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what is the new normal??

its been 4 months since fusion L4-L5. i've posted a few times about feeling depressed, feeling better and about this looong recovery period( a year to see if bones have fused.) today i here to ask what is new normal? i'm a nurse. 65,working full time. i have a sort of desk job, but most days i have to be up and down and checking on things in the facility.the pain prior to surgery is gone but when i am walkin or standing for 10-15 minutes i have tightnes in lower back and pulling on right lower back which is relieved by sitting down i am tired at end of day and usually take 10 mg percocet when i get home. 2 days ago i had to go to an open house and see patients in the hospital. i was standing and walking for about 1-2 hours and by that evening my legs were so stiff they felt like tree trunks, i had pain across hips, lower back, and down both legs. could not sleep cause could not get relief of pain and could not get into comfortable position. took 2 percocet and did feel better yesterday but still have pain in middle of lower back. can u guys tell me if you find increased discomfort after 4 months? i am worried that my fusion is failing, feeling guilty because when i returned to work at 9 weeks out i started smoking again (the surgeon told me to quit a month before surgery so i had not smoked for 3 months ) is this new normal, is recovery up and down like this instead of a steady progression toward healing? thanks for any advice you can share about your recovery.


  • I'm sorry to hear about what ur going thru. It was almost like reading my own post. I'm only 10 weeks out today, went back to work on Monday (I'm an occuptional therapist with inpatients) I'm only part time now but still, the standing and sitting is KILLING me. I drive 45 mins to work, and I think that's the culprit. I also take 10mg percocet, have been since my surgery june 8th. They seem to help, but sometimes its too late for relief, and I'm in agony until I fall asleep (not very easily). I too started smoking again, I quit the day before surgery, but back at work means back to my old routine and "stress reliever". IMO, I think its normal how were healing. The recovery is way longer than nearly any oother orthopedic surgery, and its still erly yet! We have to tell ourselves that somehow! I was getting so depressed sitting @ home, I thought work was the answer. Now, idk. But let's keep our heads up and stay positive as much as we can! Sending some positive thoughts ur way...lmk how ur progress is going nd maybe we can compare and find comradery in this whole spiney mess!!! :):)
  • Forgot to add I had a l4/l5 TLIF and revision l5/s1 fusion with a disc replacemnt at l4 and an implanted bone stimulator!!
  • wow, we do seem to be having the same kind of up and down recovery. thank you for reminding me to stay positive, i forget that sometimes. your reply has really uplifted me, so now i can send some positive thoughts back at ya.
  • First let me say the fusion process takes anywhere from 6 months up to 18 months. Smoking slows this process down even more and in some cases prevents the fusion from happening. I hope your surgeon told you this.
    All of the things you described that kill your back (standing, sitting for long, etc.) are normal for someone with a fusion that is in their 60's. The new normal for us fusions is to adapt our old lifestyle to prevent the things that now kill our backs.

    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.
  • JoydancerJJoydancer Posts: 463
    edited 08/18/2012 - 7:20 PM
    re: Spine Surgery recovery, all the phases - - oh yes.... remember my 3 level ACDF just to get to off-collar, big stepgetting to drive, but being very careful at 8 weeks and then at 5 mos. some set-backs but at 8 months still counting and praying each day, yes I fused successfully and my set-back pain lifted and the "new normal" then was good in 1 yr post-op - - yep long sloooowww recovery, Im with ya.

    Oh, God, the "new normal" for now - - Ive been recovering from a mva, truck colliding into my minivan, right side/rear, wrenched my fused neck to right, worry about my dogs in that right side seat and doing everything I could to avoid the collision, instead of direct head-on collision, took swift aversive action, turning my minivan far to the left out of the lane. 5 months of recovery, having to quit phystherapy worsening right neck and right shoulder pain after some stabilization overall 3 months out. Verdict mri of the right shoulder = full tears of ligaments of rotator cuff = surgery to repair 4 anchors re-attachment back to the bone, 10 wks not driving, arm in slain 5 wks a painful, slow recovery phys therapy, allow full healing of ligaments and have function of shoulder. Oh, this is my good arm/shoulder - -

    post in Depressed & Coping tonite - - Im struggling visualizing & literally seeing what I wont be able to do - - surgery my right shoulder "good arm, wrist, hand" and forced to rely on left nerve damaged arm, muscle wasted forearm, weak/disabled left hand & fingers. 7 days since verdict and Im not getting this wrapped around in my head as a can-do

    can't see this surgery for me, coping after all the neuro loss / disability of my left arm, hand past 2 years, C-Spine T-Spine on hold for my complex issues and only when it goes into myelopathy (legs) - - hows that for a plan !

    No surgery on the shoulder = my good shoulder & arm go "frozen" rigid without the repair is no option at all.

    Boy can I relate to you smoking with trying to cope with new challenge and getting back to work - - I cope with food, supposed to be losing weight, treading into heart / diabetes at 63. my anxiety goes thru the roof to be on restriction...

    Well, not supporting here to lift your spirits, but I can applaud you and me for the courage to get it out there, share it and hopefully de-stress and not feel so overwhelmed, so way to go woman !! We did good !!

    p.s."new normal" right now it's roadblocks, dead-ends why my psyche is right now :( !! Hey at least we should feel "healthy" for getting it out there !

    pm me, if you like

  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,338
    edited 08/25/2012 - 7:45 AM
    and i never get a good answer .so i asked my consultant and he told me that .the new normal is you can still walk ! you will have to do stuff slower you wont be able to do some stuff that you once could .but never forget you have had major surgery not once not twice but three times !!
    so be glad your still here and make the most of a bad situation .the trick is to listen to your body more than ever .if it tells you to stop and rest then do it .if it tells you to swim /wash the car/walk the dog ..again do it .but you wont be able to do things on a regular basis .[back to the spoons theory} once those spoons have gone your finished for the day .you day may start at 3 am and end at 1pm .or you may have a good nights sleep and you day start at 8am and end at 6 pm .we are not normal any more we have to make the best of a bad situation
    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
  • I really like all of these comments. My mri came back normal today nearly 4 months after fusion of l4-l5-s1 w/ spacers. I get so depressed. I think it's because " I Feel" family expects me to be better. But the fact of the matter is I have some good days but alot of bad ones. I read and am told it will get better, but like these post, I hurt so bad in my left low back and leg, and feel my muscles tense up after a good day. My doc has been more than stingy w/ pain meds, sending me home w/ 7.5 norco 2 days after fusion. Been calling them in every week since then. Only aloud a few a day. So I always have to worry so much about myself, and now I feel so self absorbed. Good thing the forum's here to let people know they aren't crazy alone, anyways. I sure think everyone thinks I am.
    can't shorten what I've been through in 255
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