Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Post-op Exhaustion

DavidmakerDDavidmaker Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi there,

I had a two-level Lumbar Spinal Fusion (L4-S1) on 12.15.09. I believe I'm on track for a solid recovery--I am taking much less pain medication and have very little pain, and I'm up to walking a mile a day on the treadmill.

My big problem right now is sheer and complete exhaustion! I'm good for about four hours after I get up in the morning, and then I am so tired I must retire to bed.

Is this normal? Have any of you experienced this? How long did it take to go away? I am living on fruits/veg and lean protein, and I just started a nutritionist-prescribed vitamin/supplement program.

I can't imagine going back to work--or any type of normal life--with this level of fatigue. Thanks for any input you can give!


  • I had a 360 fusion from just below my shoulders clear to my tailbone. I told my surgeon on my
    9 month check up that I was still only able to
    be up until 6 p.m. and then my back would just
    kind of insist that we go to bed - not sleep -
    just have to lay down.

    He said that was very normal & to just listen
    to what my body needed. The littlest things
    still wear me out & I am almost 11 months
    post surgery. Today I went to the Art Museum
    and made it about 20 minutes. Then to lunch,
    where I rested & then tried to grocery shop
    with my husband. By the time I left, my
    back was burning & aching, I was getting
    that flustered feeling like I couldn't get
    home fast enough. I did get home, get in
    some more comfortable clothes & laid down
    & that will do me in for today & probably
    until tomorrow afternoon.

    So, yes, I think you're fine & it sounds perfectly
    normal to me.
  • Fatigue is VERY normal. I can remember having to take a nap after taking a shower, fixing my hair and getting dressed. It would exhaust me to get ready to go out, like to a doctor's appointment. I learned to only schedule one thing per day...like if I was going to the grocery store, I didn't plan anything else for the whole day!!

    Fusion is a BIG surgery and it is traumatic to the body. It is a carpentry project. They use the same tools -- saws, drills, hammers, screws, etc. One guy I go to for bodywork and acupuncture participated in a training session where they teach surgeons how to do the new techniques. He was telling me how absolutely shocked he was at the brute force that was used to wedge a cage in between the vertebrae, for example. After trying this for himself and seeing how much exertion was involved, he said he is now amazed at how many surgeries DO turn out well. It now seems to him that it is a miracle that the body can withstand this assault. But, I digress....

    the point is, it is very hard on the body, even if you are in decent condition to begin with. Then the body not only has to heal from the surgical assault, but it also has to mend and grow new bone and other tissue, go through the soft tissue realigning itself and becoming accustomed to its new position in relation to whatever was done in the fusion, etc.

    I had fusion two years ago so my memory is a little fuzzy, but I think it was at the six week mark that I felt a bit better and three months before I began to have a bit of energy. Even at six months I was not what I would call brimming with energy!! But younger people bounce back faster....

    In any case, do not be discouraged. Be patient and give yourself permission to take the time you need to heal. It is a long, slow process and it takes longer than any of us think it should.

  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of info on this site and the members are knowledgeable, friendly and supportive.

    You're still pretty early out from surgery at just over three weeks. I think you're doing great considering you just had major spine surgery, but you really need to listen to your body when it's telling you something like it's exhausted.

    Yes, it's normal to be very tired and even exhausted. Like I said, respect what your body tells you and rest when you need to. Also, you might want to recheck whether cutting out protein is a good thing to do. My post-op instructions include increasing protein for a while to encourage bone growth and here's a quote from a site that obviously feels like my surgeon does:
    In addition to maximizing your dietary fiber, it's also a good idea to eat a diet rich in protein. Surgery places a significant amount of stress on your system, and your body needs a good supply of protein for proper healing.
    In any case, I'm glad that you're having such a good and reactive recovery. Stick with the walking and taking care of yourself and hopefully you'll be back to normal before too long.

    With said, I think you'll find in reading most posts that going to work before three months was a mistake. I felt capable to go back part time after 12 weeks, but even then there were days I could only make it in for a couple of hours.

    Take care and keep us posted.
  • There is just something about museums that is absolutely exhausting for someone with spinal problems. I think it is the combination of the very unforgiving floors and the very slow pace at which one walks when looking at things.

    I can walk just about anywhere else longer than I can at a museum....
  • You beat me. You won. You were the tortoise to my hare.

    Davidmaker, Gwennie may have beat me in making a post, but we're basically saying the same thing. In fact, I'd bet that there'll be even more people posting here tell you the exact same thing that Gwennie and I have expressed - recovery from major spine surgery is a long road and there's no way to get around it. You appear to be doing a great job during your recovery, as long a you rest when your body tells you that you need it.

  • good to know you're doing so well following major surgery!!!! My advice????? Listen to Gwennie!!!! She's like the guru of this forum...I take her advice to heart 'cuz its good (those are good props for you Gwennie!).

    I'm 2 months post of for cervical spinal fusion and I still have day when I'm fatigued. I'm used to it now and have adjusted my schedule to know when I'll be tired.

    AS time passes you see the trends and will know how to listen to your body say "enough". On good days, its easy to overdo it (I'm the guru of that one). But if you don't rest, you pay the price...sometimes the price takes days to pays.

    But still....how good that you're doing so well!!!!!! Good job!
  • I had a microdiscectomy in August and was just wiped out for 2 weeks and that's minimally invasive. I did better week 3-6 but was still not making it more than 6-8 hours without being exhausted.

    Sounds normal considering you are not even a month from major surgery.
  • Thank you all for the quick feedback. I have never been good at having patience with myself, and I'm the grand mistress of overdoing it. I want so badly for this surgery (or "carpentry project" as aptly described above) to work--I have a terrific life to get back to living.

    My best to you all!
  • This May will be the second anniversary of my three-level lumbar fusion. I can say that I have recovered almost completely. I don't have any pain, and can do almost everything (with modifying some of my moves), but I still tire rather fast. Now it is true that I am almost two years older, so that may be that cause, but it may be possible that my body is reminding me to take occasional breaks. A few minutes rest is enough most of the times, but my stamina will perhaps never return to the pre-surgery level. You had your surgery very recently, so give yourself time, a lot more time.

  • At least there are steps forward or I would get totally discouraged! I had such a good day yesterday, had lots of ambition and today my only time up is to eat or use the bathroom. I have pushed myself to walk every day but today I couldn't, I took a day off, not by choice but because my body was saying it couldn't handle it. On a positive note, In only used tylenol today, no prescription pain killers so i guess that is a positive sign...but I would like to not be so tired, its so not the norm for me!!!
Sign In or Register to comment.