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7-Month Fusion Follow Up

MarkRMMarkR Posts: 172
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am now 7 months post-op and saw my surgeon today for a follow up appointment.

First, how do I feel? Overall, I believe I have made progress, though I still have many aches and pains. The most annoying thing is that I have constant minor discomfort. At times, it is as bad as before the surgery, but most of the time it is less, though noticeably still there. The discomfort is different than before the surgery.

I have also noticed that the pain and discomfort is much worse when we have colder temperatures (not surprising). When we have had warmer temperatures over the past 2 weeks I have felt much better, though some discomfort persists.

Regarding the appointment, my surgeon is pleased with my progress with exercise and also how things look on the x-rays. The x-rays now show some signs of bone growth. It is nowhere near solid, but is definitely noticeable.

However, he is a bit concerned about the constant discomfort at this point in the recovery process. For now, he has noted it and we will re-visit the issue at my next appointment in 4 months. If this is still an issue in July, he will have me do an MRI or CAT scan to see what's going on. In a worst case scenario, he said we may need to do another surgery to either clean out any problems or possibly put in rods and screws (he did my fusion with facet bolts).

He gave me a new prescription for Vicodin, just in case I need it every once in a while. Other than that, no changes to my routine. I guess it's just more of the same - exercise, being careful and waiting until the next appointment.


  • I am nearly 3 months post op L3-4 fusion & hardware for spondy & laminectomy/discectomy & L3 & L4. I still also have pain in the back/leg like before the surgery. I realize the dr said the residual pain from the very inflamed nerve root could take a year. I am just concerned as I've been out of work. I will be out for another 4 weeks. I'm seeing the surgeon next week. I dont' know whether to consider work or not. Sitting is still difficult for an extended period of time. I guess I'll check with dr next week. I guess it is not unusual to be out for several months with this spine thing. I had an L4-5 spinal cyst removed 4 yrs ago & was out 1 month (should have been out a couple more weeks then)
    I find the severity varies but I've been in mostly cold temps. I do the stretches& exercise & PT outside as well. It also hurts when I walk as it did before the surg. Some days it's better..I don't want to give up my walks as it's the only exercise I can really do!
  • Mark,
    It is great to hear from you. My doc is also talking about doing a smaller second surgery to add hardware from the back to cut down on "micro-movements" that may be causing pain. I have found that the more activity the better (it hurts at first, but seems to help long term)--but you already know this. Please keep updating!

  • Janet,

    We also talked about sitting issues at my appointment. One thing I have noticed is that the pain from sitting is somewhat related to what you are sitting on.

    For instance, I am doing pretty good when sitting on our well-cushioned couch. I also do good on chairs that have a decent amount of padding on the seat and back (I can substitute pillows and get the same basic effect). Sitting on hard wooden chairs, or chairs/couches that have little padding is quite uncomfortable.

    My surgeon said he feels the same effects when sitting, and he has never had a fusion. He said the best thing to do is avoid the problematic situations. However, if you can't avoid them, bring your own cushions.
  • Hi Chuck,

    Most of the time I agree with your assessment about activity levels - the longer I stay active the better everything feels. For instance, if I take a walk, things start feeling better after the first 1-1.5 miles. Also, the more exercises and stretches I do, the better.

    There are exceptions, such as this morning when it was colder out and my back never felt better during my walk.

    On your other subject, I hate the term "smaller second surgery." I know a second surgery would not take as long since they already removed the disc, but I get the feeling that recovery would just about put us back to square one. Definitely not something to look forward to.

    Hopefully everything will calm down. If not, maybe an MRI or CAT scan would reveal something that can be dealt with simply, perhaps in a less-invasive manner.
  • It's really good to hear you are progressing in your recovery and I know that you will continue to do better. I hope you will have good news at your next appt. 4 months from now. Take care
  • I am not far ahead of you in terms of recovery time - my surgery was July 21 and 23. So far, the surgeon is pleased with my progress but, like you, I do have some discomfort. Mostly different than before surgery except for some left hip pain for which I am doing exercises and acupuncture. The sitting thing is somewhat problematic - some days it is just hard to find a comfortable place or position for sitting. I get up and move frequently but never feel like I really completely relax except when fully reclining. That constant minor discomfort that you mentioned is annoying and tiring.

  • Mark, thanks for checking in, your insight has always been so helpful. I am now 8 weeks out from my ALIF, I went back to work this week and I am weary! I have a desk job, I can raise and lower my desk so I mostly stand. The problem has been meetings, and lots of them - I can't get comfortable in the meeting room chairs, and I end up standing which people are not used to, but they will need to get used to it!

    I have a lumbar pillow on my desk chair but you all have inspired me to bring a couple more cushions in to my office to bring to meetings as needed, otherwise this isn't going to work, I'll be in agony. My other problem is I'm now struggling to get enough walking in. Gotta get into a routine of some sort...

    I feel fortunate I really don't have any pain, just aches and I just take Tylenol at this point. Hoping it stays at that level, its nice not to have half of Walgreens pharmacy on my diningroom table anymore. Good luck and please continue to keep us posted.
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