12 Weeks Post ALIF - Success Story

I want to share my story for those of you considering fusion but are hard pressed to find a success story. I was injured almost 6 years ago. I herniated L5-S1 falling down stairs. I endured extensive pain and managed via injections, hard workouts, and antiinflamatory medications. I was offered fusion when I first was injured but after reading so many failed fusion stories I was honestly petrified. About a year ago when injections stopped lasting and my injury was impacting basic day to day activities, I made the decision to proceed with fusion. I had an updated MRI, was told I had zero disc remaining, had stenosis, and no space between my vertabrae. I have never been so nervous and scared. I worked out up until the day I went into the OR. I even PRed an olympic lifting complex 2 days before surgery. I share this because I believe my core strength was a huge factor in my surgery success and was one of the only reasons I was even functional before I had surgery. I had fusion on Feb 7th. I was in the hospital 2 nights. I came home to my husband and 3 small boys (ages 6, 3,1). I needed no real assistance when I got home for my own personal care. I drove and was off pain meds by Feb. 13th.  It was a couple of weeks before I was able to be left alone with the boys. Mostly because of the lifting restriction and the 1 year old is still in a crib and diapers. I took a full 5 weeks off of work from my stressful management/desk job, but if I was not being paid at 100% for my time off I could have went back at 2-3 weeks. I am grateful I was able to take the 5 weeks and was very well rested when I went back to work. I was walking 3-4 miles every other day from the day I got out of the hospital and have not stopped walking. I added some basic body weight movements at 6 weeks per my Doctor (incline pushups, squats, steps up, various stretches). At around 10 weeks I started slow jogging, spinning class, planks, and a few other stretches. Yesterday I went to my 12 week follow up. I am basically pain free. I still have muscle tightness and was told that will continue to improve with exercise and stretching. My Doctor released me to start my full exercise program from presurgery. Today I did some very light weightlifting (snatch, clean and jerk, and front squat). I was tired and my muscles and balance will take time to get back in shape, but my back feels wonderful. I kept it very light/around 50 percent of my previous PR weights and focused on form and good movement. I could not be happier with the surgery outcome and the impact it is having on my life. My only regret is waiting so long. My Doctor did tell me that he has seen people with the exact same injury and same anatomy as me and they did not have a successful outcome. He said a huge part to success is putting in the hard work needed to recover and having a positive outlook and attitude. I am also very young (just turned 40) for this surgery. I think that also helped with my outcome. This surgery has been life changing for me in so many ways. I am so very grateful for the outcome even though I still have a long road ahead to get to where I want to be long term with my fitness but things are going in the right direction. 



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 3,403

    Thank you so much for the success story. I have bookmarked this discussion to pass onto other members looking for a success story. But your successful outcome was due to your hard work before and after surgery and your positive outcome, just as your doctor stated. You should be very proud of yourself.
    I really hope you continue to improve and regain all of your strength, those little boys need their mom 24/7.

    Again, thank you so much for posting this.

  • Thank you. I was not trying to "toot my own horn" but wanted to share a story of success since it can be difficult to come across. I almost cancelled several times in the weeks leading up to the surgery. If I can help even one person have a better outcome or make a positive life changing decision, then sharing my perspective was a positive thing :)

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  • This gives me a little hope. I am not the most in shape... but I am not horribly out of shape. I don't exercise per se but I walk my dog, up and down a lot at my job (teacher). I am more sedentary since my accident last year. I used to do yoga etc. I have gone through 3 rounds of PT and the exercises make me feel worse, so I slack on them. I guess I should do them with more fidelity. I am 47, don't smoke and am in relatively good health (except for my back). Neurosurgeon recommended a level 1 fusion at L4/L5  ALIF. He said 3-6 weeks recovery, with 80% chance of full recovery to very little pain. I keep reading horror stories and people telling me not to do it and wait. Last summer prior to the accident I just started jogging again, and my goal was to jog every other day on my summer break and get up to 3 miles. But the pain post-accident hindered that. Luckily I haven't gained any weight, but I could stand to lose about 10 lbs. I am glad the surgery served you well! My heartbreak was not being able to hold my grandson after he turned 5 months old. He is such a chunk. At 19 months old (now) he is almost 35 lbs. I can't babysit for my daughter because I cannot lift him or chase around the house. The accident changed my life. 

  • This makes me have a little hope, I'm having ALIF on L5 S1 on August 27th (2018) I'm so scared. I'm planning on taking 4 weeks off after surgery,  I am a nanny to triplets who will be starting kindergarten but my job is changing and  I will now be cleaning the house and getting the kids off the bus in the afternoons. My doctor hasn't told me anything about this surgery, matter of fact I had to Google the surgery to find out what it's called..only info he gave me is that recovery is 8 to 10 weeks...I don't really want to waste my time with PT (I had a bad experience when I had foot surgery in 2017 and it didn't help at all) so I will probably just look up some things to do. I've been dealing with this pain since 2003 when i herniated a disc and in April of this year I tore that disc plus I have DDD and scoliosis. I feel like I'm in good health besides my back problems so hopefully I will have a quick recovery.

  • I believe the L5-S1 ALIF fusion in this thread, is the same procedure Tiger Woods has last winter. I saw an interview where he said the first 3 months after his procedure were rough just getting out of bed, and HE NEEDED HELP.    This for a premier athlete.  

    Jeoder - pretty amazing and encouraging story, definitely bookmarking this. I don’t know you or tiger, but based on what I read on the internet today you’re recovery even outdid a world class athlete.  

    Revans - personally I would suggest you reconsider not going to PT.  This is not a simple surgery, this is major surgery.  While mine recently was 3 level ALIF L3-S1, with no immediate relief, the opposite and many complications plus a second Posterior surgery 12 days later, when I finally was allowed to book PT by insurance in June after 6 weeks! , I switched Therapists as I just was not responding as I expected.  In 2 sessions at the new place, I’m already feeling more positive, seeing results but better yet being challenged, and really glad I made a change. 

     My point? I don’t know, I just want to play golf again, like Tiger lol. 

    Seriously, I started on this site looking for 3 level success stories.  Haven’t found many, but understand the successes move on so thanks for posting your single level fusion success Jeoder.  

    My surgeon promised he’d have me back on the course at some point, if I followed his instructions perfectly. Revans, I’ve had exactly the same experiences as you in the past with other lesser surgeries, and elected to do my own exercises at home, and spend my PT copay on therapeutic massage, and got much better results with a good LMT than a drive thru (finding a good PT is key too).   Everyone I spoke to that has been through this surgery has been given instructions to be followed like a T, and those that didn’t were sorry they didn’t listen to their surgeon, as they had to go back for revisions.   This extends down to the physical therapists too, they are part of a team and hopefully your best advocate (on top of the patient maintaining a positive attitude).  

    Good luck

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