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Recovering from L5 S1 fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,900
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a discestomy L5 S1 Jan 06, Not much relief. Lumber Fusion L5 S1 July 31 this year. I have had a long recovery and I am still in alot of pain. I was in a hard brace for 6 weeks and started physical therapy 2 weeks ago. The therapist is telling me that my spine is crooked and is giving me excercises to do to correct that. The excercises are killing my hip. Also in the last couple of days I have had burning in my back and pain down my leg. My therapist says that it is inflamation, scar tissue or a problem with a new disk. But keep doing the excercises. I am beginning to wonder why I am still in this much pain. I don't know anyone that has had this same surgery in the same area as me and would like to hear some of your stories so I can know if I am healing normally. I don't want to hear any horror stories. I am still too close to the pain for that just yet. Is what I am feeling normal recovery pain?
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Comments

  • Welcome to spine health.
    We are here to give our own personal opinions and advice. We are not qualified to give out medical advice.

    So sorry to hear your having increased pain with PT.
    Have you called your surgeon to discuss this with them?
    That should be your first choice.
    As we all recover with differnent types of pain and recovery rates vary from person to person.
    I would call them and not continue until you here back from them. Personal opinion.

    I did not have to do PT with my first lumbar fusion because I had no transportation and I was doing so great that the Dr felt no need at the time. I also did not have a brace.
    I notice the more people that have braces have a harder time once they start PT and strenghting those core muscles.

    I wish you the best of luck and let us know what your Dr. says.

    Take care and feel better soon!! It is a long journey and we are here to support you in anyway we can possible.
    Terri O:)

  • THANKS FOR THE COMMENT. I WAS HOPING TO WAKE UP FEELING BETTER TODAY. NO SUCH LUCK. I DID CALL THE DOCTORS OFFICE THIS MORNING AND I AM AWAITING THE RETURN CALL FROM HIS NURSE. I GUESS I AM JUST GOING TO TELL HIM THAT I WOULD LIKE HIM TO REVIEW THE PHYSICAL THERAPISTS NOTES AND SEE IF HE IS GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. I ACTUALLY HAD SOME MUSCLE INCREASE LAST WEEK, BUT AS OF SUNDAY I DEFINETLY FEEL LIKE I AM BACK TO SQAURE ONE. A LOT OF SPASMS AND CATCHES IN MY BACK WITH ANY MOVEMENT.PAINFUL. PAINFUL. I THOUGHT I WOULD BE OFF OF MY PAIN KILLERS (PERCOCET) AT THIS POINT. 9 WEEKS AND CAN'T GO WITHOUT THEM. I'M GETTING A LITTLE NERVOUS ABOUT THAT.
  • I had a PLIF (L5-S1) on June 24th, 2008. I am still having pain. I started PT about two weeks ago so about a month later than you did. PT isnt bothering me really as Ive only started with small exercises but I find that directly after surgery my pain decreased but about two months later it started a steady increase again. My doctor says its due to using my muscles more each day and pushing myself. I still take percocet and flexeril every day as well as something for the nerve pain. I think some ppl just heal slower than others. I am still in a brace and my doctor has ordered a bone growth stimulator which Im waiting for.


    Best Wishes,
    Christina >:D<
  • In my humble opinion, having had 2 PLIF's and revision, the ongoing pain seems "normalish" - you see, if you sufddenly get knee pains it could be your bending them more than you did pre-op and hip pain, sadly can be transfer from the fixation of S1 to extra movement thro your SI joint all as your body gets used to its new function. It may also be referred pain from S1 and many other things.
    Like Angleback said on her post, keep a diary/record of triggers and pain patterns.
    Hopefully will all resolve normally as you recovery, slowly.
    Patience is the single most important part of our recovery and a good attitude.
    Most say it takes a good year to settle down.

    My neighbour had suregry 3 yrs ago and still uses meds occasionally. He is pretty active but knows he has to be v careful. Still can't do too much strenous stuff but I also think it depends on each of our presenting complaints and pysical problems.
    If I am like him in 3 years I will be well happy.
  • I had 3 level fusion in March and the pain didn't really start to subside until July/August. Now I only have nerve pain. One mistake I made was trying to cut down on the pain meds to early. In fact my surgeon was pretty upset that I wasn't taking them. I am doing really well now - not driving yet but I am definitely better than I was prior to the surgery. I just took a long time to heal and for the bone to grow. I think you need to be very patient and to let the surgeon know exactly what is going on at PT. I would suggest you tell him how you feel and what is worse/better. At one point, my surgeon stopped PT because it was making the nerve pain worse and he wanted to try a couple of things. Good luck and let us know what happens. :)))
  • My surgeon told me to start weaning myself off of the meds when I went for my six weeks post op check. He did tell me that it was normal to still be in alot of pain at that point so I thought that was kinda strange. He now says that I should start taking neuroton (sp) to help with the nerve pain. I am not a medication taker so I am very reluctant to start this medication. Not sure I was too happy with his non repsponse to the PT. When i told his nurse what the PT was having me do, she did not have a response at all. I had to ask her if the doctor would like a copy of the PT's notes. She said yes, they would probably be good to keep in my file. She was ending the conversation with the med suggestion and I had to ask if I should stop PT until I was feeling better. She said yeah that would probably be good until the neuroton started to work. I don't see how taking a nerve blocker is going to help when having PT. The PT asks with every movement if this is causing nerve pain. How will I know? I guess a big part of this frustration is that I am not getting the information I need from my surgeon himself. I don't know how much of what I told the nurse he actually is hearing.
  • Hello Hopeful, I am just a few days behind you, and this is definitely a very long recovery. I don't think the surgeons are honest with us as to how long it takes to get through this. Mine told me 6-12 weeks. Well at 6 weeks I was still in my TLSO with all restrictions, so that was a joke 8} Now since 8 weeks my restrictions are lifted and I am weaning off TLSO and I just started PT. Well now I have more pain as weak back muscles trying to compensate and new movement in PT. I am suppose to go back to work in 3 weaks, but feeling doubtful about that for sure. So anyway, my point is this is such a slow recovery and setbacks are common, and just try to hang in there and push through and give your body a chance to heal. Of course if you are having new concerning symptoms, do talk with your doc. My NS did warn me that I would have increase in pain with my increase in activity, so this is normal, even though oh so uncomfortable, and inevitable on the road to recovery :) Take care and hope things start to look up for you, >:D< Cali-Sue
  • If physical therapy is causing you nerve pain, then are they planning on more testing and/or surgery? I mean, if mechanics cause nerve pain, generally the nerve is either impinged, or there is something it's getting snagged on. I've had numerous convos about this with my physical therapist after something called "flossing" made my sciatica worse before my fusion.

    Anyway, I'm just curious as to what they plan to do regarding that, if anything.
  • Hi Hopeful:

    I agree with Terry, your doctor is the one to guide you. If you aren't getting the answers you need, press on them until you do. I had a TLIF 1 year ago, this is a LONG recovery process. I wore a brace the first six weeks when I was up walking and the first 6 months when I was in the car. I fused in 6 weeks. I started PT at 6 weeks, it was very gradual and the PT technician said not to do anything that hurt, I didn't. I quickly realized that 99% of what they had me doing at PT (and paying for) I could do at home. I still have pain and I take Tramadol. My doctor said it can take up to 2 years to fully recover.

    Ellen
  • Me too! I am recovering from a lvel 2 ALIF on L4/5/S1. The healing process and pain changes for me day to day. All I can say is that it will take time to heal and that you should take 1 day at a time and listen to your body. Always feel free to call your doc too for any questions that you might have. I'm sure that they will be happy to answer them if they can over the phone.
    Mine was just on the 25th, so I really can't say what will happen by the time I reach your postop days, but am dying to read and see how you go through it all! Please share and I will try to write back too on myself.
    Take care of yourself!
    Kim
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