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An Update and A Question

kahne9fankkahne9fan Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had L5-S1 TLIF fusion surgery on 8/31- approximately 3hr surgery with a 5 day stay in hospital. The neurosurgeon mentioned that it was a real mess in my back and mentioned some other things that he had to clean up also, which I am going to ask abt at my next visit. Now, 2 months later I am finally able to sleep in my bed again but wake up very stiff and in lots of pain.. Will this go away or will I have to deal with it the rest of my life?? This was actually a work injury so I am having to deal with workers comp (which actually they have treated me very good)also..Last week my case manager said that he had sent a request to my neurosurgeon to release me to light duty..I have a followup appointment tomorrow with the neurosurgeon after I go have xrays to see how well the fusion is coming along. I honestly dont think or feel that i am ready to go back to work even light duty as I am still experiencing alot of pain and some of my old pain is coming back..(not alot but some). What is the normal time frame for returning to work after this surgery and how long has everyone else been off work for recovery time??


  • You might want to call the hospital records department to request a copy of the operating room notes. Then you will have the official record of what was done during the surgery.

    It is normal to feel stiff and sore for quite a long time after surgery. The muscles compensate for whatever pain you might be having and this can create imbalances. Sometimes after surgery the muscles have to "rebalance" and adapt to any new changes...perhaps you are now carrying yourself differently, favoring one side, etc. I'm sure their are scientific reasons for being still too, but I don't know what they are.

    When I had my fusion which was PLIF, my surgeon told me to expect to be off work anywhere from 3 to a6 months, depending on how physically demanding my work was. Can you discuss this with your surgeon and let him know you do not feel strong enough to go back yet?

    Good luck to you in your recovery.

  • When I had my two level TLIF, I was told 6 months, but returned at 4 months light duty part time. I did lots of water physical therapy and then graduated to land therapy. Complications beyond my control occurred, and I had to be off and have other surgeries. My surgeon really didn't think 4 months was realistic, but if the complications did not happen(not my fault) it would have been fine for me. BUT, I had lots of therapy.

    If you do not feel ready, it is really important to communicate that to your physician. If you are not doing physical therapy, you might ask your doc about a prescription for it. A physical therapist not only can help you strengthen your core muscles and establish a safe exercise routine, but also give reports back to your physican and work comp case manager.

    In my state, you are allowed to be examined privately by your doctor before you consider having a case manager in the room. This also gives you a chance to communicate to your surgeon what the case manager wants(basically telling the surgeon what to do, imo only) and what you feel like you can do. Most work comp case managers that I've dealt with cannot argue physical therapy first. It is so important to strengthen those muscles and protect yourself from further injury(once again, my opinion, but having another set of eyes spending more time with you might help determine if you are progressing as expected or something else is going on.)

    Case managers will sometimes try and push return to work within 6 months by saying that some studies show that if not returned within 6 months, it is less likely you will return. Whatever. You have to do what you and your treatment team think is best for you.

    I'd talk to your surgeon privately first-tell you case manager you want privacy during the physical exam. In my state, you can even refuse a case manager, but then that can sometimes delay approvals for care.

    Good luck, keep us posted.
  • Had another follow up with my neurosurgeon today plus Xrays to see how everything was progressing.. Xrays showed that all was progressing well and my neurosurgeon said that he thought I was doing good. Found out some more info on the surgery itself..I know I should have asked these questions earlier but guess i was afraid to find out exactly what he was going to be doing. Anyways he did a complete decompression/facetectomy and a TLIF 360 spinal fusion.. As far as the going back to work..he just laughed when I told him that my case manager wanted me to go back ASAP..he said it would be atleast 4-6 months and maybe longer because I am such a small person as I may take longer to recover. My next appointment is for december 8th..plan on taking it easy and let my body tell me what i can and cannot do..I sure dont want to mess anything up since he says I am doing so well.. Thanks to everyone for answering my questions. I am so glad that i found this site as it has help me a great deal.
  • Sounds like you have a great Dr. I am glad that you are listening to your body. It will tell you what you can and cannot do. Always follow Drs rules though, cause sometimes your body wont tell you not to until later when it is too late. Ya know what I mean. Do take it easy, rest and walk. You and I know that we never want to repeat that surgery again, from taking on things to fast and causing problems. Welcome and hope to see you here more, and that your recovery goes well for you. Love, Robin
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