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Found out I need PLIF surgery (posterior lumbar interbody fusion) of L3 to S1
dacwest posted:
I am scared that after this surgery I will have a "serve limitation of range of motion." The Orthopaedic surgeon said he would need to fuse L3 all the way to S1 and put an interbody support on S1.

Has anyone out there had this type of surgery?

I have always been very healthy and active. I love to kayak and hope this surgery will not keep from doing that or possibly riding a horse a couple times a year.

I would appreciate any information about the recovery from this surgery. I know it could be up to a year. Maybe someone who is a year out from this surgery could tell me how well they are moving now.

Thank you!
dianer01 responded:
Hi dacwest,

Welcome. I had L3-S1 fused about 5 years ago. Please be patient for a moment while I set up my story. I had had issues for many years with bulging disks and sciatic pain. In April 07 I woke up on a Saturday morning with a familiar pain in my butt, by Monday I couldn't walk, on that Wednesday my Dr ordered an MRI and immediately sent me to the hospital, I had ruptured 2 disks bad enough they couldn't tell where one ended and the other began. I had a 2 level laminectomy and diskectomy and was up and walking in a day or two and back to work in a couple of weeks.

Fast forward to September 07 and I was putting on my shoes to go to work and it felt like someone stabbed me in the back. I couldn't walk straight or stand up straight, so off to the Dr I went. Turns out I had ruptured 3 more disks. At that point we decided the fusion was necessary. By the second indecent I had started walking for fitness and dropped about 30#, I was pretty active and constantly on the go.

I did great immediately after the fusion, back to work in 6 weeks, back to school, overdoing everything. Within about 3 months I was in a lot of pain, frustrated and somewhat hobbled. My surgeon did more xrays and mri but could find nothing out of place. In time my pain settled down and at about 1 year I was finally feeling like myself again.

So now I am about 5 years out, I do not climb well because of nerve damage in one leg, nor do I like to get down on the floor because of the weakness in same leg. I continue to walk and am currently planning on walking a half marathon this next winter. I can pick my 20# dog off the floor and pretty much do what I want. I get sore from too much sitting or standing and can be choosey about what I lift or try to move. I have learned to ask for help and to sit down and take a break if I need to. My pain is usually controlled with ibuprofin. I was about 45 when I had the first surgery.

Please remember, every person is unique and for all of the success I have had, some others have has success as far as stabilization but not with pain relief.

Take your time and ask questions. I know I can forget my own name when I get to the DR so I write a list of questions and write the answers too. If the doctor will not take the time to answer questions, look for another doctor. You are making too big of decisions to not understand what is happening.
dacwest replied to dianer01's response:
Thank you so much for your story. It gives me hope. I have appointments coming up with 2 different nuerosurgeons. I got my original report from an Orhtopedic surgeon.

Did an Orhopedic or a Nuerosurgeon do your surgery?
dianer01 replied to dacwest's response:
I worked with a neurosurgeon. He has a great reputation as a perfectionist and as arrogant son of a gun. He did both surgeries and I really didn't know him when he did the first one but our communication style worked well together. He understood I was not going to be a passive patient and took the time to answer the questions I had.

I made a good choice. His words equaled his actions and skill.

dacwest replied to dianer01's response:
Thank you! I look forward to talking to the 2 neurosurgeons I have lined up. I did some research on both and they have good patient reviews.
wddavis82 responded:
Hello. I am a 48 year old Carpenter 2 years after I had L4-L5-S1 fusion. I also am healthy and active. I waited way to long to have anything done on my back as 2 discs were completely gone. I spent 5 days in the hospital after surgery, 3 days after I was home I was completely off all pain meds. I had to spend the next 5 weeks laying flat or standing some,no sitting. I have lost some motion and when I do too much it lets me know. I was scared also, but am glad I had my surgery. Hopefully this is helpful, I wish you good luck
dacwest replied to wddavis82's response:
Thank you so much for your response. Fortunately, I have seen a neursurgeon who said he can do microscopic surgery to remove any debris/bone that is pushing on the 2 nerves involved. He said that I may need fusion in 3 - 5 years, but for now this should give me relief.

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