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With or Without a Brace after Spinal Fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Is it better to have a brace after spinal fusion or not. I had L4,L5 and S1 spinal fusion Nov 18th 2008, and the doctors did not put me in a back brace. I am just curious if others had the brace or not.


  • We recently had a good thread about this same topic. Please go to the following link.


    All the best... Bruce
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • and I could not imagine going around without a brace. My NS told me at my 3 week post op that I could quit wearing it, but I still find myself using it at times
  • I had the big ugly "turtle shell" brace and was to wear it anytime I was up and around for the first 4 months. At the end of 4 months my surgeon told me to take 2 weeks and wean myself off of it. I did. However, I still wear it when in the car - it may or may not help in case of an accident but I like the way it feels when I am driving or riding - much more comfortable than without it for some reason. I also put it on if I am going to do something during which I might forget and make some move I shouldn't - like trying to clean the bathtub.

    Different surgeons seem to have different theories about brace use. Mine was VERY insistent that I wear one. Some other surgeons think it is not only not useful but actually detrimental. Follow your surgeons instructions - he knows what he did in surgery and what your body most needs.
  • My surgeon doesn't believe in braces - IMHO it takes a very high degree of awareness to never do the "No-No's" (BLT's) 100% of the time without a brace. I have been wondering if my recovery would have gone better with a brace.
  • Noticed that you've been on some more posts lately. Does this mean you're doing much better? :)


  • I never had them, even though I had a three-level fusion. My surgeon believes that the instrumentation gives enough support, plus if forces the patients to develop those muscles that support the spine. Personally, I was happy about that, did not miss them at all. Life was much easier this way.

  • but no brace. I did have instrumentation (rods and screws) so he said I didn't need a brace. Braces actually can lead to the deterioration of your muscles if you wear them too long and depend on them too much to keep you straight.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • i had a fusion and decompression of L5S1 and a spacer at L4L5 and i wasnt allowed a brace. In fact im not allowed anything at all to help, no walking aids at the hospital or anything. I didnt even get any restrictions.

    Im 19 days post op now, and started driving yesterday, and im doing extremely well...but if it affects my fusion, only time will tell, at the mo i can do nothing but trust my surgeon and wait and see..but as for how i feel, ive not taken a painkiller for 3 days, and then it was 2 paracetamol after a long walk! Ive put a line full of washing out this morning and cleaned the kitchen...needless to say all my floors need attention as i cant get down to do those yet, but ive been squatting to reach things from the floor for over a week.
  • Please be careful and do not overdo it. We all make that mistake early in our recoveries and often live to regret it.

    Be really careful with any activity where you are reaching. Please avoid any twisting motion like sweeping. It will really slow down your bone fusion and it is hard on the adjoining vertebrae.
  • Shazza,

    Gwennie is right, please take care of yourself. I can understand you, because I had the same problem as you, I had no pain after surgery and was doing very well, yet I knew that my body went through a major trauma and my spine needed time for the fusion to take place, so I had to remind myself constantly to avoid BLT. Once you are fused you can do almost everything, providing you do it right.

    Good luck,

  • Shazza,

    Gwennie is right, please take care of yourself. I can understand you, because I had the same problem as you, I had no pain after surgery and was doing very well, yet I knew that my body went through a major trauma and my spine needed time for the fusion to take place, so I had to remind myself constantly to avoid BLT. Once you are fused you can do almost everything, providing you do it right.

    Good luck,

  • dont get me wrong, im in pain alright, just that its not excruciating, i feel as if ive got someone elses body from the waist down!!

    I dont take painkillers and use my pain level to tell me when to stop. I am not bending though, i squat to the floor etc, i got used to it when i broke my back i was in a brace for months, the sort that has a bar right up the front to hyper extend your spine, so i guess other parts of my body are already used to taking more responsibility for my movements

    I am not lifting either, if im putting out laundry, its like 2 garments at a time and takes forever, but i feel so good once its done mentally

    thanks for your concerns though, i do realise i have to stop myself sometimes, i had a day of doing too much yesterday, not on purpose though as i went for a long walk in the morning, not realizing that my daughter was desperate for shoes, and when we went to get some, we trawled 8 shops before finding any, that was too much, had i known i was going to be doing this i wouldnt have done the morning walk...

    i think i had such a hectic life before this, that even though it seems im doing way too much, to me im doing nothing at all, i was working 2 or 3 jobs and now none, im soooo bored!

  • I had a three level spinal fusion in the same place. I wore my hard plastic brace for about 20 weeks post surgery. Actually I wore it until my Neurosurgeon told me I was fusing. I did buy some of that plush fake sheep fur type stuff, cut it the same shape and (spray) glued it to the inside for more comfort. I was too scared to take it off until I was fused. I didn't want to screw up anything. Oh, I didn't wear it to bed though.
  • elasticated wide belt style brace with two shaped plastic bones (like a corset!LOL) either side of the spine & huge velcro fasteners to the front. The PT's got me into it within 10 hrs of finishing a 10 hr surgery for a three level fusion. It really did take two people to get me into to it initally, at home I had to lie on the bed & struggle by myself LOL. I wore it for around 2 weeks & then gave up because the "bones" hurt me more than anything. If I am going through a really tough/bad patch then I will get it out for a couple of days - can't realy hide it well under a dress shirt for work though - never a good look LOL!! But I always feel slimmer after having it on for 8 hours at work - then I realise the fat has gone north & south but comes back to where it should be damn it LOL !!
  • I've been in my brace since surgery. Doc said if I'm up it's
    on. Can't wait to have it off. But I am nervous about
    doing something to mess up whatever progress I am making.
  • 6 weeks ago, I had my 3rd spine fusion surgery. (L3,L4) At my 6 week post-op exam, the x-rays show that the bone is forming in the fusion, & the rods and screws are all nicely in place, so my surgeon's assistant took my brace apart and removed the large hard back shell and the front hard disk.

    That leaves me with just the heavy fabric brace, which in some ways is more comfortable. They told me to walk, walk, walk, but with 2 bad knees (bone on bone), it is easier said than done. I did quite a bit of walking after the brace was changed, and it did give me a bit more pain to deal with that has taken 2 days to get over.

    This surgery was done the minimally-invasive way, and it sure was much less trauma than when my 1st one was done the "old fashioned" way years ago.
    I think the minimally-invasive technique has put me about 2 months ahead in the overall recuperative process.

    The surgeon had to cut away some of the previous rods and take out 2 screws to make room for the new set of instrumentation. The 2 "holes" he had to make to cut away the old stuff was the most traumatized. The upper 2 "holes" to where the L3/L4 were fused was not nearly as painful.

    I was a bit concerned that using the "lesser" brace is not as much support as needed, as I am more uncomfortable after walking quite a bit. But after reading here that some surgeons are not using any braces, I guess my concerns might be groundless.

    I have ordered a "pedal exerciser" (as recommended by my surgeon's assistant) so I can sit in my chair and still get more exercise pedaling on the exerciser.
    I am 65 years old, and have gained substantial weight due to not being able to walk much for some years. I did not want to have to go through a lumbar spine fusion again, as it was so difficult the first time. So, I waited as long as I could before submitting to this recent surgery.

    I have about 80% less pain in my legs and right foot now, and about 70% less pain in my lower spine and buttocks. I was really apprehensive about having this fusion done the "minimally-invasive" way, but it looks to have been a success. I imagine that the pain level will lower even further in the months ahead as the nerves settle down. My legs will move better now than they have in a very long time.

    I was interested to read how other patients did with or without a firm brace.

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