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I had my L4/L5 fusion on July 19th, and feel that I am well over the hump. I see my doctor on Thursday, but would like the opinions of others that have been here. I get out of bed in the mornings virtually pain free. I may have some discomfort, but nothing I would consider taking a pain med for. If I lounge around the house all day and basically do nothing but watch TV, cook, short walks, etc, I do great. As I start to get out and walk more, or do extremely light duty things, I start to get mild pains in my back, and often times in my thighs or hips.

QUESTION: Am I better off to be more careful and take NO pain meds, or take a small dose and continue to become more active. I am not one to just sit around, and I'm seeing things I know I can do, but I'm not sure if I am doing hard to my body by increasing my activity and soothing the pain with meds. . At what point do I start to become more active and exercise?

I'm sure my surgeon will have his opinion on this, and he knows very well, how active my lifestyle is, but I'm curious as to what others might have been told or encountered.



  • If you can get by without prescribed pain medications, then by all means do so. The basis of your increases in pain might very well be caused by the decreased activity, which only serves to weaken already weakened muscles, and contributes to muscle fatigue when you are inactive, and then trying to increase your activity levels is going to also cause a bit of increased pain until your body adjusts to the activity level.
    I would try to avoid the use of pain medications when they are not really necessary. The usual course is to try non opiate medications first, muscle relaxers, and injections, physical therapy, etc if needed for pain management, before considering adding prescribed pain medications.
    There is a link to managing chronic pain in my signature......read it
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    edited 08/27/2013 - 7:56 AM
    Sandi has some great advise in her post.

    I will just add a different view. You never want to get to the point where you hold off on your pain medications UNTIL your pain really gets BAD. By that time, the prescribed dosage probably will not help that much. These are the times where I hear about patients taking another dose and perhaps another dose just to feel better.

    If you do not need the pain medications, then that is great, but when you are in a situation when you do need them, just dont push them off too far. That will not help
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks for the advice. I am finding that I am extremely weak in all areas right now. I went from working construction 8 days a week, to sitting in a recliner. I'm trying to walk and get some strength back, but a little hesitant to get into too much until I see my doc on Thursday to see what he says. I don't like taking pain meds at all, and usually suffer way too long before I end up taking them reluctantly. I guess for now, the "better safe than sorry" is the word of the day. Thanks again.
  • I had an L4/L5 fusion on April 23, 2013. It sounds like you're doing remarkably well! I was having the hip and leg pain with increased activity also and when I chatted with other people who had surgery around the same time, they had similar complaints. I'm going to say that for about 8 weeks I took my medication on a fairly regular basis; if I did too much and started hurting, I took a dose. I don't think I've taken more than 3 Hydrocodone in a day since about 4 weeks out, but even at this point I still occasionally need dose. I turned my Oxycodone in to my pain doctor at 4 weeks and switched over to Hydrocodone. Definitely run it by your doc and see what he says. Keep in mind, you had a HUGE surgery and as badly as we want to heal and carry on with our lives, sometimes it can hurt like the dickens!
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
  • i agree with dilauro, don't wait intil your pain is at a high level and then medicate. Pain medications work best at preventing pain, and only minimally at stopping it once it starts. I personally believe that pain medications just make us not give a poop whether we are in pain or not!!!
  • Just knowing what others have gone through and where they are at a certain point in time helps me to know how I am doing. I had my first follow up appt. with my doc on Thursday. He was very pleased at my progress and didn't quite expect me to be where I am today. I am finding that each day is better than the last. He suggested the Flexeril on a regular basis, as this may prevent some of the issues I have been having. He said not to avoid the use of pain meds, but just to use common sense. He said there is no need to push too far and then expect the meds to correct my foolishness. He is a really good guy and very to the point. He said at the progress I am showing, he expects me to be pain free and back to "normal" in a couple more weeks, other than the restriction on bending for another 4 months. I'm learning a very good lesson in patience. The total healing of the fusion is my only concern at the moment. This surgery is an opportunity for me to appreciate all the little things in life. I never thought I could miss something like tying my own shoes.
  • I remember when I could finally tie my own shoes again too and boy, I was all excited! I finally was able to wear something other than flip flops and slip on shoes. It was heaven!
  • How long after surgery was it that you could tie your shoes. I'm not sure I remember how to tie mine. I may have to call my grandson to show me. Looking forward to that day. Feeling better each day... Just hard for me to be patient.
  • My first liberating thing after fusion surgery was being able to get back in my truck and drive to Taco Bell for some burritos! I felt like I was a prisoner until my doctor cleared me to drive.

    Shoes weren't too hard for me, but getting socks on was a bit*#! I even had to call my neighbor (who I call my faux wife) to come over one day to help me with socks. My wife couldn't take off work to stay with me the first few weeks after surgery, so my neighbor (with my wife's consent!) agreed to come over to help me if I needed something.
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • as a result of my first surgery, so things didn't quite go according to plan for me..........it won't be that long for you, once you are able to get past the no b, l, t restrictions, you will just have your grandson show you how to make the bunny ears, go around the rabbit hole and jump in......LOL
  • My doc gave me the OK to lift all I want to lift, with no limitations, but still NO BENDING or TWISTING for 3 or 4 more months. (not sure how to lift without bending) I've been driving OK for some time, and I'm really feeling pretty good, except for some severe pain in my right ankle when I walk. Not sure about that one, hoping it clears up when I get back on my meloxicam. Tylenol just doesn't do the job. As for the socks, I stopped by a medical equipment sales and purchased a "sock aid". Slide your sock on it, and just pull it on with long straps. Works good, especially since I don't have neighbors out here in the boonies where I live.

    With being fairly new here, I don't always know how to navigate the site, or where to post, so I'm going to make a new post concerning problems I'm having with Flexeril. Thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.

  • Good news, sounds like things are slowly getting better for you.......it takes a little time to learn the areas of the website and what each area offers but if you need help, just send one of us mods a private message and we'll be here to help.
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