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What to expect after rigid brace comes off?

SbhypesSSbhypes Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:03 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am a 28 yo female who had a bad atv accident the end of march. I broke my t12 completely through and they weren't sure I would not be paralyzed. Thank goodness I was not paralyzed they operated and went in through the front deflated my lung removed a rib and inserted a cage in my back. I was wondering if anyone has had this type of surgery done before? I know it is done but rare. I have been wearing my brace pretty much all the time sleeping in it showering etc. I am anxious to get back to work and the brace comes off in July but what should I expect? I have not been able to sleep in bed since my surgery I have slept in a recliner! I could really use some advice as I am getting depressed about this situation. I am excited and scared at the same time thinking about the brace coming off. I really don't have much pain but am still on muscle relaxer and lortab about every 8 hrs. My side where the incision is hurts the most. After surgery I got pneumonia and now I have lots of fluid around my lungs. I have a follow up xray this month to determine if it will need to be drained:-( Thanks!


  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. You are correct when you say that is a rare surgery, but there are some here whom have had thoracic surgery. As far as when your brace comes off keep in mind the hardware is very strong, so you should be okay to do minor things. Also keep in mine while wearing the brace muscle have gotten weak, so don't be surprised if you have minor set backs, as you rebuild some of your strength. I would think one thing you could do during this time to help with your core strength is walking. Check out google and you will find some walking programs, I particularly like 10,000 steps, you will build your walking over time. I would also think it would help with the fluid issues. But don't be surprised either if you find you tire really easy, as it will take some time to build your endurance.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Keep us posted on your upcoming doctor appointment.
  • I'm currently closing in on 4 months post op. I am fused from T2-T8.

    My brace came off two weeks ago. Your pain will increase for a while as you start using your muscles again. You may experience increased nerve pain as well. PT will also increase the pain, but it gets a little better each time. In two weeks, I have gone from terrible posture to almost normal. However, my consumption of norco and valium has increased too. Slowly but surely positive progress is being made. Just don't push it too hard at first and I am sure you will be fine. Good luck!
  • How long do you have to do therapy? Also my doctor isn't sure I need therapy but I don't see how I will just get this brace off and then return to work Immediately. How long will you be off work? Also can you sleep in bed okay? I can only sleep about 4hrs in bed and then have to get my brace back on and return to the recliner. Thanks for your reply!
  • The prescription was for twice weekly for four weeks. Unfortunately, I started experiencing the same neurological issues I had pre-op (tingling and slight numbness) in my legs and feet when I look down so I have stopped PT and will be trying to figure out what is going on next. I was off work for about 3 months, then worked half days for 3 weeks with the brace on and now I am back to full time.

    So long as I stay on my back or side, I can sleep ok. I am taking valium though and I know it makes sleeping much easier. I may have different results without it. Since your injury is lower at T12, I could see where lying on your side or back might put pressure directly where it hurts the most.

    At work, sitting is what gets me. My employer got me some fancy chair that did not help until I started using a tempurpedic pillow to sit on. I still must get up and walk every 30 minutes or so. I still spend a lot of time while not at work laying down in bed. By Monday, I feel pretty good but I start feeling more pain as the week progresses and by Friday, I'm ready to call in sick, but just push my way through it and then take it real easy on the weekend. My main take away from all of this is recovery is unacceptably slow. It is a rollercoaster ride. Some days I feel pretty good and then a few days later not so good. From reading many posts on this site, it seems like the normal process so far.
  • I am assuming the brace you are wearing is affectionately known as The Turtle Shell Brace. If thats it, I am all too familiar with the brace. I wore the brace for a year straight, August 2006 to August 2007. It helped with stability and promoted the fusion. It also oblitarated my core muscles and strength. I am hoping your doctor weans you off the brace to prevent muscle spasms. Unless you were in very good shape prior to your surgery, you will need some PT to build up your core muscles. With your age, that shouldn't take too long. Good luck on your recovery. Be a patient patient, slow and easy.

    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.
  • Thank you both for your help! Dick yes I am referring to turtle shell. I can't believe you had to wear your brace for a yr I am hating it but feel secure in it and am a little nervous to get it off but anxious. I bet it was weird when you first got it off for having it on so long? I hope you are doing much better! I have two weeks left and I find out what is to come next. More than likely i will get this brace off and I will find out then if the cage has held like it was suppose to and make sure I don't need surgery through the back. I am doing good I think just getting extremely fatigued and frustrated with not being able to sleep in bed. My husband and I were very active prior to all this we were always going places so it has been quite life changing I just hope I can go back to my normal life and that everything will be okay soon. Thanks!
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