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L3-4 and L4-5 Laminectomy and Fusion

I had my Lumbar surgery 1 month ago, and for several months before, spent alot of time on this forum looking for others experiences with this type of operation. Feeling pretty good if anyone is looking for more info before their surgery like I was...just ask!



  • challengercchallenger Posts: 2,306
    edited 07/18/2019 - 4:18 PM


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    Glad your surgery was a success, feel free to jump in and participate in discussions


  • Me... me... me! Having L3-L4-L5 fused on the 17th.

    Did you need a walker after surgery? I'm not quite 5'5" will I really need a toilet riser? Are you still in a brace? How much "stuff" do you have on your kitchen counter because you can't bend for anything? How difficult is it to put on clothes by yourself? Have you started PT? Can you drive? 

    Thanks, and yes, I will likely have more questions. I had my "Surgical Readiness" visit at the hospital today, and it is starting to get real!

    PS Please tell me you're an old couch potato, not a strapping young athlete! I never was a strapping young athlete, and at 63, the couch and I are really, really good friends. 

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,713
    edited 07/31/2019 - 12:12 PM


    I will jump in and help answer some of your questions, as I have had lumbar surgery too when I was 60.  

    I would suggest a walker, button up pj's or shirts, slip on slippers or shoes, a grabber to get things off the floor. In your bathroom or kitchen, anything you think you will need, put it at least waist high. Have food on hand in the refrigerator and/or freezer.

    Do not drive until your doctor says you can. 

    If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

  • Chelie, No walker or toilet seat raiser needed...but I am still using my small shower stool. Although a walker would have been very helpful when I started my driveway walks. I am supposed to wear my back brace whenever I am not laying down. The hospital sent me home with a pincher pickup thing which I still use(it's fun!)  I wore a robe or drawstring pants with a big top for the first 3 weeks. Hopefully someone can be with you the first week or 2, cause everything IS a struggle. Started driving after 3 weeks. No PT scheduled until after 3 months to give the fusion time to solidify. I walked circles on my driveway starting the 2nd week, starting at 3 minutes twice a day, and now try to do 1 hour a day divided into 3-4 trips. I am a 5'3" overweight 65 yr old who dearly loves her recliner(or did...because I can't sit in it anymore)  I was about as frightened as I could be before this surgery. I held off for 18 months after the Ortho said I HAD to do it.

    Neither the surgery or recovery(so far) has been as bad as I imagined it. I did stop the opioids 3 days after surgery (except for a couple nights at home) cause they made me feel horrible. I started Tylenol and Flexeril after that and they have worked well. 

    I really think spending alot of time outdoors helps. I have a straightback chair and a cushioned patio couch on our deck and I have been spending hours sitting/laying out there. The time goes much faster and I get less "antsy" than when I'm inside.

    If you think of anything else just ask!

  • Alphawaves, I am nothing short of terrified! Not sure why this scares me so badly. I've had breast cancer surgery & a hysterectomy, but this just seems so much bigger.

    We have something in common. My doctor told me I needed this surgery early in 2018. I finally agreed to it, and will have it this month.

    I thought of a rather weird question. The doctor has told me to walk, walk, walk as soon as I am able. Our house sits on somewhat of a rise. Our driveway is quite steep, so I don't want to walk outside in that direction. If I go out of our front door, I can cut through the front lawn and get to a relatively level sidewalk. When my back was at its worst in late 2017 & early 2018, I couldn't walk on an uneven surface. I actually walked on grass for the first time in months in the middle of March that year. After all that... can you walk on uneven ground? I really don't want to spend all my walking time circling around and around in our little house.

    Thanks for your help.

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  • Oh... forgot to post that my husband will be at home with me for the first 3 weeks. He'll be "off" the first two weeks, and then will work from home the 3rd week. We've been married for 41 years, hope he can put up with me through this!  :p 

  • Chelie , after 41 years, I don't think you have anything to worry about!

  • Chelie, Crossing the lawn may be a problem.  I stayed away from anything uneven until just this week. Maybe your husband can hang on to you when you cross it to get to the level sidewalk...or drive you somewhere. I really think it helped to walk at least a few minutes several times a day as soon as I got home. 

  • Thanks all for sharing your experiences and for your advice!  I will be having l4/l5 fusion in a few months and am trying to learn all I can prior to the surgery.

    Good luck Chelie!

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,713


    When you know your surgery date please let us know. I will send you the link for Surgery Buddies so you can join other members waiting on surgery. It would also be a good idea for you to start your own discussion on your surgery, more members will be able to read it and reply.

  • I have a fusion surgery question..... Did it relieve your back pain? 

    I’ve had back pain and radiculopathy for over 20 years now and had a laminectomy/discectomy 14 yrs ago. I still had back pain after that and have had recurring sciatica and nerve pain that is affecting my daily life. I just had a median nerve ablation yesterday and am hoping this relieves my pain enough I can get back to exercising. I’m so sick and tired of dealing with this chronic pain and after refusing to consider fusion surgery, I’m starting to consider it if it would help. However, three opinions from surgeons have all said 50-50 chance. Knowing there is also a high likelihood of another segment going bad after a fusion, I’m hesitant. I’m a 51 y/o female who doesn’t like to sit still but has had to lately because of the pain; it’s really making me mad. I’ve been seeing a pain dr for years and having epidurals, etc. So I’m just looking for advice from others in the same situation to see what works. Also, disc replacement may be an option but doesn’t seem as promising for the lumbar area. Any information I can get from anyone is welcome! 

  • Blue Mango.... Yes it totally relieved my pain. I started this thread a few weeks ago when I was one month out from my procedure, so I understand your fears...I wasted 18 months in a recliner refusing to get the laminectomy and fusion. Although they thought they would need a disc replacement, once they got in there they didn't. My Doctor KNEW from my MRI that this would fix my pain because my spinal canal was basically squeezed shut from L3-5. I couldn't stand or walk for more that 5 minutes without starting to whimper from the pain. I am exactly 6 weeks out and only have slight surgical pain after walking for 45 min- 1 hour. The old pain is totally gone. I knew going into this that I might have a future of upper or lower vertebral segments going bad after 8 years or so, but having my life back now is worth it. You are in a tough place with 3 opinions of a 50/50 chance of any of them feel this surgery might make it worse, or just that it may not work, and you may need surgery again for another segment? 

  • Thanks for the use of this forum. I am suffering from a Grade III L5 -S1 Spondylolisthesis this has been slowly getting worse for 50 years and now the pain is worse , it looks and feels like bone on bone down at my sacral to L5 and there is no visible disk connected. I have gone to PT three times in my life and I am about to opt for the surgery to stabilize it and fuse it . The vertebrae has slipped half way off and the tingling in my left leg is more frequent now . I went from 5'8 1/2"' to 5'7" I weigh 145 down from 155 and here is the real worry I am 71 years old. Is there anyone out there that has had this problem repaired? If so please tell me about it. I admit I am afraid to do it but I don't want to wind up addicted to pills or worse yet stuck in a wheel chair in my 80s. I do work out lightly at a gym and I do cardio however it is getting harder to do.  Thanks 

  • ArizonaAArizona ArizonaPosts: 176

    "L3-4 and L4-5 Laminectomy and Fusion"

    Is what you had very similar to what I'm supposed to have in a week and a half?  This is what mine is - and I'm real scared, and maybe I'll chicken out yet again...and then I think the surgeon won't want anything more to do with me!

    L3-4 and L4-5 direct lateral fusion

    L3-L5 pedicle screw fixation

    Right L4- 5 facetomy

    I am on my own.  The doc said that I'll be in the hospital for a few days following the (four hour!) operation, and then they'll send me to rehab for a bit until they see that I can take care of myself, go to the bathroom, etc.

    Will I be able to kneel down to get things from the fridge or cabinets if I keep my back straight (my legs are strong now)?

    Will I be able to cook and wash dishes a little?

    Outside my door is some gravel. Will there be a problem transversing that with - presumably - a walker?  I think there might be because it won't roll on gravel - it might if I had one with big wheels - so I'd have to lift it up between steps.

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,713


    In October Surgery Buddies I have listed links for you to read to help prepare you and your home for surgery. It would be best if you go to Oct. Surgery Buddies, the link is below and do all of your posting there. The member you are replying to here is no longer with us.

    Keep posting in Oct.

  • ArizonaAArizona ArizonaPosts: 176
    edited 10/07/2019 - 1:45 PM

    Hi, Mem. Yes, I have already read the links. I was hoping to ask questions of someone who had the same surgery.  A lot of things concern me, like getting in and out of bed, and the above, and plenty more that I'll conjure up, especially the night before!  

    I see that Alphawaves only posted 4 times and hasn't been here in two months. Really he should have waited around for me!  Actually that might be a good sign. If things are going well a person would be less inclined to post I think, tho some people also post good news too. 

  • Arizona

    I am fused L3-L5, as far as mobility issues, I really don't have that much of a problem. If it were me I would try to put the thing's you think you will need at waist level for the first several weeks after surgery, get yourself a grabber tool to pick up dropped items. I only used a walker while in the hospital, I used a cane for several weeks. I was told not to kneel for the first 6 weeks because you can still bend even though you don't mean too. If you have any specific questions just ask, I will be happy to answer if I can.

    Take care and keep us posted


  • ArizonaAArizona ArizonaPosts: 176
    edited 10/07/2019 - 11:18 PM

    Thanks, Chip!  Did you get the pedicle screw and facetomy too?  Was getting in and out of bed a problem? Sitting?  I already bought a few grabber tools.  Are you glad you did it?

    No kneeling for six weeks? Oh my. I don't know how I'm going to manage.

    "The member you are replying to here is no longer with us."

    I hope that just means he's not posted here lately, as opposed to ...

  • I am start starting the process of planning my surgery - probably first of December.   Will be a Laminectomy on maybe 2 vertebrae, pins, screws and bars and a TLIF disc fusion.   I am still not completely sure about all of it...    Yes I am scared to death.   This blog/forum has been very helpful -- thank you!    Another question I didn't see covered.    What about a chair?   I know they want you to walk as soon as possible, but not sure I want to stay in bed the whole time.   Any recommendations for a type of chair?   Lazy- boy recliner maybe? 

    What about a "donut" to put on a couch or regular chair to relieve direct pressure to spine -- any ideas on this? 

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