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5 weeks post ALIF

Hi All, this is my first post here and I'm hoping I can get some information that my surgeon can't from those who have actually experienced what I'm going through.

I'm 35 years old. Very active and fit. My back has been an issue for the past 4 years and I just found ways to work around it. I finally came to the realization after every therapy, injection, medication, etc. that none of it was going to relieve my symptoms. I opted for the ALIF procedure for L5/S1. After surgery, the surgeon was really pleased with how it went. He feels it was a perfect and nothing to be concerned about. When I had my first consult he said I would lay around for a couple weeks afterwards, then start getting back into normal activities slowly. At my follow-up (about 2 weeks) I was up and about without a walker, but in a ton of pain still. He said it's normal, but he would be surprised if I didn't see significant improvement and be off the pain meds by the 4th week.

Well, the 4th week came and I had to call him. I was still in a lot of pain. I asked him what should I REALLY expect. After all, he was the one who said that he "would be surprised" if I were still taking pain meds after week four meanwhile I'm still taking them regularly and even throwing ibuprofen in here and there in between doses. Not to mention the countless ice packs I run through in a day. He told me to just relax and let my body do it's thing. He said I have nothing to worry about. He then moved it to 6-8 weeks as being a time where I should start seeing some improvement.

I still like the Dr. and feel he does have my best interest in mind. I just wish he would have helped me understand the recovery expectations a bit more instead of only giving me a best case scenario. I'm now in week 5 and I'm still in a good bit of pain. I walk on a regular basis and do things outside of the house in 1-2 hour chunks. After that I'm hurting too much. I haven't had a good night sleep in 5 weeks because the pain wakes me up every night. I'm still on the pain meds and to be honest, I can't imagine what it would be like without em, but I don't want to live on these things. I suffered through 4 years pre-surgery without em and a bit frustrated that I couldn't get through a day without them right now. My goal is to be off of them in two weeks.

What's strange is one day I will have a certain pain in a certain spot and the next morning I wake up with new pains in different ways. It's wild how many ways pain can attack your body and then attack your spirit at the same time. Sunshine is my saving grace for sure.

I'm not worried or anything that there's something wrong with my procedure. I'm just looking for some input from people who have had my exact surgery. From others I know who've had a PLIF it's not comparable so I'd love to hear from people who've have an ALIF at L5/S1 and share a bit about where you were at in week 5. Were you climbing Everest or sitting in bed all day? :)

Any input is appreciated. Thank you.


  • Any input from those who've read my post would be greatly appreciated. I could use some advice. This recovery is getting to my head and I'm having a hard time feeling positive.
  • LizLiz Posts: 9,694
    please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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  • I had an ALIF done at L4/5 and L5/1 3 months ago. I'm 24 and bounced back pretty quickly. I was off pain meds at week 3 and walking 2.5+ miles a day, but that is not the norm. A fusion is a major surgery and there is a lot of inflammation afterwards. Once the nerves start waking up you can experience increased pain as well until they start calming down.

    I had my 3 month post-op appointment earlier in the week and I'm so happy I went through with the surgery. My pain is almost gone at this point and really only brought on if I stay in a certain position too long. Full recovery from this type of surgery can take a year or longer, so don't get discouraged. I really contribute walking multiple times a day for my speedy recovery.

    You should not be taking Ibuprofen or any anti-inflammatory medications as they can prohibit your spine from fusing. I was told not to take them for 6 months post-op.
    10/28/13 - ALIF, PSF, decompression at L4/L5 and L5/S1
  • I also had ALIF and feel I was not prepared. I had two level L4-5, L5-S1, and also have random, changing pains after 7 weeks postop. My dr said 2-4 week recovery and I would be back to work. I still can't work full time and am just starting part time. It has not been as quick as I'd hoped or planned. I'm 40, relatively healthy (107 lbs) and have suffered for over a decade. I don't know yet if I've made the right decision and it's been hard on my psychy! My pain changes daily..hip has been an issue and now I'm getting back aches in the middle of the night that wake me like a freight train. I don't take a lot of meds since I'm nausea prone and take mainly muscle relaxers to knock me out. I do feel some slight improvement. It's not huge..but I think it's a crumb at a time for me!
  • I've found that my Nike Ladies Legend tight fit pants help with my abdomen pain. They're wide band, high waist and really help hold in that muscle that's damaged.

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