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When after surgery do you feel as "good as new"

Natelle2NNatelle2 Posts: 38
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I don't know the answer to this. Does anyone ever feel as "good as new" after a lumbar surgery with hardware?

With cervical fusion, I say yes. I have been there, done that. I hope that some of you have reached that point in recovery and will share exciting news for us here!!!

If not, how close can we get and how long does it take to get there. What helped you the most to accomplish this?

I am told yes and so many say no.

Since I am here and we are experienced, what is the poll?

Thank you :)


  • Good question! I am looking forward to seeing the answers to this one. My hunch is that I will always "be aware" of my back, but maybe if I had always been aware (and as careful as I am now) I wouldn't be in this situation now;)

    I did think I was getting there at 6 months but went downhill then so I am still waiting at 11 months post op.
  • I'm still waiting to "feel as good as new" and its been almost 3 and a half years. Now if your question was "when do you start feeling better then before you had surgery", you might get some positive answers. For me, that would be 13 months.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • My first week I felt better than before surgery. For me, I do feel great, only a little pull at the hardware site when I lean.

    Other than that, I have terrible muscle pain in the Thoracic area, I will attribute to the brace being wore 24-7 = mistake.

    I think the lasting pain for me, I hope is the pulled knee, twisted neck, which of course has irritated the herniated disc, the hurt ankle and a knot in my throat.....they treated me like a ragdoll apparently in the surgery room. My back is fixed and the rest of me feel like I went through the mill.

  • The third week. I started to do more :) I was very anxious and nervous about everything. Driving in a car was a nightmare.

    I started to get lots of energy. Then that went away. I went back down hill. Then I started up again and stayed ok.

    I have been ok until I took the belt off at 3 months. It is 3 months and one week.
    I have done the exercise a few times.

    I feel positive, no regrets, I am just really afraid that it might not stay this way. I don't know if that worry is unfounded or just because there are so many people that do so much too soon. Perhaps people are doing things they shoud never do and need surgery again.

    I never want to do anything that will require more surgery. I have no desire to do more than I should. Nothing is worth that. I know you all know what I mean :)
  • Nel,

    Did you do all the P.T. and follow rules to the "t"?

    What your biggest complaint? Do you think the surgery was successful?

    After my neck surgery and I can say that was the best thing I ever did. I was aware, for safty reasons I had to be. Until everything was completely fused, yeah that is normal. Overall, I thought I was terrific!!!

    That is all I want.

    My Mother has surgery in 1963 and she was perfect....Until at 76, she and I were helping my father and she broke the fusion. Everything for her was a piece of cake. I hope you feel that way soon!!!

  • my surgeon has told me that a fusion is the last line in spinal surgery or ADR if you are a suitable candidate {ADR is artificial disc replacement} i cant have it because i have too much arthritis and i have already has two failed operations.and you will be lucky if your pain is reduced as for being back to normal i think you are asking a little too much ...don't get me wrong a small amount of people get back to nearly normal but its only a small few many are still in pain and need to be operated on as time rolls on ..sorry for being the barer of bad news but that's what one of the uk's top biomechanical surgeons has warned me and he also said that it will take one year to get over the surgery and another two years to get back to be as good as you are ever get .
  • Granted, I know that I have only had the decompression and fusion at L4-5. I know my back is simple as opposed to so many of you all that have been severely hurt and need more than one level fused etc.

    Why did the two sugeries fail?

    Only a "small amount get back to normal" what do they do that we need to do. Is it the doctor, the precedure? What is the element that determines the best outcome, the element that we can control?

    I just want to feel as good as I did after my neck fusion.

    Perhaps that is not possible, I have always said, I don't sit on my head and the back is very different.
  • So if I understand the 3 years.

    My guess would be that people, like me, might feel better at first because the terrible pain is gone. Then, just as I did, go back down hill again. Even out for a bit........all in all we must wait one year for the fusion to heal.

    Then in the next two, why aren't most people feeling better??? Are they doing too much??? Not enough............what is that piece of info that I am looking for?

    Now, personally, I had trouble believing I needed the hardware. That is what I never saw my Mother have and that is who I am looking at.

    My neighbor, he had surgery two years ago and now last week. He always did too much. The thing is though, he felt well enough to do it.

    I did not think you were delivering bad news. We all know what we know :)

    Trying to learn more, heal faster, better, smarter...stay well longer :)
  • Hey guys, after the initial 12 week healing- each month after my PLIF I felt better/stronger. I think the high point was about 14-16 months out. My Lumbar spine still feels 100% better than it did prior to surgery. I am pretty active. I hike a little, and keep my self busy.

    I can say that fusion was the right choice for me. I was not an ADR candidate since I had instabity. As for healing, like I said each month I gained strenght with time on my feet. I had exhausted my PT pretty much before the surgery so I only recieved 3-4 weeks of it. I used it to gain enough strenght to put on my shoes & socks.

    While it is true that my neck degenerated/ or re-injured badly enough less than a year after my PLIF that I needed neck fusion- I don't blame my low back fusion for it. It was already injured several times over the last 15 years.

    I do think that the 2 fusions contributed to the MVA that has injured my T-spine. I am in pain in my upper back/arms/ribs and at time my feet I am certain it is from my t-spine compression.

    It gets better, try to stay positive keep busy- keep taking your meds.

    Walk and walk some more. There were days when the pain was so bad, keep in mind during the fusing process that your body goes through major adjustments.


  • Everybody is going to have a differnet answer. Those that do not do better have reasons.

    Bad surgeon
    Some other complications
    Did not follow Doctors orders
    Still other issues not found prior to surgery
    Wrong surgery

    My first three months were bad, then it all got better quickly. Off meds,, do pretty much what I did before surgery. So, at five months I would say I am 99% there. Did not stay with PT, to difficult at that time. They want to push you. I just did whatever I could on a day by day basis.

    I am in sales and have talked to many people about my surgery and amazed how many have had similar surgery or have a relative that has. Almost all if not all have had great success. Some still have minor intermittent pain, but are happy they did it.

  • Thanks...that picture I have up was two days after surgery.

    I was doing alright, alot of pain but the back pain was already better.

    Now, I am just waiting for the place where the hardware went in the feel better...that is the worst area.

    I was happy that I did this surgery two weeks after I did it. It took me two years or more to get the courage.

    It was here that I came and asked, had all but one positive outcome.

    Thanks everyone. I know we are all different.......when it is a good outcome, I wish that we could all do as well as the best.
  • two years out from surgery and I am aware that I will never be good as new. I feel so much better than I did before surgery, but I will always be aware of the stiffness in my back. I will always have to be careful of the way I bend and lift things, how I stoop down to pick things up. Once you really hurt your back, you will never, ever be the same again.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • that I would always have problems with my back and that my fusion was to deal with my leg pain, not my back pain. I have been very pleaseed with the result. The awful sciatica that I had been getting in both legs is gone. I do get tingles, pains and twitches and cramps, but they are mostly at night, apart from my toes where I do still have sharp nerve pains. My lumbar back is also feeling much better.

    I don't think that we will ever feel 'as good as new', but much better than the awful pain that led us to have the surgery, so it is definately worth it. :-)

    I am at 6 months now and my lumbar spine is so much better. I wasn't really given any instructions or restrictions by my surgeon. If anything, I have been more cautious because of things I've read here. I now can bend, and gently twist but I still take care and don't lift too much.

    I am now having trouble with my cervical and thoracic spine. I know that before surgery, I did have trouble there. I think that the change in the structure of my spine has put more stress on other parts of my spine and caused a flare. Both my GP and physio have told me that too.

    I hope that your recovery continues to go well and that you will reach that ellusive feeling of 'being good as new', at least for some days. :D

  • I was told I had an 80-90% chance of significant improvement. I didn't read that as any chance of "as good as new." To me, having a fused spine with hardware is not as good as new ;)

    I think this is a communication thing- and part of the controversy over "successful surgeries." To me, my surgery will be successful if I get considerable reduction in pain, especially if I can sit for extended periods.

    But the other thing- our backs continue to deteriorate. So, they will never be new. Eventually I'll be back there with some other problem. Between the stresses on my back from the fracture and the stresses from the surgery, I don't ever see my back as good as new :(

    My only goal is getting back on a horse :)

  • My surgeon said that I had a 90% chance of significant improvement in my symptoms.

    I definately do have significant improvement, so I guess that says that my surgery was successful. I know that my surgeon sees it that way. :-)

    I am still having pain in my neck, thoracic spine and some symptoms in my legs and feet, but there is significant improvement in how I was feeling. :D
  • I don't mind a little stiffness,,,as I get older I think that I will have more than my back stiffness.

    It sounds good to be where you are!!!

    Thank you for posting :)
  • I got it :)

    Well, the amount of improvement that I have read is really great.

    None of me is as "good as new" but just to not have that pain in the back will be enough for me. Then I will be able to drive or just go anywhere without declining every invitation. Thats all that I want the freedom that comes with the surgery.

    It sounds like most of you have improved for you all I am happy and for me, I am happy to read that.

    Perfection, well, we can only be born that way but I found with my neck, after those headaches went away...life was fabulous. Sure I will always know that I have had surgery but not suffer relentlessly.

    I was reading today and found a post from someone that is rocking. I think it was Activewalker or close too. I want to be free like she is. She might not be perfect anymore but she is living and having fun.

    Thanks yall. I know how hard the pain is and I hope that things get better for all of us that need to be well again.

    Thanks for taking the time :)
  • I never expected to be "good as new" just better than before surgery. In many ways I am. I have followed all the rules!! But I have had an infection recently that I suspect started when I got really ill in May. Since then I have had an awful lot of back pain (new to me since I never had back pain pre or post op) and recently, when my scar started to swell the sciatic type pain returned. As a result I have been "editing" my life and taking codeine to sleep for the last 5 months. Just like pre op!
    I am hoping that the 3 weeks of strong antibiotics will have taken care of the infection and that I will recover now and get back to how I was at 6 months and then get even better than that! (I do have the lurking suspiscion that it might still be a deep infection though).
    I also had a rough ride in my personal life back in April so I did a lot of driving and sitting to visit my Mom while she was in the hospice for her last 11 days. I don't think that helped either.
    So I am hoping that these are the reasons that I have stopped getting better and that now that they are "sorted" I will.
  • I am sorry for your lose :( I remember that, I was bending over my Mothers bed always. My back was killing me. Her death, as I know your MOthers is so stressful. I was just broken mentally and physically.

    I hope that the antibiotics work. Get the Probiotics too. I pump the "C" like 1500 - 2000 a day. I studies stress and boy, I don't play games with it.

    I am dedicated to Vit and Vit C.

    I do wish you and everyone here the best!!!
  • Wow, some of your stories are awesome!!! congrats on all the improvements......I had a 3 level fusion done July of 08' and it has been up hill the whole time.....still on codine and some days I have to force myself out of bed....my surgeon says that my levels above my fusion are already going bad....I thought it took longer!! So I am trying to stay upbeat but it is NOT easy!! I guess I would say that I am a "failed back surgery" voter! Looking back I really wish that I had not started on this road.....

    I am very sorry if I sound down...I will pray for all of you that you will all get as close as possible to "NEW"!!
  • I think there will always be a weakness after any back surgery :? Any of us who have been through these type of operations will know this :S :S .Its been 7years since my operation, at this point in time my back is so weak :SS , i have to be very careful what i do concerning everyday tasks. :?

    Angiex :H
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