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core muscle tiredness post plif- normal or not?

nelnnel Posts: 402
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
as some of you might know I had PLIF 6 weeks ago today. After 11 days I developed a wound infection and had to restrict all exercise until it cleared 3 weeks later.
So for three weeks I pretty much did nothing as My surgeon said not to walk any distance. Having said that I did cook and so on when I felt up to it.
From last Tuesday (4 and a half weeks post op) I have been allowed to walk and I worked up from about 10 inuted to 35 minutes walking over a week. Since Monday I have been only walking the 35 minutes but on more uneven ground than before. I get tired by the end but a bit later in the walk and less so each day. The thing is that by middle of the afternoon I start to ache around my lower stomach and back and sometimes it throbs a bit. Paracetamol/ibuprofen works on this discomfort.
I have been struggling to sleep properly too- I wake up quite a lot not really comfortable- and I don't know if that is part of the problem. I have read the post about stomach sleeping and have started propping myself on a pillow but it hasn't made much diffecence.
I suppose I wondered if this is normal. Have the three weeks of infection delayed my recovery so I will be "behind" as it were?
I also know that I have had it quite good so far so I don't want to moan too much!! Do I just need to be patient?
Oh as an aside I am a secondary science teacher and work have asked about when I will be back. I have suggested after the christmas break - will I be totally better then without this core muscle ache??
Thanks in advance for any input.


  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    It is very very normal for core muscles to hurt. You are using them a great deal in getting around. It probably huts a bit to "put your back" into getting up so you end up doing much of that with your core abdominal muscles.

    Do you have disability from your work? If so have you filed a claim? Many school districts do have disability pay available. And if so you may have documentation on when your claim is approved through which would give you an idea of the medical duration expected. I would think 3 months would be a minimum for recovery before returning to work. But your work is unique. When I went back to work about 3-4 months after PLIF (at the time in social services) I could leave during the day if pain increased, etc. That may be harder to do as a teacher. If so, make sure you can function fully before returning.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I'm just curious if you were told to walk on uneven ground? I think that may account for some of your pain.

    When you have a fusion there is a certain amount of muscle and other soft tissue "re-education" and readjustment that must take place to accommodate the surgical changes. Also, most people compensate for the pain by favoring one side over the other. This is not done consciously, so you may not be aware you were doing it until someone like a PT, massage therapist or someone else who has occasion to handle your back or observe your movement draws it to your attention. Muscles, ligaments and tendons all shorten or lengthen according to how you were aligning yourself to compensate for the injury or pain. Then the surgeon comes along and through the miracles of modern science, rearranges you some more.
    So as you recover from surgery your body will gradually readjust.

    This is one reason why walking on an incline or on uneven ground is not a good idea while you are in rehab. You are better off doing everything in a more neutral position.

    The idea is to do whatever you can to maximize the results of the surgery and minimize the things that might take away from the optimal results...if that makes sense.

    Three months seems to be about the point where many patients begin to feel somewhat normal again and to have a bit more energy. You want to take whatever time that is required to heal well and completely. Your goal should be to never have to repeat this surgical experience!
  • Thanks for the input.

    SpineAZ :I am in the UK and so there is not disability etc. I too am worried about being able to sustain a full day in the classroom - as you say once there I am there for the duration! I am seeing my surgeon on Thursday and will discuss this with him. He has already suggested a staggered return, but I am worried that school won't understand the time he says I can work includes not just teaching time in the classroom but marking and preparation too!

    Gwennie: I haven't really been given any direction regarding the ground I walk on. I was walking the local lanes until Monday then I started going to the park with my dogs (I don't hold the leashes or anything that's what my husband is for!). I don't do hills but the ground is more lumpy than the lanes. Do you think I should stop then?
    I had thought yesterday that some of it could be because of the way I had probably been compensating since the problem began in March.
    I really don't want to have to go through this again. I will also speak to my physio on Monday and see what he thinks too.

    Maybe the thing is that I just thought I would get better a lot faster than ths and I need to manage my expectations? I am not the most patient person in the world!

    Thanks for your advice and guidance.

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