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L5-S1 Fusion Recovery Questions

Blackknight6714BBlackknight6714 Posts: 3
edited 09/04/2015 - 11:44 PM in Recovering from Surgery
So I thought I would be better briefed by my surgeon / Physical Therapy team at [edit] post surgery but it has not been the case... I am 10 days post surgery and I just have a lot of questions. I'm hoping you guys can help clear some things up for me.

I was sent home with a walker and while at times I do rely on it I find I can slowly walk around without it... should I be moving away from using it? Will I place my fusion at risk?

Right now I hobble around the house doing laps around my living room & kitchen but... How much should I really be walking at 10 days out?

When walking I am still getting shooting pain down to about the back of the mid-thigh... I've informed my doctors office and they have echoed several times that it's likely just "post-surgical inflammation" and it should go away on it's own. To that point they prescribed a Z-pack of Methylprednisolone of which I have 1 day dose left but still having pain and it worries me.

I also was given a "Baja" brand back support brace but no real clear instructions on how much to use it... I do notice that if I tighten it down enough it causes the shooting pain mentioned above to get stronger and more frequent with movement... Should I be wearing this 24/7? Some other amount?

Please help a confused patient.


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  • Hi there. I'm 2 1/2 months out from L5-S1 fusion done anterior approach. I did not use a walker at all. They leaning forward while using it actually put strain on my back. I am however in my back brace 24/7. Inflammation pain is horrible. I was pain free for the 1st 3 weeks after surgery then the healing inflammation kicked in and I've been suffering ever since. My surgeon did give me oral steroid pack and shots (even though he really didn't want to have to give me steroids, because they can't actually hinder the fusion process) he is chalking up most of my pain and symptoms to just "being stuck in brace all the time with so much restriction ) he's hoping that if in 2 weeks my flexion/extension X-rays look good and their is no spine movement then I can begin rehab. Considering all surgeons have their own recovery routine, you definitely need to call and ask his nurse, assistant or surgeon himself what his expectations are with you using walker and brace.
    Michelle Duhon
    6 level bilateral facet injections (thoracic&lumbar)
    2 level-3x LESI's
    L5-S1 micro discectomy
    L5-S1 ALIF June 2015
  • rooster74rrooster74 Posts: 1
    edited 09/09/2015 - 2:10 AM
    Hi my surgery is scheduled for Sept 14th I am nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I injured my back in the beginning of July, since then it has gotten progressively worse.I had my mri and they discovered herniated disc at the L4/L5 area and a ruptured disc at L5/S1 area. My surgeon is planning a double laminectomy/ discetomy. He states that due to the ruptured disc he may have to remove so much disc that there will be nothing or not a lot of disc left to support spine that he may have to fuse. Can anyone please tell me honestly what I'm in for. I have the left buttock pain all the way down my leg to my little toe,leg goes numb and I fall on my butt,having occasional incontinence, pain is so bad that the Dr says that all the pain meds that I'm taking is right at the line of overdose they worked at first but either I'm building a tolerance or the pain continues to worsen, maybe combination of both. I'm on strict bed rest and it's driving me bezerk, help I need some straight forward answers with no sugar on them.

    lumber fusion

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  • 2dgs4cmpany22dgs4cmpany Posts: 200
    edited 09/09/2015 - 4:39 AM
    I absolutely laughed at your opening line! How perfectly said long tailed cat! Your humor made my morning!

    I've been thru two fusions. I was nervous each time, I think you are perfectly normal to feel that way, and yes...the prolonged bed rest is a mind bender. My dog is my constant companion when kids and hubby are at work and school and was thrilled the day I said I was gonna see a therapist. I jest, but seeing one did help with my anxiety. I get depressed, who the heck would not? But I manage with family and humor and the blessed medications. I'm fortunate that my hopefully last fusion is almost here and I see an end in sight.

    It took 3 months after each fusion to get my bearings, mobility and pt to start. I took it slower each time. I listened to my body and I healed. I love that I'm excellent at fusion healing. From my mris and lower level of movement, I have a high expectation that this third fusion will be my last.

    It is incredibly hard to feel removed from the normal world we built. It is incomprehensible to most people, what our lives are like in the time period before a fusion. We are hurting, we are scared and we are hopeful. I'm having a difficult time believing I'm going into this again. I'm not gonna paint it pretty. The surgery recovery that first week is upside world. I can tell you it got easier the second time. I find that if I can accept the worst I can embrace anything better than the outcome.

    I found comfort in threads that had lists of comfort items to prepare in advance. Meal plans, grabbers, toilet seats higher, a shower chair. Preparing for your fusion will help you accept and anticipate your full recovery. I'm not going to lie about the most important asset to full recovery: it is your attitude. You need positive people, a plan, items and attitude. When surgeon or therapist after fusion says to walk, do it. Walking is the absolute best therapy and I don't know about you, but I cannot wait to walk outside and breathe.

    Knowing in advance what to expect from the hospital, to the next three months, to 3-7 months, and then the beautiful and life returning 7-12 month mark. I hope that time period to return to school, and to return to life.

    Short term easy goals and long term reasonable goals are helpful. I would not advise anyone to go into fusion with long term unrealistic goals. I just think you have to be prepared for a new reality..really listening to your own body. None of us are the same. I went to running after my first fusion. It worked for me for 8 years. I'm so glad I did that, but for my back, I really should not have. So I'm older and wiser now and have learned to appreciate my one spine.

    The best news for last: in my case, each time, my pain went immediately away after fusion. Literally the next day. I only had to endure surgical pain recovery, which in my case was nothing like the pain I had going into surgery, so I was more than prepared. I wish this same outcome for you!
  • Blackknight6714BBlackknight6714 Posts: 3
    edited 09/13/2015 - 11:15 AM
    So I finally got an attentive PA at my doc's office who told me that the post surgical inflammation can cause a lot of pain for the first 3-6 weeks but it should be a steady reduction. To that point it has. As for the walker/cane, I was advised to use the walker for stability only up unto the point I need it but to reduce and eliminate it's use as soon as reasonably possible as it can cause long term dependency issues.

    I am now 18 days post surgery and I am walking walker free up to about a mile a day. The issue that has arisen now are what I term "holy **** tremors"... I can be walking and all of the sudden it's like I'll get a muscle tremor in my back, which feels like all of the muscles firing off randomly and rapidly, for a period of about 3-5 seconds... but this is long enough to just about put me on the ground or at the very least bring a tear to my eye.

    All in all I would say that thing are improving rapidly but I I'll say a special prayer of thanksgiving the day those "holy **** tremors" stop for good.


    @Michelleduhon: I'm so sorry to hear you have had a harder go of the recovery as time went on. It seems my inflammation came on quick and strong and went the same way. Hang in there and where possible get out and enjoy some sunlight. I know being cooped up like some hermit has really frayed my nerves and my emotional state.

    @ rooster74: Yeah, been there. I'm a cop by trade and I was injured in training and that's what started this mess. Last year I had a discetomy to try to relieve pressure on the nerve and while I came through it and fully recovered it left my back so unstable that the level re-herniated with what I would call minimal strain placed on it. Thus enter the fusion... You keep your chin up 2dgs4cmpany is right, attitude is everything. I know that is hard to do when you are in world ending pain but look to the future and being pain free. Trust me, if your pain is as I imagine it is based off my past experience then any surgery recovery will be a dream come true. Tomorrow will bring you an improvement in life. Good luck!

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