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I've had back trouble for the last 3 years @ L5/S1. 5 failed rehabs (through physio), 1 injection, 1 failed op (so 2 in total). The first op was a discectomy and also Percudyn facet augmentation implants - these implants failed after one year and had to be taken out (that was op 2). I have been doing yoga and keeping my core strong to try and fix it, but I've recently slipped it again badly.

My neurosurgeon has offered the TLIF surgery and I was wondering what peoples experiences of this procedure are?

Will I be able to run / play sports again? Will I be able to run a marathon as I am a keen runner? How much mobility will I lose? Will my other discs degenerate quicker, meaning more surgery later in life? Am I too young for this? I'm 36.

Many thanks in advance!



  • Well, I'm sorry to hear that you continue to have trouble. Been there, done that and it's no fun! To answer some of your questions, with the L5/S1 TLIF fusion you won't lose a lot of mobility/flexibility. That's the good news. It should also solve the problem of continued reherniation since it removes the disc. Also good news. The bad news is that it will put more stress on all the vertebrae above that level (so pretty much all of them). It is also not recommended that you run as that is pretty stressful on your back. I suppose people still do it, but I can't imagine doing it. Granted, I lost some mobility due to nerve damage, so running will forever be out for me anyhow, but I know it's not encouraged regardless. I would think that once you fully heal from the surgery and your spine actually fuses, you should be able to do other sports (maybe not contact sports like football, but other things). Just bear in mind that the TLIF, while minimally invasive, is still a big major surgery from which to recover.

    I had mine done a little over 7 months ago at the age of 35. It was a good 6-7 weeks before I was up for doing much of anything. After that, I started to turn the corner and slowly felt less pain and discomfort and was able to sleep better. Now I'm not really in a lot of pain, but I do still have nerve damage in my foot (which hopefully won't be your case) and my lower back is still stiff after sitting/laying down for a period of time. It just feels....different....in my lower back. Not painful, but like there's a big block of cement or something in there. It's hard to describe. I can still bend down (now that I'm mainly healed) and it's WAY better than the sciatic pain I had before, but it isn't a surgery I'd like to have many times! I have two (2 inch) scars on my very low back from the surgery. I had 4 screws and 2 rods, but now I "only" have 2 screws and 1 rod because I had one side removed in the hopes that it was causing my nerve issues (it wasn't).

    If I can answer any other questions, let me know. While it's a big deal and rough surgery in some ways, I don't regret having it done because it really was my only option.
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
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