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How to prepare for Fusion Surgery

Hi, I'm Maxine and have spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and spondololithesis. Having been very active and dealing with what I thought was just sciatica I spoke to my Dr. who ordered x rays and an mri afterwards which showed a 9mm slippage L4-5 and the pressure on the nerve which is why my leg goes numb when walking. I opted for decompression therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, massage & reflexology but the intermittant pain is getting worse. I have a follow up appt. with the Neuro surgeon who suggested the big back surgery and said I wasn't really a candidate for the small one. What should I ask him about how to prepare before surgery and what should I expect after surgery? Thank you for your feedback.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • You should first ask your surgeon exactly what he will be doing and how long it will take and what your hospital stay will be.

    Prepare your house by putting everything out at counter top level. Have some easy meals prepared ahead of time and arrange for friends to bring meals too.

    A safety bar in the bathtub is a good idea. And a shower stool.

    I found a long handled shoe horn to be a big help but mostly wore clogs. Forget about socks. Elastic waist pants or sweat pants.

    Recovery depends on what type of surgery you had and your level of fitness. I have had 6 fusions and have had a 360 and also fusions where they go in from only the front or only the back. Should have had zippers installed. My first fusion was a 360 and they get up standing the day after and walking the next. Much harder than you cane ever imagine. I was in the hospital 5 days and off work for 3 weeks. My last 2 surgeries were my SI joints and even tho it is an outpatient surgery and you are not spending any time in the hospital I had to be partial weight bearing for up to 6 weeks so that changed the recovery significantly.

    Follow your surgeon's instructions and then your PT when you get to start that. It is a long slow recovery. Patience is key.

    Good luck and let us know how you are doing.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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