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Am I going backwards

wjmcburniewwjmcburnie Posts: 25
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a 2 level spinal fusion L4-L5 & L5-S1,
spinal decompression and lumbar discectomy on 1 March 2010.

My recovery has been slow and feels like an uphill slog.
I am still not back at work and only recently started to drive. However the back of my right leg has started to throb in the last 10 days (this had prev vanished with the op) and I am now worried that my recovery is going backwards.
I feel that at 5 months I should be returning to some sort of normality. After reading many of the posts on this site I realise that everyone is different and their recovery the same, but would love to hear any advise



  • Unfortunately, back surgery such as yours can take a long time to recover from. Sometimes over a year. Have you overdone on something? You may have just irritated the nerve that affects your thigh. Nerves take a very long time to regenerate. So, try to slow down a bit, and maybe try some icing to the area. If it doesn't improve, its always a good idea to conslt with your surgeon.

  • Thanks for that. I can't think that I have overdone anything. I do see my consultant in aprox 4 weeks time anyway as it will be the 6 month mark. Think I also have an xray then to see if its fusing

  • and welcome to Spine Health.
    This is a long and sometimes complicated recovery!

    I had a single level fusion on L4/L5 with spinal decompression and discectomy on 19th March. I have been very pleased with my recovery and think that things have gone very well. BUT lately, I have been getting more pain in various places. I have put it down to the fact that I am slowly getting back to my life and doing more than I had been. Generally, I find that if I go and lie down and take it easy for the rest of the day, the next day I feel ok again, as long as I don't overdo it.

    Good luck with your appointment in 4 weeks with the surgeon. We long to hear that we are fusing! :)
    I hope that you are told that good news.

    By the way, I am not back at work yet either. I hope to return at the beginning of September.
  • Hi there.

    We had the exact same surgery on the exact same day. lol..I am still not back to work either. I also still hurt everyday and have to take pain meds 4 times a day. It seems as if I do the smallest thing my back hurts really bad. Right at the surgery site. So don't feel like you are alone.

  • Welcome to our forum.

    Unfortunately, recovery from major spine surgery is slow and is hard work. I retired not long before my surgery, but had I still been working, I would have needed 6 months off from work.

    I was 7 months out before I felt more "normal" LOL Up until then, I couldn't sit for more than 15-30 minutes at a time and had lots of muscle spasms. Even now, I have to limit my sitting to 30-40 minutes. Is it possible that you've been sitting for too long at one time or increased your walking? I can remember walking too far in the early recovery days and was then so exhausted and had to rest up for a couple of days.

    My fusion is successful and I'm so happy to have my life back again. My greatest pleasure is to be able to take my two Labradors over the park by the river each day and watch them running free.

    Keep looking toward the months ahead and I hope you will get as good a result as I have.



    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • HI Thanks for the info
    I cant wait to have a day when I can actually forget Ive had surgery, then maybe a week, month etc etc
  • Have you had physical therapy?
    I started PT at about the 2 1\2 month mark. After only 8 visits my doctor cancelled it. It seemed to aggrivate my pain. The one good thing I got from therapy is they provided me with a TENS unit. It is very helpful when my pain becomes severe.

    Everyone is so different in their recovery from surgery. For some people therapy helps a great deal. For me it did not.

    Hang in there.

  • Hi Tonya
    I have never had PT. My consultant said he wouldnt refer me for it unless I really needed it at the year mark. He does know that I used to do quite a lot of exercise before the op.

    I have been swimming twice a week for a couple of months now, and have just upped it to 3 times.
    I also do yoga type stretching exercised on my wii fit - sounds silly but it has been an absolute godsend. We got it just after my op and I have been using it every other day, ever since.
    I do get a bit fed up with the trainer on it, she tells me that Im very unstable and wobbly, ha ha
  • Hi Wendie

    Has the leg pain increased since you upped the swimming? After the decompression surgery I had in 08, I found swimming aggravated my back because of the twisting, and it was the same with any exercise in the pool which involved twisting. Just a thought.

    I started some Tai Chi at the 7 month mark and that's been a godsend to me, and I've learned to modify some of the moves because of the fusion restriction.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • The leg pain started aprox ten days after I started to drive again. Even though it was a very short distance and only twice a week
    Could this have really brought back my leg pain?
    It even hurts on the days I dont drive
  • As the others have said, fusion recovery is long and tedious, with ups and downs along the way.

    As far as the wii yoga: please be careful, some of those moves may not be good for your spine. I did yoga for 8 years, thinking it helped my back. I had to quit when my physical therapist said it was not good for me; way too many bends and twists, etc., and was actually causing more problems for my spine.

    This is just my experience. There are modified yoga moves you could do. Or, maybe take a break from yoga and see if your leg improves. Good luck and hang in there!

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