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Multi-level (8) fusion

CGCCG Posts: 3
edited 11/23/2014 - 5:19 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I am new to this forum and am hoping to hear from others that have undergone multilevel fusion. I underwent an anterior-posterior fusion in early October. My surgeon led me to believe that by December, I would be back at work full- time.

I live by myself and as much as I try to be totally compliant with "no BLT" - at times I have no choice but to do things I shouldn't. I try to be as careful as I can whenever I have to overdo it. I recently had X-Rays and fortunately, I haven't screwed anything up.

I still have a lot of pain in my lower back - in some ways worse than before the surgery as it is constant. I also have pain and numbness of both anterior thighs (the thigh problems happened immediately after surgery).

When do things get better? Does the numbness go away? I have not gotten an explanation from my surgeon about why my thighs hurt and are numb. I assume the cause is trauma to the nerves from the surgery - but I want to know whether it is temporary. And when will it improve. Sometimes my thighs get incredibly itchy, but no amount of scratching helps.

I would love to hear from others that have had similar surgery. I underwent this surgery so I could have a life - but now I feel like I have ruined any chance of having any life at all.


  • Hi

    I had a second spinal fusion operation in May. To cut a long story short I fell 600ft in a paragliding accident I smashed my my sacrum with two bi lateral fractures one about 3/4 of an inch. Fractured my pelvic ring in two places and shattered several vertebrae L1 3 & 5 along with have a lot of arteries stented. Anyway they performed a sacral stabilisation 02/09/13 and I spent 6 week in a wheelchair and 6 weeks on crutches. I wished now that they had kept me in the wheelchair longer as the severity of what had happened to me was not explained and I did way to much to soon. I listened to the guidelines and waited the right amount of time but went back to my business about week 9. As a result the fixture came loose and I had another stabilisation in May. I took.it easy this time and stayed on my crutches for longer than advised. I was told that my spine had been fused to my pelvis however i have just found out my spine has been fused l1 to l5. I thought this was just a instrumental fusion and I would get part of my lumbar spine back when the fixture came out however i am permanently fused. Despite this I am doing well, I am walking well even with a 1 inch leg difference and pain is mainly down to the bolts on the fixture. All I would say is take it easy and take as much time as you can it's not worth putting yourself at risk. I could have got away without spinal fusion if the first opp had worked and although everything that has been done needed to be it could have been explained a lot better so ask plenty of questions about your recovery.. I have been told at 7 month in I am healing well but it will be 12 to 18 months post surgery till I am fully healed... Hope this helps

  • By the way I have the numbness on my right thigh, you could stick a pin in my right leg and I would not have felt it, it has now subsided. It has not gone away but I don't notice it so much. You will get back to normal it might just need some adjustment. I am determined to get fit and active again I am 70% there and will get back to where I want. It just takes time and maybe the understanding that you may only get to 90% of your original ability. But 90 is better that 50 and all the other numbers below it.. Good luck
  • What levels did you have done? If you also did a decompression, everything is stretched and the nerves and tissues will be "angry" for a while. 8 levels is a huge surgery! You are still very early in your recovery. I am nearly a year post 360 fusion and I'm not 100% either. Give yourself time
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • I had a fusion from t-9 to the pelvis on August 28. I started working part-time from home about first of November, and returned to work full-time November 20. My original leg pain is gone, and I have no pain in my lower back. I am still adjusting to feeling the hardware and that my movement is somewhat limited. And my pre-surgery strength is not back and I know I may need to re-create that with exercise. My original pain was down my left leg and buttocks. I how have numbness (lack of feeling, not tingling) in that area, but it doesn't bother me. My biggest concern is now that I am back at the computer full-time, I am feeling neck pain. I'm hoping that with additional PT and massage, that can be addressed.

    Good luck. Our surgeries were huge, so I anticipate it will take quite some time to fully recover. I know that in looking at this forum, I have not seen many entries from folks that have had similarly big surgeries, so it's hard to know what to expect. Have you been good at your PT? I made sure I got a PT who specialized in spine issues, and I was religious with my exercises - still am.
  • Mine was my 4th back surgery and 2nd fusion. First fusion was in 2008 -- L4-S1 -- very successful. 11/21/14 fused T12-L4 plus XLFT L2-3 and L3-4. Still in fair amount of pain, but I know it's early days. How long did acute surgical pain last for you? That's my issue right now. Not really comfortable lying down, but standing and sitting too painful. You guys sound like you have been through the wringer. My situation not nearly so bad -- and I hope it stays that way! Anyone with pain from brace pressing on incisions? Are you using it?
  • 5 Fusions (L1-S1) 9 months ago. PT and continuous core exercises in therapy pool last 6 months. Continuing right side back weakness with good strength in left back. 3 months ago I developed raging right buttock and leg pain and decreased exercises but pain continues. Therapist tells me it could take 2 years or more for nerves to calm down. I am considering SI injections. I have 5-6 hours after I wake up to drive drug free to rehab pool etc. and very light weight chores. Rest of the day I'm useless. I was hoping by now I would be feeling less pain than before surgery which is not the case. I am happy that I found this forum because I have wanted to talk to other folks who have had similar surgery.
    1977 L2-L3 Laminectomy
    Degenerative Disc Disease
    2013. Sudden Degenerative adult Scoliosis
    3/26/14 L1-S-1 Fusions and instrumentation
    4/10/14 surgery to scrub staph infection off hardware & drain tissue
  • Hi
    I had a Triple fusion and stabilisation 4 weeks ago. I too have thigh and buttocks numbness from my surgery. Yesterday it totally went. I couldn't believe that it had totally gone. Today, it has come back. I live in hope that it will go permanently. Don't lose heart, the same could happen for you too.

  • EvsolutionsEEvsolutions Posts: 21
    edited 01/18/2015 - 10:27 PM
    Hi CG,
    I had a 17 hr, 12 level fusion on Dec 1.
    During that first month i was told i would be ok to work after 2 months but certainly didnt feel like it, i am now doing small amounts of work as well as swimming & PT. I still have pain and that thigh numbness , which i was told was from inevitable nerve damage from this surgery that will go eventually, both have calmed down. Still on pain meds but I saw my surgeon 2 days ago and she is extremely happy with how I am going. Said keep up the meds as you will notice it if you dont and another month we will wean me down completely .I also did things,lifted things I shouldn't have around the house but sometimes you just have to, nothing untoward has happened with the fusion. The first couple of weeks were just outrageous with the pain and immobility but the body is an amazing thing and walking everyday really helped me. I still get tired and take narcotics in morning and night but I am active and as I run my own business has been a blessing and a curse. Good that I can ease back into work which I am doing by working a couple of hrs in morning then that's it, and will work slowly up to full days. Bad as I have worried unnecesarally & have had to put off small work that I have lost that I would have done otherwise & probably have put back the progress of the business by having a full nearly 2 months off.
    Overall I am happy with how it's going considering what I had done only 7 weeks ago, being positive, having something to do and being active and having your pain under control with meds or otherwise was and is the key for me and I see no reason why I won't be working and living like I was pre surgery very soon. Just have to get my strength back up, my fitness/stamina and get off the meds which will all be hopefully over the next 4-8 weeks. At the present moment (7weeks after) mornings and night are the worst pain wise but no where near like 5 weeks ago, I have that lower back pain that seems worse than before but getting better, thighs are numb but nearly cleared up and I am doing normal things around the house like pre surgery, just a bit slower and need to rest around lunchtime.
    Good luck mate, there are other great people on here that are good to talk to and have similar stories that are invaluable.
  • I had a 4 level fusion w/ instrumentation w/ decompression and radiculopathy back in January 2014 (C5 - T2)

    When do things get better?

    Everyone is different. You should consistently see improvement as the months pass by, but I am 12 months in and still have a lot of work to do. I am now dealing with chronic pain.

    Does the numbness go away?

    I still have numb patches, but overall, yes, I believe the majority of it has vanished and will in your case as well. Time is the answer.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.... The biggest misconception is that surgery will take away ALL the pain. Everyone is different. In your situation, I feel that you are still in the acute pain phase being that it is in and around the 3 month range... Give yourself some time to heal.....You have NOT ruined any chance at having a life, you are just worrying yourself way too soon! Things more likely than not will improve in time. Keep the faith and do all the exercises your Doctor, PT, etc tell you to do!!!!!!!!!!!! Be consistent with that, but most importantly, leave yourself be! Give yourself some time. Come back and update in 2 - 3 months. I'm willing to bet that there is improvement.

    Sending healing vibes your way...


    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • I want to thank you all for your responses, esp. those folks that had many, many levels done. It is hard to gauge progress because most folks have not had as many levels fused - but for the few that have - looks like I need to be more patient. I started working part- time in mid-December a few hours a day - mainly because I needed the money - then work got super busy and unfortunately I ended up working 6 days a week - 10 hour days. - mainly sitting - and working out of town. So, I set myself back because I could not do PT. Things are somewhat better - am now 4+ months post-fusion and working a 30 hour weeek and doing PT. The numbness in my thighs is better - but my lower back is still pretty numb. I am on a little lower dose of narcotics. So - that is good - though I still am on a lot and that is discouraging. My pain doctor and spine surgeon are disappointed I don't have less pain - so that concerns me. I can tell they were hoping that at this point, I would feel notably better. But, I think not doing PT for almost five weeks is the reason I have not seen much improvement. I am trying to stay hopeful that if I do PT three times a week, I will start to see progress. Have any of you used a stationary bike? If so, have you found that helpful? Or is walking better?
  • I have been recommended a stationary bike by my doctor as well. I don't have one at home but my gym membership gives me access to use one. I am having a hard time recently and am considering going back to pt and the gym. One of the things that helped me the most has been hydrotherapy with a therapist in the water with me. Perhaps I'll go back to that
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • Went to neuroesurgeon today they said I n eed the 8 leve l starting t10 all the way down
    I have never had back surgery was born mild scoliosis now at 63 fast progression 2 surgerys
    fisrt on side to stabilize sacrum 6hrs next day another 6 hrs to bring my body up to normal
    no disc replacement just rods and screws? I need to get second opinion should I go to ortho? neuro said he would not involve ortho they can do the bones ..He is a scoliosis specialist and I do feel he knows what he is doing.. I live by my self and this makes me anxious as well .. family can help but we are all getting older and help I am lost feeling.thanks for reading mary
  • I have been following this thread and am wondering if one month is too soon to expect to be doing more and using less pain meds. I had fusion on June 9 of L2,3,4,5, and S1.
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