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Nervous About What to Expect?

Patty5374PPatty5374 Posts: 14
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I've been reading a lot of posts and they have helped me immensely. But I still have a few questions I hope someone can help answer. I had a L5/S1 postior fusion with rods, screws, bone taken from pelvis, with batteries included four weeks, 3 days ago (5/3). I have to say the first two weeks were terrible. I'm actually feeling fine now although I'm taking my pain meds regularly, still wearing my brace and not overdoing it. I understand the lower back fusion is a harder recovery from the standpoint that the lower back carries more weight.

Am I really that lucky to be feeling so good, or should I prepare that the recovery will get worse once I get around more and start PT? I want to be prepared.

I'm also nervous about when to go back to work. I had an ACDF in May 2009, C5-7, and went back to work in two weeks - and paid for it dearly with the continued pain for months and months. My doctor is a man of few words and when I asked before the surgery he said I could start back at about two weeks if I felt like I could. But after my last fusion, I decided to wait longer this time. I'm now planning to go back in two more weeks (at the six week point) right when my PT will be starting. I'm becoming a Nervous Nellie. Am I going back too early? Will the PT set me back and be a wrong time to go back?

I am recently 50, at a normal weight, and have a desk job. My company told me to come back when I was entirely ready. I can't work half days or every other day as I "own" full programs. So when I come back, the people who covered for me will step away, and I'll be back doing 10ish hour days again.

Any advice on what to expect when I start PT as it relates to re-emerging pain and affecting my work? I'm nervous about going back too early and paying for it later. Please help me figure this out. I've lived with this for nine years and am so ready for all of this to be over.

Thanks for helping!


  • Going back to work so soon afer a PLIF, and 10 hours per day, sounds like way too much too soon to me. PLIFs are along recovery. Of course everyone is different, but if you can wait a little while more before going back to work, I think it would be a good idea to give your body that extra time.

    Just my humble opinion.
  • As we all know everyone heals at a different rate.
    I too have a desk job most of the time but am required to do other things as well. I have been off 3 months now and am hoping my long term disability will be approved. I will know tomorrow but it sounds like it will. I also have to be at 100%. Think about it this way..
    1. Can you take your medication during the day at work?
    2. How long can you actually sit? I find sitting to be my most uncomfortable position for any length of time.
    3. You said yourself you think you went back too soon with your neck surgery. Do you want to deal with that again?
    4. If you feel like you can't go back to work let your doctor know. Even if he is a quiet person...you don't be..lol..He will listen.
    Let him know specifically how you feel...and that you need to be at 100% before going back. It is good to tell them specifically what you can and cannot do throughout your day. I find that helps put things into perspective instead of just talking about your pain levels.
    5. Everyone has to make the choice to go back to work themselves. I know some people have to go back for financial reasons. If for some reason my long term gets denied I will be screwed and will have to figure something out.
    6. You might want to try out PT first before going to work. That is just a suggestion. PT works great for some people. I found that PT aggrivated my symptoms. I have been feeling better since my surgeon stopped PT a few weeks ago.

    Anyway just a few things to think about. Hope it is helpful.

  • YOu are out of your mind -- in my humble opinion!!! Why would you push yourself when you job is so understanding? And to go back and start PT at the same time is asking for problems. I would say add two weeks to that and see what happens when PT starts.
  • Returning to a 10 hour day job after only 6 weeks after a PLIF sounds very ambitious.
    If you are in a position where you can leave it a bit longer, that would give you more time to begin fusing and also get your muscles used to you moving about again.

    I am 11 weeks post PLIF tomorrow, and yesterday my PT suggested I wait to return to my Teaching Assistant job (lots of bending and sitting on small chairs) until the new school year, which is at the beginning of September here in the UK. That is originally what my surgeon told me, but I am also doing very well and was thinking of returning sooner. My physio suggested that I wait to give my body more time to fuse and get my muscles used to the movements that I will need to do.

    I know that for some, they have to return to work for financial reasons, but I think it can set them back or at least slow down the recovery.

    So glad that you are feeling so well.
    Keep healing!
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You've come to a great place for resources and support.

    I'm not going to say much about working after your surgery because I didn't have to deal with that, but I will say to take as much time as you can. Once you go, there's not turning back and you might find yourself in a bad position.

    As for PT, it's difficult. For me, although in the long run did great, it was painful and difficult to get through.

    I'm glad you're feeling well, but listen to others' experiences closely. We've been there and in this case, learning from others can really be helpful in making your decision.

  • Hi! I am 13 weeks post 360 L4-5 fusion and I think it is too soon also!

    I think it would be better for you to start PT and see how you do. PT doesn't have to cause great pain, but you will need to be in tune with your body and be able to communicate with your therapist how you are feeling.

    I have been going to PT since week 2, it generally wears me out! In 2 weeks I am goinng to try to return to work. I work 3 days a week, 8 hour days and I am terrified!

    If you can take the time to heal properly, I would do so!

    Wishing you the best! :)
  • Thank you all so much for your insight. Seeing that everyone was 100% in agreement, I am taking your advice and putting off work longer. I've got vacation time I can take and then we'll see after that. At a minimum, I'll do a few weeks of PT first before deciding how much longer.

    And, thanks for the suggestion, Tonya, to be more specific with my doc. He knows I work in an office setting, but not to the degree I have to be committed to it. I'll be much more specific in telling him the amount of time I sit, the time commitment expected of me in doing so and how it makes me feel. I do get sore after about an hour of sitting now, but since I'm recovery mode, I am able to lie down and rest after. That will not be the case when I get back to work.

    This one thread will save me so much pain and frustration. Thanks to Spine Health for this forum. Without it, I would be suffering so much longer.

    Now to figure out if/how long term/short term disability fits into the equation ...

    Thanks everyone. Have a wonderful day! You all have lifted alot of worry and concern off of my shoulders. I can't say thank you enough!
  • I just wanted to say that I'm glad you've found what you've needed here. The SH forums are wonderful with such helpful and supportive members. I think you've made a great choice in your recovery by takin more time off to heal.

    Don't hesitate to ask any more questions that you may have. We're here to help you in any way we can.

    Take care
  • I'm almost 15 weeks post A&PLIF of L5/S1 plus a discetomy. I'm 43 and my Dr had said I could go back to work in 8 weeks but when I saw him at 7 weeks I still had leg pain by walking from the parking lot to his office.

    He went over my job description and my schedule and decided to keep me out until early July but said he would see me again before and take it from there. My job requires that I lift, bend, sit for long hours in meetings and provide trainings. Some days I sit from 8:30a to 5p then sit for a total of 2 1/2 hours in traffic. I set up for trainings which includes shopping. I also thought I could go back work but I choose to wait. I will not receive PT and is still experiencing leg and back pain along with numbness in my left thigh. At my post opt appt my Dr said it usually takes 3-6 months for someone who has this kind of surgery to feel somewhat better.

    Take your time and don't rush back. A friend of a friend had back surgery six months ago went back to work in two months and is now in a wheel chair and is on permanent disability. Focus on you, it's only one you.

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