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Old 11-21-2012, 07:30 PM   #1
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Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

I am having PLIF L4-S1 discs removed and fused with hardware 28 Nov. would like to here from others who have had this surgery and what their experience with results and also how recovery went?

I have severe DDD, bone spurs and narrowing of canal. Have had low back pain for many years, but last five have become unbearable. I have difficulty walking and sitting for any time more then 20 minutes, constant weakness in my left leg with numbness and bouts of sharp stabbing pain. Getting out of a chair is challenging at times and often go into spasms while trying to stand from seated position. Also have some retrolithis (sp) at L4/5.

I had C4-7 ACDF in May of this year and while the surgery was a success and relieved most of my neck pain, the recovery was not fun and just thinking this surgery for my back is going to be much worse.

Bob

 
Old 11-21-2012, 11:24 PM   #2
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

[QUOTE=odsoju;5092796]I am having PLIF L4-S1 discs removed and fused with hardware 28 Nov. would like to here from others who have had this surgery and what their experience with results and also how recovery went?

I have severe DDD, bone spurs and narrowing of canal. Have had low back pain for many years, but last five have become unbearable. I have difficulty walking and sitting for any time more then 20 minutes, constant weakness in my left leg with numbness and bouts of sharp stabbing pain. Getting out of a chair is challenging at times and often go into spasms while trying to stand from seated position. Also have some retrolithis (sp) at L4/5.

I had C4-7 ACDF in May of this year and while the surgery was a success and relieved most of my neck pain, the recovery was not fun and just thinking this surgery for my back is going to be much worse.

Bob[/QUOTE]

Hi odsoju, Welcome to healthboards! As I recall, there are 7+ members who have undergone recent similar surgery & are in various stages of recovery now. Some have posted since before their surgeries, and are still posting there recoveries. You may want to put in search any keywords to find their threads where many have offered their support & experiences. Or browse the lists of the back problems board.Remember that people that recover without incident may not post. Thank you for joining us. You will find many helpful, caring people here. Thank you, gmak

 
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:54 PM   #3
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

First of all, welcome to the boards. I am fused L3-L5. My experience has been quite good with the healing process. My fusions were done at separate times. I had one in February and the other in June. However, I did get a staph infection in March, but it was only a minor complication. My pain is mostly gone. I do have some low back pain every now and then. Its not anything real bad. I don't take anymore pain meds. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that not everyone has a terrible outcome from getting a fusion. You will be in pain for a while after the surgery. After all it is a major surgery. So don't get discouraged if it feels like your recovery is going slower than it should be. Fusions are long slow healing process.

 
Old 11-23-2012, 07:06 AM   #4
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

I've not had cervical surgery so have nothing to compare my experiences to....but you can expect the first several days to be quite uncomfortable. They will get you up about 12 hours post surgery and you will be walking. When you get home, you will want to mostly rest, interspersed with talking short, frequent walks.

Walking will be your main activity for the first several months. The reason it is so important in the first 12 weeks is that it stretches out the spinal nerves in the lower lumbar area, which helps to keep scar tissue from attaching as it is forming and filling in. For this reason, it is best to take many short walks rather than one or two longer walks. Also it helps to keep the sciatic nerve from flaring up and keeps you from tiring out.

Do you know if your surgeon wants his patients in a brace post surgery? Where is the graft coming from?

Since your nerves have been compressed for so many years, I hope the surgeon told you that this fusion will be primarily to stabilize the area to prevent further degeneration. It should relieve some of your pain, but it is doubtful you will end up pain-free. But the pain should be significantly reduced.

I'm happy to answer any specific questions you have. There is a "stickie note" near the top of the back board page entitled something like "Post-surgery Must-Haves." It lists things people have found useful to have during recovery. You might want to read through it as it gives you some insight into what life is like immediately post surgery when you cannot bend or twist at the waist and will have movement issues.

Some people find a raised toilet seat to be very useful. Also, be sure to stock up on high fiber fruits, vegetables, juices, etc. as constipation is something that will become an issue from all the pain medications. A stool softener is handy to have on hand. With lower lumbar surgery, you will not want to have to strain.

Also be sure you have some comfortable pants to wear. Most people find jeans or any pants with a structured waist band very uncomfortable.

 
Old 11-24-2012, 07:21 AM   #5
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

Hi odsuju, i still find jeans pull on my legs making it harder on my back. Thanks, gmak

 
Old 11-24-2012, 11:32 AM   #6
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

Hello and welcome Odsoju,
I had ACDF C 4-5 Aug 04, 2012, it went well but recovery was hard the first month, or two. I am now at 2 weeks 4 days Post Op L-5 S1 TLIF, nov 6, 2012.. Again recovery is painful and slow at first, but i am doing better each day. My muscle relaxer is my best friend second only to my pain meds. The raised tiolet seat was a extremely important tip. A grabber stick is important too. I find i can not wear anything but loose draw string pants that i can wear lower than my incisions. I have had help both times for at least two weeks after surgery. I really couldnt have been alone. And the constipation is an ongoing PIA. See my humor is returning slowly.
I wish you well, these boards really helped me and i hope they will help you too!
Agw

 
Old 11-25-2012, 08:18 AM   #7
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

Thanks all for your experience and recommendations. I looked at the raised toilet seat attachments and don't see how a 5 inch raise will help much, has anyone seen a raised seat taller than that?

How is sitting in a recliner after low lumber surgery? I have a very comfy couch that reclines, it was ok for my cervical surgery, except for getting up from it mainly due to the muscle spasms in my neck. Bob.

 
Old 11-25-2012, 08:20 AM   #8
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

Thanks all for your experience and recommendations. I looked at the raised toilet seat attachments and don't see how a 5 inch raise will help much, has anyone seen a raised seat taller than that?

How is sitting in a recliner after low lumber surgery? I have a very comfy couch that reclines, it was ok for my cervical surgery, except for getting up from it mainly due to the muscle spasms in my neck. Bob.

 
Old 11-25-2012, 08:37 AM   #9
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

Odsoju,
The raised seat does help. The whole situation of trying to get your behind down low is really hard when your muscles are so traumatized. I am still using mine, anything to assist is a good thing. I do not have a recliner, so I can not answer that question, but I can sit up in most chairs but I do not like to rest my back against the chair without a soft very soft pillow in between.
hope this helps!
Agwhitten

 
Old 11-25-2012, 09:48 AM   #10
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

The use of a recliner really depends upon your surgeon. Some are very much opposed to their use as they often do not provide adequate support in the right places...and bend the person in the wrong places.

You may find that most couches and upholstered chairs sink down too much to be comfortable (or healthy for you). In the early stages of recovery, sitting is not encouraged beyond about 15 minutes at a time. You should spend most of your time walking or in a more reclined position but well supported ...which is most conveniently done in a bed.

 
Old 11-25-2012, 11:47 AM   #11
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Smile Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

[QUOTE=teteri66;5094318]The use of a recliner really depends upon your surgeon. Some are very much opposed to their use as they often do not provide adequate support in the right places...and bend the person in the wrong places.

You may find that most couches and upholstered chairs sink down too much to be comfortable (or healthy for you). In the early stages of recovery, sitting is not encouraged beyond about 15 minutes at a time. You should spend most of your time walking or in a more reclined position but well supported ...which is most conveniently done in a bed.[/QUOTE]

Yes! yes, this is true I am either up walking around or lying on the couch with support for my knees ( which are killing me) or sitting in my computer chair for only about 15min at a time.
Sitting was the problem before surgery too. Walking always helps me but at some point you have to sit down...

 
Old 11-25-2012, 08:51 PM   #12
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

I know people who have slept in a recliner rather than a bed post lumbar fusion surgery. My surgeon reacted strongly to that idea when I asked him about it.

I too used my computer chair post surgery. I had already purchased a top-notch, well-designed one a year or so ago, and it was the only chair I sat in post surgery for months. It still is the most "healthy" chair in my house...but I do sit in other chairs and couches now...which I probably shouldn't do.

 
Old 12-08-2012, 07:00 AM   #13
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

Well I'm now 10 days post op from my L4-S1 laminectomy, dicscetomy and L4-S1 PLIF. Surgery went well, no problems with coming out of general anesthesia. When I woke up I was in lots of pain but was told to expect that. I had a morphine drip ordered and attached to my IV. I don't fell that it was giving me much pain relief and nurse added oral pain meds which eventually started to work. By end of the day an ortho came by to try and get me walking, it didn't go so well. Almost immediately I started having severe spasms in my low back and my legs began shaking uncontrollably. Needless to say that end the walk attempt for the day.

Spasms continued the rest of night and into next day and they could not find the right combination of meds to help control them and the associated pain. Day two I could only get out of bed to the end of the bed, I could not believe the pain and I can push through pain, but this I couldn't. Day three was better meds finally fine tuned to control everything , I was able to walk with a walker to nurses station maybe 40 yards from my door. Day four much better and was discharged.

Getting in/out of car was tuff, having an SUV type vehicle would have been easier I think. Moving about house a small challenge with the walker, getting the 5" toilet seat riser is a life saver, makes a big difference.

Still dealing with post surgery pain but feel it is beginning to lighten up a little. As for pre surgery pain relief it's still early for me to tell, I am having more pain in my left buttocks and legs than I did prior, but with all the muscle and nerve moving around during surgery I'm not overly concerned at this time. Just need to continue to relax and follow doctors orders and let the body heal it self. This surgery however is no joke and I hope the pain and discomfort I'm going through now pays off.

Will try to keep updating during recovery.

Bob

 
Old 12-08-2012, 08:47 AM   #14
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Re: Recovery from L4/S1 PLIF

Bob, i hope each day bring more pain relef. My post op pain was strong.. And in places i did not have prior to surgery. Muscle spasams were the worst. It was week three and four before i began to have much positive attitude and relief. Be patient, dont let your muscle relaxers run out. It is hard to catch back up, i know from experience!
Walk as much as you can lying still makes you more stiff and tight. My family began calling me the duck target as i paced back and forth behind the couch as we watched tv.
I am sending you healing positive thoughts. This forum helped me when i needed it and i hope i can Do the same!!

 
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