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Post surgery pain meds...

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Is it true that ibuprofen inhibits the fusion process? I had a 2 level fusion (L2/3 & L3/4) on 2/19/08 and was prescribed percocet. I didn't like the way I felt taking the percocet (foggy head, tired all the time, constipated, etc) so on 3/15 I stopped taking the percocet and starting taking ibuprofen and tylenol. Now I'm reading that ibuprofen is a mistake.

Does anyone know?



  • Hello Power Girl, and Welcome to Spine Health!

    Your information is correct, you should not take NSAIDs (ibuprofein, Advil, Motrin, etc.), but acetominophen (Tylenol) is OK. If you are not sure, ask your doctor's office or even the pharmacists. It is very important that you question all the medications you take, as many of them inhibit fusion (including FOSAMAX). You don't want anything in your body that works against you. While on the same subject, in the past we had several discussions on diet that aids fusion, the consensus is to eat lots of proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, take Calcium supplements and multivitamins, and take care not to gain weight, as it would be added load on the spine.

    Good luck!

  • Thanks for your quick response Kin! Needless to say I'm not thrilled to know it's true but better to know it now and stop taking the IB then to continue and pay the ultimate price later. I don't understand why those instructions were not part of my discharge instructions from the hospital or directly from my doctor's office. Frankly I am really disappointed and even more anxious now to get in for my 6 week check up.

    I certainly do understand the importance of diet, weight, and exercise and am very much in tune with all that.

    Thanks again for your feedback!
  • Yes, you must NOT take those meds. Talk to your doctor.
    And walking is very important to healing as the spine does not get the same sort of blood flow as other body parts and walking and stair climbing actually HELPS the fusion process.
  • Hi PPGirl,
    Like all have said, do NOT take any NSAIDS. If your are having post surgery pain your NS should have given you prescriptions for pain meds or muscle relaxers before being discharged. If I were you and still experiencing pain, please call your doctor and inform them. Take good care of yourself and keep us updated.
  • I've had completely different info from my surgeon. In fact, on the "post op instructions" they gave me prior to surgery it suggests taking ibuprofen for swelling, and if it's not helping call them for a prescription. In fact, while still in the hospital, an nsad was actually what brought my pain level down to acceptable. Now, I'm almost 3 months out, and I am still taking daily ibuprofen, 2400 mg's on most days. Maybe having BMP used makes this ok? Anyway, talk to your surgeon :p
  • Thanks everyone for your feedback. All good input. Seems it's a very controversial issue with no documented clinical evidence from what I've been told locally. I will see my surgeon next Friday and do intend to ask him about it.

    Jusserfinn, pardon my ignorance but what is BMP?

  • Here is a link to a study published in the journal, SPINE:


    It concludes:

    Conclusion. These data suggest that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs significantly inhibit spinal fusion at doses typically used for postoperative pain control. The authors recommend that these drugs be avoided in the early postoperative period.

    Perhaps it is a topic open for discussion, but why risk taking a NSAID even if there is a small risk that it will slow down or inhibit fusion? Who wants to take a chance??

    Celebrex is the one NSAID that most surgeons allow a patient to take, if necessary, as it works slightly differently.

  • NSAID should be avoid after a fusion surgery because it will prevent fusion. Other types of surgery, like microdisectomy, you may use nsaid. Percocet is a narcotic and the body takes a while (a week) to get used to it. If you don't like that feeling, it is wise to stop. Ask your surgeon to prevent lower strength med like hydrocodone or tramadol. Still you may experience side effects as well. How is your pain level like? Sound like if nsaid is helping you, you may not need stronger meds at all. At times, instead of percocet, I took extra strength tylenol. It also helped me wean off narcotics easier later down the road.
  • Pedal Power Girl said:
    Thanks everyone for your feedback. All good input. Seems it's a very controversial issue with no documented clinical evidence from what I've been told locally. I will see my surgeon next Friday and do intend to ask him about it.

    Jusserfinn, pardon my ignorance but what is BMP?

    bone morphogenetic proteins. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone_morphogenetic_protein

    I just found out last week when I got my surgical notes that they used it. There are quite a few interesting threads in the forums as well, do a search, or maybe someone can link the threads? (can't find them, my eyes get very blurry after reading these for just a little bit, getting to that point now, sorry!)

  • Sorry for not posting sooner. I saw my surgeon on Apr 3rd he did confirm that there have been reports of NSAIDs impeding the fusion process but since I'd stopped taking them I should not have a problem. It could be too soon to tell of any impedance but he reviewed my x-rays and said everything looks good. Next appt is May 15th; hopefully we'll see progress. :SS

    Thanks again for all your replies!

  • Thanks for your feedback. You asked how is my pain level. I haven't had anything stronger than tylenol since week 3 so I think I'm doing very well overall. In fact, I'm in week 9 now and the only time I need to take tylenol is if I overdo it at PT or sit for too long. Otherwise I feel very fortunate at this stage of my recovery.

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