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Recovery L5-S1 Fusion

Started by Johnny5 on 11/21/2018 7:48am

I am currently 9 days post op from a L5-S1 MAS TLIF performed at Duke. I am a 37 year old male and very active (travel baseball coach, golf player). It wasn’t known how my injury occurred as it may have happened over several years as I had a bilateral pars defect on the L5 and only after months of physical therapy and pain management was I correctly diagnosed after a MRI was performed.

The surgery was 12 Nov 18 at 9:45am and took less than 3 hours as the doctor mentioned having a patient in shape and slender speeds things along. Coming out of anesthesia was the hardest part as I didn’t feel clear minded until 4-5pm that same day.

By that evening my wife and I changed my clothes and were walking laps around my nurses unit. All of my meds were being given orally instead through the IV. I will say that I over did it becausse the next day I was in terrible pain. The doctor had me in Oxy and I was not responding so I was
placed on dilaudid and given IV meds to get the pain under control. I remained in the hospital an additional day to ensure the new pain meds would work orally and lessened the amount of walking. All in all it was a 2 night 3 day stay in the hospital for me.

Per-surgery We prepared by buying a few books, some comfortable pants with elastic waste bands (Eddie Bauer), breathable underarmor t-shirts and a comfy zip up. I also slaved away at the house and work for a solid two weeks preparing to be down and out for a while.

Post surgery we haven’t adjusted that much. My wife is a little more tuned in to what the kids leave laying around on the floor as a little lego at this point is a landmine for me. Before leaving the hospital they gave me a set of mechanical fingers that I have used a lot and I also received a toliet riser/shower seat 3n1. Additionally we found out that our couches are too low for me so we bought a zero gravity outdoor chair that I sit in, best money spent.

I am averaging about 2.2 miles walking everyday which is about what my body allows me to do before becoming tired or in pain. If I walk more than 2 miles in a day right now I pay for it that night and the next day. Sitting in the right position, sleeping in the right position and walking I feel little to no pain and I avoid taking pain meds throughout the day. I am only taking pain meds at night before bed and in the morning to help knock the edge off before my body warms up to get moving.

So far I am extremely happy with my results as there are times even right now that I forget I even had surgery. Staples are to be removed next week and hopefully the doctor will allow me even more freedom for movement and activities.

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3 Responses


The staples will come out with no pain, however this is where your journey really begins. I have had a Spinal Cord Stimulator installed in my back, but I have not received any benefits from it. My only suggestion is to find a Doctor Who will prescribes Buprenorphine since it doesn’t effect the brain like Opiaids do. However, while I have no reason to take more than pricribed, Buprenorphine does not take more and more to get the desired effect!


It sounds like you are healing well, but definitely listen to your body and don’t push it. You may be in excellent health and accustomed to an active lifestyle, but if you do too much, you can delay your healing and have setbacks.
I had an L5-S1 PLIF in May 2015. I, too, did not come out of anesthesia well. When the anesthesiologist extubated me, I had bronchospasms, felt like I couldn’t breathe and in my drug-induced stupor, slugged the poor guy. Valium to the rescue. (I’m an RN and have a good friend whose a surgical tech at the hospital, so we had a good laugh about it afterwards


Hi Johnny5, Sounds like you’re doing good! I’m preparing for L2-S1 PILF with anchoring screws to my posterior hip bones. Wondering if yours was anchored that way?

I had a fusion on L2-L3 9 months ago and it put so much pressure on my already damaged lower lumbar we have to go in and fuse the rest. Like you Im very active and strong. Wondering what mobility limitations you are experiencing now that you’ve had a bit more healing time? Thanks Nat