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How long was your recovery from Fusion Surgery?

angelanicaangelanic Posts: 256
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am hearing all over the board...how long till you could take care of yourself, go out of the house, go back to work?



  • Hubby could go upstairs when he came home from the hospital but he had developed a bladder infection which set him back for a week. He started going for short walks within the week I guess and rapidly increased the distance. We have a step in shower so he could shower but I dried his back for quite a while. He probably could have done this himself. We set up the kitchen so he could access cereal,milk, coffee, snacks etc.I think it was a month before he drove. He is retired so he did not need to worry about work thank goodness but it was been a challenge to keep him from doing stuff he should not do. He had his surgery in June and can now do most activities within reason.
  • I was up and walking up and down the hall in the hospital the day after surgery. Came home after 3 days and was walking to the mailbox (a good 75) feet by my 2nd day home. Within 2 weeks after surgery I was cleared to go back to work and was walking almost a mile a day. But I chose to not go back to work until the 4 week mark because I just felt puny! When I did go back to work I was pain free and walking close to 4 miles a day.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    hey angela,

    Now I had a c-spine fusion of C3 thru C6, discectomy, corpectomy, with a strut, cage, plates, rods, & screws installed posterior and anterior. I was up walking the next morning and released the following morning. After that I played by the rules, (followed dr's orders) and I had a very quick recovery.
    We all mend at different rates but if you keep a positive attitude and don't over do it you should do well.
    Wishing you the best,
  • lumbar fusion -- was in the hospital for a week (two surgeries, four days apart) and had a lot of trouble walking when I got home. I could walk around the house, but once outside, I got a half block away from the house and thought I would never get back! Anyway, I had three major setbacks in my recovery, but after about 18 months, I began to feel like my old self again. I'm two months shy of two years out from surgery and I feel GREAT!

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • lstellar, yours was a 360 right? How long do you think it would have been before you could do stairs?

    (sorry, angela, I'm stealing advice from your question! Mine's coming up, but probably not until late Oct/Early Nov at this rate. Mine will be a bit different because they have to repair a very poorly healed fracture.
  • I think my recovery from 2-level fusion (L5-S1, L4-L5) has been very good. I had it done 9 weeks ago and was up the next day walking up/down a flight of stairs with the physiotherapist. I was discharged the following day. The drive home was about 2 hours and it was fine (after being prescribed pain killers to take home with me and using a good pillow to support my back!).

    I started to venture out for short walks after one week and each time walked a little further. Although quite slow at first, I am now managing to walk faster - but this is dependent on my back/leg pain at the time of course.

    I was doing so well, but obviously refrained from bending, lifting and twisting (as I still do), and exactly 6 weeks after the fusion I went for a very short drive. Unfortunately (and it was my own fault), my automatic reflex was to twist around to look behind me when reversing and I felt a sharp pain in my back. This seemed to set off my back and sciatic pain again - I am disappointed about this because now I am back on pain meds. I was medication free at between 3-5 weeks post-op!

    I'm hoping to go back to work on 4 October - if my doctor gives me a 'fit note' and if I pass my occupational health doctor's visit next Tuesday. I'm keeping everything crossed!

    The first couple of weeks were frustrating and boring! It's not that I couldn't move, but I was frightened of moving too much in case I damaged the hardware. There was quite a bit of swelling and stiffness (which I still get in the mornings or after a rest). When necessary, my hubby dries my lower legs after a shower, cuts my toenails, helps with laced shoes etc.

    Invest in a grabber (in case you drop things) which is brilliant. A raised toilet seat (if you can) and perhaps a suctioned grab handle (if you have a shower in your bath). You can remove these items when you are feeling better.

    My x-rays showed earlier this week that the hardware is absolutely fine - I'm relieved as I thought the driving incident may have damaged it. It's stronger than I thought!

    Take care and good luck - let us all know how you get on OK?
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • for all the comprehensive answers. I am trying to figure how long I will be out of work. Driving to work is required so I guess it will be at least six weeks.

    Sue: how do you drive without twisting? You know I am not that aware of my movements..I better get better. I am getting the same procedure as you.

    Sounds like walking after is a big part of treatment. What do you if it is winter? LOL

  • I should have used my wing mirrors instead of twisting - I do now! It's probably not advisable, but for the time being it'll have to do until my fusion is complete.

    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • It will depend on what your doctor says.
    I didn't get a fusion.

    But was considering it. I was told expect 6 weeks out of work. Best case, 3 weeks and worst case...well, could be longer but all the doctors told me to plan for 6 weeks. Mainly because they didn't want me driving and they didn't want me sitting too long.

    Now, if you can get a ride to work, it might be different. good luck.
  • Thats where you walk in the winter. Just be careful because the floors are concrete and can be a little hard on the body.
  • go up and down a couple of stairs before they would let me out of the hospital. I did have crutches when I got out of the clink, but I only used them for a few days. I forgot to say that I live alone, and I didn't have anyone come to stay with me. My brother did stop by a few times the first week to see if I needed anything, but otherwise, I fended for myself with no problems. I started going in to the office about three weeks after surgery to pick up work and bring it home, and then I went back to work little by little, till I was back to full time at three months.


    Oops - yep I did have a 360. It was all planned from the back, but after two large incisions in my back, they still couldn't get the discs out. I was in surgery for nine hours and lost a lot of blood, so I stayed in and four days later they went in from the front. It was most unpleasant.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I was off work for nearly 11 weeks after onle level PLIF. I was out of bed and walking two days after surgery but I think the real reason for the delay was the drain in my back not anything else. So surgery Friday pm, out of bed standing Saturday am, using tthe loo (rather than bed pan, eugh, saturday afternoon) drain out and walking including stairs Sunday am then home monday.
    I felt great to start with but, like an idiot, went out shopping one week post op. Stupid, stupid, stupid! That crippled me for the whole of the weekend and then I got a wound infection and was banned from exercise till it cleared about 6 weeks post op. You really have got to plan for the unexpected.

    Therefore I didn't drive till about 7 weeks post op. As far as not twisting you just don't! You can feel that it will hurt so you automatically don't do it. It is also hard at junctions when you are trying to lean forward to see what is coming.

    Be prepared for ups and downs. I am 11 months post op now and still feel that I am recovering!!
  • Angela,
    I did not have lumbar surgery but had a cervical fusion C5-6,c6-7. It's important to note that each person is so different and heals at their own pace. Everyone has a different pain tolerance also. Dr.'s will give you an estimate as to how long you will be off but be prepared at least in so far as your employer goes for the longest time. This is in no way to discourage you but rather to be realistic. Example: A doctor could say you could possibly be back to work in three weeks. Well if you state that to your employer in most cases they will figure you will be back in exactly three weeks. Obviously we all hope and pray you sail through your fusion and recouperate very quickly with no set backs. But I remember telling my employer the best possible scenerio and anything can happen. Employers like to be prepared for the longest possible time so they can handle staffing or whatever they may need to do to fill your shoes. Everyone can give you the amount of time it took them to return to work but it really is so individual that it is almost impossible to give exacts. Your doctor will only be able to give you a rough timeframe. So you may want to tell your employer a best case and worst case scenerio. Wish I had done that. I gave the best case and had some setbacks so it was almost as though they were angry with me for not being back in exactly three weeks. Hope this helps, I know it's not giving you any specifics but there really aren't any. Good luck and my thoughts and prayers go out to you for a speedy recovery. Best of Luck
  • I had the TLIF at L5S1 on june 7th. I am still out of work at this time. I work in an auto parts store so the lifting bending twisting is a daily thing for me. Luckily I have short term disability to cover some of my salary.
    Believe it or not, the worst part of my surgery was waking up afterwards. I had a very ahrd time coming out of anestheisa(sp). I was up and walking 6 hours after surgery. In fact I passed the PT doc in the hallway. I was released the next morning.
    I went off all pain meds 5 days later. And was completly pain free for 3 weeks. I don't know why but the pain returned worse than before at week 5. I have cold feelings in left leg and pain in leg and calf is real bad. Low back pain is gone completely.
    I had Ct scans done at the 12 week mark and we have no idea why I am in pain again. I am scheduled for another MRI in Oct.
    eventhough I am in pain again I am glad I did the surgery. I went in knowing I would never be pain free again. And in fact have been in pain for years anyway. All my 30 years of skateboarding caught up to me.
    Keep a positive attitude!!It's hard to do sometimes but keep your head up! There is alot of great info on this site.
  • I had a 2-level just over 2 years ago.

    9 days in the hospital (2 surgeries - second one due to hemorrhaging and possible BMP allergy)

    Came home with just a 6 year old to help me. DH in Iraq at the time. I had a home nurse come once, and a PT guy - they had lots of advice, but didn't feel I was bad enough off to need a second visit. Fine with me, I was grateful to be on my own after that hospital stay.

    I expected to go back to work at 3 mo. Nope. Not cleared. It finally took 5 1/2 months to get work to allow me to come back. I don't have a physical job, just a requirement to be able to lift up to 45 lbs.

    That first few months back was he--. It sucked. I finally started to feel human at the 1 year mark. At 18 mo. got the hardware removed, started really recovering after that. Hit my 2 year mark and I am feeling like I FINALLY am back to a semblance of who I used to be.

    I will never move like I did before, physically I have huge limits, but mentally I am back to where I was before all the pain and surgeries.

    Life is good again.

    My advice - lose weight (if you need to and you can), walk, walk, walk, walk, walk and walk some more. Eat right. Get off the meds asap - they start tricking your mind and making you feel pain even when you really aren't, it's a slippery slope. Do take OTC Melatonin or other RX get-good-sleep/mood elevator for 3-6 mo. post-op. The worse thing is what it does to you mentally - it gets ignored way too much when compared to all the physical pain you go through.
  • I am trully happy to hear this. As I am terrified of some of the message how bad they feel after a fusion. My nephew is a doctor and mentioned if I decide to go for fusion only to have this performed on the L5-S1. I am so sick of the pain literally and I am such a mess mind wise all this is to much. Not only are in pain but I feel worthless. No able to do anything.

    Praise God for good news. All is possible thru Christ who strengthen us.

    I pray for all of us to be back to normal soon.

    Thank you for sharing
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