I am going to post a blog about my recovery from L4L5 XLIF surgery and try to give details for people looking into this type of surgery.
My back pain started when I was young due to skiing, football, basketball, and degenerative disc disease.
This is my 3rd surgery on the L4/L5 disc along with removing material from my spinal canal for spinal stenosis.
Surgery #1 (July2011) was a microdisectomy and removal of spinal tissue for spinal stenosis. Pain was more in my back vs. leg and getting up from sitting was the biggest issue
Surgery #2 (July 2013) was a microdisectomy on L4/L5 to remove a 5 mm diameter piece of my disc that was lodged int the sciatic nerve. I could reduce some of the pain by leaning over on a cane. Surgery reduced pain but did not alleviate it completely. I have 3 damaged discs so exactly where all the pain was radiating from could have been also coming from L3/L4 and L5/S1.
Surgery #3 (July 27 2015) L4/L5 disc herniated again so after 3 herniations we are going to remove it. I originally wanted an artificial disc inserted however my insurance would not cover that surgery.
My surgeon decided to do a XLIF procedure going thru my right side along with titanium rods and screws for stability which is less invasive than the other approaches.
7/27/2015: Surgery lasted 4 hours and went as planned. I have incision in my right side which is where he inserted to plastic cage with infuse vs. using my own bone and incisions in my back to insert the screws.
Pain after surgery was about a 7 on a 10 scale however with no movement the pain went down to a 2 or 3. The biggest problem was moving my body to position it on the bed. Pain would shoot up to 7/8 with movement and when pressure was put on the lower back where the screws were located pain was severe. Was on a morphine pump the entire day which made the pain bearable. The act of moving in bed was very difficult I did however get out of bed to sit in a chair but no more than that.
7/28/2015: I continued on the morphine for half of the day and was moved to hydromorphone 4mg oral vs. IV. The goal was to get off of the IV to prepare to go home. At this point I needed assistance for everything from the nurses and my wife. You will not be able to do much and you will need assistance for everything. Mid afternoon I was able to get out of bed and walk around with a walker for 5 to 10 minutes. The pain was down to a 4 when I was walking but getting up or down or moving in bed was difficult and pain about 7. I walked around the hospital floor a few times to get blood moving and also you will need a brace which helps keep you from moving too much. Pain sitting for a while brought the pain down to a 2/3.
7/29/15: The goal today was to leave the hospital on only Hydromophone and muscle relaxers. Pain was still high when moving in bed but when sitting it went down to a 2/3. Surgeon did release me and my wife got us home. The goal is to only be on the main floor of the house so I don't have to go up and down stairs. I have not tried but I don't think you will be going up and down stairs yet. Getting in and out of bed is still difficult and pain around 6/7 when moving. I walked around the outside of the house a few times for 5 to 10 minutes. My right leg tingles and is numb which I have been told is from the surgeon moving the muscles on my right hip to get to the spine. Supposed to be common. I do not have any lower leg pain that I had presurgery so it seems it worked and now healing is going to take some time.
7/30/2105: Today the thigh numbness seems to be getting a little better in that it does not seem to be completely numb. The area around my hip where the surgeon went into the spine and the back where he inserted the screws is swollen. As the swelling in my back overall has gone down the area under the bandages seems to be more swollen. Having issues with constipation and will try a suppository today. I was able to walk quite a bit today with no real issues with balance or major pain. The pain is definitely being masked by the narcotics as I can tell when they are starting to wear off and the pain level starts going up pretty quickly. The main challenge is getting up/down from a chair and my bed. I have very little strength in my right leg from where the surgeon went in for surgery. It is very difficult to get it to move and I need to use my hands to get it to move any distance. I am going to try and do some of my very beginning PT exercises I had learned my last surgery tomorrow. I want to keep it slow and not strain anything too much. The pain level is still about the same in that it goes down to 3/4 when I am sitting but goes up if I sit too long. I get more shooting type of pain in my back and upper right leg with movement that goes up to 7 or so but it is manageable.
8/2/2015: The last couple days have been about the same. The pain has went from more of a shooting pain in my side and lower back to more of a pain like you would have if you had a very deep bruise. Walking has become easier and I can walk further. What has improved only modestly is the pain from getting up from sitting in a chair or bed. The numbness in my thigh has improved quite a bit. It is still weak and I can't lift my left leg up on it own without the help of my hand. I hope to start PT this week to see what kind of mobility I have and start to work at it to improve my range of motion. Welcome to Spine-Health
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