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Lumbar fusion L4/L5 - 5 month follow-up

I am writing this as a follow up to my surgery 5 months ago in April. I notice that most people post prior to surgery and maybe just after. In addition most of the posts are negative due to them either having issues or unrealistic expectations. The people who do well just move on. I felt like it was the correct thing to do to add my experience.

I had surgery in late April for Lumbar Fusion L4/L5. It was done minimally invasive. I had bad sciatica, walking issues, back pain, drop foot, numbness in my toes you name it. It had gotten to the point of no return and I knew if I didn't take action it might become permanent. After much research I found a very highly regarded surgeon in my area (Yonkers, NY) who took my insurance (GHI). He was the chief of surgery and only did spine surgery. He read my MRI and very quickly diagnosed the issue as degenerative spondylolisthesis with the disc impinging on the nerve. When I looked this up he hit it right on the nose. The symptoms were me to a tee. He recommended surgery and a few weeks later I was under the knife. My back was very sore right after surgery but that was to be expected. He made me walk the first day and I went home the next day. I only took the Percoset for the first week and very little as the first few days passed. You don't want to mess too much with that stuff. I took Tylenol after that.  Luckily I am good with pain.

Over the course of the next few weeks I made it a point to initially walk in the house and then after the first week go outside and walk more everyday. The first week was very tough as my stamina and legs were weak. In short time I improved steadily. I was driving in a month. I stayed out of work almost 3 months as I was fortunate to have banked lots of time so I used it. It is now almost 5 months post op and I am doing great. No more drop foot, no more toe numbness, my walking gait is back to virtually normal, legs are stronger and I am feeling more and more like myself. My back still gets stiff from time to time if I am laying down but I am sure that too will improve. I had a 3rd follow-up yesterday and the x-rays were perfect. The fusion is very strong and  he said I can get more active again.

I have written this specifically so people can see that some and probably most do very well. You do not have live in pain. Do your research, find the right doctor. Don't settle. Get a spine specialist. During the rehab period be as active as you reasonably can. Listen to your body but push yourself a little. The worst thing you can do is lay down all the time and take narcotics. I really think that for me choosing the minimally invasive surgery and walking was the key.

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Comments

  • Great to here! Yes a positive STORY! THANK YOU!
    linda
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 996
    edited 10/05/2016 - 6:29 PM

    Dennis

    Good on you.... great story.

    What kind of proceed did your surgeon use for your lumbar fusion??

    For long term success please remember to adjust your lifestyle to "be kind to your back" for the rest of your life.  No more aggressive sports, lifting heavy suitcases, etc...  This is a key factor for patients achieving long term success which hopefully your doctor mentioned to you.   Your back is better... but it's no longer the same structure as when you were 25 years old.   A lot of the degeneration is still continuing and further problems can and will develop without a new "be kind to your back" lifestyle.

    Also it's good to keep up the daily walking once you are healed... there is nothing better for the well being of your mind and body than daily exercise.  For me it's swimming... but walking is also a great daily activity.

    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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  • great news and good story to read. Thank you for the inspiring words.
  • RAMRRAM FloridaPosts: 72
    Thank you for following up and telling us your story. Happy to hear you are doing so well.
  • victorrvvictorr Tampa bay,FloridaPosts: 18
    Hey S, great positive outcome,you're  from my neck of the woods,I grew up in Mt.Vernon,on Bond St.,I also had a fusion at L4-L5,but I didn't have a choice,I also had a cyst at L4 that he had to remove so he did open back surgery,big difference in the recovery,I'll be 6 weeks post op. on Tuesday and am feeling great! Good luck with your recovery and stay moving .
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  • Thank you. I will soon have surgery and your positive post helps me
  • sgguitarzzssgguitarzz Yonkers, NYPosts: 6

    Okay guys here is a follow up. It has now been 10 months since my surgery and I continue to do great and improve. Pain is virtually a thing of the past. I live my life and finally have a life again. I am almost 63 so I don't anticipate heavy sports or heavy lifting etc. You have to be sensible. I am not 21 anymore and this surgery didn't change that lol.  However the quality of life I have now is infinitely better. Living with pain is not fun as I am sure you all know. I am not sure if it is okay to mention/recommend doctors by name but if anyone would like to know who I used I would be happy to provide that via email. I know I was very lucky. I was truly afraid of what may happen if things went wrong but I also knew it was something that had to be done. Do your research and hopefully find someone who takes your insurance. When I saw the bills for everything I was blown away but in the end all I was responsible for was a $300 hospital copay.

    Finally in the end it was the best decision I ever made. Once again I write this to encourage those in pain that help is available. Too much negativity on these forums scares people away. There are good outcomes as well.

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