Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Back Surgery recovery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
If you have had back surgery How was your recovery?Walking,sitting,standing,bathing,dressing, so on?I just want to know what to expect.Surgery date 1-20-09


  • My recovery has been off and on.

    My pain was very controlled due to the fentanyl patch etc..I had my mom here to help me in the beginning with bathing etc and I am pretty well self sufficient now. I use my grabber and I keep reminding myself not to twist lift or bend.

    The hard part for me has been the vomiting, I have not been able to keep anything down in over a week. I am extremely dehydrated and the doc will not acknowledge that I am getting very sick due to the lack of fluids. My home mealth nurse came today and wanted me to go to the ER to have fluids replaced because I am so dehydrated that I am barely peeing.

    I have lost 14 pounds in two weeks and can not keep down even a swallow of water.

    I finally took of scopolamine patch and fentanyl patch today because I am sure that is causing the nausea.

    Physically, the surgery site is the least of my problems..lol

    Hope you do better than me :)

    good luck!!
  • Dina, how long ago did you take off the Fentanyl? It will throw you into withdrawal, especially at that dose. It made me sick at first, but when I put it on the belly, all the sickness went away. If you have it on your chest, that may be what's going on, it's the worst place to have it.

    Sorry Lisa, I didn't mean to highjack your post, but I'll tell you about my recovery. :) What kind of surgery are you having? Recovery differs according to the type of back surgery. I had a 2 level fusion on L4-S1 and it was very intense. I spent 5 days in the hospital, 3 were in ICU. The stay was a blur because I was on a PCA machine and slept a lot. I think I had IV Morphine from the machine and I had on my pain patch. Even so the pain was unbelievable; more than labor. At home I had my mom and relatives help out. You need someone home for at least 2 weeks. You can't shower for the first few days. After that, a good shower seat comes in handy. I had my walker and raised toilet seat from my first back surgery. A grabber is a must. I was allowed to drive 4 months later, only short distances no more than 30 minute driving. At 3 months I finally went to PT; I was let go because of no improvement. Long story short, I'm going on 8 months post op and the surgery didn't work out for me. I have chronic back pain and nerve damage in one leg, and currently I'm seeing a pain specialist.
  • I am 7 weeks out of a 360 fusion with ADR at L4/L5. I went home the next day without any problems. I showered the next day, standing up, with my hubby there to help wash my back. What a guy! He stayed home from work for a week to help out and that was great because I didn't have to get up and get anything.
    I walked up and down my long driveway and sat in my recliner(with extra pillows) but the best was a kitchen chair because it is easier to get up from especially if it has arms. Get a grabber, 10 bucks or so at the store or order online. Also, sorry to be graphic but a toilet tongs, yes, since you cannot bend it is necessary. You can get a special one that is bent at the end or just get a regular cooking type at your local discount store. Wrap the paper and have at it, practice before surgery. Shave your legs the night before and clip the toe nails, it will be a while before you do that again.

    Oh, have someone stay with you the entire time at the hospital if possible. This way if you have any issues they can make sure you are taken care of.
    Best Wishes
  • I have only been on Fentanyl for 2 1/2 weeks. I took it off about 2 or 3 hours ago, I asked the nurse at MD office she said I should be fine, Do you think it will throw me into withdrawal?

    I had it on my shoulder. I actually just ate a sandwich. That is the fist solid food I have eaten in 2 weeks.

  • It all depends on the surgery you are having...

    I had a 360 fusion with instrumentation at L4/L5 and then 6 months later a fusion from L1 to L5 with a bone graft from my hip. Both surgeries were 5 days in the hospital. I could barely sit up the day after but was able to walk with a walker the next day. I am an athlete so was in very good shape before the surgery. It definitely humbles you. Walking is more like a shuffle at first. A long handled shoe horn is very nice to have, the kind with the spring on the end works best I think. Pants with elastic waist bands are easiest to get on. I didn't even bother with socks unless someone put them on for me. I was able to get back in the water to swim in 3 weeks. Being weightless is wonderful. And yes shave your legs and clip your toenails the night before. And get a reacher. I had a safety bar put on my tub as it is a jacuzzi tub so is higher than a normal tub and I am quite short. Walking really helped. I had to kneel to eat as I could not sit in a rigid chair for several weeks. The recliner I could sit in. Everyone is different but expect a long recovery. The bone graft from my hip took the longest to recover from. Good luck.


    14 surgeries including L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation; L1-L5 fusion with bone graft from hip; L4/L5 laminectomy; accupuncture, prolotherapy, PT, numerous cortisone injections and rhizotomies
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • wow 14 lbs I wish that happens to me Just kidding.I do hope I loose weight but not like that. I have gained 40 lbs since I hurt my back 6 yrs ago.scopolamine patch and fentanyl patch are two things I have never heard of.Did they give them after or before surgery?So your surgery and mine will be 1 month apart.I sure hope things look up for you.,lisa
  • well I figured this might be a isssue. So pain you explain what to do?LOl. Sorry I am not sure what you mean ... use the tong to wipe? thanks,lisa
  • i will not be having a graph thank god but they will be going through my stomach to place a artificial disk L-4-5. I need to get some big loose pull on pants. I am not in good shape at all considering I have been in such cronic pain for 6 years I slwely but surely gained over 40 lbs. I hope to get it together after surgery.
  • On December 4 I had a PLIF procedure for (L5-S1). I am almost 5 weeks post op and starting to really notice a difference. The hip pain on the right side has completely disappeared and, the post op nerve pain on the left side has not been noticed the past three days. I am really encouraged with the outcome, but was initially discouraged about the recovery time.

    Fortunately, the time has really passed by quickly. The doctor does not want me to have PT right now and has only approved walking for exercise. Like you, I've put on a few pounds this past year (20 lbs.) due to my lack of exercising, so I was disappointed that I couldn't do more sooner.

    I know it's been mentioned in an earlier post, but we cannot stress enough the value you will find in owning a "grabber" or two. If I could only figure out how shave my legs and clip my toe nails with it, then I would be set :)

    Sitting was harder for me than walking and rolling over in bed gets easier over time. You will need to remember to get in and out of bed properly (they will show you in the hospital) and stick to it religously.

    Sorry to have such a long post, but I tried to answer all the questions in your post. Take care and check back often. The folks on this forum helped me more than the doctors and nurses ever thought to. Good luck!!
  • I have a grabber.I got one for christmas. Did you use a toilet lift of shower seat? I was told I need those things. Also how big was your incision?I just want to know what to expect when I wake up.oh ya did your Doc order you a hospital bed? I was told by mine I need to lay at 45 degree angle for the first 4 weeks? what did you do most the day ? where you up walking or in bed? I am not allowed to lift ofver 2 lbs or sit longer then 5 minuted in a 2 hr periods for the 1st 4 weeks..That seems like a long time to do those things.Thanks for all your help.I hope things continue to improve for you.,lisa
  • I had a 2 level l4- s-1 PLIF and discectomy and a biopsy on sacrum. Grabbers are good, also I like have rails that attach to tiolet, gives you something to hold on to. Shower seat I didnt use, I was not supposed to be in shower until incision healed for very long and I could stand. It depends on what you have been taking pre surgery for pain on what you feel like. I had alot of pain casue i have been on high doses of narcotics for 2 years. They gave me dilaidid and fentyl patch and oxycodone for pain. First 2 or 3 days are worst, gets better, First time up is worse and it gets better, I have a hospital bed have for 2 years. Depends on insurance co and your doctor, Most of day I lay, but try to walk as much as possible. You just need some help the first week orso. Then just help with showwering and stuff. You cant lift anything so dishes nad cooking and stuff is out, Also if you have small containers for stuff in fridge, like milk and things so it can be put on top shelf for you, it will help you be more independant when you are able to make cereal and stuff. I put my PJ's and underware on stuff on top of dressor so I could pick out what I wanted to wear without bending. Also a bedside rolling tray, laptop and same little rectangular plastic boxes will help keep meds and remotess and stuff so you dont drop them off table next to bed. Hope this helps. :H
  • I will get a table and get it ready. i like soup so I am going to go get some to fill the cupboard i should be able to handle making that right? ya know the kids in a can.?
  • I had a PLIF about 9 weeks ago, yes you do have quite an incision (mine from the middle of my back to my butt), & to be honest, be prepared for the pain. I was very lucky my husband did everything for me, but because of it, I gained 30 lbs really quickly! It took quite a while to get walking again, about 6 weeks for me for any distance. Then I still get really sore afterwards. I don't remember much about being in the hospital, you have a morphine pump (I did), plus they will give you anything to keep you comfortable. The real deal is when you get home, & don't have that advantage of having IV pain meds, that work quickly. You should expect to be down awhile. I wanted to do more, but your body will tell you what you can & can't do. I still take all my pain meds I took when I was discharged, i tried to cut back, but could do nothing when I tried. Not worth it. Good days & bad. I hope soon, the pain will be more bearable. He said 6 months to a yr. I said, no way, I'm too active. It has really got me down. Everyone is different. You may be up & going in no time. Hopefully you will. Good luck, God bless, Linda
  • Carnation instant breakfast is awesome. Soup is good too. But the instant breakfast gives you so many vitamins. The hospital dietitian told me to get some, i didnt have much of an appetite and it gives you good nutrition,. Also they have boost and ensure, I had that for a previous surgery, but expensive and carnation is just as good, well maybe not quite but is way cheaper. Dont plan on doing anything when you get home, everything will tire you out...Good Luck. Whats your date? Take a big garbage bag to put on the seat of your vehicle for ride home. Then you wont twist getting in and out, its a lifesaver. :)
  • I am now three weeks after surgery. As I said earlier, recovoery has been rough for me.

    They should give you anything you need in the hospital in regards to shower chair, toilet seat, walker, etc,...

    I spend most of my day laying in bed. I do walk around the house a bit, I don;t use the walker in the house anymore. If I decide to take a small walk outside, I do use the walker. I think I took my first walk outside about 1 week after surgery. The first week is spent in the hospital and in bed. I don;t really remember much of the hospital time. Pain medication takes care of that.

    I cooked breakfast for my kids today!! I actually really enjoyed that. I started to feel a little useless...lol...

    I hope your surgery goes well and your recovery is swift!!

    --Take care

  • I'm having a fusion at L5-S1 on February 4th and my doctor told me I'll be able to drive (and I suppose that means I can also go back to work) after 2 weeks!! That's awesome, but can that really be true?? I'm reading all this stuff that says 4 weeks, 6 weeks (or longer)...but 2 weeks??
  • I cant drive, can hardly sit in car. But everyone is differntt. I had 7 3/4 hour surgery. I think it would be a little quick.
  • Welcome to Spine health Momof2girlies,

    I don't know about driving after two weeks, I had a three-level fusion and for months I could not (was not allowed to) bend, twist, or lift. I am not sure about the requirements after one-level fusion, but seems to me, that no no BLT rule applies to all fusion patients. Without twisting a bit, I find it impossible to drive, especially when merging or pulling in and out of parking spaces.

  • do not think so you surely will need more time then that off work.I 'd go talk to your dr asap about it
  • Hi 2 weeks...

    What type of fusion are you having?

    I am having a Axial LIF. This is the new type of minimal envasive procedure with 1 inch incision at the tail bone and two 1 inch incisions on each side of the spine if you get stable screws. This type is new and does not has a much less recovery. You still have BLT's to follow and have the same fusion concerns. Some of my reading has talked about patients going back to work and driving in weeks after this procedure.

  • I was terrified that recovery was going to be really difficult, but I was pleasantly surprised. I never needed a walker, or a raised toilet seat, or any other special items aside from a grabber, and that was really just for convenience. Everyone heals differently, but it was really a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. My bf helped with my son for the first week and a half that I was home, then I took over again, and did everything around the house like normal. I think it depends a lot on a person's pain tolerance as well as their body's own way of healing. I say be objective, but don't stress out or fear the worst. Be prepared for the worst, but hope for the best, and stay level... If you've read all the stories here and aren't going into this blind, then I really think you are going to find it's not as bad as you thought. Good luck!
  • I had an anterior/posterior fusion and I was driving 2 weeks later (with approval of my doctor, of course.) And it was fine... Never had a problem. Drove myself to get my staples out, 10 days out of the hospital.
  • Just because you're cleared to drive doesn't mean you can go back to work. I was cleared to drive at 2 weeks, but wasn't cleared to work until 12 weeks post op, and I was doing great well before then.
  • Wish I was as lucky! I had my Morphine pump upped 5 times until it was at the max dose, and it still wasn't making a dent.... Ended up with injections of Dilaudid, Valium, and Percocet pills in between, and that didn't work so well, either. Once I got home I was fine but in the hospital I was absolutely miserable and my pain was NEVER ONCE under control, and they didn't do anything about it. My guess, though, is that because I am young they think my pain threshold is off and that I'm just exaggerating or being sensitive. Only, I have a high tolerance to pain... AND to meds. They weren't at the max dose of Dilaudid but they wouldn't up it. At least I got sent home with Dilaudid, Percocet, & Valium. Dilaudid in pill form isn't commonly given, so I suppose I have to give them a high five for that. Lol.
  • I had a two level lumbar fusion and I too found the grabber tool essential. You can ask the hospital's case manager to get you one or I saw them in walmart for 9.99 today. I used a shower seat and walker(also case manager can get for you) but did not use a toilet riser. I'm a bleach fanatic in the bathroom and to think of my husband or boys trying to clean the riser would drive me nuts so I'd end up cleaning it. So, I just used the walker to get up and down off the toilet(and for walking and resting-I'd lean against it. Putting a bicycle basket on the front of your walker is nice to carry around the telephone, bottle of water, and meds.

    Invest in ice packs, usually feels very good after surgery. My only limitation in driving was taking narotics. I could drive when I felt up to it but hard to drive when you're new to narcotics.

    Good luck to you, I'm sure you'll do fine. The members here give great practical advice and support.
  • Do you remember me from about two years ago on this site?? Long time no see. I see you are doing well, i'm glad.

    Evelyn :H
    Had PLIF in 2008 and a Laminectomy. One level fusion, L4-L5.
  • I'm having an ALIF at L5-S1. I've got a Grade II slippage in the L5 vertebrae (spondy). My doc is very nonchalant about the whole thing...the impression he gives me is that it's no big deal, I'll do just fine and be driving in 2 weeks. But then I read all these stories and think how could I possibly drive after 2 weeks!?! I hope it's true, but I guess I'm just preparing for the worst!

    I wish I could make a decision on the graft from my hip vs. the BMP though...I'm still struggling with this one!

  • Good to hear from you!

  • I felt fine to drive at 2 weeks... It isn't unheard of. The other people I know who had lumbar fusions were also driving at 2 weeks. The recovery was NOWHERE NEAR as bad as I thought it was going to be.
  • One more thing I thought of-steal everything you can from the hospital. Not really steal. But, you know those cloth disposable pillows some hospitals use? They throw them away when you leave so take them! They're great for the car and for home to get comfortable. Take that big rectangular washbasin they give you too. Anything that is not a reusable item, take it. That may sound really cheap, but when you get home, you do not want to be heading out to buy more pillows because you can't get comfortable and the big washbasin is good for vomiting. If they leave an open package of dressing supplies, take it, you'll need it and they've already charged you since it's been opened.
Sign In or Register to comment.