Learn from patients with pain similar to yours

CatchMyPain Community and Pain Diary App to manage chronic illness

ALIF surgery?

Feb 07, 2015 4:04 PM

So I need to get 2 herniated discs and possibly a bulging one above (s1 area and up) fused. I also have to do one neck fusion for my C5 or 6 i forget but they said that one was minor.

I think it is super weird that they are going through my abdomen but apparently that is less risky and preferred with better recovery time. I have to schedule my surgeries this Monday and am trying to schedule them accordingly. They want to do cervical first (about a month-ish recovery they said) & back immediately after that (so around a month, once I am healed enough I guess).

They stated this in December...and wanted it done right away...as my back is deteriorating fast...a bulge herniated and spurred out or whatever into nerves from last May to October so only 5 months. Honestly I think it's worsened because my pain has worsened significantly as well as changed...and my legs are getting more and more...paralyzed (a numbing soreness and in mornings lately I have to like build sensation back into them for about 30 mins before I can attempt getting out of bed and still fall a lot).

ANYWAY (omg I just have too much to say! Sorry geez) I was SIMPLY trying to gather experiences with this? Looking at pain, hospitalization time, recovery time, tips etc. This (major surgery stuff...been doing injects, pt, rhizotomy etc for 2 years) is all new to me and I appreciate any input.

Thank you!

Feb 07, 2015 4:58 PM

Therapistunveiled, It sounds like you're feeling overwhelmed. I've had cervical spine fusions, twice, C4-C7 with titanium plate & screws to secure it all together. The first time was easier, but also not as severe. I think my first recovery was 2-3 months, but the second was 12 months. They fused my hip bones in the joints both times, and honestly the hip pain was the worst both times. The second surgery was done 3 years after the first due to near paralyzation from nerve impingement. I'd recommend doing exactly what they instruct after each, and you'll heal better.

I cannot lift over 10 lb without having major back spasms &/or a migraine. I can no longer vacuum or mop, or do any major house chores. But up until 6 years ago I was able to lift 20-25 lbs. I've got DDD, DJD, osteopenia & osteoarthritis now, with discs degeneration all down my spine.

My sister had the same exact surgery I had, 2 yr ago, and she lifts large garbage cans shoulder high. But she didnt follow after-instructions like i did and shes having numbness in her arms & hands. So each person is affected different, and having other issues affect it too. But if your legs are going numb, I'd think your back surgery should be first, especially if your neck is a minor problem. Or did I misunderstand you? Either way, I'll be praying for you, and hopefully it's all going to be much easier than you think.

Feb 07, 2015 5:31 PM

Hi! Therapist! I have had surgery in both areas also. I have had a dissectomy and fusion of C5&C6 and C6&C7. This surgery I had done about six months after my lower back problem started. I hadn't had neck issues before but when it started, it progressed rapidly. I stayed in the hospital just one night. I had a Dilaudid PCA ( that's when you have an IV and connected to that is a pump with pain med that you can self administer a preprogrammed dose as per your dr by pressing a little button on a cord given to you. It worked great for me. I woke up from surgery wearing a neck brace that I had been given prior. It was a bit difficult to get my neck comfortable on the pillow and I couldn't lay on my left easily and that is where I sleep most of the night. My hospitalization was unremarkable. By the mid morning the day after, I was getting out of bed to the bathroom by myself. I was discharged late afternoon and was given one pain pill. By the time I got home I was in a lot of pain and so I took another Vicodin. Well, I figured out the next day that Vicodin doesn't work on me very well. Dr had said take one Vicodin every 4-6 hrs as needed, well I was taking 2 Vicodin every 4 hours and that gave me slight relieve for maybe 2 hrs max. My husband took me to see dr next morning because I was crying in pain. Riding in car can be jarring to your neck so take couple pillows for ride home from hospital. After they took some X-rays make sure all was well inside with the metal plate and screws, he prescribed Darvocet ( which is no longer being used because of some heart issues). But luckily it worked great on me and was effective with no side effects. After that, it was smooth sailing. I found initially it was easier being upright instead of laying down. And a lifesaver for me was a squishy pillow that a friend had given me that is in shape of a roll and has those bead like things as stuffing. It fit perfectly behind the brace and allowed me to lay on another pillow on my side. So the roll pillow went between neck brace and regular pillow. I too,that pillow everywhere I went. I wasn't supposed to take the brace off any time except when taking a quick shower. Don't remember actually how many days I couldn't get it wet initially. My throat hurt from intubation during anesthesia and because they go in from the front and had to move trachea area some. That was sore for maybe 1.5 weeksI think and I craved soft cool food. Couldn't swallow easily for a few days so liquids and soft food is good to have at home. Also bendable straws helped a lot. Maybe jello, Popsicles for the first day home to soothe the throat. Some people sleep in a lazy boy if you have one cause it's a little easier on neck to be upright. Since the pain pills were effective I felt pretty ok. Think I stopped taking pain pills after 5 days or so and went on to Tylenol extra strength. Advil would have been better but I have a bleeding disorder and can't take Advil on a regular basis. Think I took the Tylenol every 6 hours for some time. Also on the pain meds, not a bad idea to take on a regular basis the first few days so you don't let the pain level get too high cause then it takes longer to get it under control. Stool softeners are a must as anesthetics and anelgesics slow down the bowel as well as less activity on your part. Since I felt good and didn't have the nasty neck issues, I actually took lots of long walks during my time off from work. Think I couldn't lift anything heavier than 5 lbs for a while and maybe even less than that right after surgery. I was working 12 hr shifts ( nurse) so I think I was possibly off 12 weeks due to the weight restriction. Think if I wasn't a nurse I could have been back to work way sooner. That's all I remember for now. I will write about my lower back surgery another time as I can't type anymore at this time.
Something I did learn afterwards though is that whenever you have 2 vertebrae fused anywhere in your spine, the vertebrae above and below the site take a beating per say or are affected due to the fusion. They are impacted due to the immobility of the fused vertebrae. Think its not as much of an impact with just one vertebrae. My current back dr/the one that did my lower back surgery does a procedure where he injects a special material that replaces the disc material and it is much less invasive. It's an outpatient procedure. Think he was working on getting it FDA approved a couple of years ago as the success rate was very high. Don't know if anyone in your area does that but if I had to do it again, I would definitely try it out before a fusion because I feel I have been impacted from the fusion. I have bad neck and shoulder pain daily and I am 5 years post-fusion. I don't know if it's all due to the fusion though as I do have a bunch of other issues going on along with fibromyalgia. I don't think I had it then but I'm not sure. I did learn that when one has fibromyalgia or other illnesses, you may not recover as quick as if you didn't. I think the body has to deal more repair, healing etc. and also pain perception is screwed up. I may be rambling on now....

Ready to start relieving your pain?

Join Community