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so tired..3 months since 3 level lumbar fusion

Hoping somebody can ease my mind! As I mentioned, it's been 3 months since my 3 level lumbar fusion. My back is progressing great! I am still doing physical therapy and seeing good results from it. I was down nearly a year prior to my surgery. I am really struggling with fatigue. After therapy or after a few hours activity I am completely exhausted! I have been requiring 12 hours of sleep a night and resting multiple hours per day. If I have a really busy day it is normal for me to be down for a couple days afterwards. Is this normal? I keep wondering if I am depressed and I just dont realize it or if this is "normal" for my circumstances?? Anyone have advice???

Thank you!
2007 and 2010 L4-S1 Microdiscectomies; helped for a total of 3 years between the 2 of them.
08/2011....pain returned.
10/03/2012....back reconstruction L3-S1...large titanium "seperators" were put at each level with synthetic bone graft material.


  • Hi, its great to hear you going well still.

    Well, it was normal for me to be like you describe with only a single level fusion at 3 mths. It's 5 mths now and not quite as fatigued but it doesn't take much more than usual to wipe me out for a couple of days.

    Hope it keeps tracking in the right direction for you.
  • The stress caused by the fusion often does put more stress on the other muscles and every joint of your body so it now works harder so i think its normal, Your body feels it and its leting you know,
    With some luck down the road it will not be a big issue,

    Many of us after such surgery are never a 100 % ! All you can do is keep doing what you are doing and hope it gets beter each month and year untill you reach full recovery to see where you stand and how good of a turn out surgery brought !

    Best of luck to both of you in your recovery !
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • 1995:

    It's normal. You are normal. However, that doesn't mean that unusual residual fatigue is acceptable. We have to persevere.

    I am 23 months post op from a two level TLIF. If I work hard one day (driving/conducting onsite consults with clients) then I have a higher level of fatigue the next day. If I do that for two days back-to-back then I almost "crash" on the third day. Sleep is my panacea. Actually, I learned that lesson in 1972 when I went through U.S. Army Ranger school. If I was faced with the choice - food or sleep - it was a hard lesson to learn, but sleep was and always has been much more important than food.

    Likewise recovering from a major surgery. Sleep/rest is an imperative. Some of us need more than others. Once you get into your work/rest rhythm then you will probably adjust to it.

    Three months post op for a 3 level fusion is not very long. Give it more time before you become concerned. Also, my situation is not comparable because of my age (61) and the fact that my surgery has not been successful (thus a higher level of general fatigue). Regardless, I would not worry about the fatigue.

    Good luck in your recovery.

  • Dave, Alex, and Jim;

    Thank you for your replies! It is so helpful to get other opinions from people who have walked the same path as I!!! Your insight is much appreciated and respected!

    I'm going to keep on keepin' on and be thankful for the successful surgery!!!

    All my best to each one of you!

    2007 and 2010 L4-S1 Microdiscectomies; helped for a total of 3 years between the 2 of them.
    08/2011....pain returned.
    10/03/2012....back reconstruction L3-S1...large titanium "seperators" were put at each level with synthetic bone graft material.
  • i can understand your so tired .i was after my ALIF 12 months ago ..its been 12 months and i am still in hell not sleeping and taking 500mg of oxycontin./oxynorm a day and other drugs to help with pain ..i am staggered at some other people's ability to recover for major surgery within a short amount of time ..good luck my friend it looks like we are not the lucky type {i have written many post on here should you want to read them?}
    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
  • Hi,
    I had my fusion almost 7 weeks ago. My back is doing better than before but I am noticing several things. I cannot sit or stand for very long, and I need to change positions often to stay comfortable. I used to feel like there was a knife in my back and like someone kept turning it, it's better but not a lot better. I just started having spams again which I haven't had since before my surgery. However, my biggest issue is exhaustion! It's gotten worse instead of better. Maybe because I am up more and trying to do more but I am so exhausted all of the time. If I go out and walk the dog for 20 minutes, I'm done and want to sleep. I have NEVER slept during the day before...anyone else experiencing this? I will most likely call my doctor after the weekend, because this is not normal for me...
    Nancy Fichtelberg
  • basqueladybbasquelady Posts: 3
    edited 06/26/2015 - 1:11 AM
    I'm now 4/52 after X-LIF with posterior screw fixation in xxxx. Had increasingly severe sciatica caused by synovial cyst arising from facet joint on right. Sciatic went immediately for which I am so grateful. Extreme fatigue is getting to me though and I have been taking Naproxen (ok with surgical team) to deal with sacroiliac joint pain on the left i.e the non-operated side. I expected to be able to do more by this time! Any thoughts from those who have had this surgery. I am 67 year old, previously able to do long - distance walking, gardening etc; want to get back my normal life.

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  • thomasjntthomasjn West VirginiaPosts: 1
    I had a L4-S1 fusion, decompression, synovial cyst removal and stabilization done about 4mths ago, I found your post searching for info on the exhaustion, my low back had broke and compressed the cord, I was in so much pain, I had drop foot, and couldn't hold my self up. The surgery seemed to go amazing that can't breath pain has gone in low back and my drop foot recovered immediately. But about a month ago my hips started hurting and that wrapped around the front and back, it's now to the point of can't turn over e r in bed or lay on one side to long. My Dr is ordering new Mri and cat scan. That just scares me more & more & more. The exhaustion is also killing me my mind says go but my body won't and if I try to push I start stumbling over my feet and dropping things. I feel like I'm always saying I'm sorry to my husband for not being able to do this or that Hes great I know I don't need to apologize but that's my self feeling low about not being up. I was told 6 mths before I could even start to do normal things but I guess I felt so much better after that I thought it would stay that way. Was I wrong!!! I've been dealing with surgeries since 09 after a severe MV accident but I could always come back. Push myself. Not with this I'm drained I feel so guilty even looking at my dogs they seem so sad and all i can do is  do small potty breaks for them.sit 5 min or so and throw a ball. I can't even sit in my living room to watch tv with my hubby most nights maybe once a month for one movie. I do feel better reading your posts it makes me feel like "ok maybe it's just going to take a lil more time" but let me be honest just writing that pulls heavy on my heart. Im not new to the shrink seen and I'm all for it but again one more pill ... I do it because I know it works, but right now I'm just tired of begin tired ,, sick of being sick. I'm sure you all understand that some days no amount of positive thinking, wishing makes a difference, Im just on that day today. I'm doing the whole healthy eating, holistic approach that I've added to the normal Dr approach. So if anybody has any words of wisdom all the help is welcome and If anyone has any questions I've been doing this 7 years now the back, RA , knee surgeries, hip, facial, jaw, etc.... just because today is a bad day doesn't mean everyday is and ill always take the time to answer. 
  • Hello,
    I am 10 weeks post-op for a 360 degree lumbar fusion (3 levels) plus I had (2) newly invented artificial discs, implanted. I also ended up getting scoliosis because workers comp made me wait over 20 years for surgery.
    I had the worst spurring and 2 discs collapsed causing my L-5 nerve to be "frayed". They had to sew it and wrap it in something that will make it grow and inch a month. 
    My left foot is still "fuzzy" at best, and I was told it would take a year to heal.

    I am only allowed to walk up and down my street, and some days, it is daunting. I have to use a cane or I would not make it to the end of the driveway.
    I too, am exhausted. I go out 1-3 separate times to walk, The first walk is the best and then they get shorter as I tire and my left leg feels like it weighs 200 pounds.
    I am losing so much weight too. I was not over weight prior to this surgery, but now I have dropped 2 sizes.
    I am grateful to the 3 surgeons, 2 are neurosurgeons, and one invented these new artificial discs, rather than the old "rods and screws" method. They are all geniuses and I give thanks to all of them.
    I have to say the surgery was a success, even after this short time.

    Yesterday, I was a couch potato. I had ZERO energy and it was so annoying.
    I am glad I found all of you, and if you have any tips, that would be great.

    I normally get no feed back on this website. 
    I notice the posts are pretty recent.
    "For we walk by faith, not by sight"~ Corinthians
  • @ Rootsprincess..I am 11 weeks post op today from L4-S1 PLIF with bilateral decompression and a plethora of other things described on my op note.  My surgery was no where near as severe as yours but I can identify with the fatigue.  I started PT at 3 weeks due to weakness in my left leg and my left foot is partially numb and has been since I woke up from surgery.  I am still doing PT twice a week and will for the next 4 weeks at least.  I started walking very very short distances and have worked up to being able to walk 1/2 mile at a time now.  I am so tired and have trouble sleeping because of muscle soreness.  I also lost a lot of weight right after surgery.  I went down 1 size.  I kept eating every two hours and kept lots of high protein, high calcium food and drink supplements around to eat or drink.  I was told by my PT as well as NS it will take at least 8 months to a year to recover.  It's been a very slow recovery, but each week is better than the week before.  I just try to push myself out of my recliner and walk and move, even if it's just around the house.  I am working part time now and go back full time on April 11.  Follow up CT and appt with NS on April 19.  
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    Hello thomasjn!
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  • @smithsm Thank you for a response. I am glad I am not the only one feeling this way. I am an impatient, patient I guess.
    At first walking was something I was proud to see evolving. First it was to the end of the driveway. Now, as time goes on and I try to go a bit further, I am getting depressed instead of feeling joy.
    My back has zero pain now. It seems I traded that off for a weak left leg. I have 3/4 of a left foot, which seems to be why I need the cane. My balance is off without feeling in my  toes.
    The neurosurgeon does not seem concerned about the loss of feeling in my toes.

    I am going to bring up how tired I am, this Tuesday.
    I also have Hashimoto's thyroid issues, but I had my levels checked, and they are fine.

    Right now, its 11:20AM. I slept 9 hours, drank coffee and now I am nodding off in the recliner.
    No walk today because of the rain.
    I no longer look forward to my walking therapy. (He has not sent me for PT yet!) I almost burst into tears when I get home, because my leg is in so much pain, and it feels so heavy.

    Again, thank you for your input. Misery loves company!
    Wishing everyone on this thread a wonderful recovery.

    "For we walk by faith, not by sight"~ Corinthians
  • You sound like your own worst enemy.  I've just (6 mo) recovered from level 8 fusion and have already been riding a stationary bike for two months.  Get a bike.  Ride the heck out of it.  You'll stop feeling tired.  I'm riding my mountain bike now, having sex, riding my motorcycle... returned to normal.  I'm 69.
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