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Is this the norm for 6 mths post op...

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I was having a string of great days...walking, doing exercises, light shopping etc. However, 3 wks ago I made the fatal mistake of having lunch with a friend. I lost track of time and had been sitting 3 1/2 hrs....it got me the next day !! It took 10 days to get through that one and ever since, I can't sit too long.
Last night I went to a parent meeting. It was 3 hrs. long. Took my cushions, it was a straight chair, got up every 20 min. or so. There wasn't a place I could really walk around but I'd pace a few steps back n forth behind my chair, stand and then sit down again.
Today, when I sit, it feels like my tailbone is being shoved up my back. I'm pretty uncomfortable. Are you all still dealing with this?
Do I quit trying to sit or just keep going and it will become better with time???


  • I don't really know what "normal" is - but hope you will get replies from some who have reached/passed the 6 month point. I do know that at not quite 4 months I still get sore if I sit too long. My upper back weems to get really tired and sore, too. And I will think I am doing great - doing PT, walking, light housework and light shopping for several days and then whammo - I wake up so tired I don't want to do anything. I take it easy for a day or two and then I feel pretty good again. So frustrating!

    So, I will watch with interest to see what others experience with the sitting thing!

  • I had a spinal fusion in the lower lumbar back in April. I feel so good somedays that I think that I am healed. then I have my bad days because I do too much. My surgeon said that I need to treat my body as if it is still in alot of pain. As if I still have the pain from the surgery. Its hard when you feel so much better. Yes, I do get the same pain as you when I sit too long but I also feel it in my legs from all the nerve repair that they did. I went in for my 6 month and my surgeon said to come back in another 6 months. I was so disappointed. I wanted to hear that I was fused and that I can now pick up my 4 year old daughter and swing her around. That I can play with my 9 month old grandson without any worry. But yes, 6 months is not long enough to heal and so like my surgeon said, treat your body as if it is still in pain and follow all the rules from the first day of healing until otherwise told by your doctor. I still cannot lift more than 10 pounds, still cannot twist, or bend. I will listen to these rules until he says otherwise because there is no way that they are getting me back under the knife.
  • yep, sounds like we are similar. When you have your 'bad' days, does it take a few days to turn around? I've heard ppl say they rest a day and are back at it, but it takes me many days.
    I'm glad you both answered. I wasn't sure if, at 6 months post op, we post here or in 'recovery' but this forum seems to have the most views.
    Can anybody tell me when sitting for a whole movie becomes tolerable? Gives me an approximate time line. Thanks.
  • I know it was not the purpose of this thread but ya'll have made me feel so much better! I keep thinking I should be able to do so much more - for example, that 30 - 45 minutes of shopping (including trying on stuff) after PT (1 hour plus in the pool) and out to lunch should not make me so tired. But it does. Anyway, if I do too much for several days in a row it does take me a couple of days to recover. I HATE it! There is so much I want to do and I just run out of energy and get downright shaky and almost lightheaded if I overdo. Not to mention achy. Pain meds make me exhausted and sick so I have not taken those since about week 3 post-op. So on my "bad" days I spend lots of time with my microwave "bed buddy" or ice packs. Do you still take pain meds of any kind?

    I know this recovery is long and slow but I am so tired of feeling like an invalid. Oh well, not much choice there so I guess I will have to just "pull up my big girl panties and deal with it".

    Carol, I hope sitting gets easier for you soon! By the way, I did not know there was a "recovery" forum???
  • we all seem to be on the same path. I work all day, pick up my daughter from daycare, give her a bath, clean the house, make dinner, and hope to make it to bed by 10. Just to wake up and do it again the next day. On the weekends, my older kids come over with my grandkids and of course mom has to cook and clean for them so I get no rest for the weekend. usually by Sunday night I am on the recliner not able to get up but I have to make it to work the next day so I fight through it. I stopped taking my meds a few weeks after surgery as well so I take a motrin every now and then. 7 months and hoping that it will be over soon.
    As far as watching movies. I haven't been to a movie theater in years. Can't handle sitting that long. I watch them at home and stand up every now and then through it.
  • megb,
    I go days without taking anything except valium, and a very low dose at that, for sleep and relaxation. Then I'll hit a 'flare up' and have to rotate Vicodin and Motrin for a few days, then slowly back out of the Vicodin and then I'm off meds for a week and then it will start again. I'm thinking that the time inbetween flare ups should get longer, flare ups should last less days and time between meds get longer but I'm looking for confirmation from someone whose gone through it, to verify it.
    Honey, we need to shop together, at least then we could 'race' through the store before we wear out, eat lunch fast, before our bumms act up, do our PT nice and easy so we don't fire up anything and go on a walk. Then at least we'd feel normal with one another. lol!
  • I hope at 7 months I can do as much as you, dcarter! It sounds exhausting to me.

    Carol, I so wanted to do real shopping for Christmas but I guess the Internet will have to do. It really does seem much more expensive that way for some reason - I guess it is just too easy to "click" and order.

    One day I wanted/needed to get lots of different things so I went to Walmart and got one of the motorized scooters. It ran out of battery charge before I finished - I guess they don't expect you to shop for 2 hours! But those are hard to negotiate - every time I tried to back up I crashed into something. Thank goodness I went at a time not many people were there. I have newfound respect for the people who have to use them all the time!

    My surgeon still has me on the "no ibuprofen" restriction. Have ya'll both fused or did your docs allow ibuprofen?
  • Hi Everyone:

    I had a TLIF about 14 months ago. I think every situation is different, but it does get better with time. One thing that is very true for me, whether you are sitting, working, whatever you are doing...if you overdo it you will know it. This surgery takes a long time to recover from. I have had a smooth recovery, but it has been a long recovery. You have to be patient and give your body time to heal.

  • I'm 2/3 the way fused and he said to take Motrin but it scares me....I sure don't want to stop fusing. I was hoping someone here would have a firm answer on that. When I have sat to long and get that burning and swollen feeling, the motrin helps a ton!
  • I am 9 months out and still have a great deal of trouble sitting. I have had the same type of setback you described whenever I have to sit for more than an hour, even an hour and a half kills me - just try to avoid it when at all possible. For me personally sitting tolerance seems to be the slowest to improve.
  • optimist,
    thank you. It is a relief to know others are experiencing the same issues (not that I'd wish them on the devil himself) but I know we must be on the right track.
    What do you to relieve the burning/tightness and such after such a setback?
  • ...totally agree, sitting just kills me yet, at 10 months out & back to classroom teaching, which surprisingly, seems OK while I'm walking around the room all day, etc..but man oh man, to have to SIT thru a mtg, or sit in the car or even try to relax at home later, by sitting---no way!!

    I do find, tho, that if I can have my legs out straight in front of me (that is, avoid bending them at the knee) it helps...have been in a many staff mtgs this year w/ my legs resting straight in front of me on another chair--looks weird, but works... Carol, as far as relief from the burning/tighness, I sometimes try gentle hamstring stretching and/or ice @ the sacrum area & if you;re OK to do it, try the stretch where you put one bent leg at a right angle to the other knee & push down (gently) on the knee untl you feel a nice pull in the butt/hip area....

    And I too cannot sit thru a movie, or a long mtg or even a 1 hr church service...and parent conferences this week sent me home headed for the Valuim/ice pack combo, in tears...

    It just takes forever, doesn;t it?!
    So aviod sitting whenever you can, is about all I can say right now. I assume it improves? (I hope!!)

    ~Lakeside, not on her back-side (Amazing what you can learn to do standing up!)
  • Oh no Lakeside-parent teacher conferences...that's just brutal to have to sit through. You're my hero! I guess we're all in the same boat, so if the boat's not sinking then I must be in the norm and will keep on plugging along. Darn it all, sitting never bothered me til that lunch date!
    I will have to try the ice to the sacral area...I sit on heat packs or lie on them. I do the 2 stretches you recommended but it helped knowing that I'm on the right track.
    BIG party when we get through with this, o.k. guys???
  • Do you go to PT? If so, perhaps your PT could suggest something that would help this "sitting" flare-up? Ultrasound or some stretches or even massage?
  • Ultrasound - heaven!

    I am 9 months PLIF and 7 weeks revison & Decompression.

    I still can't sit for more than 20-30 mins, I find it rally uncomfortable. I don't carry anything more than a loaf of bread, drive for 20 minutes.
    I take pain meds at least every 6 hours and use heat every day. I swim 2-3 times a week and PT x1

    Your normal sounds good to me! I have adapted mentally and physically and will "try" and let my body guide me!
    (try becos I often get it wrong and then I am absolutely floored for about 10 days as well)

    Keep smiling and Be careful!
  • It helped so much. Just learning the different stretches saved me from having to stay home and work part time. I have to do the stretches for the rest of my life but they are helpful in so many ways. I can now walk normal instead of like a duck waddling.
    I started taking ibuprofen about a month after surgery and I am fusing fine. My surgeon and doctor had no idea why other doctors think that it will slow the fusing. I listened to my doctors and it hasn't slowed me down at all. I keep Motrin in business. I should buy the stock.
    As far as needing ice packs or heat. I haven't needed them since I started the stretches that the PT gave me. I was skeptical about how much stretching can help and was so surprised when it did.
    Sitting is always bad so my manager got me a desk that lowers and raises so every time I start feeling the pain from sitting, I just stand up and raise my desk ( its motorized so I just press a button). Its great.
    I just am ready to be able to log in one day and say ITS OVER! I"M NORMAL!
  • I want you to log on and say that too!
    What a great employer to buy that type of desk; must have been quite expensive. That tells me you are a valued employee. Let's all keep on comparing notes and we will get there and hopefully help one another along the way.
  • I agree with Carol - you must be really valued by your employer. That is impressive!

    Are your stretches just for your back or total body? Did you have lumbar surgery? I'm going to ask my PT about some upper back stretches and strengtheners - my upper back gets so tired and sore now. I guess it is taking over some of the work from my lower back - or has just gotten really weak over the last few months. The PT added new exercises to my routine yesterday and I am so sore all over - but it will be better tomorrow just in time to go back to PT!

  • Hi everyone:

    I had a TLIF and I am at about 14 months, I fused in 6 weeks. Sitting does get better with time. I am on Tramadol for pain, if I don't take it I will get back pain, especially if I am on my feet for an extended period of time. It is non-narcotic and I have no side effects. You may have read in one of my previous posts...this is a long recovery process. You have to give it time and don't overdo it. My doctor told me that it can take up to 2 years to recover.

  • Ok, I know this may sound a bit strange but do you think that possibly your tailbone may be out?
    I have done that in the past and it feels just like you described " like your tailbone is being shoved up your back"
    Can you feel your coxyx without twisting too much. Often you can feel if it is out of place.
    If so a chiro can put it back in easily without doing any adjustments to your back.
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • Hi Sara, great to 'see' you!
    Yes, I have thought of that and have had my whole sacrum twist out even when i had the L5 S1 fusion but I'm hoping that now that both are stabalized to L4 this won't be the case. If it lasts longer than the 7-10 days, I will have to check in with my old PT, who does manual medicine. However, I don't think that's it cuz I can feel the swelling & burning at about the surgical site....we'll see. UGH!
  • have any of you tried the lidocaine like patches to help with pain? I am really feeling all tight and revved up...this will take about 10 days and a rotation of vicodin/valium with motrin to get it settled down. This is common?
  • I'm going on 6 months post 2 level TLIF and it's been a struggle. I was on pain meds prior to it, and still am on them, along with new additions. Sitting is the worst, so is walking and standing for too long. Everyone is different, some recover at a faster pace than others. I have to take my medications every day to keep the pain under control. My first surgery did nothing for me, and I still hold on hoping I will eventually get better.
  • So I had a fusion at L4-L5. The bone was cutting into my nerves and muscles so I had a lot of repair done to those which cause so much pain in my right leg that sometimes it was unbearable. I cursed the surgeon and asked GOD why me so many times. I then learned that the more that I layed down or sat down the worse I felt. I got out and walked with my walker for the first so many weeks, although that hurt too but the more I did the better I felt.
    Going back to work after 6 weeks was the hardest. I was so scared that I was going to screw something up and end up back in. But it was the best thing that I could have done. Staying in my house and feeling sorry for myself wasn't helping.
    Once I went in for my 6 week appt I asked for PT and that was the best thing that I could have done. All of my pain was in the lower back and all over on the legs. I know now what the last nerve is. She gave me stretches that helped my muscles in my legs build back up so that I can use my legs to bend down to pick something up. before that I had to get down on my hands and knees just to get something off the floor and then use my arms to push myself back up. I still get the pain sometimes behind the knee and in the big toe and I still have a numbing feeling on the right calf but it is nothing compared to before the surgery.
    The only thing that kept me going through the first 4 months of the nightmare post op was knowing that one day I will be able to play with my grandson and my 4 year old daughter without hurting myself.
    I have been off the pain meds since 6 weeks post op besides the occasional motrin and I just stretch my legs and lower back the way that I was taught and keep moving. The more that I stay still the more pain that I will feel. Its best to work your muscles as much as you can so that they don't get stiff.
  • I am still amazed that you were able to go back to work at 6 weeks. I was still so tired then - I walked, rested, walked, rested, etc. etc. You are impressive!
    But I totally agree about movement. When I get sore the best thing I can do is walk and some light stretching. Even if I walk for only 5 or 10 minutes it helps so much. And a good, knowledgeable PT who will address your specific needs is invaluable!

    Keep moving!
  • sitting still is just not me. being at home for that 6 weeks was horrible. I watched all the movies that I had, learned to hate judge shows, couldn't read a book because my eyes would go blurry from the drugs. slept as much as I could. it was so boring. I don't know how people do it. I was going crazy. When someone would come to visit, I would talk their ear off because I was happy to have someone to talk too. I was logging into work everyday and my manager was sending me IM's telling me to log off and sleep instead. It could get the company in trouble for me working during medical leave. I couldn't just sit there and not know what was going on with the outside world.
  • ..with all the restrictions, no BLT-ing, meds, soreness, achy-ness & general "yuck" of the whole ordeal---BUT it is totally necessary to take that time to build up your strength again, rest your whole damaged back (the muscle splitting is the worst to heal from) and just wait it out...

    I too watched daytime TV (UGH!!) read "War & Peace" (really!!) and X'd off the weeks/ months until that "magic" 9 month landmark (for me anyway) when my NS released me (with heavy restrictions) to return to the classroom...

    And sage advice it is to KEEP MOVING!! Sitting just kills, so I walked miles & miles, did my gentle stretching, reduced my social life schedule, "saved" my energy for healing the fusion/wound & now at almost 11 months out, I can actually say, yes I'm glad I had it done (I had no choice really) & even tho there is still a lot of pain/discomfort, I know it's borne of the healing process..

    One must remember that fusion surgery is a SALVAGE procedure...the last resort, so to speak. It usually "fixes" the initial problem (in my case, spondy & herniated discs) but gives no guarantee of pain-free aftermath. I knew that & certainly know it now! Things have been geometrically changed now, parts are missing/moved around/re-sected, etc. And of course you have that "foreign object: hardware in your back now. But I think of how others must have dealt w/ this 100 years ago & now, esp @ this Thanksgiving season, I'm so thankful that my NS was able to give me SOME relief, or at least stop things from getting progressively worse---

    I still need my daily meds, use Valuim in PM for the constant cramps/spasms, etc...but a good glass of wine, a cfully-loaded woostove & my kitty cats beside me help me put things into perspective!

    Sorry for the stream of consciousness post--but at least I'm conscious (11 months ago tonight I wasn't, haha!) & also conscious of what I have remaining, amidst the losses, & try to build on those things that are positive.

    Sit ye not at the Thanksgiving table! Stand up, walk around, etc...and PTL that our Titanuim reinforcements allow us to do so! :)

    Blessings to you all! Gotta go grade some papers! And Carol, thanks for starting this thread! May we all keep each other great company on this long long road home!

  • Nicely said! That you are back at work and doing well is inspiration for the rest of us.

    You are right - to keep moving is so important. Even when my hip won't let me walk for long, I walk for 10 or 15 minutes, sit down (actually, recline rather than sit most of the time) then get up and walk again in just a bit. And if it is too chilly to walk aside - I am a wimp - I walk around and around inside for 10 - 20 minutes at a time. I try to walk whenever I am talking on the phone, at least 10 min every hour if I'm watching TV, while I am waiting for things to heat in the microwave or on the stove, etc. Sometimes these little bits throughout the day are easier for me to work into my day than longer walks - and they easily mount up to well more than an hour a day of walking.

    Thank you for your wise words. It is easy to forget that we are still healing, that healing takes time and energy and that we must be thankful that we are healing - though with painful slowness.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
  • So beautifully said! Couldn't have done better myself!
  • Sometimes I move too much though.
    My surgeon said that I am doing too much and to treat my body like it is still in a lot of pain. So I of course don't listen because I feel so much better. So last night I got home from work, made dinner, fed my daughter and got her pj's on, cleaned the kitchen, and then....it hit. The pain. I go through different pains now. My lower back starts feeling like there is a big bruise on it like someone punched me and my legs feel like a bee is constantly stinging it up and down the leg, especially behind the knee (poke poke poke). So I layed down and went to bed early and just said screw the laundry. Now I feel fine again and will once again do too much to where I get those pains again.
    I have alot of cooking to do starting tomorrow after work. I can't just lay up and pretend like I am in the pain I was after the surgery. I can't just not cook everything under the sun for Thanksgiving. I have about 20 people coming over, all in-laws and their kids. I have to make it presentable. They are only bringing 1 side dish each. I have all the rest to make. My husband will help where he can but it has to be perfect and if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. I'll inlist my sons to help with the cleaning but again if you want something done right you have to do it yourself.
    Then there is Black Friday shopping to do after all is said and done. My sons will watch my daughter so that I can shop but my plan for Saturday and Sunday are to recover from this wonderful holiday weekend so that I can make it to work on Monday.
    So, of course I am supposed to listen to my surgeon but being a mother, wife, and in-law to a large family does not allow that.
    Oh the things we women do without real appreciation!

    Thanks for letting me vent for a minute!
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