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how long does it take for fusion

dcarterddcarter Posts: 76
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have heard different stories. I am going in on the 18th for my 3 month post op and hoping for the best. I am tired of not being able to lift anything over 10 pounds because I would love to be able to keep my grandson overnight. He is only 5 months but much heavier than 10 pounds.
I just want to see if there is a timeline that I should be looking at. The DR says 9 months but I hear that some people fuse quicker and I am hoping to be one of them soon.


  • You are right, everyone is different. I was fused at 7 months, using my own hipbones, and a turtle shell fusion brace that I wore for 4 of those months.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • depends on the person, plain and simple.
  • I was fused at 6 months and again like the others said it defers from one person to another. You'll still have to be careful with the lifting.

    good luck.

    Lotus :)
  • Solid at 9-1/2, but weight limit was raised to 20 pounds at about 3 months.
    Permanent weight limit of 20!
    Good luck!
  • It's fusion in L4/L5/S1 what is yours for?
  • fusion 22 almost 23 weeks ago. Could only see fusing at 20 weeks, beginnings at 16 weeks, but still not enough to start PT. Couldn't start PT until I was 20 weeks, and 87% fused. Takes longer than your doc tells you.... The whole healing process is longer than the tell you. Sit back, relax, tons and tons of patience, and walk walk walk...
  • Hi there I just found this site after trying to see if I can sue my previous doctors for not giving me the spinal fusion I needed over a year ago. I just had a fusion at my L5S1 4 weeks ago. I am glad to see so many great results. Though I am getting anxious to start feeling better I see it really takes along time
  • dcarter:

    We are all different as to how we recover and fuse. I had a TLIF, L2/3 (at age 57). My own bone was used and I fused in 6 weeks. This is unusually fast and not the norm. I am at almost 10 months now. I don't do any heavy lifting. I feel that I have had a pretty good recovery, but have a ways to go. I have discovered that this is a long recovery process, you have to be patient.

  • Hi Lotus,

    I did laminectomy and and TLIF too, L4/L5/S1
  • just wondered how long spinal fusion surgey actually takes in operating theatre
  • It depends on what has to be done and the surgeons techniques. Mine was supposed to take 1 1/2 hours but I was in for a little over 2 hours because after he got in there the damage was more severe then the tests were showing. Good luck, Donetta
  • I went to see the O/S at 3 months and as I had been having more pain the doc did a CT scan.
    In it he said he could see the beginnings of the fusion but stressed that this did not mean it was completely fused but the process has started.

    So- good news but a long way to go.
    At 6 months I have another CT scan and he can tell then how it is progressing. He did say they usually dont expect anything before 6 months but I had the BMP.

    So if your not fusing before the 6 months dont be put off.

    Blessings Sara
  • I just have an additional question about fusion/pt...

    I had adcf c4-5 c5-6 done three weeks ago. At the time my neuro didn't mention anything about pt when I saw him at two weeks. I go back after getting xray at 8 weeks. So question is: so you don't start pt until you start to fuse?

    I didn't have to wear a collar and thought maybe because of that I didn't need to go to pt? I know I should have asked at the two week but now my husband wants me to call and find out. Maybe I won't have to if I have been reading this thread right?

    thanks, PP
  • What if you don't get a bone graft, just hardware? Does fusion even take place. My NS has said nothing about fusion, just that my neck is stronger now than before surgery, he did howvere tell me to continue to take it easy for another month. :/
  • My surgery took 5 1/2 hours. They ran into more nerve damage than they thought. I'm up walking, sometimes find myself in trouble getting out of a chair but other than that seem to be doing fine. Saw the first xrays of the hardware on Monday, real odd to see that. My pain is gone in my leg and calf, no pain in foot anymore either. So far so good.
  • lotsof - regarding your PT, some Drs do it and others dont. I am in AUssie and it is common here to start straight after surgery, increasing the exercises as the weeks progress. But I think that is not common in the US. It seems (from what I have read here) that most Drs wait about 6-12 weeks before starting PT and that depends on the type and extent of surgery. Also a N/S works differently to a O/S.
    So if you are concerned, just give his office a call.

    Dixiechick. I dont understand how the Doc can do a fusion without a fusion :))( Sorry to sound silly but when he did ytour surgery did he take out the disc and replace it with a graft(this is the fusion part) or did he just put hardware in to stabalise?

    Blessings Sara
  • Just hardware. what happens when there is not a graph?
  • To Grannyat43:

    I worked out at gym for 9 years. My max bench press, 1 rep at age 54 was 335 lbs.

    My Physical Therapists just informed me last week, that I would NEVER, EVER be able to lift heavy weights again. I would only be able to lift light wieghts to tone.

    Talking about having your hear riped out of you chest!

    Would like to know if anyone else been told the same thing after having a double fusion to lower back?
  • Angelback,

    Thanks for the reply. I have a call into my ns. We will see what they have to say. I just had some other things that his pa told us that when I saw him again were wrong..so I wasn't sure.

  • I'm 29 years old and have been into powerlifting for about the past 10 years! About six months ago I was squatting 405lbs with chains and I fractured my vertabrae in two places and didnt realize it, just thought I pulled a muscle or something. I continued training, I have bench pressed 500lbs in the gym for 1 rep, and have hit 235lbs, my body weight for 32 reps. Eventually it caught up to me and I started losing feeling in my right leg and foot. Had MRI, showed ddd L4-S1, bilateral spondylolysis, grade 1 spondylolysthesis and moderate nueral foraminal narrowing, L5,S1. I had a 2 level plif on 7-17-08 with laminectomy, and discectomy. I too was told no more heavy lifting, it really hurts because i was well on my way to doing some big things with my powerlifting career. I'm a heavy equipment operator by trade and will be lucky to go back to work.
  • I had an L4 L5 fusion and also had scoleosis back in 1994. Now I am confronted with more pain and xrays that show L2 L3 have been taking all the pressure and are looking pretty bleak. I am 65 and never thought I would have to go under the knife again. Has anyone else had this happen to them?
  • Pain in lower back over buttocks down leg, numbness and tingling gone though. I have given up. Mindset is that surgery was not successful. Doc said nerves that were compressed were pretty damaged when he did surgery. Guess I waited too long. I am convinced that surgery was a failure and emotionally not doing so hot. Anyone have any words of wisdom?
  • danapughddanapugh Lebanon, TnPosts: 8
    I had a fusion of L4 to S1 in May. At 4 weeks post op , I started swimming. I walk a lap and swim a lap. This swimming is suppose to increase the blood circulation to the area and increase healing.  It also relieves any aching or stiffness at that level and I always come out of the pool with  total relief. I am at 12 weeks post op , x-rays this week to check on the healing of the fusion.
  • CandyDCCandyD WisconsinPosts: 28
    I had posterior laminectomy with fusion (my own bone) C3 through C7 about 3 and 1/2 months ago. I showed strong fusion growth at my 6 week check up. Just had my 3 month check up and they said I don't need to come back unless I have pain or problems. They started me on PT four days after my surgery. That was in the Rehab unit at the hospital. I was discharged a week later and continued PT at home. It's very true, everyone is different and everyone heals differently. They said I can lift 20 pounds but because I have lower back issues I don't even lift that much (I've never had surgery on my lower back and it's ok as long as I don't lift stuff).
    Cervical spondylosis with myelopathy
    05/05/16 Posterior Laminectomy and Cervical Spinal Fusion C3-C7 
  • danapughddanapugh Lebanon, TnPosts: 8
    You should start trying to walk and swim in the pool. Relieves pain and stiffness as you are fusing. I swim a lap and walk a lap. Start slow and work your way up to an  hour of exercise every day.. Also use a flotation belt so you don't tire so easily. I started this at 4 weeks post-op and made me feel so much better!
  • danapughddanapugh Lebanon, TnPosts: 8
    I was told no heavy lifting after my fusion of L4-S1. Nothing heavier than a coffee cup the first 6 weeks, then nothing over 15 pounds until fused. I am not sure what my weight limit will be then.
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