Already have an account?
New here? Create an account and join.
Learn how a lumbar disc herniates and
can cause lower back pain
Sciatica is leg pain caused by a
problem in the low back.
See how a disc degenerates and how it can cause pain and other symptoms
I want to provide an update of my condition as I recover from my L4-L5 TLIF. I am now at week 7.
It feels the pain in my back and legs have gotten worse over the past couple of weeks. But I have good days and bad days. On a good day, I feel like I am recovering and things are gradually better. On a bad day, I have to lay on my heating pad most of the day.
On a good day, I would say I am better after the surgery. On a bad day, I think the surgery didn't help much. But I also know I am still early in recovery. I have about 3 good days and about 3 bad days a week. Pain is about 3-4/10 on a good day and 6-7/10 on bad days. I have pain in my lower back and legs (left>right).
From what I have read in this forum, I like to be optimistic and think the ups and downs are normal and that I will continue to improve. I also think the ups and downs might be due to my efforts to do more and that I don't know when I have walked or stood too long until the next day.
I am glad to report that I have stopped all oxycontin. My only medications now are gabapentin, Tylenol, and melatonin for sleep.
I still have to sleep flat on my back and it's very hard. Some nights I don't sleep at all. Lying on my side causes pain. I can't wait until I can sleep on side again!
Inside the house, I can walk without a walker of cane. When I go outside, I prefer to use a walker, it give me support. I am still wearing my back brace. I am careful not to bend, twist, or lift.
I am writing to provide an update of my recovery. It's been 3 months since my L4-L5 fusion surgery. It was my second surgery, the first was a L4-L5 discectomy that wasn't fully successful as I had persistent severe pain.
With what I have learned from the other posts in this forum, I understand that recovery is a long process that will take many months. The phrase I use to remind myself is "It's a marathon and not a sprint." I would be totally discouraged if I didn't hold on to this perspective.
Overall, there has been a trend of gradual improvement with intermittent set backs. I am now only taking Tylenol 650 mg twice a day with gabapentin 100 mg in the morning and 200 mg at night. The pain is noticeably worse if I skip any doses. With the medications, my pain is usually about 4/10. The pain is in my lower back and left leg.
I still have the weakness and numbness in my left leg (that I had before the surgery). The pain in my right leg is minimal. I was using a cane until I realized it was causing pain my right shoulder.
Because of pain and inability to turn my body, I don't feel safe driving. I can walk about a half block before the pain gets worse and I turn back. I can only sleep flat on my back; sleeping on my side causes pain in the lower back. I have not been able to return to my desk job since I can only sit for short periods.
A most aggravating part of the recovery is that I have 2 to 3 bad days of severe 7/10 pain about twice a week. On the bad days, I'm on the couch with my heating pad most of the day. I realize these bad days usually follows days when I try to do too much (e.g. walked too long a the store; sitting too long visiting family).
I am praying that the fusion is progressing appropriately. I am still wearing a back brace because it feels better to have the extra support. I am scared to do anything that can jeopardize the fusion process so I am continuing with the BLT restrictions. I just started physical therapy last week. I will get xrays and see the neurosurgeon in 3 weeks.
I am better now than before surgery and hope the trend of improvement will continue. At the same time, I am very afraid that the spine is not fusing properly. The xrays next month will tell.
I just want to provide an update of my progress since my L4-L5 TLIF done 10/15/2018. I am now nearly 7 months post-op. I haven't written an update for awhile because I have been very frustrated. I can no longer tell if I am gradually improving or getting worse. I have good days when the pain in my low back and left leg is a little less. Then there are other days when the pain is bad all day. I can't figure out what I do that brings on the days with bad pain. I may have 3 to 4 good days one week then 1 to 1 good days the next. I also have sever pain at the end of day starting around 6:00 pm, on both good and bad days.
When I had the surgery, I was hoping I can improved to the point of returning to work. I have a desk job that requires sitting and concentration; most of my work is with a computer. Because I don't think I can work (can't sit very long) I have no choice but to apply for retirement.
I know most people would say that 7 months post-op is still early but it seems like an eternity. I hope I will continue to improve but I'm starting to have my doubts. My pain, when it's bad it about 8/10 mostly in my left leg (the same place I had pain before the surgery). I have also had some intermittent pain in both knees and at the right leg that is not severe.
I bought a new mattress and pillow and am able to sleep better. On a good day, I can probably walk a half-mile. On a bad day, I can't make it around the block. I am still having weekly PT. I also started acupuncture. My only pain medication is Tylenol two times per day. My friends have recommended a CBZ rub and I will try it.
Despite the slow and discouraging progress, I am still better now than I was before the TLIF.
I continue to remind myself that it's a marathon and not a sprint.