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3 weeks post op L5-S1 fusion

mrambrosemmrambrose Posts: 1
edited 07/05/2012 - 7:00 PM in Pain Medications
Hello all. first post but have read many many posts. i am 3 weeks post op today. i was told i didnt need a brace so im not wearing one, i was told i could drive one week PO, guess i should give a bio first. im 29 years old, not the best shape but pretty good, 190 lbs 6'0 feet tall. The reason i needed the fusion was because my L5 was fractured in 3 places. i was given lortab 7.5 and told to take 1-2 every 4 to 6 hours and robaxin 750mg 1-2 every 8 hours as needed.. the first week i was taking 1 every 4 hours, i even set alarms so that i made sure and took them every 4 hours just like i was told "take them before you hurt not after." well i used all 20 pills and when i ran out the pain wasnt that bad so i just took tylenol every 6 hours as needed. well i am now 3 weeks post op and 4 days ago the fan belt on my car broke and i had to put a new one on, which ment taking a wheel off and crawling under the car. well for the last 3 days i have been in so much pain i would say on a scale of 1-10 im at a 5 at the moment. The Doc only gave me the 20 lortabs with no refills but the robaxin is 100 count with 3 refills. i live in birmingham alabama and there is a huge problem with painkillers in this area and thats my problem i want to ask my doc for something for the pain but i dont want to look like what they call a "seeker." I know i shouldnt have put the belt on the car but i have to have my car and there is nobody that was going to do it for me without paying a lot of money and as im sure it is for everyone else money is tight right now, really tight after missing so much work. I guess my question is, is it ok for me to ask my doc for something for the pain this far post op? or should i just deal with it? Sleep is nonexistent, well i guess thats not completely true it more like in 30 to 40 min increments, like right now its midnight and ive been awake since 4:30 am
sent my wife for some sleep aids from walgreens and it makes me want to sleep so bad but every little move sends sharp pain down the left side of the small of my back. sorry if this is all mixed up or hard to understand, just very sleepy and hurting. Thanks to all readers and any advise is welcome. Oh almost forgot i have been switching between heat and cold every 20 mins for 2 days with little to no change. Thank you all again.


  • Man, it takes 8 weeks for the vertebrate in your lumbar to even begin to fuse after surgery. I had a double fusion last August and it was 3 months before I could start physical therapy much less bend at the waist. Sorry man, I know you do not want to hear it. Heck yeah, call your Dr.tell him what you did, get hell raised at you and go get some new meds. If he does not want to help, call your personal physician. Good luck and take it easy. Stan
  • I'm just over 4 weeks out from an L5-S1 fusion right now, and honestly, i haven't got a clue how you could do that kind of work at all. I can't even bend forward more than a few inches without problems. I only got the clearance to drive a week ago, and i've only even attempted it once because it makes my back ache.

    I'd call the doc and tell him what you did. he might want to send you for a new MRI to make sure you didn't damage the hardware placement.

    Good luck, i hope its just temporary muscle pain and not a problem with the hardware.
    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • I am two weeks and two days post L5-S1 fusion plus laminectomy, and I still can't work out how to get out of bed without holding on to the walker! I had minor post-op complications which resulted in fluid having to be drawn out of my back at Day 10...saw surgeon yesterday and have been told that I still need to "lie low" (ie not do too much) for the next week. I can then start adding in things that will get me back to normal living. I cannot start a full walking regimen until next week (building up to 2 miles a day by my next appt in 4 weeks time), and am not allowed to drive until I have stopped taking the pain meds (down to just Vicodin now).
    How on earth did you manage to change the fan belt...crawl around on the ground etc? You definitley need to contact your surgeon about the problems you're now having!
  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 08/12/2012 - 1:16 PM
    the indestructible youth !!! well your not .you were doing so well .it take MONTHS even for the young and fit please look after your self ..a friend of mind and also a SH member needed revision surgery on a fusion because that person did too much too soon ..i am 8 months post op from ALIF and still very much in pain {but i have complications and its my third operation] i am still on massive amounts of oxycontin ..it was 12 weeks before i could even get in my car let alone drive it even now i only drive short distances and my wife drives any distance .please slow down or you will be back in theater and you don't want that
    tony {UK}
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Heck yeah it's appropriate to ask your doctor for medication! I would not have been able to go home after fusion with only Lortab to begin with!

    PLEASE be careful with the Tylenol you're taking, you can seriously blow your liver. Note that Lortab has Tylenol in it. The FDA has revised guidelines and usually doesn't want more than 2 grams a day of Tylenol for chronic pain purposes, but please ask your pharmacist or doctor to confirm and help you with that. Over the counter sleep aides often have Tylenol or Advil(usually a no-no after fusion.)

    Go see your doctor and tell him what you've been taking, that you need more, and is helpful to tell him if that medication works at all and how long you notice the effect. Writing it down before the appointment sometimes helps recall it. I wouldn't think you would appear to be a "seeker" this soon after surgery. I'm sure you know that pain actually affects the body's ability to heal. You sound like you seriously need some relief(and to try and restrict activities, but you know that. Please heed advice from our experience and don't do it again. I know times can be desperate but it really isn't worth it in the end to screw up the back.)

    Follow dr's restrictions to the tee!! Mine were no BLT-bending lifting twisting. No lifting over 10 pounds(gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds.) Get one of those reacher/grabber tools and NEVER bend over, NEVER. I hope that it didn't mess up your fusion site. No reason to drive at all.

    Great that you have a muscle relaxer also. Some folks find stronger muscle relaxers at night like Zanaflex or Valium help with spasms as well as sleep for the short term. But it is reasonable to get pain meds at this time, whether you worked on the car or not. After activity, I found ice to be the most effective. I really like using a hand-towel, getting it nice and wet, laying it flat in the freezer, then using on my back. It's not a heavy weight to hurt my muscles, it's nice and cold to calm down the inflammation, and it only stays cold for 15 minutes or so therefore not so much at risk for burning yourself. I never found alternating heat and ice helpful.

    See your doctor now. He should examine you after the car incident. Tell him you still need pain meds and be descriptive about what the pain feels like and how long the pain medicine does or does not last when you take it. Ask about something for sleep. STRICT restrictions. Why do you even need your car right now? I think most people were not driving at 3 weeks, not just because of medicine or pain reasons, but because you have to twist to see in traffic. You twist way more than you realize. Maybe a brace would be good for you, I know mine kept me from doing a whole lot of things I shouldn't have done. You've got to really baby yourself right now or you will end up in such a mess like some of us. Even though I've gone on about restrictions, I still think you need pain meds for just what you are supposed to be doing in recovery.

    Good luck, I hope you find relief soon! Please post an update, too.
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