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Lumbar Fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am having a lumbar fusion on Monday. The dr says my leg pain should be history when I wake up in the recovery room.

The things that scare me is how much post-surgical pain I will have and also how difficult and painful the physical rehab will be.

Any information anyone could give me would be really appreciated.



  • Hi,
    Was wondering which level/s are being fused and what type of operation -- ALIF or PLIF etc. The recovery period is typically long, depending on your age and physical condition before surgery. In my case I'm still in pain a year after my two-level ALIF, so I would say my surgery left me in worse shape than I was beforehand.
    Also, what is your diagnosis? Leg pain is usually a quick fix but there is a lengthy recovery, so as with everything in medicine, there is a downside.
    I wish you all the best in your surgery and recovery. Typically the doctors recommend about two months of physical therapy beginning about six weeks out from your surgery.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    When I had my cervical fusion (ACDF) in 2006 I did wake up free from the ever present nerve pain down my arm. It was amazing.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I wonder what planet your doctor lives on? Of course, it all depends on how many levels you're having fused, the degree of impingement on the nerves you had before surgery, etc., but I wouldn't count on instant relief when you wake up from surgery. I did have that when I had my microdiscectomy, but then that only lasted for six months. I had a three-level fusion almost a year ago and I'm not quite recovered yet. I did have a period a few months ago when I felt pretty good, but the pain is beginning to return. I don't know if it's the weather or what, but the past few months have been pretty hard to take. I hope you only have one level and that you'll be feeling great soon.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Hi Kathryn

    I hope the surgery goes well for you.

    Don't go to surgery expecting too much too soon, any immediate improvement will be a bonus. Take your recovery slowly that will give you the best chance of a successful fusion.

    I wish you a speedy recovery

    Look forward to following your progress.

    Take care Liz

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi there,
    hope yours surgery goes well.

    I had L5/S1 fussion with hardware. My leg pain went away completely. Unfortunately for me my hardware started to bother me about 6 months later. On Monday I'm having it removed.

    Recovery is a long procedure, so be prepared for that. If you do a search for items needed for surgery you should hopefully find the list of things to do and items to get before your surgery. Yes, you will need all those things.

    If you have any more questions you PM me.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hey kathryn,

    Altough I have not "yet" had a lumbar fusion, I have had a laminectomy to L4 thru L6 and a multi-level cervical spine fusion a year later it may be safe to say your leg pain may disappear post-op. But you have to remember when you leave the OR you will be under the influence of some high powered pain
    medication so you don't wake up in a severe amount of pain.
    I have found that following the Dr's advice, taking the pain med's on time, and staying ahead of pain symptoms makes it a whole lot easier and recovery
    a whole lot quicker.
    Take care and good luck to you,
  • Hi Kathryn - you might not get this until after surgery. I just wanted to let you know that you (and your doctors) are in my prayers. I hope you have a good surgical experience.

    I had my L4/L5 ALIF on the 14th of September. I was one of the lucky ones who came out of surgery without the pain I had prior to surgery: no back pain, no pain down my leg, etc. I did have incision pain but it was easy to determine that was the source of the pain. I've had more good days than bad days since surgery. I was ready and okay with being on my own days post op. I was in the hospital five days.

    Spend as much time as you can resting, followed by as much time as you can tolerate walking. Don't forget that it's not as important how far you walk, just how much you walk. It's not the smartest idea to walk five blocks and then realize that you are too tired to walk home...not that that ever happened to me :) Follow your doctor's orders: no bending, lifting, reaching. Wear your brace and follow the post-op instructions. Don't rush things. Even if you feel like your energy level is increasing, remember that you are healing: take things slow. Another thing: keep hydrated. Drink lots of water - you will need it. Pain meds paired with the surgical stress on your intestines, you may have some difficulty getting your bowels back to normal. Water, a softener with senna, dried plums, grapes - all these things will help.

    You've read the sticky note at the top of this forum so you already know the things you need to get you through recovery but don't be afraid to ask questions. I've found that every time I have a question, if I post it on the board, I always get lots of great advice.

    Good luck tomorrow. I hope you do well with your surgery. Please keep us posted.

  • Hi Kathryn, I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming surgery. I had a two level fusion from L3-L5 and bone spurs removed at L5-S1 on June 30th, for degenerative disc disease and two herniated discs. Oh by the way I just turned 35) Prior to surgery my leg pain was much worse then my back pain. Immediately after surgery, my leg pain was so much better, however my back pain is worse then ever. I still cannot get it under control. I was in a back brace for three months and I am just now almost completely weaned off of it. I still was not fused at my three month post op appt. Still on lots of pain medications and still not back to work, though I am going to try going back part time in December. I am starting to now experience numbness and tingling from my knees down to my toes on both sides, which seems so strange to me because prior to surgery, my leg pain typically was from the knee up, with it just going below my leg periodically. I just started PT a couple of weeks ago. i would certainly take things slow and do what your doctor tells you. Try not to get discouraged, because you will have good days and bad days. It certainly is a process, but you will make it through, and hopefully you will be feeling great soon. Again, i wish you the best of luck. Keep us posted.
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