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Anterior Lumbar interbody Fusion for L5-S1

charliepriss07ccharliepriss07 Posts: 2
edited 12/16/2015 - 8:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
i'm going to have and (alif) soon on my l5-s1 region. i would like to hear about experiences and find out, realistically, what i'm looking at in post operative pain and recovery time.

welcome to spine-health

one of the most important things that members can do is to provide the rest of the community with as much information about themselves as possible. it is so very difficult for anyone to respond when we do not have enough information to go on. this is not meant to indicate that you are doing anything wrong or violated any rule, we are just trying to be pro-active and get the information upfront so that people can start responding and your thread is more effective.

so many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. the more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong, the fact that your test results are negative does not mean that you are fine and without any concerns. many times it takes several diagnostic tests and procedures to isolate a specific condition.

here are some questions that you should answer:
  • - when did this first start? . year, your age, etc
- was it the result of an accident or trauma?
- are there others in your family with similar medication conditions?
- what doctors have you seen? (orthopedic, neurosurgeon, spine specialist, etc)
  • . which doctor did you start with? ie primary care physician . who are you currently seeing?
- what conservative treatments have you had? which ones?
  • . physical therapy . ultrasound / tens unit . spinal injections . acupuncture . massage therapy
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  • . summarize the results, please do not post all details, we cannot analyze them . how many different tests have you had over the years? similar results?
- what medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)
  • . name of medication . how long have you been using this? . results
- has surgery been discussed as an option? (if so, what kind)
- is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
- what is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
of your situation and make it easier to respond.

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what could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
you should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

it is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). it is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are

i’ve had this for years, it hurts, i cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should i get?

diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. in many ways it’s like a game of clue. especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! then it’s up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. the doctor is like a detective. they need clues to help them move along. so, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. that is like it is here. without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

specific comments :

personal opinion, not medical advice :

--- ron dilauro, spine-health system moderator : 12/16/15 14:38 est

Priscilla Lott


  • I am 4 weeks out from anterior and posterior L5-S1. It gets better each day. Honestly, the first week was rough. I had a compressed nerve which is regenerating. That did and is causing the most pain. Other than that I'm getting to the point of being bored which I see as a good sign. I geared myself up for a long haul after surgery. Make sure you get a grabber stick. Most useful tool when you can't bend. Good luck!
  • charliepriss07ccharliepriss07 Posts: 2
    edited 12/21/2015 - 5:12 AM
    Thanks Ankath for your helpful comment. I'm going in December 31 to have my ALIF done. My Spondolythesis is a grade 1, however is pinching on a nerve, but may not be as severe as yours. How are they predicting your range of motion will be after full recovery?
    Priscilla Lott
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  • I had laminotomy surgery on 10/23 for spinal stenosis. Its now dec21st and pain is worse now than before the operation. Doctor now telling me I may need a spinal fusion, or I can try a epidural steroid injection or oral steroids. I have responded letting him know I would like to proceed with the spinal fusion, I have already tried the injections before surgery and they did not help. I'm hoping the fusion will solve my pain I have been dealing with for over 3 yrs, but the pain I'm in now is worse. I get this sharp shooting pain that starts in my right buttocks and shoots down my right leg causing me to lose strength in my right leg, and my back pain is constant cant sit to long, cant stand to long and cant walk to far. ive been off work since 10/23 and I'm hoping this second operation with the fusion will be the right thing to do to get me to recovery. I'm 49 and now need to walk with a cane to walk. I hoping to get fixed and lose the cane..lol
    Dave Zayas
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    welcome to spine-health
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    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 971
    You can read a lot of different experiences on this forum for fusion surgery recovery... but no matter how you experience it ALIF on your lower back is a MAJOR surgery and recovery is a tough road. Sometimes people wake up from surgery with ZERO nerve pain and others wake up with ALL of the pre-op nerve pain and more... it's different from person to person and case to case. Even in my case with the same surgeon both times I woke up with zero nerve pain on the first fusion surgery and on my second fusion surgery there was tons of nerve pain for 4 horrible months after surgery. Hopefully you will get lucky and fall into the first category.

    Actual complete recovery back to "normal" will be a longggg road as you have to be very careful for 3-6 months while your body is trying to create the bone fusion in your spine... kinda like when you break your arm it takes a long time for the bone to heal. During this time as I'm sure your doctor has already told you there should be no BLT of any kind... and probably somewhere around the 3 months mark your doctor will likely implement a PT program for you... which is vital to your full recovery as there is lots of trauma to your muscles and insides that needs to recover and strengthen again. If you are older like me... the 3-6 months can/will be even longer.

    As far as your range of motion for a fusion at L5-S1 it shouldn't restrict you that much... maybe reaching the end of your toes to start putting on your socks in the morning will be a bit more difficult than before... but that's about it. However other than this you MUST be more aware of activities that will jarr and stress your back for the rest of your life as even with the fusion your spine will never be 100% again.

    Good luck... and I hope you find relief from your back pain with the surgery.
    Harry - 65 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
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  • I believe that level is the roughest to get over for some reason. I did L4-S1 first and it was killer. Then did L3-L4 a few years later and it was a a lot easier for me. My range of motion has been great and continued working in maintenance which is a rough job on backs. Been a good 6 years and just found out this week they want to fuse L2-L3 which has me terrified. I'm 53 and still have a lot of years to work but would think my range of motion may cause a problem if I have it done. Once fused it's like a chain reaction up your spine. This would be my 6th back surgery in 10 years and at some point my employer has got to send me on my way I would think when your out 2-3 months each time. Enough venting and good luck.
    TLIF L4-S1 2007                                         TLIF L3-L4 2008                                          TLIF L2-L3 2016
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