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Looking for spinal fusion success stories



  • JameyhJJameyh Atlanta, Ga.Posts: 98
    Hi Steve,
    I am a 60 y/o female who had an ALIF and PLIF 24 days ago.  Prior to surgery I suffered with severe pain and spasms in my low back and right buttocks along with unbearable ache/pain down the back of my right leg and foot.  I was diagnosed with radiculopathy (sciatica)  in May and given Tylenol #3 and Flexeril.  I took the meds a few days but the only thing that helped was not walking.  My symptoms persisted and I visited my rheumatologist thinking perhaps I needed a right hip replacement since it hurt so badly.  An X-ray in July revealed that I had a spondylolisthesis at L4 and rheumy says I had hip bursitis (I think he was just speculating) and I got a steroid shot in the right bursa.  Rheumy also put me on a Butrans patch (transdermal opiate).  A week later the pain never went away.  Finally persuaded my internist to order an MRI to get a better diagnosis.  It revealed I had DDD, pars defect and a grade 2 spondy at L4.  
  • JameyhJJameyh Atlanta, Ga.Posts: 98
    Continued....Plus it was noted I had neuroforaminal narrowing and moderate canal stenosis.  I believe we share the same problems.  After a consultation with a neurosurgeon I was basically informed that surgery was my only option.  I had unsuccessful PT for 3 months, failed epidural spinal injections, massage was intolerable and chiropractics would not have helped.  The surgeon said surgery was my only viable option and I trusted him.  I had the surgery to remove the bad disc, and apply instrumentation to correct all the degenerated areas for support.  Stayed in the hospital 5 days.  On day 2 when I was lifted out of bed, had a corset type abdominal support and walked with a walker to the hallway, I immediately noted that the pre-op pain was gone.  No sciatic pain, no back spasms and no hip pain.  It was gone!!!  My post op recovery has been uneventful.  No bending, twisting or lifting.  No trouble getting comfortable in a recliner, no trouble sleeping on my sides in bed.  I am not allowed to drive but that's no biggie for me.  Able to eat and not having the typical constipation that comes with the use of opiates.  I have only taken the Hydrocodone 10 mg at 9am and 9pm but if my back gets sore I take a 5mg Valium to relax the back midday.   I see the surgeon on Jan 18th and hopefully will start PT and get moving again.  I am a new person and at 60 I never thought I would feel this good.
    Hope this gives you a positive outlook for post surgery.  Good luck Steve....
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  • Hi.
    Appreciate the new advice. BLT and all...
    9 days out. going fast.
    So 40 staples in my back, hopefully taken out in a few days.
    Getting used to routine and restrictions.
    Old and new pains and feeling everwhere.
    But I can walk and my wife says i walk straight. AMAZING! 
    I have not used walker. Toilet riser is key.
    Bathroom is working well so I am happy.
    Mornings are 12/10, so painful everywhere.
    I know i have to patient but when so bad, it is unbearable.
    How will i survive when fast acting diolodin is finished???

  • relievedrrelieved Midwest USAPosts: 4
    There ARE positive outcomes to fusion surgeries...
    I have two friends that are one and two years post-op, respectively, both having returned to a pain free normal life following a spinal fusion.
    Their success stories gave me the courage to under-go a L5 - S1 fusion 13 weeks ago.
    As with any major surgery, it is key to find the best surgeon for your specific procedure!
    Other than the fact that a three month recovery period felt grueling and never ending, my surgery and recovery have gone quite smoothly. Pain meds have been a mute point for me, as I have never been on anything stronger than 650 mg Tylenol. Even post-op!
    Had my three month (13 week) follow up appointment with the surgeon yesterday. Everything checked out beautifully! I am now taking the Tylenol on an 'as needed' basis only, more or less when I have overdone it.
    After receiving advice from the physical therapist yesterday, I was released to resume normal activities! I am already able to tolerate sitting for 4 - 6 hours at a time without a break. And, overall my pain levels are 0 to 1, depending on my activity at the time. 
    These are heartfelt, encouraging words regarding a L5 - S1 fusion procedure. I am confident that I will be joining my friends in the category of success stories!

  • JameyhJJameyh Atlanta, Ga.Posts: 98
    Dear Relieved....I am now 4 weeks post op.  My pain is very minimal also and I walk straight.  I have not had my post op yet but I assure you I am a new person.   I walked a lot today and would not have been able to do 1/8th of this pre-op.  I feel fortunate to be one of the lucky ones.  Have faith...there are successful fusions happening every day

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  • Hi.
    It has been 6 1/2 weeks  and I am very happy.
    I ended up with a 7 hour spine surgery which included a l3-s1 posterior fusion, tlif and laminectomy.
    I can now walk for 10 minutes with little or no pain.
    My legs are "quiet". Amazing!
    Of course, I still have foot numbness and pain, but it is so much less.
    I hope it will continue.

  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,510

    Thanks for the update.  Congratulations on the success you are having!  Hopefully your symptoms will continue to improve over the next year.


    Read my story at Bruce - My Story
    ACDF C4-C5-C6-C7, and getting better every day
    It has been a process of healing, learning, exercising, and resting - and figuring out when to do which.

  • Im in the process of getting insurance approval for the same L5 S1 fusion.  I been researching for a while and read different things compared to patients videos and blogs so I am somewhat confused.  Im not a candidate for disc replacement so this is it.  Can someone tell me who has had the surgery, what the pain is like right after.  Ive read some people don't feel the back pain at all only the incision site is really painful.  But my doctor says I will be in pain for at least a week or two.  Another blog showed a gentleman 3 days post op stating he has very little pain.  I just a little confused on what to expect post op.  Dr states 6 weeks out of work minimal.  I have a desk job so does anyone think I can go back sooner.  When I ask doctor he said we'll see.  Has anyone on here felt they were able to return to work after 2 to 3 weeks.  I know the doctor has to give me the later because if i don't feel better I don't say you told me i would be okay after 2 weeks.  So Im looking for some real answers from people who can tell me there post op experience day one till when was it you were actually able to fell as though you could go to work.  I know everyone deals with pain differently, but Im just trying to figure a somewhat real estimation of Pain, time, and function from people who have been through it.  I see the blogs above about life after.  Just looking for life during first few days to 2 weeks post op.  Any help is appreciated.  

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