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questions after anterior spinal fusion surgery

Honestly did not know category to place this under but was hoping for some input.
13 1/2 weeks ago I had anterior fusion of L5 S1. Within 4 weeks I was cleared to limitless walking and bicycling. Last week, (13 week followup) I saw surgeon's PA and was cleared to do "anything" at all (weight lift, run, regular exercise) l except no heaving lifting from the side to bring to front. I am walking, swimming, bicycling daily now, although not as long or strenuous due to lack of energy that I once had as before surgery. But keep trying.
Here are my concerns, I still have lots of swelling in my feet. The initial sharp nerve pain in the back is gone, thankfully, but the straining in the lower back going to my thighs is still there, which I was told will resolve itself in time. Here is the thing that bothers me the most, the large diagonal roll I have above the incision. See, I had a large ab hysterectomy done some years ago, then after that, (because of the skin stretch from hugely grown female parts having been removed) had a tummy tuck with lypo done. After bringing up the distended tummy to the PA, she told me to lose weight and to try Nutra-system, or later on see a plastic surgeon. This hit me as being degrading to me. After surgery I am told to "take it easy" and recoup, which I did, resulting in an increase of 2 pounds, which I am sure is now gone. Also I was TOTALLY flat prior to surgery. Now I cannot wear a straight dress. I tried spanx and/or girdles. I still shows rolls there looking unsightly.
I looked up hernias and everyone states they are very painful. What I am wondering is could I have one above the length of my incision and not feel it? Reason I wonder is after the hysterectomy, and tummy tuck, I am very numb in a majority of the area below my belly button, all the way to my pubic area. I'm not sure how deep the pain from a hernia would be.
I have not yet had my tummy checked by another doctor. When I verbally bring it up to a medical person they try to make me feel guilty about this "vanity" and be grateful not to have the back pain like I had before. Well, yeah, I was and am vain enough to have gone through that tuck and lypo. Now though, hubby and I are on a limited monthly income and cannot afford to dish out "out of pocket" expense of a plastic surgeon. I may not have the money, but I still have my vanity and want my body back.

Welcome to Spine-Health

One of the most important things that need members can do is to provide the rest of the community with as much information about themselves as possible. It is so very difficult for anyone to respond when we do not have enough information to go on. This is not meant to indicate that you are doing anything wrong or violated any rule, we are just trying to be pro-active and get the information upfront so that people can start responding and your thread is more effective.

So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong, The fact that your test results are negative does not mean that you are fine and without any concerns. Many times it takes several diagnostic tests and procedures to isolate a specific condition.

Here are some questions that you should answer:

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  • . Physical Therapy
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Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
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What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
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It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are

I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways it’s like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then it’s up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 06/2715 18:25 est


  • I know how you feel. I had two caesareans 33 and 35 years ago and have always had the "tummy roll" no matter how thin I was. Had an ALIF IN 2012 to fuse L5/S1 and to revise a problem from a TLIF at L4/ L5 that had been originally done in 2011. During the ALIF there were some serious complications and so the surgeons (neuro and vascular) had to make the incision a lot bigger than originally planned and I ended up with a suture line that went 3/4 of the way across my lower abdomen. In 2013 I had a spinal chord stimulator inserted and they put the control unit in the lower right side of my abdomen so they cut from the end of the long ALIF scar across to the right hand side. Upshot is - now have a scar line that goes from just inside my left hip to just inside my right hip and the brilliant surgeons cut 2 inches (5 cm) above my caesarean scars (which were both done in the same place). Now - instead of having the one tummy roll, I have two.

    I know how self conscious it can make you feel especially when you work so hard to be in good shape but there are some things that are just unavoidable. Tummy rolls happen after abdominal surgery because of scar tissue. You have to either accept it and dress around it or see a cosmetic surgeon again and see what can be done about it.

    In my case - I am choosing to accept it. I have had too many surgeries and don't want to have any that I can avoid. As horrid as the scars are - they tell my story so I live with them.
  • Here is my update after L5/S1 back fusion.  It is now 14 months since the surgery, and I hate to say my situation has not gotten any better.  I cannot blame the surgeon.  I feel he is top in his field and did the best of his ability.  I was told upfront the possible negative outcomes but was hoping that I would be an exception.  Also, I lived with this spinal pain for well over 50 years and felt like, with my age and arthritis, it was getting worse.  My pain is as bad, if not worse now, just in different areas.  I traded the debilitating deep spine pain with a slight lesser pain in my tailbone area and buttocks, going out to my left hip-joint and at times running down my left outer thigh to my left knee.  I had cortisone shots twice but they didn't last.  If I want to accomplish any physical activity, shopping, beach, yard work or just housework, I cannot do so without using a muscle relaxer and tramadol.  The PA says I cannot continue using them, but I cannot see how I can do without them.  If I just sat in a chair all day and did nothing, yeah, I can definitely not take anything, so trying to accomplish anything while in pain is so very miserable.  I keep trying to get myself in better shape and not just sit around.  In a couple of weeks I will see my family physician and ask about the possibility of acquiring a back brace and see if walking or working or just riding in the RV can be better with it.  Anyone out there who has back problems with the choice for surgery or not, don't take my situation to heart.  Everyone is different and you just might be the person who is a 100% success.
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