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ALIF surgery and physical therapy

I am two months removed from L5-S1 ALIF surgery, and returned to work about a month ago. I'm trying to walk 3-5 miles a day, but so far that's been the extent of my exercise. As a result, even though I've experienced considerable relief from the back pain that brought me to surgery, I lack the flexibility to do simple tasks like tying my shoes without feeling like a contortionist. I've just left a voicemail with my surgeon asking if I can begin to return to some conservative Physical Therapy, but I was curious to learn whether or not it's typical to hold off for several months.


  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 901
    Like you my doctor had me on walking only for the first 3 months... after that he let me do swimming which I really enjoy.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • edited 11/23/2015 - 3:28 AM
    @hvills - thanks for the reply. Knowing that I have "hardware" in my back, I'm content to wait if that's the proper course. I was just wondering if my experience was a common one.
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  • Apparently... it takes about 3 months for the fusion to really "take hold" and so often PT is not prescribed until that point... though I see a lot of the spine surgeons really don't offer any PT at all. This always surprises me because I think PT can really help prevent some of the problems that got us into the situations we are all in.
    My doc was totally shocked after he said, OH yeah PT if you have a need and I said, "Well what if I WANT it" (It's inexpensive via my plan and the therapist from my hip surgery in 2011 is ready to take me whenever...). He did say YES, he would allow me some PT so I suppose that your will too, After all the not bending and twisting, I am myself starting to feel very stiff in all sorts of places and am eager for my first 3 months to be over with...
    I should be glad I'm not in an abundance of pain 3 weeks out from surgery, instead I'm wondering how my fusion is doing and when I can get back in the pool!
  • @RunnerHKT - thank you for your comments. I guess there's a reason why my surgeon scheduled follow-ups for a month and three months after surgery. I've been fortunate enough not to have felt too much pain 2 months after the procedure, but I lack the flexibility and range of motion that I know physical therapy can restore. I was doing PT right up to the surgery, knowing that it would help in the recovery process, so it's a bit ironic that it hasn't been recommended as part of the recovery process itself. Still, I'm seeing a pattern as far as waiting 3 months and then evaluating, and I'm fine with following my surgeon's advice.
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