equina) open surgery
    5 x joint injections 2012
    Discogram Dec 2012
    Dec 2012 - 360 Lumbar Fusion L4 -S1(BMP), Disc replaced L3/4, Bilat trocanter injects
  • They pulled my stomach muscles back together which had a massive gap from childbirth so I was pleased about that ha!
    Keewee
    2 level Discectomy 2000 open surgery
    L4/5 Discectomy & L5/S1 Laminectomy 2005- (Cauda equina) open surgery
    5 x joint injections 2012
    Discogram Dec 2012
    Dec 2012 - 360 Lumbar Fusion L4 -S1(BMP), Disc replaced L3/4, Bilat trocanter injects
  • HopeInBraceletsHHopeInBracelets Posts: 73
    edited 03/31/2013 - 8:04 AM
    My ALIF surgey and recovery was a horrific experience BUT I got a good 5 years in before the level under the fusion blew and now am getting another fusion on April 12th. I was given my life back, was able to be a 100% Mom and was able to go back to work as a Nursing Assistant. I was told eventually the level under the fusion would go but I am hopeful the next surgery will be a success as well. :)
    DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.
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