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multi-level lumbar fusion - swelling or flat back?

Jan MartinJJan Martin Posts: 164
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm 5 weeks post op multi-level lumbar fusion. Just been wondering if the flat look to my back from the side view is due to residual swelling or the end result. Looks like I have no lordosis (yep, been doing my homework). Anyone else with a story similar to mine that noticed this? Did your back eventually get more curvature as swelling (?) went down?


  • I don't know if mine is a result of fusion or if I had it before. It was never mentioned until after my surgery, by my physical therapist. (I had been in PT prior to surgery but it was never mentioned.) I think it may be a result of our spondylolisthesis and the surgeons' attempts to kind of realign things...but I am guessing at that!!

    In your case, I would imagine you still have some swelling going on.

    Aren't you glad you weren't trying to get back to school??
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    Are you still using ice? My multi level fusion was such along time ago. But I think I used ice for 6 weeks. I see your taking ibuproperan, thats 1 anti inflammatory, there are many others.
    I didn't find this site till after all my surgeries and thought I did my homework. But in the end I didn't and I trusted my orthopedic surgeon way to much!
    As a mater of fact if I had found a site like this I'm sure I would have done things much differently.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • Guess I need to be better about this. I have slacked off and tend to use it only when my pain level goes up. Shame on me.

    Jim - I am not taking Ibuprofen. Your comment made me realize (along with a few concerned spineys who pm-ed me) that I had not taken that off from my pre-surgery signature. I was told by my surgeon not to take Ibuprofen because it is an anti-inflammatory and it can slow the fusion process. I stopped the Ibuprofen 2 weeks before surgery.

    Gwennie - I used to have a girly curve. I hope I get some of it back. Prior to surgery I was so hunched over and my posture was so bad, I couldn't tell you how flat my back had become. You all were so right about me not going back to work! I cannot imagine trying to go back at 2.5 weeks post-op like I originally thought I might have to. I am so glad I've still got time!

    Time and Ice it is then.
  • Hi Jan,

    When after my 3-level lumbar fusion I looked at myself in the mirror sideways, I was astonished to see that my back was as flat as an ironing board, no curvature, whatsoever. When I mentioned that to my surgeon at the 2-week check-up, he said that it is due to the swelling of the soft tissues. Since I had no pain at all, I never iced my back, by eventually the swelling went down and my profile now looks normal. So be patient, eventually you will get ypur figure back.

  • in between the time you spend icing could you tell us how far you can walk. before surgery you mentioned 100 ft....thanks
  • I'm happy to hear your pain levels are down and that you can walk! Not only walk, but up to 3 miles a day! I'm so happy for you! Glad you are taking time to heal too.

    After surgery I felt taller because my back was so flat/straight because of the way I (posture and mechanics like you mentioned were different)walked and stood. Also, when I would look in the mirror the left side of my body was quite swollen and stuck out from my waist down to mid thigh. I was lop-sided from the front view yet taller from a side view! LOL! Wierd, huh? My back and body are back to normal(whatever normal is!LOL) now. I think it just takes time for all the muscles, nerves, etc. to heal.

    By the way, at 11 months post fusion I am feeling so much better. I told my family and friends it is like my body is coming back to life. I'm stronger and every day I notice I can do something I couldn't do before or that it is easier to do something that was so difficult to do before. I admit the pain is still more than I'd prefer but I can't complain because I know it takes time for the nerves to heal and I know it could be much worse.

    Just wanted you to know I think you are doing great! I hope you continue to have improvement everyday. Take care of yourself and don't do too much!

  • I am thrilled Pete to say that I am walking about a mile 2-3 times a day and that the pain down my leg that was so debilitating is gone!!! It took me a few days post surgery to appreciate that fact - had a few other pain issues that kind of side tracked me (maybe something to do with spending a few hours in the OR). I do have some different nerve issues in the other leg, but if they don't get any worse, I can live with them. I have to work at walking, trying to keep my posture and mechanics correct, and am not setting any speed records. I am far from pain free at this point - someone told me they put these metal things in my back about 5 weeks ago - but feel positive in time I will be better off (maybe just different) than I was pre-surgery.

    I have iced several times today - thank you very much -gotta admit it feels pretty good.
  • That is so weird. Why were you lop-sided? Were you just more swollem on one side? From the particular way they did your surgery? Hmmm. I'm curious if I'm really taller or not!

    I am really suprised at what I can do considering how I felt a few weeks ago. I know I've got a ways to go still. Thanks for the positive feedback. You sound like you are on the right track physically and attitude-wise! Enjoy the weekend.
  • what a difference in walking!!!! so happy for you....
  • and honestly I think my back still looks flat. Maybe I'm just weird but I don't seem to have that same curve I had before fusion.
    Mom to Tony 13, Gavin 9, and Donovan 7
    Surgery 1/07/2009:
    1. L3-4 decompression laminectomy and foraminotomy
    2. Left complete L3-4 discectomy with decompression of L4 root.
    3. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion, L3-4 with 10-mm Capstone cage and autograph.
    4. Posterior spinal fusion L3-L5 with iliac bone graph and BMP
    5. Legacy instrumentation, L3 to L5
  • Hope you had a good week end and continue to notice improvement daily. I love it when I notice I did something little, something we use to take for granted, that I wassn't able to do yesterday or last month, etc! The small things in life excite me now! LOL!

    I was more swollen on the left side because of the surgery. It was several months before it went down. I feel taller even if I'm not actually taller and at 5'0 it feels good to think I'm taller! LOL! I teased my dr. that if I had known ahead I would have asked for a couple extra inches! He laughed! LOL!

    Have a good day with less pain and more inprovement!
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