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driving after fusion

fused78fused78 Posts: 32
edited 06/11/2012 - 1:49 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Is there anyone out there that can give me an idea what to expect? I had a 3 level PLIF fusion done december 7 2010. Id like to know at what point other people were allowed to drive again after a surgery like this. Since I wont be doing any kind of work ( traditional ) I need to start helping out around the house again, and doing some family duties ( taking JR back and forth to school and running little errands here and there) Im curious when everyone else was told they could drive again, its not really a choice at this point, I need to help out!

fused78
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13

Comments

  • I was in a hard brace and thus did not drive for quite a while. I did drive on occasion at around 3-4 months but only if I had no other way and it was only to get to doctors appointments. The way my doctor said it was "you can drive, but even if you end up in an accident not your fault the minute they see the brace they'll question if any of it was your fault".

    This is a time in life to find others to help out for as many driving tasks as possible. I don't have kids, but the way we did it is I did NO household duties that required any kind of exertion so no loading/unloading the dishwasher, no laundry, no making the bed, etc. All family and household duties were done by my husband and by friends on occasion.
    Multiple ACDFs, Multiple Lumbar Fusions; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty
  • I was told only 2 weeks, which is already up, and then whenever I was off the heaviest of my meds!

    I am hoping to get back to driving the kids to school next week. I'm only in a soft brace.
  • I'm kind of scared to start driving again. I'm unsure of how I will do in and out of the car, and getting the door shut once i'm in my seat. I used the hook end of my cane the other day when I rode with the Mrs. to the pharmacy. I guess I don't know how it will be until I try ( after the Dr says its ok. )

    Fused78
  • I am not having that much trouble with mobility. My abdominal muscles are slowly but surely coming back to me.

    Are you having pain when you twist or just still trying to keep twisting to a minimum?
  • I didn't drive until about six weeks after surgery. But then came the double-edged sword: it was wonderful to have the freedom, but driving just plain hurt - it hurts your back more than you'd think. I couldn't believe the pain I'd be in after just driving a few miles, and it wasn't from twisting to get in and out. There's just something that's difficult about driving with a bad lumbar spine, although I can't quite pinpoint what that is.
  • I just started driving and I'm 8 weeks out! I agree with Cath11! It's great you have freedom but driving is still tough!!

    Maria

    spondylolisthesis at L4-5; stenosis,
    Lumbar surgeries 1999 L4-L5
    Lumbar staph infection 1999-2000"
    Meningitis x5 in 1999-2001
    Brain shunt 2000"
    Brain shunt removed 20001"
    ALIF/PLIF fusion 8/5/09
    Failed fusion and Failed Hardware
    PLIF Fusion scheduled for 10/29/10
  • My Doctor told me that I could start driving as soon as I felt able and was not taking narcotic meds - so I took my first drive about 2 1/2 weeks after surgery - not far and pretty slowly, but it went fine. I am pretty much off the pain pills during the day time so it works well for me to do any driving I need to do during the morning hours.
    Patti
  • Hi,
    I forgot what type of fusion you had.I had a two level min invasive, xlif on l2-l3 and l3-L4. I have a hard shell brace and my Dr will not let me drive until after he sees me on my 6 week appt. I suggest that you consult with your Dr. Also if you are on narcotics, I would be cautious. You have alot of risk driving taking narcotics and most Drs wont let you. I was a insurance agent and wont drive until I am released.
  • Oh boy lots of responses. I had a 3 level through the back traditional PLIF fusion. they also repaired a pars defect while in there. Ive got 8 screws, 2 rods and a bar across the top of the whole erector set ( for stability?) Its hard to sit in any chair other than something with a high back or a recliner, Cant twist, and Im supposed to be wearing a hard brace whenever im out of bed, or doing anything other than sleeping or showering. I get my bone growth stimulator this week, to help the donor bone plugs start growing. theres a bunch of those in there too.

    someone mentioned twisting? No. I don't think I could even twist if I tried. It hurts rolling in and out of bed, and I can barely lay on my side. Im still taking morphine and oxycodone but narcotics doo very little to e as I have built a tolerance over the years to them.


    Maybe someone will have some input? You think they'll release me to drive again?

    Fused
  • Yes, I think you'll be able to drive again, just maybe not real soon. You might have to change the way you look behind you, maybe add some mirrors, but you should be able to drive eventually anyway, after you're off heavy meds. I did mention twisting, but that's the way I used to get in a car. Not anymore, I sit with my feet out the door then swing myself into position. Oh, and I did drive with my hard brace on - I had to wear it for three months.

    Funny story: My MIL, who is 80, came to take care of me after my TLIF. She drove me to my first post-op appointment, which was only 1-1/2 week post-op, and when we were leaving, I showed her the back way to go back home that meant driving through an additional parking lot. She didn't see the speed bump and went over it at full speed (well, full speed for going through a parking lot). Boy, did I shout a few expletives - and at an 80-year-old woman. I felt terrible both physically and mentally, she was so upset.

    Lesson learned: when someone is driving you somewhere, watch out for the potholes and speedbumps and warn the driver when they're approaching one. Better to be a pest than chew someone's butt out because of the pain. :-)

    Take care,
    Cathie

    PS I do still drive when I'm on Norco, but it doesn't make me fuzzy having been on them for so long. I couldn't have driven when I was on percs after surgery, but it's been said here that driving in pain can sometimes be worse than driving when on a small amount of pain medicine that takes the edge off the pain and doesn't make you drowsy or fuzzy. Just FYI.
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