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Home from the Hospital after Open TLIF (miserable first few days)

Started by bradw on 12/22/2012 11:14pm

This is my first post and I wanted to get some of your experiences to compare to my own. I'm five days post-op from an L5-S1 open TLIF. I have two incisions, one about six inches long for the bone graft and one about eight inches for the spine surgery. This was my first spine surgery and I'm a 33 yo male. I herniated the disc lifting weights two years ago and have tried two rounds of physical therapy and a few rounds of epidural steroid injections with no relief. Finally settled on surgery after the pain meds quit helping,

My pain has been horrible so far, but things have been settling down the past few days. I spent three nights in the hospital. I woke up in recovery in tremendous pain. I was trembling with tears streaming down my face. I was in recovery for over two hours because it took them so long to get my pain at a tolerable level. After I got to my room, they put me on a PCA pump with 0.2mg of dilaudid every 10 mins. They started me with 5mg of oxycodone orally every four hours, but that quickly went to 20mgs of oxy along with flexiril alternating every two hours with 1mg IV dilaudid. The pain was still barely tolerable. After 48 hours they removed the PCA pump and within four or five hours the pain started to elevate tremendously until I was shaking, sweating and gripping the rails of the bed with tears running down my face. It took two calls to the doctor and two injections in 3 hours to get it back to a tolerable level. After that I was still on the oxycodone and flexiril, but they changed the dilaudid from 1mg IV to 4mgs intramuscular. By the morning of the fourth day things were starting to settle down a little and now at home five days post op I can’t believe how much better things are. A few days ago I thought I would be in tremendous pain for weeks, but it's a miracle what a difference a few days make.

Prior to the surgery I expressed my concern of having a difficult time controlling my pain because I had been on pain meds for so long (10mg lortab four times daily for two years) to everyone I talked to from the doctor and anesthesiologist to the nurses at the hospital for my pre-op testing, but they all said I would be fine and I would be perfectly comfortable. I know they were giving me tons of medicine and the nurses at the hospital were wonderful, but I never felt like I was "perfectly comfortable" until the third night. It has been a brutal experience so far, but I'm moving much more with less pain and starting to not need my walker anymore. Tomorrow I'm hoping to go walking outside for as long as I can (I know I should have been already). The doctor wants me walking two miles a day by the time I see him in five weeks. I hope the back and leg pain I have been suffering with for two years will soon be better and the whole experience will have been worth it.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my experience with the community and see if anyone has had similar experiences.

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6 Responses


Hello Brad..

Glad you are starting to feel better....I am 2 months post-op from laminectomy..diskectomy and fusion with 2 rods 4 screws on L3-4....It was a very painful surgery...but you definitely had more pain meds than I did.../they gave me oxy and morphine..but not enough..but I got through it..I guess after giving birth 4 times makes things a little easier..lol...I am now on hydrocodone...tinzanidine...naproxen...cymbalta and now topomax....My legs are still bad...I have very bad left leg pain and electricity..vibrations and loads of muscle twitches in my legs....I am hoping that it goes away with time like the doctor said..He told me that he gave me a good decompression and can't understand why I am still having issues but he also said I need time to heal....I hope so..and I hope I didn't go through this for nothing...I pray all the time...The topomax is new..I just started it last night and it takes 3 weeks to work up to the 100 mg...I am praying that it works...It stinks living like this but what can I do...hope all works out with you...its a long road...



Thank you for your comments. It suprises me you are on naproxen. My doctor told me anti-inflammatories work against the fusion process. Anyway, I hope things go well for your recovery. It really suprised me how much medication it took to get my pain at a tolerable level.


hello brad I had the same op only they did all L1thruL4 and fixed my back where it was broke. It is painful I have 8screws and 2 rods. it takes a while to really feel betr dont over do it but walking helps me. I have a whirlpool that helps also. Its been a year ago since mine was done. I was on vicoden but I am much pain free every now and then I will sleep wrong and have a muscle ache. but most the time I feel great. the less you set the more stiffness you will have. I cant bend like I use to I have to squat or go down on one knee. once you do that your back will heal faster. good luck. and be careful not to fall.


hi brad I was wondering if you were wearing a brace when walking or out of bed? also maybe your doctor has mentioned it but are you getting a bone stimulater for to help your fusion grow? ask your doc. take care happy walking.


Hi Brad,
Kind of had same surgery. I am at almost 4 weeks after surgery and feeling alot better. Still on oxycodone. Take it every 4 hrs. I have been trying to take one pill 30 mg every 6 hours. After 4 hours it starts to be acky. But I try to last 6Hrs. Moving alot better. but very cautious. When your body seems to be held by screws anything makes you nervous. i had 3 incisions. 2 in my back and one in the front. Finally healing.


I have the same issue with trying to get my pain meds to last 6 hours. I'm on 1-2 10mg Percocet every 6 hrs. They only last about 4 hrs at the most and I have to take 2 each time. I'm almost 2 weeks post surgery and will probably run out of meds in another 5 days or so. I will be running out when I'm supposed to. Hopefully the doctor won't have a problem refilling my meds. Has anyone had a problem with their doctor refilling their meds?

I over did it trying to help my wife put together scooters for my boys Christmas. Ever since I have had burning nerve pain in my calf that was never there before the surgery. Has anyone had new nerve pain after surgery? My doctor prescribed neurontin for the nerve pain. I've heard it has some bad side effects. Has anyone had any issues with neurontin?