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L3/L4 Fusion and Laminectomy 8/16/16

So glad to have found this forum!  I have been on crutches for almost 9 weeks with severe nerve damage in my left quadriceps confirmed by EMG.  I have spondylithesis at L3/L4 along with schmorl's node and a herniation on the femoral nerve.  Prior L3 discectomy and laminectomy in 2013 which was very successful but started having left leg problems again in April and then the pain started in my left outside hip and thigh in June and I cannot step down on that leg or walk very far (with a limp due to hip pain) without it "giving out" like I ran a marathon and am completely exhausted!  Hence being on crutches which helps with pain and keeps me balanced.  Surgery is my only option now, I have been through everything else.  So I am scheduled for a fusion on L3/L4 along with a laminectomy of course with cage, screws, and post.  I work in law enforcement and my biggest concern is whether or not I will be able to gain the strength back in my leg and will the hip pain stop after surgery?  Has anyone else had this surgery and how was recovery?  My 1st one was pretty tough on me but I made it through and about week 6 I was good to go....


  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 971
    edited 08/06/2016 - 2:55 AM


    The fusion surgery is a LOT bigger and more invasive versus a discectomy/laminectomy... the recovery will likely be a lot longer and tougher. The first 1-2 weeks will be the roughest and you should arrange that a family member or close friend can be with you 24/7 as you will need their help a lot during that time period.   Overall the recovery will likely take 3-6 months with lots of physical and emotional ups and downs.  Some lucky types recover in 5-6 weeks... but very few.  But with a good attitude, lots of patience, a good PT program, and strict adherence to your doctor's instructions... the surgery can get your life back and you can get back to doing your job.    What kind of fusion procedure is your doctor planning to do?

    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
  • hello, chrisajensen!

    harry's words are right on!  i had l4-s1 fusion surgery last january, and the recovery process (i did have some complications, so that stunted my recovery "growth"!) has been just like harry said--full of ups, downs, and all-arounds!

    i'd like to welcome you to spine-heatlh!  please click on the following link for some helpful information to get you started!!
    welcome to spine-health
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
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  • Thanks you guys!  Posterior fusion procedure as far as I know and I will be in a back brace for awhile.  Just really concerned that the nerve damage in my leg is permanent and I am also trying to figure out my level of activity afterwards.  I know that I won't be able to do a whole lot and will probably be sleeping in the recliner (like the first surgery) again.  I haven't been able to sleep in my own bed for a couple months now already, too painful in my leg and hip if I do.  I just want my life back!!!!!
  • mfg64mfg64 Melrose, MAPosts: 18

    I am late to respond, I was going to suggest trying to get into the best shape possible prior to the surgery. 

    I think you had your surgery yesterday, so you are probably a bit sore today. I hope the surgery went well, and, as soon as you can, get up and walk. The transitions;  sitting to standing, standing to lying down, etc.  are the hardest, but get up and walk as soon as possible. 

    I hope you have a speedy, successful recovery. 

  • Whoowee, had my
    surgery on 8/16/16 as planned.  I woke up and had less pain than I had
    with my laminectomy/discectomy three years ago, it was weird.  But they
    hooked me up to a morphine pump and I stayed the full three days.  I did
    not know that they put a drain tube with a bulb in your spine to drain off
    the extra fluid and blood after the procedure to prevent hematomas, but they do
    - mine was emptied four times a day, lots of bleeding in that area.  Let's
    see, the second day I developed an area to the left of my 6 inch incision that
    was 3x4 inches and looked like I had a burn from an iron.  The
    "burn" developed a large yellow blister, has this happened to anyone
    else?  The nurses stated it was an ice burn and a nurse practitioner said
    it was a allergic reaction to the prep they used. I don’t agree with
    either of them – I think it is from the swelling around my surgical area and
    the fact that I could not have a bowel movement for 5 DAYS – I looked 9 onths
    pregnant LOL!   As far as pain goes, oh yeah, it was NOT a fun
    first two days but I was up and walking the second day.  I felt the best with my walker and brace so I
    was up walking all the time since then, even in the middle of the night.  I got NO sleep in the hospital even when they
    gave me valium.  However, I have NO hip
    pain now and my leg is not hurting like it was  - immediately after surgery I felt a
    difference.  Three hours off the pain pump and I went downhill quick just
    with the hydros so they had to add the extended release morphine of 15 mgs
    every 12 hours.  Weird part is I did not use much pump morphine so doc
    figured I would be fine just on the hydros every 4 hours.  I am on 2 hydrocodone 10/325 every 4-6 hours
    and MScontin 1 every 12 hours for now and am on day 8.  Pain has gone from 10 to 6 in last 8 days because
    I refuse to sit or stand in one position for more than 20 minutes and I walk a
    block daily for the last 4 days.  I can’t
    use a lot of ice right now because the blister did go down to smaller blisters
    but my skin tore off with the tagaderm they had me put over it – the ice makes
    it very painful, but I do use it over my incision which is glued shut.  The blister area is about 3 inches wide and 4
    inches long – is healing but is going to be one heck of a scar.  I use my walker outside of the house, always
    careful getting up and down from a sitting position, watch the stairs closely –
    they had me climb and descend stairs the second day – no problem there if you
    do it right.  The only two things that
    get on my nerves is waking up from sleeping and the pain that goes with that
    AND my walker wheels getting caught on a piece of gravel as I hobble down the
    street.  I take my medication
    religiously, watch my temperature four times a day, do minor chores that don’t
    include lifting or cleaning floors, and impatiently wait to get fully better so
    my  mother stops calling every 30 minutes
    LOL!  I will be honest, I thought this
    was the most awful surgery I had after the first day but today I can honestly
    say I would do it again and with a smile on my face because I KNOW my body and
    I am getting better daily – that is what matters!  Fingers crossed and I hope this helps you
    guys……also exlax is my best friend, plus a girl cannot complain about
    chocolate, even if it is exlax….hahahaha!

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