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Having spinal fusion hoping for a bit of insight....

emmafifemaeemmafifema Posts: 19
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:03 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone,

I'm due to have a spinal fusion and decompression in 1 weeks time and have a few questions which I've not been able to find the answers to - hopefully someone will come along and be able to help.

1. I've been told that I have to lay down for 2 weeks post op (no sitting at all) and was wondering when I will be able to start some exercise and what exercise that will be/frequency also.

2. My surgeon says I will be in hospital between 1 and 5 nights - how many nights were you in for?

3. My surgeon says I will return to work after 4 - 6 weeks....how long were you off? (I work in a creche with kiddie winks)

4. Finally, I'm so nervous about an operation in general as I've only ever had keyhole surgery before and I'm so nervous I actually feel sick! Any words of wisdom will be greatly welcomed

many thanks xx


  • Here are my answers to your questions. I had spinal fusion surgery back in 2009.

    1. I did not have to lay down for 2 weeks. I did lay and sleep a lot, but I spent a great deal of time in a firmly backed chair.

    2. I was in the hospital for 4 nights.

    3. I did not have to return to work until about 8 weeks because I'm a teacher and it was in the summer. There is no way I would have been able to return any earlier. It was tough at 8 weeks.

    4. Don't be nervous about the surgery. I remember nothing. They put me out and I woke up 7 hours later with no remembrance of it. They give good pain relief in the hospital. You will find moving difficult. Have someone there to help you and work between you and the nurses. Just take it easy and give yourself time to recover. I was nervous too. I had had 2 c-sections and gallbladder surgery before this, but this was much more involved. All came out ok though.

    Good luck to you. Just take your time and follow dr's orders.

  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find others whom have had spinal surgery. It would be helpful, to the members to know what levels your are having done and what type of surgery they are doing. For example is it a anterior surgery or posterior surgery, so that would be either ALIF or PLIF or some other combination. This will help you locate those whom have had your particular surgery.

    Have a look in the surgery forum at the top of the page is a post op surgery post, which will help you on those things that will be useful following surgery. Some things you might already know, but others might not be so obvious. The post has be compiled by those whom have had surgery and what they needed or found useful.

    As far as being nervous over surgery, that is to be expected. If your nerves get to much, don't hesitate to let your doctors know and they can give you something to help calm your nerves. Also keep in mind, that in your post op time you will have up's and downs as your body is trying to recover from a major surgery. Don't measure your progress in days but rather weeks. Once your able to up and moving, begin walking and walk as much as you can. There are some good programs on the net such as 10,000 steps to help with this progress. A pedometer can be of use during this time, to help monitor your progress. Take different routes on your walks and enjoy the time out, so it makes it less of a must have and more as something enjoyable.

    Have you discussed with your surgeon, after being in bed so long, any type of physical therapy? If you are indeed laying down that long, when it is time to move you will find some discomfort and some very sore muscles, which why I ask about the physical therapy. But do follow your surgeon restrictions so plan now what you will be doing all that time, as it does get rather boring.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Good luck on your surgery and keep us posted on how you get along.
  • i was in the hospital for 5 days after my fusion surgery in 2008 (L4-L5-S1). for about the first 2-3 weeks i spent about 75% of my waking day laying down. after laying down for about an hour i would sit up in a chair for about 15 minutes then walk about the house for about 10 minutes and then go and lay down again.

    i returned to work after about 2 years and it was grossly unsuccessful and have since been on LTD and federal disability pension. do not fear though, i have had a handful of prior surgeries so i'm not your "average" patient.

    one thing i will say though, is my most severe pain pre-surgery was sleep related. my back pain became more severe at night ... laying down, and rolling over in bed. i have NOT had that sickening pain since ... i swear to god. so my fusion fixed waht it was intended to fix. the surgeon told me it was because when i was laying down some of my vertebrae would shift position and as it did aggravate the afflicted nerve root (spondylolisthesis). it's just all the other stuff from previous surgeries that has complicated my situation.

    i attended a physio program but at a certain part in the program it was decided that my back would be better off without manipulation than with manipulation (my back was temperametnal and PT started aggravating it). again, i am not your "average" patient.

    good luck. as tamtam said, the docs might be able to give you something to relax you ....

  • Hi there,

    thanks for the reply, just to say that I think I'm having a PLIF L5 S1 fusion.

    I originally had sciatica after running one day (i am a runner) and upon having an MRI they discovered that I have a prolapsed disc but also Spondylolisthesis hence the fusion.
  • bookcatbbookcat United States Posts: 66
    Welcome to spine health. I'm glad you found us; these forums are very supportive.

    I have had 3 PLIFs. That first surgery I was so very anxious that I started on a minor tranquilizer. I researched everything but that's just my style. I also made lists and journaled.

    I was excited to get things over with when I got to the hospital, which helped with preop. People were nice. I remember the operating room and the smiling face of the nurse leaning over me as anesthesia began. The next thing I knew I was in the recovery room! I had immediate pain relief. The surgery worked.

    I went to a rehab center for the first two weeks and only started using a walker during week 2. I might have gone a little too long in making the decision.

    The surgery stage of your treatment will soon be over. Recovery is slow. I went back to work part-time 8 weeks after. My pt was essential. Be patient with yourself. Ask for pt if you want it. These recommendations are only my personal opinion, not medical advice.

    Very good luck to you. Keep us posted.
    Catherine :)
    PLIF L1-3 6/13
    ACDF (C5-7) 8/12
    PLIF (L2-5) 2003/05/08
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