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Hello Everyone

edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone;

I had a Micro-descetomy(L4/L5) in April 2005 that never got better. I also herniated C5/6 & C6/7 in June 2007 After years of pain meds, epidurals, Nerve/Facet Blocks, PT(not to mention losing 2 careers) and 8 MRI's later I finally get another surgery consult for my Cervical and Lumbar issues. The Doctor decided I need a L3/4 L4/5 ALIF/PLIF and a three level fusion in my Cervical Spine.

My first Surgery will be in my Lumbar spine on September 21, 2011 (about a month a way) and a date to be determined for my Cervical Spine Fusions. The surgeon offers a class every 3rd Weds about the surgery, I have mine scheduled for August 31, so I guess I will get some good info there and I will also be measured for my back brace. The way I look at is that I have the next 1.5-4 years of Surgery/recovery time for both.

I know I need the surgeries, but the 360 fusions seem pretty intense and the recovery time seem to vary from a month or so to a year and a half.

I am still going through this site and haven't had my class so I won't ask any questions yet.


  • Hi and Welcome to Spine Health,

    I had a 360 fusion of L4/L5 and was off work for 3 weeks (with surgeon's ok to go back). It took several years for me to feel like a total recovery.

    I was in pretty good shape and very active before surgery and I know that helped in my recovery. As soon as the incision healed I got back in the pool. Being weightless feels great. I swim with a Masters group and it was so nice to be swimming again. I took it easy and it took awhile to be able to do flip turns but I was able to do them eventually.

    I was barely able to walk when I got out of the hospital (5 days) but by the time I went back to work I was up to 7 miles a day, not all at once tho!!

    I had a safety bar installed on my tub/shower which helped a lot. I also used a plastic stool to sit on in the shower. I had a long handled shoe horn altho I mostly wear clogs. It came in handy to put on my (former) running shoes when I went for walks. I also had a long handled grabber.

    I sleep with a wedge under my knees which helps take the stress off my back. I was quite surprised that I could lay on my back with incisions front and back. I did not get the wedge until well into my recovery.

    Wear loose fitting elastic pants as that doesn't irritate the incision so much. Be sure you have things you use everyday where you can get to them without bending. Go for short walks.

    I was eventually able to ride my bike again but it took me 3 years to get back on my time trial bike. once you get the ok be sure you stretch. And do strengthening for your core. I did strengthening for years before my surgeries and I know it had to help in my recoveries.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes. You may feel like you are never going to feel better but trust me, it does get better!!

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Tx for the response-I am in poor shape, I walk with a cane so I haven't been able to maintain a good level of fitness. so I guess my recovery will be longer.
  • I am sure you could find a way to work your abs and back muscles. Even isometrics would help. You only need to contract the muscles to make it work. Easier for the abs than the back tho.

    Do you live near a pool?? Walking in the water is great exercise and you won't need a cane. Plus you can do exercises in the water you can't do on land.

    Either way it is a long recovery. Just don't give up. Don't bend or twist or lift til the doc ok's it. And please keep me posted on your progress. I know it isn't easy.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • i do ab exercises I was talking about cardio more than core strength. And I am by no means giving up, I am rather pumped that after 7 years of back/leg pain I have a chance to cut my pain meds down and get a little of my life back, actually I am rather excited about the procedure.
  • Hope all goes well for your surgeries next month. You've been through such a lot with all the different procedures over the last 7 years.

    Isn't that terrific that your surgeon does briefings on the surgery each month.

    Have you looked through the Post-Op Must Haves at the top of this page? It'll help you with all the things you're going to need during recovery.

    Keep in touch and we'll give you encouragement and support as best as we can.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • So glad you are looking forward to it and all the positive things that will come of it. Keep up the great attitude!!

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • Hi Earl!

    I, too, have had a 360 lumbar fusion, using my own hip bone for the bone graph. I have 3 insicions, one on my abdomin, 2 on my low back. One down my spine and the other across my hip. It is an intense surgery with a long recovery, but so worth it!

    I was pretty deconditioned by the time my insurance approved the surgery. I had a hard time walking, I fell frequently, my legs were so weak and the pain was horrible!

    Like you, it was many years that my nerves were compressed. "They" say the longer the nerves are compressed the longer it takes to recover in regards to the regaining your strength and recovering from the nerve pain.

    Initially I was told that it would take me 6-12 months to recover. After surgery, I was told more like 12-18 months.
    For me, it was 12+ months.

    I was in the hospital for 7 days, but I also had pneumonia, plueracy and needed 3 blood transfusions, so I had some complications....

    One of the things that helped me the most, during the first few weeks, was thinking about my recovery in blocks for 4 hours. In each block, I would take my pain meds, try to eat something, walk, rest, repeat in the next block of 4 hours.

    My recovery was also complicated by my herniating L3-4 at the 2 month mark while in PT...:(

    3 weeks from today I will have surgery on L3-4. Like you, I have been in pain for many years and look forward to the day I wake up and my first thought isn't about pain!

    Feel free to ask any questions and keep us posted!

    Wishing you the very best!
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