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Quick Question: 2 YEARS!!!!????

MomofthreeboysMMomofthreeboys Posts: 73
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Lower Back Pain
I'm sorry I'm new here and I'm reading through these posts and so many are saying that 2 years is the time it takes for a fusion to heal.(?) Then I see others going back to work at 3 months!! My Doc says we will know where we stand at 6 to 9 months. I'm so confused. I'm very depressed. I'm only 31 why can't I get better??? Okay I'll go take my Vicodin and Klonopin now.
Cyndi 8}


  • Hi Momofthreeboys,

    I guess everybody heals differently and every surgery can be different. I find it really hard to accept that the doctors don't have all the answers. If you are feeling depressed you might want to try an anti-depressant. The newer ones work much better with less side effects.

    Good luck with your fusion
  • Sometimes reading in the forums is scary. It all depends on how many levels of fusion you are having; what type of surgery you are having - Anterior, posterior, axil, 360, open or minimally invasive etc. Also, if you have existing conditions, smoke, etc. So, it is not just the fusion alone will fix a date to how you will recover?

    To my understanding, fusion usually takes 9 to 12 months to totally fuse. However, I have heard of cases where people said that they are fused at 3 months. A friend of mine had an open surgery where she has rods and screws on her entire thorac, it took her 2 years to be out of pain. For me, I only had one fusion, the pain stopped at 4 months, but fusion took a year to fuse.

    I hope you keep your hopes high. Have you had the surgery? Worrying is not going to do you any good, but do pay attention to your recovery, and work with your doctor.

  • Generally speaking, and I say "generally" for all the reasons that pepper mentioned that make each person's healing experience unique, a doctor will not be overly concerned if an imaging study does not show fusion up to one year. At this point, many surgeons will begin to wonder about a "failed fusion" or "pseudo arthrosis." However, the great majority of people are fused at 4-6 months.

    The two year figure you hear I think pertains to the time it can take for a nerve to heal. The main reason for pain we feel in the leg, foot, buttocks, and hip area is the result of nerve compression in the lumbar spine. This pain can be relieved immediately and the patient can feel relief while still in the hospital, or it can hang on and on. Because nerves heal VERY slowly, it can take a long time for the pain to resolve. People have been known to still be healing at the two year mark...but this is not the norm. Most people have recovered from the surgery prior to then.

    For a variety of reasons, some people must return to work very early in their healing process. It does not mean that they have FULLY recovered at this point. You can appear to be fused at 3 months but in all likelihood, the fusion is not as complete as it will be at 9 months.

    I always suggest people get several opinions before deciding on a procedure and the spinal specialist that will perform it. At that point, you need to put your trust in that doctor, listen to his instructions, respect the methods he chooses to use for the surgery, etc. A lot of the healing process is mental and having a positive attitude. It is important to select a surgeon you believe in, and then put your trust in him and in your body's power to heal.

    There is no one "RIGHT" way to perform a particular surgery. Your doctor will do what he does based on how and where he received his/her training, and then the experiences he has accumulated through his years of practice.

    So, while reading various people's experiences on a forum such as this can be very helpful, these will not necessarily be what you experience. Always keep that in mind as you read through what others have to say!!

    xx Gwennie

  • I just went back and read your thread on the back surgery board. If I were in your shoes, my instincts would tell me that despite what the new MRI supposedly shows, something is not the way it is supposed to be. I would take my new MRI and make an appointment for a consultation with another specialist. I don't think I would wait for another nine months to find out something has been wrong all along.

    Only you can decide if your surgeon is paying sufficient attention to your concerns. The fact that your pain seems to be much more widely distributed than prior to surgery would concern me.

    I had fusion in Jan of 2008. The day after the surgery when the PT was in my room for the first time, she asked me to do a simple movement with my right leg. At that point I discovered a pain in the front of my thigh that I had NEVER had previously. It was so intense that she ran out of the room to find the nurse, who returned with something powerful that kind of knocked me out. To this day, I am still trying to get to the bottom of this pain. It has gotten much better. But, in effect, I traded one set of problems for another...and the result is the same: it keeps me from being able to walk for more than a couple blocks or stand for more than a short while. But, as far as the medical community is concerned and statistically, my fusion is considered a success. I healed beautifully, fused on schedule and nothing shows up on any imaging tests.

    Sorry I am rambling here -- I guess my point is that we cannot always find the source of our pain. But in your case, it just sounds like something is not the way it should be. Have you had x-ray to see if the bells and whistles are in place? If I were you, I would first get at least another opinion to be sure there is nothing mechanically wrong with the hardware. After you are quite sure that the screws are not touching a nerve or somehow out of place, then you could start down the road of pain management to see if you can't at least be made more comfortable.

    Does the pain in your leg go away when you sit down or is there a time when you don't have it? Sometimes we have to just keep looking for answers, frustrating though it may be.

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