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When did you start driving after back fusion?

grjtggrjt Posts: 9
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
my doc has me going almost 3 months before i drive


  • as soon as I felt able. I had a 3/4 through s1 PLIF. Just dont bend lift, twist is what they told me. Always wear your brace.

    Every situation/doctor is different. Listen to the doctor and think about it, besides the fact if you get in an accident and you are wearing a brace and have meds in you we all know who they will place the blame on.

    This was something I worried about after my surgery also.

    Good luck!

  • My doctor said as soon as I felt able to, I could drive. I only drive at times that I haven't taken any narcotic pain pills though.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    Listen to whenever your doctor says its time.

    No sense in rushing things, many lumbar patients take longer before they can drive then cervical.

    The 3 month period sounds pretty reasonable. That was the time frame given to me for 2 of my 4 lumbar surgeries, both ACDFs and the past two complete shoulder replacements.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I was worried because I didn't have a back brace when so many others do and I wondered if I needed a bone growth stimulator because so many others do and I had some other people write me worried because they aren't in Physical Therapy yet and I started at 2 weeks - I guess they are doing what they have learned works best.

    My husband put it nicely to me one night when I was worrying out loud - "you trusted him to do a very major and complicated operation on your spine - now trust him to get you healed and just do what he says!"

  • I like your husband. :) Be careful. My fusion was cervical and I did not wear a collar and my NS released me to drive after one week, but I did not feel ready to do it at that point and I certainly didn't when I was taking post-surgery pain relievers.
    I think I started after two weeks, but I imagine if you had lumbar fusion, it makes sense to wait longer.
  • I had a 2 level PLIF in Dec 2008, no brace and wasnt allowed to drive for 3 months. He had his reasons, and I didnt and did fuse nicely.
    Today was my 6 week ck on my 2nd fusion. I just got approved to drive, but only with my brace on. So that is what I will do.
    Every Dr has their reasons for things. You need to trust them, especially because you dont want to do something that will put you back on the operating table again. Good Luck. It will soon be over and you will be glad you listened.
  • I had a 2 level PLIF in Dec 2008, no brace and wasnt allowed to drive for 3 months. He had his reasons, and I didnt and did fuse nicely.
    Today was my 6 week ck on my 2nd fusion. I just got approved to drive, but only with my brace on. So that is what I will do.
    Every Dr has their reasons for things. You need to trust them, especially because you dont want to do something that will put you back on the operating table again. Good Luck. It will soon be over and you will be glad you listened.
  • Single level lumbar fusion. 2 weeks before allowed to get in a car. 1 month before driving. Wear back brace in car for a month or so. As long as I wasn't on meds when I drove. I got off the meds quick and driving was not painful for short distances.
  • Did not drive for 2 months and when I did start driving I had to lift legs into the car one at a time while swiveling on a garbage bag so I did not twist. Suffice to say I did not drive very much. The effort of getting in the car completely wore me out. LOL.
    4 level posterolateral fusion L2-S1 with rods and screws and cadaver bone. Spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, sciatica, DDD, facet disease and arthritis. September 2002
  • My consultant was happy for me to drive as long as I could do an emergency stop. I did not feel able to do this until aprox 4 months as didnt like sitting back hard against the seat.
    Nowadays I am absolutely fine
  • 6 weeks C5-C6 and same a year later after C6-C7
  • I came home on a Monday from the Rehab hospital and drove to my first PT appointment on Friday. I was wearing one of those hard turtle shell type brace.

    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.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I didn't' drive until 4 months but even them I tried to avoid it. I was in a hard shell brace for around 5 months. My surgeon told me I certainly could drive, but even if some driver hit me and it wasn't my fault the brace may set off red flags so it was best to avoid it instead of worrying about what could happen
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Listen to your doctor, and listen to your body! Most of all be careful! Driving and getting in and out of the car involves some bending and maneuvering. Make sure you are ready before do hop behind the wheel.

    Medications I dont think are that much of a concern unless you *feel* impared. Ask someone to ride along if you are unsure the first few times just to get a feel for things. If you dont feel up to the task you could always ask your friend to take over.

    Never doubt common sense.
  • I had to start some driving at 1 mo. post-op. (husband was in Iraq and I had to get my daughter back and forth to school.)

    My NS just told me that just ONE little accident would undo everything he just did for me and did I really want to take that chance?

    Strong words and I took them to heart.

    I stopped meds so that I would not be impaired and was EXTREMELY cautious on those days that I could not get someone to drive her.


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    Post Edited by Authority Member Numbskull
  • i had a multi-level fusion and i was instructed by the surgeon not to drive for 12 weeks after my surgery. when i started to drive after 3 months i had some difficulty because i had to twist my back to merge into traffic sometimes. that hurt
  • I had fusion at L5/S1. I had to wait exactly 1 month before I was allowed to drive. I then only drove my kids to and from school for a couple of weeks and that was it. (a 5 minute drive on side streets.) I slowly added in little side trips every so often. I drove 45 minutes at a time starting at about 2 1/2 months.

    I also always parked in either a handicapped spot or a spot by the shopping cart corrals so I wouldn't have to worry about twisting to see when I was backing out of a parking space.
  • I had to drive at one week post-ALIF; I was concerned because on meds but my one family member/caregiver left to go back to their home - it was about 4 miles and and I did it at 12pm to decreased risk to myself, which is pretty much dead in my area with a Walmart open. At 2 weeks post-op I had to drive to PT, not too far,about 3 lights (1.5 miles)...Cabs etc. not readily available, you do what you have to do.
  • Wow! I never considered the emergency stop! I would not be able to do that now. I'm at 4 wks Post op L5S1. Thank you for this!
  • I started driving at about 3 1/2 weeks post-op. I put a trash bag on my seat so swiveling in and out is easier. I'm 16 weeks post-op now and the trash bag is still there. Just makes things easier.
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • i had my wife drive me for about 3 months after since i had the summer off anyway. the problems were wearing the brace for 6 months and i was not supposed to twist. one has to twist when one looks around to look in the blind spot. using your mirrors is not good enough. it also depends on your surgery. mine was pretty major where i was out for 12 hours and in the hospital for 10 days. i also had blood clots, collapsed lung and a staph infection in my back which complicated matters. after 3 months when i went back to teaching, i drove myself albeit very carefully and still used the brace. take it easy not matter how long your doctor gives you or if you do or do not have a brace. you need to be careful for the fusion to take.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I keep on bendin to feed dogs pick up things on the floor I can't stand a messy house. Am I doing any damage to bend over or squat down 3 or 4 times a day. I know I shouldn't but I just want to get things done.
  • But not bending. Sit in a chair when feeding the dogs. Get a grabber so you don't bend when picking things off the floor. I even used it for the dog bowls. OK, I dropped them a few times, but the dogs had fun cleaning up the mess!
    Artificial disc at L5S1 for 10 years. Had 3 Level lumbar fusion and Laminectomy on Sept 27, 2013. It was an OLIF (Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion) with cages, BMP, rods & screws. Norco, Plaquenil
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