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ALIF L4-S1 w/ Hardware, 5 Weeks Post-op (first post)

Started by richard21040 on 03/05/2010 11:22am

Hello everyone. I have been a long time reader of the boards here but this is actually my first post so i'll include a little background info.
38yr old male, medium build, 180lbs, physically fit, Maintanance mechanic/ manager for residential housing and apartments(type of job)

Initally hurt my back in fall '07, while I was working on unclogging a kitchen sink. I stood up felt a little pinch, when I picked up the 30lbs drain snake machine I was dropped to my knees with extream pain in my back and down my left leg. Never had I felt this sensation but being a hard ass I went n with my day figuring that it would go away on it's own. Unfortunatlly it didnt and it was nessasary to go to my Dr. after a day or so off, and medication (HYDROCODONE AND FLEXRIL) I returned to work. My pain was still there but again I sucked it up and took my meds to do my job. Dr had an MRI done and found that I had torn my L-4 disk. For the following yr or so I would have minor flair ups from time to time that were always easily managed with some pain meds and muscle relaxors.

May 09, early evening, I slipped on a wet hillside and landed on my butt. I had maybe 15lbs of stuff in my hands when i slipped. Again when I got up I felt some discomfort but I needed to finish my task at hand. That evening the pain increaseed...by morning I could hardly get out of bed. The pain was similar to 07 but MUCH MUCH worse, pain traveling down to my left foot, and numbness in places on the left leg and foot. Went to the Dr, this time in addition to a few days off and meds I eventually was put in Physical Therapy, and another MRI. PT seemed to help a little some times and make things worse other times. This time the MRI now was showing l4 disk tear as well as l5 disk tear.

At this point my Dr sent me to see a neuro surgon because he felt he had done all he could. The NS imediatly told me that surgery could be an option but they wanted to try OTHER treatments first and I was sent to a pain management Dr.

The PM Dr chaged the meds a bit at the first apt. Decreasing the hydrocodone (CANT TOLERATE OXICODONE AT ANY LEVEL) added morphine, changed muscle relaxors from flexeril to soma and adding neuotin. Although the med change did make a small diff in the "leg burn" I was still a 7-8 on the pain scale while medicated. We then tried a few epidural lumbar injections, with vrtualy no improvement at all and a selective nerve root block(theraputic) which only lasted 4-5 days at best. Back to the neurosergon I was sent.

The recomendation on a double fusion L4-S1 was made and concidering I had listened to every Dr order without much if any relief I was all for it .....6months back I'd have never even concidered it!

Jan 26th 2010 was the big day. Imediatly after the surgery, not even out of recovery unit, I had noticed that my left leg felt "better" no numbness in my foot, that put a smile on my face. The next 2 days, I wasnt smiling as much lol. The worst being the abdominal pain.

By the time I went home and a week had passed, I felt as if I was doing GREAT. Only rehab at this point is a few minor leg stretches and extentions...and WALKING. Walking started out slowly(circles in the house) and now I can do a good 45min or so at the local mall. Although the ride to the mall isnt good, the walking makes it worth it as it is the only way I have to get rid of my nerve burn in the leg.

First 3 weeks, I could tell almost every day that I was getting better and better. Last week the rapid healing feeling has stopped...not noticing the "better than yesterday" feeling. My leg pain is nomnal 3-4, def bareable in concideration of what i was feeling prior. My back pain is what it is PAIN... 6-8 on avg with medication...again thats a bit better tan the 7-9 I constantly had.

So week 5. Feeling ok...back pain for some reason is very high today 8-9...but i had alot of sitting to do the last 24hrs hope thats why.

So how long will I be unable to work, hike, have sex? Guess i will have to wait till next week to ask my Dr at the 6 week followup.

In essance, I wanted to say hello to everyone and thank everyone for thier posts...reading others issues always helps. I feel that I have had a successfull ALIF at this point but at times I think I havent because of the pain that i feel from time to time can be very intence. I want to be myself again, hope I'm still in here somewhere, but how long and with what restrictions?

Do you find this discussion helpful?

1 Response


Hi Richard

I'm only new here and yet to introduce myself.

I had L4-5 ALIF nearly 5 months ago which has been successful.

For only 5 weeks out, you're doing really well and keep up the walking and resting.

I had to take pain meds continuously for 2 months, and then only for breakthrough pain. When I had decompression surgery in 2008, I needed 3 months off work. I retired a year ago, but going on my pain levels with this surgery, I would have needed 4-5 months off.

We all heal at different rates and so you'll need to be very patient, which is easier said than done. Do observe the no bending, lifting, twisting restrictions. Have you got a grabber? I found that very useful for the first couple of months. Don't be in a hurry to move forward but let your body heal at its own rate.

Wishing you all the best for your recovery.