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Not fusing yet

jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Recovering from Surgery

I saw my surgeon yesterday to review x-rays taken at 7 1/2 weeks.
Last time I saw him, he said we would be looking for signs of fusion.
Yesterday he said there was no fusion visible, but that it was too early. I knew that this might be the case, but I do feel very disappointed. :-(

What I also found strange is that he said he doesn't need to see me again until my 12 month check up (no 6 month check).
Now, I am feeling quite good and getting my mobility back but waiting til March to see him, not knowing if I am fusing or not sucks! I guess I'll just have to thinking positively and assume that I am fusing, unless I have any increase in pain. He did say I could make an appointment if I had problems.

Reading of others who are still not fusing at 6 months, and now trying to get their spine fusing, does make me think I should be doing as much as I can now. I did ask if he had any advice to help, but he said no. Hmmm!

I am a very proactive type of person, and feel like I should be DOING something!

I'll talk to my physio who is a great communicator and explains everything to me. Maybe he has some ideas.

Someone should devise a course for surgeons on good communication skills with their patients! They seem to find it strange that we want to know what is going on!
Hello! This is me, we're talking about. Lol! I suppose they can't be good at everything :-)

Any ideas on things I could add to my regime to help fusion to take place, will be gratefully received. I know you are not doctors and will decide for myself if I think it will help me. :D



  • As you know I know nothing about fusing and have never had a fusion, so I can offer no advice but I can offer you support!

    I hope someone has some good news for you. I agree that some surgeons need better people skills, no doubt about it. If you are unsure and a few months down the road you really want to know if you are fusing, then maybe you can just schedule an appointment with him and tell him you need to know.

    I am glad that you are feeling good and getting your mobility back, one step at a time....you'll get there!

    Good luck and as always my very best wishes,
  • Is that normal for surgeons in the UK not to see their patients for one year?

    Did your hardware, etc. look good on your films?

    I agree with Sandra. Maybe you can have a consultation with your surgeon in a few months, especially if you are concerned with your progress.

    You know what I've been dealing with this week concerning my fusion. I did get my bone stimulator yesterday, and have an appointment to see my surgeon in 3 more months, but when I asked if we would do additional xrays at that time, he said NO! That doesn't seem logical to me either, but what's a girl to do???!!!

    Guess we have to just wait it out, Jelly!


  • Every surgeon is different. All you have to do is read the posts to see that. Also I would imagine that different health systems and insurances allow different treatment. A surgeon operates. Once the surgery is done and your incision is healed he is done. After that if you have problems you should probably go back to a neurologist or orthopedist because they can diagnose continued pain.

    Jelly did he say anything about a bone growth stimulator? 7 weeks is still pretty early but like you said you want to be proactive. Somewhere on this site is an article that says when fusion happens by generally. Maybe some diet changes would be good to. See if your physio has a nutritionist.

    I'm glad you have such a positive attitude. I think that's at least 75% of the battle.
  • I am 3 months out and see my surgeon every 4 weeks. But he is known to hang on to patients for a long time from what I have been told. Fine by me. I like knowing he is on top of my care.

  • My x-rays were done 4 weeks ago, so I may have started to fuse now. It was frustrating to have to wait 4 weeks to get the results. I know that it is common to not show any fusion so early, but it seems a long time to wait until March (12 month anniversary) before doing further x-rays to check.

    I suppose as long as I feel good, I shouldn't worry about it. I do wonder though, if 12 months is a bit late to start to try to help, if fusion still hasn't started by then. :S

    This surgeon is doing fusions and the follow up all the time, so I hope he knows what he is doing!! I mustn't over think this. :) Still in the meantime I'll eat well and do everything else I can think of! :D
  • He said very little!!
    Didn't mention a bone growth stimulator. I don't think they are used much in the UK. Unless someone can tell me otherwise.

    I'm going to speak to my physio. He might have some good ideas. I am nearly 12 weeks now, so if I've still not fused, I'd like to try to redress that.
    I'll never know if I have or not, so I'd like to do everything I can anyway.

  • I was surprised that he didn't want to see me until 12 months post surgery, which will take us to next March. I was expecting to see him at the 6 month stage.

    The hardware looked good and he was happy with the position of it and the cage.

    If I start to have worse pain or any other symptoms, I'll contact him and say I want to see him.

    It is probably best that I don't have any more x-rays for the moment. I have had so many over the last 18 months. If you count each picture taken, I've had 13 and a CT scan in that time!! :jawdrop:

    You're right Lisa, we'll just have to wait it out. But in the meantime, let's do everything we can think of to help things along!! :D
  • Jelly can your GP do x-rays? That might be quicker and easier. And he could send them to the surgeon to look at.

  • so no. My GP would have to refer me to the local hospital for x-rays. There would be a wait for that.

    I have an appointment with her next week to get another certificate off work, and am forming a list of things I want to talk about.
    This will be one of the topics on my list.
  • sorry to hear about your fusion and doctor visits.
    had my xrays done today, but i cant tell if i'm starting to fuse yet. see my neuro 6/16. then will find out for sure.
    i can still see the little cages in there, and the 6 screws, looks like 2 of the screws are crooked so i hope they didnt move.
    i see doctor every 4 weeks and i also know he keeps seeing patients steadily even past fusion for his reports. sorry your doctor is making you wait so long to see him.
    just keep hanging in there and i'll let you know what doc. says after i see him
    My Best always to you.
  • Jellyhall, I'm so sorry you are disappointed. I would be too. It sounds like we are very much alike "doers". I only see the doctor at 6 weeks and 3 months, don't know after that, but one year seems like a very long time to wait, I'd make an appt. with him @ 6 months.....just to get an update and put your mind to ease. I think that is what I'm going to do if the surgeon says see you in a year after my 3 month visit. Have you tried going to a nutritionist ? I saw one and she gave me a few supplements to take that help bone growth, plus I love dairy, so the more low fat dairy and low fat protein like fish and chicken and turkey you eat, that all helps tremendously with bone growth. My PT guys said weight bearing exercise. Talk to your PT guys and ask him if you can use some light weights in your work out. That is all I can think of now, I go in to the doctor @ 6 weeks July 1st. I will report on fuse or no fuse to you then. Cheers! <:P You're doing great. Keep it up.
  • After my surgeries, the only appts that are scheduled are 2 weeks, 3months , then a year.

  • for your advice and sympathy.
    I have been eating healthily for the last 18 months, while I was trying hard to avoid fusion surgery. Hopefully if I continue that, it will help. I am going to look into supplements that might help me too.
    I walk 2 miles every day, so I think that will help the blood flow to the area, which will hopefully help.

    I will ask my physio next week if he has any ideas.

    I have had a few extra appointments with my surgeon due to incision problems, including an infection. My appointment on Monday was just under 3 months.

    I probably shouldn't have an x-ray too soon as I've worked out that I've had 13 x-rays and a CT scan in the last 18 months. Enough radiation already!

    I am also getting my friends at church to pray that I will fuse. :D
    Their prayers certainly helped me to face surgery very peacefully, despite my being terrified at the thought of it initially. Everyone who knows me, was amazed at how calm I was, even as they wheeled me to the operating theatre! :-)
  • It is disappointing when you so desperately want to move forward.

    I take magnesium and silica to help my bones. Calcium upsets my tummy but then I get more than enough dairy and I take Chia seeds regularly. Chia seeds are very high in calcium and all the omega's and are very good for energy.

    Perhaps your body has been putting all its energies into healing the infection rather than growing bone??

    I found light hand weights hurt my back, so I discontinued them. Also, some of the exercises the physio gave me hurt so I discontinued them. At the stage where you are now, I was basically just walking and stretching.

    I've recently started learning some basic Tai Chi and I find the deep breathing gives me more oxygen and is very relaxing.

    Apart from proteins, can't suggest anything else.

    I know it's frustrating, but hang in there.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008

  • for your comments.
    My physio said he really believed that I would fuse ok, as I am doing so well. He also said that the problems with my incision that went on for several weeks, could have slowed me down.

    I am going to eat well, walk and do my exercises and just trust that all will be ok. :-)

    I'll look into Chia seeds too :D

    Went shopping today and just looked around. I managed to shop for quite a while without getting the awful pain of the old days. :D I felt so happy!
    I am going to plan a trip shopping with my daughter. Haven't been able to do that for over 2 years!!! =D>

    Hope you are having a good day.
  • Glad to hear you were able to shop around and not have pain! Great for you. I hope you heal completely and fuse. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN

  • I am very optimistic about this surgery :-)

    How are you doing?
  • Jelly it's not so much about what the doctor says. WHat is important is getting back those things in your life that have been impossible. We don't get all of them and we might need to make some adjustments but being able to do some of those things is wonderful.

  • Good day Mrs. Jellyhall. I guess I am a little late to this post. I am sure you will be fusing soon, if not already. I know our situations are a bit different, but I wanted to reassure you. Since you asked, I will tell you what I have done to ensure a good fusion. I will also give you my time-line. I do not think you should worry. Sorry for not keeping in touch since we became buddies.

    I have thought to myself that I am getting too many x-rays. At each check-up, I get a front and side x-ray a few minutes before I see the doctor and he pulls it up on the computer and we review it that visit. At the 3 and 7 week appointments I saw no fusion. At the 13 week appt. I did not think my surgeon was going to say anything about fusing, so I asked. He had to point out the faint clouding, because I told him I saw no fusing. I almost thought he was BS'ing me, just to make me feel better. At the 20 week appt. it was hard to tell where the bone stopped and where the fusion started, I was amazed at the difference from the last x-ray. So, please don't worry yourself.

    I have been taking a multivitamin(one pill in the morning), a calcium/vit.D/mag/zinc supplement(3 pills[1@lunch,1
    @dinner,1@bed]),a vit.E(1 pill w/dinner), and fish oil(3 pills on the same schedule as the cal. supplement). I have been making smoothies with strawberries, blueberries,lite coconut milk, pineapple, bananas, yogurt, kefir, honey, flax seed and a fruit/vegetable juice blend; everyday. I am sure that is overkill, but I feel I needed to supplement my diet. The smoothies were for the vitamins and minerals, and also for my digestion to counteract the opiates effect on my intestines.

    I did not start PT until the 3 month/14th week. This was after the 13 week x-ray were my surgeon said he could see the fusion starting. Prior to starting PT I was only walking. I had worked up to an hour a day. Some days I could not do that much walking at one time, so I would bust it up into 2 to 3 sessions. I could not do this walking w/out pain medicine.

    I have not gone back to work yet. I am on my second round of PT, which lasts @ least an hour 3 times a week. I still have low back pain and have experienced a few moments of leg pain. My PT says I am not ready for work yet. I was suppose to go back on 7/20/10 which is 6 months. I have a very physical job and my surgeon said he will support all the therapy my PT or I feel I need.

    Keep the faith!

  • for you helpful and encouraging comments.
    Good to hear that once you started fusing, you moved on with it fairly quickly.

    My PT said that between 3-6 months is an average time to get fusing underway. He feels confident that I will fuse ok as I am progressing well with my recovery. He is still being careful with what we do though, and will continue like that for another month.

    I am a proactive type of person and want to feel that I am doing what I can to help my healing along.

    Several of the things that you are taking to help yourself, I am also taking. I feel that it can't do any harm, and it may just speed things up a bit.

    I did hurt my back yesterday when my granddaughter asked me to go on a roundabout with her. I thought that just sitting on a roundabout couldn't harm me! Well the centrifugal force really caused me to tense up all my muscles to stop myself from being thrown off. Wow! That flared up my pain again! :O
    I can't believe I was so silly! @)
  • I miss my Jelly!! I haven't been on the 'net much lately and when I have been, I have forgotten to check for postings here!

    Perhaps I need to tie a string on my finger to remember! :)

    I have total faith that you will fuse completely and quickly! I just know it in my heart!

    Is a roundabout what we call a merry go round? A peice of equipment for children to play on that you stand on and hold to a bar as it goes round and round? I have the best mental image thinking of you hanging on (for dear life! Kids like to go faster than adults! :))

    I am so happy you have felt good enough to go shopping! That is a good sign! I love the idea of a shopping trip with your daughter! 2 years in the making! Maybe you can post a pic on FB!

    I am so happy that your PT is going so well and I am happy you made the change in PT's! :)

    I miss "my jelly" and let's try to chat this weekend! :)

    Keeping you in my daily prayers and wishing you the best!

  • So glad to see a post from you, my friend. I miss you too. :D

    Yes a roundabout is like a merry go round. This one was for sitting on, but went up and down too! :O
    I was holding onto Daniela as well as having to try to keep myself on!! :S I thought we would just sit of it together and relax while we took the ride. WRONG!! @) :SS 8}
    Can't believe I didn't think about the centrifugal forces that would be trying to fling us off>
    Once I felt my muscles spasm, I thought Wow! That is a good way of working my core stability muscles. Then I felt the pain!!! ~X(
    Still, it was a good learning experience, and gave you a giggle too. :))(
    No real damage done - I don't think!

    Thinking and praying for you too Shari.
    I am really praying that your disc will suddenly become very shy, and just draw back and hide between the vertebrae! :<

    Take care my friend :-)
    >:D< >:D< >:D<
  • I was asked to come for a 4 week checkup to take out staples. I see the Nurse Practicioner for this visit. She was quite encouraging about what I could do and was excited to see me moving so well.

    My next visit is at 3 months with the surgeon. They will take an x-ray at that time to see the progress.

    My TLIF was not done with a bone graph, but with another product(dont remember at the moment) that is said to work better.

    I was not aware of the issue, the fusion not working or could be slow.

    I did read that staying active and postive will
    increase the body to respond quicker to healing and
    therefore more raping growth.

    I am only 3 weeks post of surgery. I am doing well, but I tend to have really bad days after 'over doing it".

  • Hey Jelly

    I'm sorry your fusion isn't visible yet. But keep up the good work. It really seems you are doing everything right :) Sorry the merry go round was bad. I wanted to do a roller coaster at a local fair, but I know my back isn't ready. But it sure looked fun!!

    Best and Hugs,
  • Hi Jelly,

    I know how dissapointing it is to hear "not fusing yet". I only started showing signs of fusion at 6 1/2 months. Before that my surgeon was not concerned at all, he was more interested in how my hardware was doing, knowing the fusing would eventually come.

    I think most of us kind of hold our breath until we hear those magic words, makes us feel we are going in the right direction and all our pain in recovery was worth doing.

    Hang in there, we're here for you,


    PS: Norm, I know what you mean about that "front butt"! My belly is just yucky, I've gained some weight all in the belly, and my horizontal C-section scar and vertical ALIF scar are wreaking havoc on me: my front butt is competing with my side butt!!
    I try to have a sense of humor about it but it doesn't always work.

  • Thank you all for the helpful and supportive comments.
    I don't know what I would do without you all. :-)

    I am just going to have to be positive and patient. My surgeon obviously isn't worried because he told me to see him next in March which will be 12 months after my surgery.

    Hope that you are all having a good, 'comfortable' day. :D
  • Hi :) I had spinal fusion surgery on 6th Jan this yr and when I went to see the nuerosurgeon for my first (7wk) check up he couldn't see any real signs of fusing so that upset me quite alot too and I was told I would have to keep wearing the back brace for a further 7wks :( I was so dissapointed! I have just had an MRI a few weeks ago but have to wait until 18th aug to see the nuero again, the wait is really frustrating! But hopefully I get better news this time :) I find it so hard to talk to my nuero as he dosen't seem to care much and hasn't really given me much direction as to what I should and shouldn't be doing?! I have had great physio's though so that has helped me through :)
    I hope all is going well for everyone elses recoveries :D

  • Sounds like we have the same surgeon!
    Not really, mine is an orthopeadic surgeon. Perhaps they are brothers! ;)

    My physio has told me that he is pretty sure that I will fuse ok because I am doing so well in my recovery. For this reason, I am trying to assume that all is fine, and continuing as if it is.

    How are you feeling? Do let us know how you get on on 18th August. :-)
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