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Rough L5/S1 ALIF Recovery

Hi all. My husband just had his first ever surgery last Wednesday, March 20 which was an ALIF for a slipped disc in his L5/S1. He woke up from surgery in intense pain but with the pain medication was able to improve steadily and only stayed in the hospital for 3 days/2 nights. His first two days home were OK but we are day 7 after surgery/day 5 at home and it seems like he hasn't gotten any better and quite possibly has gotten worse. He cannot do anything on his own - sit down/stand up/lay down, pick up his feet to put them on a foot stool, etc. He has found comfort long enough to sleep in our recliner with a heating pad under hos back brace but as soon as he wakes up he is in excruciating pain to the point that he is crying and screaming out in pain. He uses a walker to get around the house and is now saying his whole left side below his waist feels like it's going out on him and his arms are incredibly sore from supporting himself to walk. Is this normal? There have been countless times we've debated calling 911 because he's in such incredible pain and I can't help him. He was prescribed 10mg Percocet for 10 days, 7.5mg Percocet for the next 10 days, and 5mg Percocet for the final 10 days before his appointment with his neurosurgeon but he's only on day 5 and he's already halfway into the 7.5mg Percocets. We have called the doctor office and left voicemails for the nurse but have yet to hear back. I'm just looking for some sort of insight because we both had higher expectations for his condition going into his second week after surgery. Any information is greatly appreciated.
The Sextons


  • Call the surgeon's office again and insist you speak with someone.. I had a 2 level ALIF in December, and although it was a tough recovery the type of pain and issues really seems out of whack. I had some new sciatica pain down my left leg and groin and numbness in my left thigh about the 2nd week. They suspected inflammation impacting nerve(s) and gave me prednisone. It really helped and within a few days at least the new sciatica pain really went down. Be careful with the heating pad because you can possibly get a burn.

    You have to use your gut feeling about calling 911 or going to the ER. A lot of ER visits are due to uncontrolled pain,

    I hope you have some relief soon.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • bmbutlerbbmbutler Posts: 90
    edited 03/27/2013 - 4:00 PM
    Keep calling his office! If no one will help, ask for the office manager and demand a call back. Go to the emergency room if you don't get help.
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  • LizLiz Posts: 8,835
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

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    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the Private Message facility to contact any one of the Moderators on my team:
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • HopeInBraceletsHHopeInBracelets Posts: 73
    edited 03/28/2013 - 2:37 AM
    I had a 2 level ALIF in 2007. (L3-L5). I was sent home with morphine. There is no way Percocets would cut that post surgical pain. The first 2 weeks were EXTREMELY painful and I remember ice packs (NOT HEAT) and tears. 8 days after surgery my pain was still so bad, they put me on Fentanyl patches WITH the morphine. Now I am no sissy....I broke my back in 2006 and waited til 2007 for surgery because it was hockey season for my boys and school. You need to callyour husbands surgeon ASAP and demand to speak to someone. Your husbands pain needs to be controlled or he will not progress.

    Oh....and there will be some days that it will feel like he is going forward with recovery and some days it will feel like three stepsback.....all normal.

    DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.
  • flowerpotsfflowerpots Posts: 379
    edited 03/28/2013 - 5:26 AM
    I had ALIF L4L5S1 3/13 and i have the same pain as your hubby. I was in hospital for 5 days on morphine pump. I told my surgeon before surgery i had a high tolaranse for pain meds.He sent me home with 4 mil morphine plus 2 tylanol every 3 hrs.I finished the pills and he gave me 90 more. I dont sleep at night because i get bad nerve pain down both legs and back pain.He told my husband ,he did alot of work and it takes time.I have a 10" insision on belly and 2 2" insisions on back.I only get up to go the bathroom and i use a walker and my hubby has to help me.I see my surgeon tomorrow for postop checkup.I have alot of questions for him. I will let you know how i make out.Its obvious the pills he gave your hubby arent working.You should be able to get in touch with your dr.He should be getting back to you. My dr always gets back to me ,or he has his surgical nurse call me.You have to speak up for yourself.We are in the pain and we know when its not enough.You can pm me if you have more questions.Good luck.Oh i use ice packs everywhere i have pain. It really helps.I got alot of the gel ones in the freezer ,so i always have them.stay strong Kathy
    Kathy B
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  • scinmyheartsscinmyheart Posts: 132
    edited 03/28/2013 - 6:04 AM
    "He was prescribed 10mg Percocet for 10 days, 7.5mg Percocet for the next 10 days, and 5mg Percocet for the final 10 days before his appointment with his neurosurgeon"

    ...oh h### no...he would have had to call security as I would not have left with "aspirin"...please know I'm not taking a shot at you...I'm just fired up at that surgeon...I'll call him for you!..but being your husband's first time, you just don't know what to expect. I had a L4'L5 PLIF and went home with Oxycotin 20 X3 and Oxycodone 10/325 X 6...that was for the first two weeks, and I still hurt

    please call back and get hold of someone and refuse to hang up until you speak with someone who can do something...I hope your husband feels better!
  • Hi everyone, just wanted to give an update. After another morning of not being able to get ahold of my husbands doctor, he finally caved and we called 911 around 3PM and were taken to the hospital near our home (differently hospital than his surgery was at but same network of facilities). He was immediately given 2mg of Dilaudid and taken for an X-ray. In the 8 hours we have been here he has been given a total of 9mg of Dilaudid (4 of which were diluted by saline and put in an IV drip to be distributed over 4 hours) and his pain has been somewhat managed but he still have severe spasms. He was just taken for an MRI around 10PM so I am waiting for him to get back and for the doctor to let us know what he sees in the results. Although we are still in the ER, the doctor on duty already said my husband will definitely be getting admitted they just have to see if they want to admit him at the hospital we're at or have him transferred to be admitted at the hospital he had his surgery at. I'm really hoping the MRI will show the doctor the problem so they can decide what they are going to do as far as his medicine regimen to help him control the pain once he makes it home and is off the Dilaudid.

    Thank you everyone for your advice and well wishes. I will keep everyone updated as I can.
    The Sextons
  • I am so happy to hear your hubby is in the right place to manage his pain. Shame on that dr for not calling you back though. I wish you good results on the MRI and new pain meds for home!

    DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.
  • The MRI results were read by a resident doctor who says there is a small amount of fluid around my husbands new disc but nothing that looks infectious or that should be causing him this much pain. The doctor at the hospital his surgery was at requested he be transferred to the ED at that hospital so they can look at him and said specifically that as of now he doesn't plan on admitting him. After 10 hours in the ER my husband has been given so much Dilaudid (9mg) that the nurses that are coming in to administer the medication keep talking about how they've never seen someone be given so much and still be coherent. My husband is not only coherent after that amount of pain medication, he is still having severe spasms in his back that cause him to yell out in pain. There's no way we can get to the other hospital, they run some tests, and say everything looks how it's supposed to so cya, right? There is absolutely no way we can make it through another day at home. My husband relies on me 100% to pull him up to a standing position from the couch, move him around on the bed, etc and I'm to the point where I'm helping him with tears streaming down my face because my 125lb body is so sore from pulling around all 170lbs of him that feels like dead weight. I'm so scared they are going to get us there, run some tests, and say "everything looks normal so there's nothing we can do" and then being sent home. My husband is to the point where he's literally crying to the nurses and doctors here saying "If I knew it was going to be this bad I wouldn't have done this, I would have just dealt with the pain I has before surgery becaue it was nothing compared to this." Any words of encouragement would be great right now...
    The Sextons
  • What about rehab!!!!!
    Kathy B
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