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8 week postop 2 level lumbar fusion

lizzyboollizzyboo Posts: 24
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi there. I was just wondering if i could get some feedback from people who have had the similar surgery as me as to recuperation,etc. I had a two level fusion L3-5 and bone spurs removed at L5-S1 on June 30. I am still required to wear my back brace, still can't drive, etc. My leg pain is pretty much gone with the exception if i sit too long then i get some numbness and tingling. I am still having a tremendous amount of back pain and muscle spasms. There are some days I am scared I won't be able to get out of bed. I am currently taking Norco, Oxycontin, Neurontin, Valim, Baclofen and Cymbalta. I am weaning off the neurontin right now. My 6 week postop went well and x-rays looked good, i just don't know if all this pain i am in is normal. I have a sedentary job, and know there is no way i could go back to work and sit all day at this point. I go back for my 12 week postop on sept 24. I have also noticed as the weather has been getting colder, my pain seems to increase. I guess I am just panicking because it seems like lately I am having more bad days than good. Anyways, any info would be appreciated.
Thanks, Tammy

6/30/09 two level fusion with instrumentation L3-5 and bone spurs removed at L5-S1 for herniated disc/stenosis
3/2009 trial of spinal cord stimulator
3/2008 bilateral lumbar laminectomy supposed to have been done at L4-5 but was improperly done at L3-4
Numerous injections over the years, too many to count
Been a walking pharmacy since my first surgery in 2008, which obviously didn't help.



  • You have undergone a MAJOR surgery and need to give yourself time to heal. 2 months out from a 2 level fusion is still early and much of your pain could possibly be due to the incision site.
    I also had a 2 level lumbar fusion and it was a long time (at least 1 year) before I truly felt back to "normal". Its great that your 6 week check-up went well. Hang in there,
  • I am so sorry that you are going through so much pain. I can't say I know what you are feeling because I don't, as I am still pre-surgery at the current time. But I do wish you the best and a speedy recovery.

  • Hi Tammy,
    I think what you're going through is very normal for this stage of your recovery. It's still very early in a process that can take one to two years. I had fusion surgeries for L4-S1 in October and January, and I'm still in considerable pain and unable to work. My pain management doctor says the notion that you can go back to work in two to three months after surgery is just wrong. Surgeons like to say that because it's less shocking than the reality -- it takes a good one to two years to feel normal again. You might be able to go back to work sooner, depending on the kind of work you do. I tried to go back to work half-time in June but had to go back out on disability. My bosses wanted me back 100 percent, and that was impossible for me. They were quite understanding and basically said don't come back until you're "fixed." That might be a while.
    Sometimes it feels like I'm making one step forward, two steps back. Physical therapy and low-impact aerobic exercies help a lot. You might consider a mindfulness meditation class.
    Give yourself lots of time. Pamper yourself. Don't worry about the bad days. It's all normal. Surgery is a major assault on your body. It takes a long time to heal.
    Best regards and hoping you will feel better.
  • I'm only 4 weeks post surgery. My leg pain is mostly gone, except for numbness on the top of my right foot mostly upon waking and a few other times. I'm taking Vicodin and Valium and sleep a lot. I'm following all the rules and my back pain is 100x worse than before the surgery. I had 2 discs totally removed (S1-L4) and replaced with cadaver bones wrapped in protein material and rods and screws. I had anterior and posterior incisions and my stitches came out on 8/17. The incisions are healing nicely and the pain feels like it is coming from the spinal bones bot the incisions. I see my surgeon for the first time on Tuesday. My biggest concern is that my company STD runs out in October and I don't think I'll be ready to go back to work. I do accounting and spend most of my day at a computer. Even with my brace, I can't do more than 10 mins with out extreme back pain.
    Thanks for listening and any advice
  • I had spinal fusion surgery 4 1/2 weeks ago. All of the leg pain I had prior to surgery is gone, thank goodness. I have no pain at the incision sight but I have deep pain in my lower back that I feel like is bone pain. No matter what position I sleep in, it feels heavy and sort of pressing and seeps into my pelvic area. I cannot sit straight up for more than 20 minutes without this pain beginning to set in and after about a half hour on my feet, I'm ready for my recliner. I also get what feel like muscle spasms on either side of my spine. I am concerned about going back to work mid-Oct since I teach. I question how much "better" I will be in 6 weeks than I am now. I am amazed at how well I can move at this point considering what I had done, but know I have a long way to go yet. Sometimes it is discouraging to think how much longer it may take before we are mostly pain free, but we also need to be patient. That is easier said than done, isn't it?
  • I am right there with you. My back pain is a million times worse, but luckily my leg pain is so much better. Sounds like our surgeries were similar except they just cut my back open and didn't go through the front at all. I like you, were planning on going back to work in about 12 weeks. I sit at a computer all day too, and I just don't know how in the world i am going to be able to go back to work and sit all day. I can't sit that long now, and sometimes my spasms literally will knock me down to the floor. It scares me to death. I can barely get out of bed in the morning, but once i get up and around i do better. I have had no income coming in since July. I work for one attorney so i have no benefits. I begged my doctor to release me to go back to work with restrictions, but now i am laid off because my employer can't take me back with the restrictions. So unemployment here i come, and I guess i will just have to see if i can find a job that will take me with all of my restrictions. i am just burned out i guess right now, I am tired of my brace, I am going crazy with the fact that I cannot drive and all the problems that it causes, and I have a 2 1/2 year old. In some ways I just don't feel like i am making enough progress. I am doing what i am told, i am walking, walking, walking, but like now, I just got back from a walk, and now i am laying flat in bed, because of pain. I wish I could offer you some advice, I know part of it should be stay positive, keep your head up, do what your told, be patient, etc...but i am just flipping out right now and having such difficulty keeping my head above water. I guess it is just a bad day. Tomorrow i am sure will be brighter. Will you keep me posted as to how you are doing? It is so refreshing to hear other's stories to not feel so alone, and to have someone truly understand the pain and fear that goes along with this. I wish you all of the best.
    Thanks for listening to me vent, i am usually not this negative. Tammy
  • I read your post, Jan, and was amazed at how similar your post-op experience is to mine. I also have a heavy, gnawing pain in my lower spine that sometimes extends into the pelvic area. My surgeon recently pressed on my sacroiliac joint and the pain was immediate and severe.
    I believe this is a common problem following lumbar fusion surgery. By fusing one part of the spine, loads are transferred to "adjacent" segments, in my case the sacroiliac joint and L3-L4. The longer-term question is whether the adjacent-segment pain will subside or persist, potentially requiring even more surgery. I would avoid another surgery at just about any cost as my body has had just about enough stabbing, cutting, drilling and hammering for now.
    You are four weeks out from surgery, so all of this pain is pretty much normal. I'm eight months out, and I know now that my surgeon's guidance about going back to work in two to three months etc. was just plain wrong in my case. My pain management doctor says it takes a good two years to get better from fusion surgery.
    You may be able to go back to work as planned, so don't get me wrong. I went back, but had to return to disability. It was just too painful. You may need more than the six weeks to get to a point where you can tolerate the pain at work. Hopefully you have disability insurance or some other safety net in case you need more time to heel. Don't let the pressure of returning to work further complicate your recovery.
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