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Recovery time?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello all I am new to the boards here. I am a career firefighter/paramedic and have several back related issues I will list them below. HNP @ T11-L2, HNP L5-S1, DDD L3-L4 and L5-S1. I know that the surgeon already said that these issues need to be addressed and I am wondering what kind of recovery time I can expect to have from these procedures. There is one area of my lumbar spine with no disc space left which I am sure we'll have to address asap as well as S1 nerve displacement. As a firefighter how long should I expect to be off work before returning to full-duty again? I know that most likely I will have the lumbar herniated area worked on and maybe a fusion. If anyone can provide there thoughts it would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.- Dave S.
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Comments

  • What is an "HNP"?

    The DDD does need to be addressed, especially if there is no space between the vertebra...... When you say that (no space), how much has been lost? If there is "no" space, you should have a tremendous amount of pain and possibly motor loss issues.

    I guess what I am saying, is that we need more info to try and answer your concerns.........


    Best Wishes....
  • This is what it means herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP).
    HNP @ T11-L2, HNP L5-S1, DDD L3-L4 and L5-S1. I know that the surgeon already said that these issues need to be addressed and I am wondering what kind of recovery time I can expect to have from these procedures. There is one area of my lumbar spine with no disc space left which I am sure we'll have to address asap as well as S1 nerve displacement. As a firefighter how long should I expect to be off work before returning to full-duty again? I know that most likely I will have the lumbar herniated area worked on and maybe a fusion. I have back pain which radiates around my abdominal area. Also pain in my right leg from the buttocks to my foot. I have a popping sensation in my lower back from time to time sort of as if you were cracking your knuckles. The pain causes me to limp from time to time. Also my legs can both have pain, go numb, and feel like I have concrete blocks on my feet. They can be very hard to move at times. Example my wife, 5 year old, and I went on vacation and I sat in the sand on a towel for 5 minutes legs went numb and and got up and drug my feet to a chair. I hope this helps a little bit. If anyone can provide there thoughts it would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.- Dave S
  • Dave,
    Firstly thanks for being one of our wonderful firefighters! i feel you guys along with the police and ambos are really under-rated and under thanked.

    Your back doesn't sound too happy to me! Bit of TLC needed there.

    Really as much as we would love to answer your questions, it very much depends on exactly what your Surgeon decided to do. Also if he/she does a range of theings in one hit to get it out of the way with a longer recovery or if they do one step at a time.
    You could end up with a fusion or a disc replacement - both have differening recovery times and really with the work you do as a fireman you will have ot be excessively careful after.
    I know I dont even walk the dog now as she has a habit of suddenly wanting to run, thus suddenly pulling on muy back.

    So do you remember what the Dr recommended?

    Either way it is likely to be several months before you are back at work, no matter what you have unless you can do light duties like paperwork and then maybe return to work might be earlier.

    Blessings Sara
  • I am not sure what the surgeon will want to do. He told me last week when I asked him what needed that he didn't want to get into to it yet. He asked if I had ever been in a major trauma and I said no. I told him of a couple of incident that had happened in the past, but he said those couldn't have caused this. He asked if he could take my MRI films to a conference last Friday because he said I have a lot of unique things going on and it would be like getting 10-15 consults all in one and they could use it as a case study during the conference. I said that was fine, but with him not wanting to get into anything except saying surgery was a bit scary. I go back today at 3:45p.m. to see what they came up with and what we do from here. I know that he said my lower back herniation would have to be taken care of and that would be approximately 1 hour or so long to do. He then said I have an area between two vertebrae with little to no disc space left and that would have to be addressed as well. I am just trying to get some peoples thoughts on what they feel may be done so that I can prepare myself for it. Thanks for your thoughts. Wishing you the best. - Dave
  • I am pretty sure there is at least one other firefighter here, maybe they will see your post and get back to you on it.

    I agree with Sara, you are most likely looking at months if not a full year of recovery - per procedure.

    If you don't allow yourself a full recovery time you just make matters worse.

    My Neurosurgeon keeps telling me that everyone heals differently, but to expect a year. I only had a 2 level PLIF fusion.

    Best of luck, and I would suggest you look up and search more specifics on the home page of Spine health - there are videos of procedures (non-graphic) there are detailed articles that tell you exactly what a PLIF or a TLIF or whatever your dr. is going to do.
  • Thanks for the thoughts. It all helps. I am not sure as what they want to do yet and when, but I know they want to do it soon. I am just trying to get a feel for what I can expect in the coming weeks, months, ect. I appreciate all thoughts and concerns all have voiced. Thanks again.
  • Dave, Did you have your appointment with the surgeon again? If so what did he (or they ) say. Having a conference is quite good as often there are other opinions that your Dr may not have though about or been that familiar with.
    ALso it is always worth getting more then one opinion, so best to make an appointment to see a second surgeon to clarify that you need what ever is suggested.
    Let us know

    Blessings Sara
  • I had the appointment Wednesday and was told that I need surgery no question about that. He said that I have to have the lumbar spine herniation fixed first. With that the hope is to remove the herniated portion and relieve the S1 nerve from the displacement that is going on so that the pain will be somewhat relieved. Then I have an area just above that where the disc space has collapsed and arthritis will also be a problem. Right now they want to see if therapy will offer some relief, but warned that surgery is a realistic option for this as well depending upon how things go. I also have an area at T11-T12 that is herniated with protrusion into the spinal cord, but they want to do therapy instead of surgery for that because I would have a 20% chance of coming out paraplegic from the surgery. I am okay with that knowing that I might be paraplegic so I am all for therapy. They wanted to do the surgery right away so we are schedule for 8a.m. Wednesday August 20th. Wish me luck. I am not sure what the recovery time will be, but I know I was told atleast 6 weeks before I can start therapy. As a firefighter I am sure it will be some time before I can go back out and do the job. Thanks for your thoughts.

    -Dave
  • Youre looking at way more than just 6 weeks recovery time. I know a fir fighter is fairly physical so you may even have to wait for a full year or more before even atempting that. You might even need to rethink your career at this point due to the nature of your work.
    Good luck with your surgery.

    Best Wishes,
    Christina :)
  • I'm doing well at 5 weeks post-op but I'm seriously thinking my days as a rural mail carrier are over. I even enrolled over at the community college for courses to work in the medical field..... the administrative side. I'm actually excited about it. I hope you end up getting to do the type of work that is both safe for you but fulfilling as well.

    good luck and keep us posted on how you do with everything.

    Kel
  • Dave, have a chat with your boss about possible reduced duties. Obviously holding a fire hose with water pumping through it is out for a while as would be dragging the hose but there are admin duties that can be done (boring yep I know) or even working on the emergency hotline.

    But dont worry about that yet. I assume he is doing a laminectony and maybe discectomy first up with PT to follow.
    Best to see how things are after the first op before deciding on the next course of action. Smart Doc.

    Keep positive and happy ;) We'll be thinging of you.
    Blessings Sara

  • Sorry about your problems Dave, hope your surgeon will come up with an acceptable and successful solution. You have a very demanding job, (is your injury job related?) so as Sara suggested you may need to alter your work environment. My niece's soon-to-be husband is a firefighter/EMT who got injured on 9/11 and he had to go back to school to switch to an admin job. But maybe you will be luckier. Talk to your surgeon about the exact surgery he is suggesting and ask him about recovery time for somebody with your type of work.

    There is an EMS guy lurking around on this forum, maybe if he reads your posting he will respond.

    Good luck!

    Kin
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