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Recovery time

steve withrowssteve withrow Posts: 70
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Just wondering , we all have different stuff going on,,,for me it a L5/S5 fusion with instruments....I have been home from the hospital for 3 days , still laying down , I can walk slowly , cant sit to long...Im sure others have had this procedure , would like to hear what others have done during there recovery and length of time , like how long was it till you could just sit and chill , I also use a walker if I go to the mail box....


  • Hiya Steve. My surgery was just 3 weeks ago. I had a rough start, but I seem to be turning a corner this week. My walking is getting much better, as is my bed mobility. I can now put on my own socks! I can now lay on the sofa~was uncomfortable before. There is one rocking chair we have which as of today I felt comfortable to sit in.

    Every surgeon is different~so you want to ask yours for specifics, but most don't want you to sit for every long. Generally, they suggest to sit just long enough to eat your meals.

    Others will be able to give you more info, as I am just 3 weeks out. What approach was your fusion? posterior, anterior, both?
  • Awesome , sounds like you are doing great....posterior, anterior,not sure what you mean there. :? ...I believe anterior....I was under the knife for over 5 hours....is that a long time for this ?
  • is your insicion on your back or on your stomach or both? Anterior is stomach, and posterior is when your insicion is on your back.
  • Hey Steve, Iam 5 weeks post-op from a posterior(behind)l5/S1 fusion and I am doing fairly well. I was under the the knife for around 7 hours and within 4 days i was released.

    For me the first couple of weeks were the best cause i literaly couldnt do a damn thing..ironic i know. Now heading into the fifth week I have much more mobility, Iam getting major "cabin fever" and I wanna start getting back to my physical lifestyle.

    I have blown the time by reading, watching lots of movies, gaming, you name it, i've done it.
    Just understand that everyones recovery is different and take yours one day at a time.
    There are alot more people on this board who are farther into their recovery, hopefully they can help you..a little advice tho..when you can, and when you are not in pain, get off your pain meds.
    I was prescrobed Oxycotin and i was off of it within 3 weeks.
    PM me if you have any other q's
    Take care
  • very cool.....I am on Oxycodin and oxycodon....Hate em both and will get off asap...tried cutting back yesterday , bad idea.....I will say this much , I can feel my legs again , my feet dont feel like there in buckets of ice.....Alot of weirdness going on with the legs prior to surgery...
  • I had pretty much the same surgery as you did, with decompression, posterior (from the back) approach on 2/2/10. I was in the hospital 4 days before discharge. The first week home was rough but it does get better. I remember thinking it never would but was glad to be home.

    Remember everyone is different and heals differently. Also, every doctor seems to give different instructions.

    As far as my experience so far, I was sent home without a brace and no specifics other then no bending, lifting or twisting. I was unable to get comfortable in bed, even at the hospital, and have spent all of my recovery (when not up and about the house doing little things or out walking) in a recliner, with my surgeon's permission. Even 7 weeks out I am still in the recliner. I can finally get somewhat comfortable in bed but am in extreme pain when I get up so I don't bother as it's not worth the pain for me.

    I used the walker for 2 weeks until my at home physical therapist ok'd me to get a cane. Unfortunately we had quite a lot of snow right after my discharge and I had to do the majority of my walking around my living room and dining room since I couldn't go outside. Once the weather cleared and I got my cane, I have been walking outside and on the treadmill (after being cleared to do so by surgeon). I am only able to sit in a regular chair for about 15 minutes at a time and then I need to get up and walk around.

    I had a set back at my follow-up as it appeared the top 2 screws had moved a tiny bit and bone had not grown as well as on the bottom yet. I was given a brace and kept on restriction, no back to work for me, until my next follow-up on April 2nd.

    Everyday I feel a little bit better but I still have my bad days, when I overdid the day before or had trouble getting enough rest. Right after surgery I would read the forums and try to compare my recovery rate with everyone else. I just remember that we're all different and individuals.

    You've found a great place to get information and help. I'm glad I found this site way before my surgery as it has helped me so much with before and after.

    Best of luck for a speedy recovery.
  • Hi Gretchen...you mentioned a walker...I have one also , I used it alot at the hospital, brought it home and used it one day , I do you use it when I pop....LOL..But I don't use it around my small apartment , I have to lift it quite a bit , I didn't want to do that , so I just walk slowly....gosh ,I hope that ok......
  • You should check with your doctor before lifting anything. I was told nothing over the weight of a quart of milk, whatever that it is and have been very careful about this.

    I used my walker longer then I needed because I had, and still have, a horrible fear of falling. I also definitely needed it to help me get up out of a chair!

    I have a cane now that I use only when walking outside and it's really a just in case thing at this point. I'm always afraid I'll get tired out or my legs will hurt when I'm still far way from the houe

    2 things I couldn't have lived without, the toilet seat riser with handrails and the grabber.
  • Sounds like you're doing great. The goal should not be to see how long you can sit. Sitting for any spiney, but particularly immediately after surgery should be limited. Most of us were told about fifteen minutes per hour at the beginning. The reason for this is that sitting puts 30% more pressure on the discs than any other position.

    At the beginning you are best off walking, or reclining/lying down...reserving sitting for eating meals. Even once fully recovered, it is important to take more breaks to get up and stretch, and move around when spending hours sitting at a desk, riding in a car, etc.

    You will want to take it easy for the first three months...if at all possible. Walking is the best exercise for you. It stretches out the spinal nerves, which helps to keep scar tissue from attaching to the nerves or other soft tissue. It also brings freshly oxygenated blood to the surgical area. Try to walk on a flat, level surface. You want the spine to heal and the bone to mend. The least amount of stress you put on the discs the better.

    It sounds like you are eager to get back to all your old activities and exercise. I imagine your surgeon has told you that fusion is a BIG surgery and recovery is a long process. Try to learn to listen to your body. Don't get impatient and try to rush things along. Then you get in a vicious cycle of creating flare-ups which result in more pain, and then trying to treat the pain. Better to take it slowly and avoid the backtracking if you can.

    There are many excellent articles on this website. Take your time to look through them. You will find answers to many of your questions there, and then can find out individual experiences here on the board.

    Just take it easy, don't be in a hurry and you will make great progress.


  • Hi my name is Lynette and I had a L-5 S-1 fusion from the front and back, they call it a 360. I am 2 weeks post op today. i came home with cane and use just when doing my 5 stairs off the deck or when walking outside. My house is just too small for a walker and really a cane is all I need. For my 1st 6 days I was in my bedroom most of the time, sat in chair for meals and showered and walked briefly around the house. My PT in the hospital said he wanted me up every hour during the day and between showering, eating etc I stuck to that. I now am walking outside 10-15 min but I have worked up to that. I am now out on the couch alot but we had to raise the legs up on bed raisers cuz was too low for me to get out of. I have slowly worked my way down on pain meds. Just listen to your body, like everyone says there are so many variables with this and everyone is different.Some may have had little mobility pre op and those kind of things affect how we progress. i agree with Gretchen that the 2 most needed items are the toilet seat with arms and the grabber. PM if you have any further issues or questions. Lynette
  • Hi

    I am out 7 weeks and am on no drugs now even though
    some days I want some. I am walking most days 1 mile.
    Afterwards I do lay down and rest my back. I do have
    bad days and good days. It is depressing but realize
    it is part of it. This is a good site but realize
    everyone is different. I dont realize sometimes when I
    am overdoing it and pay for it the next day. Hang in there.
  • One thing I forgot - if you know you should not do
    something- dont. I learned the hard way and had several bad days after. It is tempting to pick up
    something you dropped etc. I finally got the grabber.
  • YOU GUYS ROCK....!!!Yes i also have a grabber , love it..once I dropped it and just stared at it ....I have my brace on...But yes , listening to your body is # 1 with me so far....good stuff on here guys....found a home....
  • Take it slow and listen to your body.I'm 7 weeks out from an L4-S1 fusion and I still find the most comfortable place is lying in bed. I was doing really well (walking about a mile, even went shopping -with a friend to carry my bags!) until a week ago when I just lost all energy. Am now waiting for blood tests to see if I have anaemia. I'm not saying it will happen to you, but be prepared for ups and downs.

    I was speaking to my physiotherapist today (my surgeon starts very basic PT at 6 weeks, other surgeons don't) and he was saying there is a very fine line between doing enough to strengthen muscles again and overdoing it. Basically what he was saying is that a little bit of discomfort may be good (if you are following the rules) but pain is bad and you need to back off and rest. My nerve is very reluctant to get going again and we are constantly having to increase my exercises in baby steps so as to work the nerve without aggrevating it. Slow steps but my surgeon did warn me that my recovery would be at least 6 to 9 months
  • I have also dropped my grabber, on my very first day home all alone. I stared at it for a few minutes and then finally got our long handled dustpan and manuevered the grabber onto that. Since then I have borrowed another grabber.

    I was lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who had had hip replacement surgery about 2 years ago and saves everything. I was able to borrow a lot of equipment, 2 walkers, 2 grabbers, the toilet seat riser and handles, the handles for the tub/shower, every type of orthopedic pillow, with the covers freshly laundered in lavender & vanilla scent, my favorite. It really came in handy to have doubles because we have 2 floors and the steps were difficult at first and I was only allowed to go up and down twice per day.

    I'm so happy spring is here and the weather has gotten much nicer. I'm not sure where everyone is located but I'm in Baltimore, Maryland and we had a horrible February. At least now, since I'm stuck out of work until at least the 1st full week of April, I can sit on my deck and watch the birds, squirrels and rabbits. My husband was nice enough to get me all my favorite bird and critter foods and hang them for me and I've made one of the plastic patio chairs quite comfy with all my pillows. I wasn't allowed to put the other recliner out there since the deck isn't covered :)
  • Funny, dropped mine today too and you do just stare for a few minutes and where theres a will there's a way. Got it next to a wall then raised it with my leg then grabbed it with tongs!! Lynette
  • thanks for the laughs ^^...a graber was the first thing my wife bought me..a week later i told her to get me another cause i kept dropin my graber..I now own 2! Goes to show a person how much we actualy take our backs for granted.
    Speedy recoverys and all the best to all.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I've also done the "uh oh the grabber is down" stare. Hubby says I drop everything so I had to get the grabber back in my hands without him or take more laughs. I did use my feet to raise it up so a point where I could get it to spring up and catch it. The grabber was my grandmother's and she passed away in 2001. I had given my dad a rotating seat cushion 2 years ago, when he was 80, for his hip replacement (to use in the car). I was convinced he was nuts when he said it didn't work because I saw it in tons of catalogs. He was right, not worth the price when I bought it nor the postage my mom paid to send it down here (and of course she forgot to send it with the grabber so she had to send it the next day). It seems odd to be borrowing health care equipment that was used by elderly relatives in the recent past :-)

    I am now about 6 weeks post-op from L3-S1 fusion. L4-S1 had been fused before so essentially the fusion was at L3-L4 with new hardware all the way down. The pain has been less than expected, based on my recollection from last time. Though I had a lateral approach (horizontal hip incision) that hurt when the brace was on. I have a hard LSO brace that is not fun but not painful, yet it's a challenge when going out. I also have a bone growth stimulator unit 24/7. Though yesterday morning hubby chagned the leads, I took a shower, and fell asleep. So it wasn't until late afternoon I realized it wasn't on.

    I seem to do fine when watching TV but as soon as I open a book I get tired. Same thing happens with movies. Yet I can watch 3 hours of old Law and Order repeats and do fine. I never did use the walker, though we had one at home hubby borrowed from a friend (who doesn't want it back so we'll pass it on). But we are in Phoenix so no problems with snow or rain and we have a ranch style home with just a step up to the entryway. Luckily in the bedroom we have sturdy nightstands and they helped me get up.

    I am up to a 4-6 hour sitting tolerance. Have done a few lunches out with friends, hubby tagging along as my chauffeur since he's out of work and had the same cabin fever. We will take our RV to Phoenix Raceway in 2 weeks. I'm giving my tickets to one of our friend who loves racing but could never afford to go. We camp on site with a group of us that work for the track (radio maintenance since hubby is into ham radio) and they'll watch the races at our campsite on TV.

    I will be putting my progress to the test Saturday as I go to Bunco (dice game) with 11 friends. I wasn't sure I'd go but it's at one of my actual friend's homes (some of the women I kind of know but only from this group event once a month) so if I were to say to her that I had to lay down she'd have no problem with that and hubby can take me there and back. Technically I can drive but don't want to take the chance just yet.

    I have done a little walking on the treadmill. Biggest problem is my right knee. I have a very bad knee that will be replaced in the next 10 years. Over the weekend I had to take more pain meds, but for my knee not my back. It's one of those times I would have loved to take some ibuprofen but that's just not an option.

    I've been able to reduce some meds which is good, but I like to have them. There have been a few days where I take maybe 1 norco and my standard Opana. And then out of nowhere a day or night that is so painful I'm in agony unexpectedly.

    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I like that, the "grabber stare." It really does feel like your hand fell off the first time you drop it, particularly if you are alone at the time.

  • I am now 7 weeks after a 360 (front & back) fusion L4-S1. Was in the hospital for 2 days and a rehab for 6 days. The pain meds made the first 2-3 weeks a blur and definitely helped. Netflix and Tivo helped too. Started physical therapy at 3 weeks. I just went back to work (light duty) on Monday. My doctor said in about 6 more weeks I could probably start resuming some more physical activities. I haven't taken any pain meds in several weeks. Standing in one place for more than 5-10 minutes seems to be the thing that causes any discomfort. The hardest part is remembering you're still healing. I helped a friend paint his fence for about an hour the other day and I was very sore for the next day or two. Good luck to you and wish you a speedy recovery.
  • hi steve
    i hope your recovery goes good for you..i also hated all the pain meds and was on muscle relaxers first wk.
    try slicing tennis balls on bottom of walkers..worked great for my moms walker.she had one that had only 2 wheels on front..so i took 2 tennis balls and mad a slit with knive and worked great..
    be careful i started feeling stronger after my l4,l5 fusion due to the pain meds..i wanted to do more..
    i put post-its all over ..bathroom mirror and cabinets so i didn't bend or reach..
    i also did alot of reading..i wished i had a laptop back then and had this site..so very helpful
    wish you the best and keep us posted on what your doing and how your doing..it can be very helpful to many going thru or going to have surgery
    share your tips
    best of luck to you
    neck,bone spurs pain started 04, back issues and fusion l4,l5 06~hardware removed.
    good few yrs. 09 pain sharp, numbness feet,legs, diagnosed fibro, neurop. legs.lung issues.
    daily goal do good thing for someone.
  • Hello. Glad to hear you are turning the corner. I am about 2 months out of a 2 level fusion (L4-L5, L5-S1), and am feeling pretty dang good. Was in the hospital overnight, and released the next day with no physical therapy orders. My Dr. doesn't want me to go back to work until May, but I am campaigning for earlier, as 50% pay doesn't cut it.

    I play a lot of XBOX (Battlefield), watch a lot of documentaries (did you Thomas Jefferson hated paper money, yet they put him on the 20?), and generally tick my wife off (she works from home). We also just redid our bathroom ourselves, but don't tell my Dr!!!

    Hope all goes well for you.

    BTW - I saw your myspace page and the Mask quote. Are you into MMA? I used to train before all of this, and plan to do it again when I can. I haven't seen anyone on here that was into it, so it made me take another look.
  • I just got home yesterday so can't help much on recovery yet. I'll be watching here to learn though.

    I don't have a walker or cane. I do have 2 grabbers at the ready but my husband is being very supportive and helping me with everything at the moment. :D

    Hope your recovery goes smoothly, but be prepared for some bumps along the way.
  • Hi, I just wanted to say hi and wish you well with your recovery. You got lots of responses from those that have been in your shoes (or back).

    I'm 6 weeks post op of revision microdiscectomy L5-S1 in hopes that it works so I don't need a fusion. I learn tons here in the event my back's future takes me a different direction than I want.

    I am giggling at the grabber comments.
    Dropping the grabber...it's like you need a back up grabber to grab the grabber. That feeling of it dropping and you looking and just "staring" at it, is priceless. We've all been there.

    Yesterday I dropped a cap to soda...do you know for the first time I said "oh well, and walked away". I had to trust someone else would pick it up.

    Good luck on your recovery.
  • Hi Jason , and every one else . No I dont fight , just a big fan....Especially of Mark Lewis , I just loved his out look on life ,its sort of how I live mine , with a purpose , a belief and a vision....I must have over 15 MMA shirts , as a matter of fact I have on a WEC shirt now......I have alot of respect for you guys that fight in the MMA , it takes a special person , a gladiator if you will.....I might pick up some Silver star shirts today...just lay on my back and shop , and when it comes to the door , well I let my grabber do the rest of the work.......It good to see all of you on here and thanks for all the advice.....
  • hahahah..I do the same thing..if I drop some ting I just walk away from it....lol...eventually I grab it later...thanks for all the advice.....The biggest advice so far...PAIN MANAGEMENT .....I couldnt agree more...today is day 8.....Damn , I cant stop itching....
  • Did you have stiches, staples, glue? My surgeon used some type of glue and the urge to scratch was horrible between weeks 2 and 3. I thought I would have to tie my hands to stop myself from scratching. It gets betters though.

    Here's to us girls who are MMA fans! I don't fight, obviously, but love the sport. They finally allowed it here in Baltimore and my husband and I had tix for the show in October but I was unable to go because of my pre-surgical pain. Looking forward to the start of TUF March 31st!
  • Hi there , my incision doesnt itch...its my whole body from the meds,,,,,YIKES....
  • ouch. I got dry skin from all the meds, which led to itching as well. Hope it clears up soon.
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