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Has anybody had a lumbar laminectomy and a coflex interspinous spacer procedure?

Started by BBJ on 06/25/2018 12:50am

I have lumbar spinal stenosis, with a pinched nerve root at the L5 joint, also spondylolisthesis with L4 over L5, also osteoarthritis in lumbar spine.

I am scheduled to have a lumber laminectomy (supposedly minimally invasive) along with insertion of an interspinous spacer (Coflex) device. This will be performed by a neurosurgeon in their surgical facility. It will be an outpatient procedure. They tell me I will be up and walking before I go home the same day.

My primary concern is what happens after I go home? I live alone, so I am wondering just how much pain I will experience and how much I will be able to do for myself. Has anybody had this type of procedure? If so, what was your experience (if done as outpatient) the next few days afterwards? Were you able to take care of yourself, or did you need somebody there with you to help you?

I am very concerned about being able to perform just basic activities of daily living, such as using the toilet, preparing meals by myself, walking by myself, dressing by myself, etc. , the next day after the surgery plus the next week after surgery. They tell me I can drive after 4 days. That sounds encouraging. But I'm just wondering what else I can do.

Any experiences?

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4 Responses


I had this same procedure at same level on July 9. I was up walking that afternoon but scheduled to stay overnight. Ran into some complications with fainting and ended up in hospital 4 nights. Regardless of the complications, I definitely needed help the first week home. Stopped using the walker after a day or two but can’t bend over which made it hard to do everyday things. Also, can only walk short distances. Hope your surgery goes well


Lauren's, thank you for posting. I will be very interested in how your recovery goes. I am beginning to think that mine will be longer than I anticipated. I was up and walking as soon as I woke up. The nurse got me up to see if I could pee by myself. I couldn't, so she had to put in a catheter just to empty my bladder. But she took it out as soon as that was done. I am not having any trouble with my legs. I can walk fine without the walker. But there is so much pain in the incision area and around it . I find this constant pain is very depressing. I had to double up on my pain med. I don't like doing that, because that stuff makes me feel weird and I don't seem to have much of an appetite. I finally had a bowel movement yesterday, but that was probably because I took something to help get my bowels moving. I have to make myself get up and walk. Right now, I'm just walking around the house. I haven't been out for a long walk yet. I guess I need to try to do that. Being here alone doesn't help, either. I have to figure out ways to do things by myself without bending or twisting. But sometimes I can't help but bend just a little bit to get up and down from a chair or from the toilet. To me, this is a very depressing situation I find myself being in. I guess I just need to have more patience and realize it's not going to be as quick a recovery as I thought.


BBJ, I can relate. Much more painful and slower recovery progress than I had thought as well. Not sure when you had yours , but can tell you I am 2 weeks post surgery tomorrow, and this past week was better than the first. First week I was doubling up on pain meds as well. And yes they made me loopy. Took about a week for appetite to return. Feel like I should be able to do more than I can but when I do I feel it afterwards and my incision had drainage so nurse told me to slow it down. Only comfortable position is laying on my side and feel like a slug! I do get up several times a day and walk around. Sitting hurts so only do it to eat. I had to manage my expectations and realize it will be slower than I thought. Hard not to feel down but we need to keep a positive attitude. Is anyone further along in the recovery process? BBJ, do you have someone who can check your incision and any drainage?


Lauren's, thank you for your post. I have had somebody come and check my incision every day except yesterday, which was Sunday. So far, there has been no drainage at the incision site. I understand your statement that the only comfortable place you can get in is the bed. That is exactly where I'm at. I can lay on my side with a pillow between my knees. Sitting in a chair has become a real pain for me. I cannot lean back in the chair because when my incision touches the back of the chair, it is painful. I am feeling like a slug, too. I feel like I am so restricted .

My surgery was one week ago, and I am going back to the doctor for a follow-up tomorrow (Tuesday). I have lots of questions for him. I have caught myself bending over to do things I normally do, without thinking, and then I feel like, "Oh, my God, I have pulled this thing out of whack." I am feeling pain on the left side of my incision area. I think that's where he had to do most of the laminectomy. I am so afraid that I'm going to do something to dislodge the coflex device and cause it to move. I find it very depressing when you can't do much of anything and you're by yourself. I am walking, but just around the house. I don't know how much walking they expect me to be doing at this point.

I am having more pain than I expected. It took a whole week to get my bowels moving again. I had to take a lot of stuff to get that going. If I am having this kind of pain with a minimally invasive procedure, then I cannot imagine what people are going through if they had a much more invasive procedure and a larger incision. They told me I could drive after 4 days. That's not happening, because I can't lean back against the seat of the car. I am just very frustrated and depressed right now. I hope and pray that it will get better. I will post again after I see my surgeon Tuesday. Maybe I can give you some helpful information.