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How long.....???

steve withrowssteve withrow Posts: 70
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Ok , I know every one is different , its been 5 weeks since my TLIF with instruments and fusion , L5/S1 . It seems when I push myself a little , the next day I hurt , mainly in the hip area , then its pill time . I take 3 to 5 Percs a day , they are the 5/325.,...Maybe I am not giving my self enough time , I thought ALL the pain would be gone . It comes and goes , sure I get around alot more , but I am tired of pills...Any input , would be appreciated...

thanks ,


  • Wow, you're still VERY early in your recovery. I'm almost four months out and still need pain medication and muscle relaxers - I'm in PT now.

    I still have days where I feel good and do too much then have to spend the next day doing relatively nothing. It can take up to six months to feel even close to normal and I know people that have told me they didn't start feeling really good until a year afterwards.

    So don't worry or beat yourself up over anything. You had major spine surgery and at five weeks, I'm proud if you're just walking at this point. Be sure to keep up on your restrictions, no BLT, and continue to take care of yourself. You have a long way to go, so be kind to yourself, both physically and emotionally.

  • Hey Steve! I am 7 weeks out from a 360 fusion and I still take pain meds 3-5 times a day. I am active and I do push myself but I have good days and bad days. Today is a very bad day. Finding the fine line between enough activity and too much is so difficult for me!

    You are still so early in your recovery. I know you are anxious to stop your meds, but.....

    Have you started PT? Several times since my surgery, my aleignment has been off. During these times, I always have increased pain. Everytime, I think it is just post surgical pain, but it's not.

    She also helps me to strengthen my core muscles and I am beginning to see definition in my upper abs! :)
    I can't imagine where I would be without her!

    It might be worth it to see when your surgeon plans to refer you to PT. The key is to find a PT who has additional training/experience in spinal/ortho rehab!

    Hang in there! We are still so early and this truly is a journey, not a sprint!! Take care! Shari
  • Thanks Cath , What is BLT ?....Yes . I drive , go to the store , do laundry , walk alot....I just talked to the DR....6 mothes before pain goes away....YIKES...He said take it easy , then try again , repeat...
  • Thank you Jay , on the 28th I go in , they want to take a picture , at that time I am going to ask about PT..They have the PT right there at the office , I have also heard that my Dr. is one of the best spin surgeons in the North west...I am sorry to hear that your having a bad day , if it helps ,. I am having one of those day to...Spiritually good though...

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Is Bending Lifting and Twisting
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Wow! You guys all might want to back off your expectations a little bit!! ;) From my perspective, you are all early in your recovery.

    Steve, not to burst your balloon, but you will be extremely lucky if you ever reach the point where ALL your pain is gone. You can pick up just about any literature on spinal surgery and see that people seldom up end with complete pain relief. I'm not talking about the need to take medication for it...but from now on, you probably won't ever take your back for granted again.

    Many surgeons do not recommend formal PT for their fusion patients until after twelve weeks. It is a matter of personal preference and where the doctors did their training. Don't read anything into it if your doctor doesn't want you to start for a bit longer. They all have their reasons for doing things the way they do.

    BLT is "shorthand" in the spiney world for no bending, lifting or twisting...the trinity of No-Nos after spine surgery. To that you can also add: no reaching overhead or to the side, pushing and pulling. These are restrictions to keep in mind as you gradually increase activity so you don't accidentally damage your surgeon's work!!

    Also keep in mind that even though your restrictions will be lifted at some point, it takes a year for the fusion to set up solidly and strong. Your surgeon may not tell you this. Some say you can do anything you want...as long as it doesn't hurt. I prefer a bit more guidance than that as you never know it hurts until after you do it.

    The most important lesson for you to learn at this point is PATIENCE. Your body will heal at its own pace. There is very little you can do to hurry along the process.

    If you are interested, there is a new section of the board under the heading "Recovery from Surgery." You can see others' experiences there.

    Just remember to use good, common sense, and keep walking. Walking is the single most important activity you can do at this point in your recovery.

    Good luck.

  • Thank Gwennie , I really like your post and that's what I want to hear . You know I just sit here every day wondering whats next , and yes I am patient . My doctor doesn't say to much at this point , thats why it so nice to come here and get directions and experience from others . I am VERY please so far , and yet a bit nervous...You guys rock....!!!!
  • I can assure you that, at least from my experience of reading posts on various boards since 2005, what you are going through is very typical. Most people feel recovery is taking too long and they get worried and start imaging that any "new" pain is the beginning of some big problem...but it just takes awhile.

    You might be interested in a thread that was started a couple months ago. I originally wrote the first post on the thread as an answer to someone who was worried because he was a couple weeks out from a two-level fusion and had been led to believe that he'd be all better in a couple months. Then Ron asked to make it a new thread, I agreed....so that is the background of it.


    Just for your information, I didn't even drive until eight weeks after my one level PLIF...and I didn't feel up to going anywhere either. But at three months I felt well enough to travel half-way across the country with my son. We spent 4 LONG days looking at houses for him and his bride-to-be...and I lived to talk about it!! At six months, I was dancing at their wedding...albeit, a couple slow dances. ;)
  • Thank you gwennie17 , Maybe you miss under stood me , I know for a fact I have up to a year , maybe less with a bone fusion , I dont expect to heal over night , I am good with my body , I even eat better then I have eaten before . I have lost 15 lbs because of that . In a way , I spoil my self.I take care of myself and listen to my body..If it hurt if I drove to the store , I wouldn't drive any more...I have never takin this good of myself , and I promised my self I will never stop . I feel great...!!! What I was getting at , is what I was feeling was normal ,I dont have experience with pain meds ,nor do I have experience with back surgery .Its nice to know that you guys are here , some days I feel a bit alone...Today I actually picked up the phone and called my doctor , said to expect some sort of back pain up to 6 months , and leg pain on and off up to three months..He has no reason to blow smoke up my ( you know what ) being this is an occupational disease , there are several attorneys involved along with the state of Washington , so I do feel I have my back covered ( no pun intended ) ..All I wanted to know that what I am going through is normal...I guess we just assume the new spinneys here no what is going on...This all new to me...

    Thanks for the link , that was a great read...!!!
  • No, I think I understood what you were saying and feeling.

    I wanted to reassure you that most people feel the way you do, and it goes on for many months after a fusion surgery. Some people feel pretty good after a month, but it seems from what I have seen on this board and others, that they are the lucky exception! It is a long haul.

    I am glad to hear you are taking good care of yourself. That will help with your recovery. Before you know, you will be an old, experienced member of the spiney club.
  • I think we must all feel at some point, how long is this going to take.

    I am doing exceptionally well in my recover (apart from my incision not healing!), but last night had a minimeltdown. I am so fed up with those dressing. 5 weeks today and still needing a dressing and frequent changes at the doctors to have it cleaned.
    I was also upset that everything is so hard; getting dressed, showering, turning over in bed, even sleeping. I think I was feeling very tired. I feel more positive again this morning.
    Hoping you are all having a positive and cheerful day :-)
  • Jelly , you are in my prayers.....!!!!..God bless you..!!
  • Isn't it amazing how the sun rising helps to feel better. My favorite Psalms verse (I can't remember the number) says that God promises to dry your tears as the sun rises to a new day. This verse has given me great comfort these pasts months!

    Hoping that the sun is shining on you all today giving your strength and courage to have a GREAT friday! many hugs Shari
  • Hey Steve, this may be a swing compared to the other posts but I AM pain free..that is I do not have the post back pain that I had for 15 years prior to my surgery (plif/hardware.

    I just surpassed 9 weeks and I havn’t had to take any form of pain medication since 2 weeks post-op.
    I live on a ranch and I also work in construction and I have been gradually getting myself back into these trades avoiding various things that I know will trigger or potentially mess up my fusion.
    During the past week I have been operating a loader for around five hours a day as well as doing various other farm related things…..fencing, getting irrigation ready, etc.
    I am doing this only because my GP and my Neuro told me to use pain as a threshold..I have yet to exceed it.
    However, I am not throwing 70lbs bales of hay around and I still adhere to my BLT restrictions. My legs are getting a thorough workout tho as I use them to pick up things from the floor.
    The only problem iam facing is range of motion and mobility in my legs.
    I will see my neuro on may 4 for the first time (as well as x-rays) and I am hopping then he will clear me for some kind of PT.
    Everyone heals different Steve. I just thought I’d throw you a positive note.
  • That is how I feel today also.

    Steve, sounds like you are on your way to a good recovery...it certainly is a test of patience...maybe we will be better people for going thru this experience. That is how I choose to look at this. Still...when I have a bad day...the spineys help me get thru it!!

    Jelly, I hope and pray that your incision heals soon so you can get on with it...and get well!!! :-) It must be frustrating to deal with everyday!


  • Are you wearing your brace when you are working? Any tips for doing the more strenuous tasks?

    Thanks...have a great day!!
  • Yes I am wearing my brace..i actually wear it almost 24/7...as prescribed by my Neuro.
    The reason I am able to do alot of the things that i am is because I learned (the hard way) at 18 years old to use your legs when lifting, keeping things close to your body, maintaing proper posture, (which I always forget)and basically just proper body mechanics.

    I read one of steves posts regarding unloading the dishwasher..I have no problems with this because i just squat.

    I realize that i am still early in my recovery and iam hopping i dont eat my words but i really believe walking and working out youer legs can benifit one from recovering from these types of suregeries. I am looking forwards to PT because the core strengthining that iam doing doesn't "feal" right and i realize that i do need my back muscles back.
    Don't wana blow my knee's out.
    The best to you all and speedy recoveries.

  • I really value them. :-)

    I had my dressing changed today and the nurse said it is looking quite good. She thinks that the infection is healed, and everything looks dry and it is starting to form a scab. I don't have to go back until Wednesday next week Yey!!

    I have felt much more cheerful today, and yes, the sun has been shining on me all day. (No more tears :-) if you remember that verse Shari, I would love to know it)

    Keep healing all of you, and thanks so much for all the emotional support that you give me. :D
  • The specific verse is on my facebook ~ A dear friend posted it for me during the funeral. I think of it almost daily. I am going for a walk and then taking my adorable daughter to get her hair cut and a few errands if I am up to it.

    This afternoon I will find the specific verse and post it!

    Thank you my dear spiney friend for your support. I don't think I could do this without you! Much love, Shari
  • I'll look out for it.

    Are you driving now? I haven't driven yet.

    I really value your friendship and prayers too Shari.
    I feel that I have made some good friends on Spine Health.

    I've had a difficult day today. Had to go to ER this morning. I'm being treated for a mini stroke. I feel fine now, but have to see my GP on Monday morning. It was scarey!
    I'll post soon about it.

    Have a good weekend :-)
  • Oh my God Jelly,,,,you ok...??? whats going on..??
  • Oh my dear friend!! I am so saddened and scared to have read your post. I am guessing by a "mini stroke" you mean a TIA? The good news is that these really are meant as warning signs, that is unattended a bigger one could be on it's way!

    What fabulous news that God is watching over you. Your body has been through so much! I am so sorry! This surgery is so very difficult!

    It breaks my heart that I am so far away! If I weren't, I'd be there to help in any way you needed!

    I will keep the prayers coming my dear! Many. many gentle hugs! Please let us know how you are doing!!! xxxxx Shari
  • I've had a good day today. Taking it quietly, but still going for a couple of walks.
    My family have made sure I always have someone with me.
    I gave them quite a shock.
    Will see a doctor tomorrow morning.
    Will let you know how it goes :-)
  • steve, dont feel alone. on 4/23 i too was 5 weeks post-op for a 2 level fusion. l4l5/l5s1 was thinking this aint so bad gonna make my doctor proud, but i now have gone backwards a few steps and i had to increase my frequency of taking my pain meds.(norco,valium,oxycotin,and flexril) i also wear a hard brace when im awake. ive had prior surgerys so i quess i should have expected this. quess just have to sit back and ride out the storm. my best to you.
  • Thanks Jim and every one..its weird , different pains on different days , some days I just cant get comfortable..Mornings are the worst , BUT , they are getting better...I am so grateful for all you guys being here...I see my Dr. on the 28th , he wants to take pictures...And I need a refill I guess..All good..

  • tomorrow at your appointment. Hope that the x-rays show things to be just how they should. Remember, don't expect to see fusion, but if you do, CHEER!

    Keep being a patient patient and rest and walk.
    Remember, these are very early days yet. :D
    (That's what they tell me, anyway!)
  • Thank you so much Jelly , and I hope and pray that you your self are feeling better...
  • I slept quite well last night and woke up feeling great - so relieved after getting the all clear from the stroke consultant yesterday.
    Now I just need to get this incision sorted and then ALL I need to focus on, is the fusion.
  • Well , Dr, said today after x-ray , every thing looks real good . Start PT in a month , see him again in two months ....I am very pleased , yet still alittle sore...Oh , I asked him when the rods and stuff comes out,,,he said at this point , they will not ever be removed , that the idea is for the graph to grow all around em .
  • Sounds like everything is as it should be.
    I think it is common to still have soreness at this stage. There is still a lot of recovery and healing that your body needs to do.
    The worst is over. Now slowly, slowly your body needs to finish the job.

    Take care, and don't over do it. (I did yesterday!)
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