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Fusion Surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
:H So I just got back from my doctors appointment and they siad all other options have been done. I'm 28 years old and going to get fusion surgery w/ in a month. [( Can anyone please tell them about how the surgery went for them? Thank you :S


  • .. that you will be having in the search box here. Cervical? Lumbar? etc. I came up with many pages worth of posts.

    ALso look up Jho's Procedure. That is what they did for me on my cervical operation. Definetly not everyone is a candidate, but I thought I was too young to have fusion if I could avoid it for a few more years. Sooner or later I'll probablay need it-by then maybe medicare will pay for it, lol!

    So sorry such a young person like you is having such an operation, good luck!
  • It is the L5 and L4. the doctors will they could wait but they can't. I also have not had any kids yet so at least I know once i have this I will be able to bare childern. Well I am a canididate for fusion so I will keep you posted. Thank you :)
  • I had a fusion also. It was extremely painful and I hated the idea of having it done for the first couple of months but now I can say that I am so happy that I have had it done. I wish the doctors would have found the problem when I was 28. I always had back problems and each doctor that I went to either gave me pain pills or shots and sent me on my way. Finally I got a new doctor that figured that she would find out why my back hurt. That is when they found that I had Spondy. I was sooo scared. I can honestly say that 2008 was one of the worst years for me but I am sooo looking forward to 2009.
    If you really want kids then definitely have the surgery. Once I am fully fused, I will be able to lift my daughter and my grandson without having to worry about hurting my back. I will be able to take them to the park without having to leave early because of pain. There are so many things that I am going to be able to do once I am fused that I have not been able to do before.
    I had my surgery in April and I already feel better than I did before the surgery. I can walk for longer, stand longer, I have more energy, ect.
    Read the posts that are on here to get ready because the surgery isn't fun at all but it will be well worth it.
  • I'm so glad to hear that you are doing better. That makes me so happy. It also make me happy to know that you are already feeling better. I'm getting married in July and I was so scared that I would not be able to stay or stand at my own wedding. You have set my mind to rest w/ just the thought of when I have a baby that I will be able to pick them up and keep up with them. After reading what you wrote I don't think I could ever thank you enough. You have now become my best x-mas gift . O:) >:D<
  • Hi,
    Just wanted to post my two pennies. I am now 16 days post op from a PLIF (multi level fusion from L4 to S1). I had been living with back pain for years, my back would "hitch" up on me and I couldn't walk or stand for more than thirty minutes to an hour. I also had drop foot (i had no feeling in my left leg from knee to big toe and couldnt lift my foot upwards so it dragged). I had drop foot for a little over a year before I found a great doctor who took me seriously. We didnt go the conventional route of trying all possibilities before we discussed fusion. We went straight to the fusion option passing all other techniques like pain management, steroids etc. My surgery was outpatient and I was home three hours after my surgery. The first week so far was the worst, by about a week and a half I am down to one pain pill a day and two muscle relaxers. I have almost full feeling in my left leg and no longer suffer from drop foot or back spasms. I know I have a lot of recovery to do yet but I never thought I would ever be able to say, yes spinal fusion was worth it. It has been for me and I hope the same for you. Not a pleasure cruise but already at just over two weeks I see the benefit and look forward to more forward progress. I was terrified before the surgery, but when the day came I was prepared mentally and that made a huge difference. My positive attitude came from nowhere and I went into surgery with minimal anxiety. I wish you the best of luck and I hope this gives you hope as I am just 16 days post op and doing well, better than I would have ever dreamed. Good luck you will be in my prayers. Happy Holidays :)
  • My doctor told me that it would be a few days in the hospital. Did they go threw your back or threw your stomach? They have to replace the L4 and L5 and put pins in my back, so he has to go threw my stomach. Thank you so much. Please keep in touch. I'm so happy you are doing well.
  • Spinal Fusion surgery can be a scary prospect, but a good doctor will only recommend it as a last course of treatment.

    I am 4 months post-surgery and won't lie to you, it is painful and uncomfortable. However, I found it to be much less painful than I thought it would be. The pain meds do a pretty good job.

    The worst part for me was being patient and not being able to do anything except sleep, lay on the couch and walk. The best thing to do is go into the procedure with a positive attitude.

    The best advice I got from one of the surgeon's nurses was to NOT try to measure my recovery on a day-to-day basis. You just won't see much change day-to-day and it will drive you crazy. Instead, start out by comparing week-to-week, then month-to-month. In those time frames you will notice differences. It's nothing more than a psychological thing.

    Good luck with your surgery.
  • So are you back to work yet? The doctor is hopeful that I will be back to work in 4-6 weeks.
  • Not sure if you were addressing me about the direction of the surgery if it was through the stomach or through the back. Mine personally was through my back and they also did stabalize my back with screws and rods. I think the approach each doctor takes whether it be from the stomach or from the back depends on how they were trained and also based on the individual they are operating on. The best advice I can give you is that patience will be KEY in your recovery. Dont over anticipate or under estimate what you are able to do. Be proactive in your recovery with what the doctor has suggested you do which should be rest coupled with walking and moving around when possible. I was told that if I was lying down and watching tv I should get up every other commercial and just walk the room during that time, just to keep my body moving. Your body will tell you when it is ready to go back to work and how much it is able to do. Listen to the doctor, and physical therapists if you see one, but most importantly listen to what your body is telling you and express that to the docs. You will be fine, stay positive.
  • I was unemployed before my surgery and still am. The economy is bad enough for the entire country (and world), but we've been suffering in Michigan for several years now.

    Even though my work would have me sitting at a desk, there is no way I could have done it at 4-6 weeks - sitting was just too uncomfortable. Even now, 4 months post-op, I'm guessing I could do 5-6 hours ... 8 hours may be a stretch, though I think it would be possible in another month or so.

    I would guess I would have been able to get back to work part time somewhere between 8-12 weeks.

    Remember, everyone is different. For you, 4-6 weeks may be possible, but go with your gut feeling - if you're not ready, don't push it. It's not worth the pain and aggravation.
  • Hi Helpless, I had PLIF L4-5 on August 5th. It was very painful, but manageable with pain meds. It is a very long haul slow recovery. My surgeon initially told me 6 to 12 weeks off work. Well, I think surgeons often underestimate recovery times. I went back to work as an RN at 15 weeks post-op. I have a very physical job, so maybe something less active would require less time off work. If you read through these posts, you will find many who were off work 6 months and longer. I think it is very individual, and the doctors expectations vary as well. I was in a clamshell brace for 10 weeks, and went to physical therapy for 6 weeks before returning to work. Good-luck to you. Keep a positive attitude and take a look at the surgery must-have list at the top of this forum, for a lot of good ideas for preparing. Take care, >:D< Cali-Sue
  • I want to tell you my story too, and I hope I don't scare you. Everybody is different and heal at their own rate.
    I had a 2 level TLIF/laminectomy with instrumentation on L4-5 about 7 months ago. This is after I had undergone a microdiscectomy on L4-5 last year that never improved the pain from L4-S1 herniations. I stayed 5 days in the hospital and I used a PCA. The pain was tremendous. Nothing prepares you for that and childbirth has nothing on it. The incision was very sore and I had a drainage tube coming out and the contents of the bag aren't pretty. Thank goodness I had my family there and good nurses that were very attentive. I guess they had to be because I was in ICU. Most of the time is sketchy for me, but I remember being discharged and the ride home was hard. I strongly recommend a large vehicle with good shocks. My immediate post op meds were Fentanyl patches ( I was already on it for months), Norco, Valium, and ambien.
    I kept having severe flares after the incision healed and I had a ct/myelogram. All I was told was that it would take more time. My Fentanyl was raised to help with pain. Around 12 weeks I started PT, but didn't do well and they let me go.
    Currently I'm still on Fentanyl, Norco, muscle relaxers, cymbalta and motrin for chronic pain. It's been a difficult and long journey. I hope that your surgery goes well and you have a successful outcome. Keep in mind that it may take up to 1-2 years to completely recover. This is major surgery and you have to fully commit yourself and be as proactive as possible. I know you can get through this. Take care
  • Hi Sue, I saw your post in my returning to work thread, but since you elaborated a little more here, I thought I would ask here.

    Who decided when you were ready to return to work? Was it the surgeon, PT, you or your employer?
  • The doctor said due to my age after fusion I should be back in 4 weeks at work and fully back to my self in 6 months.
  • That hopefully being younger your risks of complications are less but be fully briefed on what may go wrong!

    I was and funny enough, got one added problem I hadn't covered. Just be clear in your own mind that this is not a quick fix, it can be 1-2 years recovery - that means bad days, worse days and better days.
    Patience and a good attitude.
    I wish you well. isten to your body and I really hope you bounce back as quick as they suggest!
  • Hi Helpless

    I was told I probably needed lumbar spinal fusion at 29yrs old. But since I was young we decided the try everything first so after a year and half of shots, pt, epidurals etc.. I had a laminaectomy and 2 level fusion L4-S1 with rods and screws through my back. I was in the hospital 5 days (would have been 3 but I lost a lot of blood). I was prepared for awful pain afterwards but with all the hospitals meds it wasn't that bad. But I won't lie the next 2 weeks sucked. Some pain, mostly uncomfortable, very frustrating, etc.. make sure you have people around to help with everything. The one thing I was not prepared for was the time it would take to recover. The surgeon said, you're young it should be about 6-8weeks. I wanted to buy it, even after reading on here how long it really took some people and my own father(a doctor) who said a year to be normal, I thought I would be back to work in no time. Unforunately at three months I was just beginning PT and no way could work fulltime, I tried at 4 months and lasted about 4 painful weeks and then tried again at 6 months doing part time which has been fine so far. Of course everybody is different so I don't want to discourage you but I think surgeons often give unrealistic timelines. Also I have to say that I'm glad I did it and even though its taking awhile, I really can't complain. I haven't had much pain since the first month just general weakness and siatica flare ups. So even though I haven't gotten back to my regular life exactly, its not like I've been bed ridden or in pain. Let me know if you have any questions and good luck. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner :D
  • Hi, as for returning to work, my surgeon pretty much left it up to me. I saw him at 8 weeks post-op and he said to wean out of my brace over the next 2 weeks and call for a note when I wanted to return to work. I was aiming for 12 weeks since FMLA would run out, but after getting out of the brace and starting PT (which I requested, he wasn't going to order initially) I began to have more pain, especially in my upper back and SI joints. I was paying Cobra so I was kinda in a hurry to get back as it was $578 a month. I was not a workers comp case, so my employer just required that I return without any restrictions. My surgeon would have preferred I work reduced hours, but that was not an option. I think surgeons give these quick return to work estimates to try to keep their patients thinking positive. You know if they told you 4 months to start, no one would go back early. But if they tell you 6 weeks, they get you thinking on a faster time line and perhaps you'll go back sooner. My surgeon is pretty aggressive with getting people back to work. He says being off too long causes depression and other issues. One main milestone for me was getting off narcotics. As a nurse I cannot work on narcotics, so had to be able to go without while working. I am allowed an occassional motrin now as well if I need it. Good-luck, Sue
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