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TLIF Surgery & Recovery

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Old 12-05-2006, 10:41 AM   #1
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japutie HB User
TLIF Surgery & Recovery

I am having TLIF surgery on the 15th of December and have a ton of questions about the recovery. I hear so many different things. Some articles say 5 days in the hospital, and 4 to 6 weeks until you go back to work. My dr says a day or two in the hospital and I can plan on going back to work in two weeks following the surgery... is this realistic? I also have 16 month old twins and want to know how long it will be until I can pick them up again. When can I start driving, walking on stairs etc? I want to know when I can start jogging and skiing again. Is there anyone out there that has had this surgery and what was your experience with it?

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Old 12-05-2006, 06:05 PM   #2
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Suzy-Q HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

Unless there is something unusual about your surgery, I'd have to say I think this is a VERY unrealistic prognosis. The usual scenario is 12 weeks out of work and 6-12 weeks additional at part-time. Bending and lifting is the most restricted activity and a complete no-no for a minimum of 12 weeks (and impossible in a brace anyway). Most people are in hosptial for 4-7 days. And if you read a few posts here you will learn that nearly everyone finds the recovery is much harder and more involved than they ever expected no matter how good the outcome.
I had a PLIF in 2005 that failed to fuse. I was in hospital for 8 days and home for 12 weeks. My recovery was rough. I had a TLIF in June to try another shot at fusing. I am still on half-days. I could not lift a 6 month old without pain and I am almost 6 months post-op. Now, my case isn't typical but I would go back to your doc and suggest she/he get real and talk turkey so you can make an informed decision! Best of luck - Suzy-Q

Old 12-05-2006, 10:30 PM   #3
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mel1977 HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

I had a A/P LIF two years ago.
I was in the hospital for 6 days. Have to be able to get up and walk with PT, have a poop and have pain under moderate control-oh and pee w/o your foley. These are pretty basic requirements. Much depends on how your body reacts to the surgery and if there is any previous damage-you may need some inpatient rehab. I almost went to one, but didn't want to get up at six am-just wanted to go home. My apt was small enough I didn't need a walker (even though Home health brought one) and I did fine w/o hubby. He had to help me shower though, and he shaved my legs
I wore a brace for 4 months. I was out of work for four as well. It will be atleast that long til you can bend. You may or may not be in a brace-depends on your doc.
I posted above-my surgery was very successful. I couldn't be happier with that aspect, though I am having problems in other areas now (not back issues so much).
Those are the basics. Again, it will be individualized. No one goes through the same thing.
Good luck to you!

Old 12-06-2006, 04:43 AM   #4
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caszyman HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

My daughter had tlif 18 months ago. She was in the hospital for five days. She had a no bending, lifting, twisting rule for six months. She couldn't lift more than ten pounds. The idea we were given is that a gallon of milk weighs about eight pounds. So she couldn't carry multiple textbooks at school. She didn't feel like driving for two months because of the twisting. She went back to school full time about 13 weeks post op. I helped my daughter shower for a few weeks and shaved her legs, as Mel stated, for a while. Best wishes. cas

Old 12-06-2006, 11:16 AM   #5
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xzx HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

Japutie, I am having same surgery on Tuesday ( 12 dec ). My doc said the same thing, day or two in hospital and back at work two weeks later. After reading all the info and finding this site ( its a god send ) I have realized that it will be a longer recovery than what I had first thought. I am not sure how long I will be in the hospital maybe two days? Who knows!! I am just going to try to take the best care of myself, you should also. I am very nervous and scared, but I am trying to think positive!! I have little ones also, so I know how you are feeling. The best we can do is do everything we are supposed to, so we can be the best for our kids. You and I are in the same boat!!! Take care of you, I will be thinking of you.


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Old 12-06-2006, 12:17 PM   #6
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Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

Thanks for all the replies. it means alot to hear from you all. I am still nervous, but guess I am ready and feeling positive. I was considering calling the surgery off do to being nervous about the recovery. Keep telling myself "my back does not hurt that bad, and not ever all the time". Its the dang leg aches that wont go away.
I just spoke again with my dr's office last night and asked a whole list of questions. Here are some of the responses I recieved.
*I will be in the hosp. 2 days
*I will walk night of surgery
*I will hate them (the drs) for the first two weeks
*I will not wear a brace
*I am getting bone material from a cadavr and using some sort of protien(?) called bmp(?) to help the bone start to fuse better and quickly
*I will get a bone growth stimulator hooked up to me
*I will be able to do stairs when I get home
* I can pretty much start driving (as long as I am not koo-koo on too many meds), in two weeks

*PT starts after the first two weeks
*The drs know I have twins and will have to pick them up at some point and did not seem too concerned if I do it with out bending or twisting.
*jog in six months
*ski in 6 months (although that'll be tough in June... not alot of snow in June)
All in all, sounds like it wont be too bad after the first couple of weeks...
well, we'll see....
Good luck Tuesday Rose! Tell me if is sucks so I can back out : )

Old 12-06-2006, 12:28 PM   #7
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shawley HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

The wierd part when I was in the hospital the day of my surgery , my wife ask me , are you not scared ? I told her no , and she said she would be terrified . I wasn't scared at all . I figured if I was to die I would . Don't get me wrong thats the last thing I want to happen to me.

My Dr. told me I would be in and out in the same day , after my Laminectomy and L4-L5 fusion and in the O.R.for 10 hours I wasn't going home for a couple days. I was in the hospital's ICU for 5 days and told my wife I didn't feel like going home ,she laughed and said your going to be here for a while. My wife didn't bring any cloths or anything because it was supposed to be in and out. We drove 3 hours to the hospital.

I say Ditto to Suzy-Q answer's to ya. It's not that easy.
I hope it truly is easy for you but don't count on it. I don't think you will be picking up any children for a while either. Take it easy on yourself.

Old 12-06-2006, 04:32 PM   #8
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cherish1 HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

I don't know about you, but I prefer my doctor's to tell it to me straight and really give me more of a worst case scenario so I am not devastated if the results aren't phenomenal.

I am having this surgery on the 21st, and this is what I have been told:

I will wake up from surgery 100% convinced I have made the mistake of my life.

After 2 weeks, I might begin to stop cussing at the mention of my doc's name.

At one month, I will start to regain some energy and start to feel a teeny bit human. I will then have my first followup appointment.

I am under no illusion that this recovery will be easy in any way, and I appreciate the honesty. My recovery from the last 2 surgeries has been "better than normal" so I may do that this time as well. But I am certainly not counting on it and no one has led me to believe I will be able to rejoin the work force in such a small amount of time as you have been told. In my case, the doctor does not know what kind of "train wreck" he will find when he gets in there (having had a previous laminectomy/discetomy and a failed fusion with no hardware at L5-S1). This time around, I am getting the works plus a spinal growth stimulator implanted for 6 months.

Old 12-06-2006, 04:43 PM   #9
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caszyman HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

Pt got my duaghter out of bed on day two. They walked her on day three and taught her to do steps in the hospital rehab area on day four. She went home around noon on day four. It was true that just about week two she finally started to feel better. She was still stiff and walking slow, but each day improved from then on. She did not wear a brace and had donor bone without bmp. She did not wear a brace because she had instrumentation.

Her dr's orders were only to walk, walk, walk. She was able to go on the treadmill in about Nov, but he said no running. At six months he let her ice skate, but no skiing last winter. She was able to cautiously go on the snowmobile. He also let her bowl last winter. At one year he let her go tubing, but no water skiing yet. She was able to play on the tennis team this past fall. I talked to her dr last week and he said ok to snow skiing this year, cautious snowmobiling, but we both decided that kids are too much a daredevil when it comes to sledding. So the pounding on the spine would not be good for her. BTW, she is 18 months post op.

Follow your dr's orders to a tee. He knows what he wants you to do. Each dr is so different. Best wishes. cas

Last edited by caszyman; 12-06-2006 at 04:45 PM.

Old 12-06-2006, 09:53 PM   #10
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Porter107 HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

My anterior L4-L5/S1 fusion is scheduled for December 14th. I will have "Peek" cages with BMP implanted with 2 plates and 8 screws. My Dr. says I will be in the hospital about 3 or 4 days, longer if there are any complications. He says that I should return to work at about 8 weeks (which I believe is unlikely considering my job description and my employer). I will also be wearing a brace for 4 months (another reason I will unlikely be allowed to return to work by my employer). I know that every scenario for this surgery is different, but from what I have read on this forum and on the Internet in general, I believe my Dr. maybe telling me what I want to hear instead of giving it to me straight. Of course he maybe giving me "best case scenario". In any case, I will be able to go to work when I am able to go to work. I am not going to push myself into going before I am ready. The last surgery I had, I went to work way too soon and feel I never really recovered as I continued to have pain.
I hope that your recovery time goes quick and easy for you.


Old 12-07-2006, 05:42 AM   #11
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shawley HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

Look at it this way , ( I did ) You can't do anything without pain. Right ? Ok either could I. So I said to myself ," self" " your not going to be able to do anything now, so may as well do the fusion, what's the difference you can't do anything anyway." I guess I never worried about it to much. I was in so much pain I didn't care If I died. So if your not in to much pain and can go without the surgery , do it ! I wouldn't have the surgery but I couldn't work or anything because of the pain. I'm glad I had the surgery even though of my situation right now with pain.

Good Luck and don't let people scare you.

Old 12-07-2006, 08:13 AM   #12
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japutie HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

Thanks to everyone that has replied with their kind words and shared stories.

Last edited by japutie; 12-07-2006 at 10:35 AM.

Old 01-01-2007, 11:18 AM   #13
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Florida
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Zootfl HB User
Re: TLIF Surgery & Recovery

I had a PLIF of L5 and S1 on June 26, 2006. I was in the hospital for 3 days. The PTs had me walking the morning after the surgery with a walker. Once released from the hospital, I was bed ridden for about 4 days (mainly due to sleepiness from the Percocet). By the end of the first week, I was walking (slowly, but walking) around the neighborhood in my brace which I was required to wear for 3 months. I was limited to no bending or twisting at all. By the end of the 2nd week, I was walking 2 miles. I began PT a month after surgery. I went back to work on July 19th (assistant principal in an elementary school--lots of walking, stairs, lifting of books which I had others do for me). After 4 weeks, I was allowed to go to home treatment and was able to remove the brace. I am now 6 months out and going back for my 6 month visit on Wednesday. Currently, my only restrictions are lifting no more than 20 pounds, no running (for a year) and no scuba diving (for a year). Had I not asked about the last two (running and diving), I don't believe I would have been informed not to do either. Although recovery was not easy, it certainly wasn't as bad as my doctor had made it out to be. I did not feel as if I had been hit by a Mack truck, maybe just a small Ford F250! I will tell you that I firmly believe my recovery was made easier due to a ton a pre-surgery activities (lots of walking and LOTS of Pilates to strengthen core muscles). My physical therapists did confirm that the pilates were what helped me finish physical therapy so quickly.

I think every person's recovery is different and that my was sped up by the fact that I hate being sick and I'm EXTREMELY impatient so I pushed myself to do the physical therapy and walking even when I didn't really feel like it.

I would certainly do it again. The recovery has been 1,000 times better than the pain I was in prior to the surgery--AND my activities (limited though they are) are not limited nearly as much. Good luck to you.

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