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Back to work 3 weeks post fusion?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,622
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
:? I was talking with my boss this morning and he said his son in law was having fusion surgery today. And I said, whoa - poor dude. And he said, "What do you mean? His doctor told him he would be back to work in three weeks." Really? Mind you this guy is in construction. I told him not to count on it.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't 3 weeks a little soon to be doing construction work/physical labor?



  • Hi Cranky,

    I had to laugh when I read that... My God, 3 weeks and in construction too.... This is crazy for sure.....

  • If he can do it that is great - but I cannot believe the doctor will release him for physical labor! I worked in an office and was out 2 months after my last one. But I have had nerve inflammation and pain both before and after. I am at 9-1/2 months and fully fused, but they are going to take the screws out as they think that is causing the nerve inflammation.
    My doctor did not even allow physical therapy for 3 months.
    More power to him if he can go back at 3 weeks!
  • Well, that ain't ganna happen..... I had a three level fusion, I don't know how many level fusion this guy is having, but thats just impossible!!! I am 22 weeks post-op, lets see....thats about 5-1/2 months? I guess I would be able to do a sit down behind a desk job, but absolutely nothing manual. I'll never be able to lift over 25lbs. I still cannot twist!!! Which I hate, cause I can't dance, or twist around while driving to see behind me. Sounds like the guys needs a letter from his surgeon to give to his boss. He'll end up back in the hospital, RE-DOING his surgery, which HE WILL NOT LIKE!!!! This is major surgery, with a really, really, :( long slow recovery process, and a lot of physical therapy.
  • PS....I wasn't alowed to start physical therapy until I was 20 weeks post-op!!! Not until there was almost 87% fusion. The only thing I was allowed to do was walk, walk, walk...
  • Cranky, there is a huge difference in recovery depending on what he is having done. If all goes completely perfect with a c-spine fusion, it is possible that he could be back to work. But absolutely not if he will be lifting or doing anything strenuous. I think the boss is in for a real surprise when his employee isn't ready to come back to work.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • It is his lumbar area. AND he said they are going to fuse one (I am assuming the L5-S1) and then, "put little bungie cords on the one above it".

    I have no idea what he was talking about, but I told him yesterday to have his SIL apply for short term disability. He is in the Carpenters Union, so I am assuming that he will have STD & LTD benefits available.
  • Hi Cranky~
    Do you think it's some kind of EGO thing with a lot of these surgeons? My surgeon, too, was talking "you'll be back to work in NO time, able to do anything at 2-4 weeks post-op," etc. Now he is a GREAT surgeon, I think and hope he did a wonderful job on me, but, c'MON!! Even in the best of ALL scenarios, I don't think it's POSSIBLE that someone is able to just "get over it" in 2-4 weeks! I just had my lumbar fusion 2 weeks ago and I still spend 90% of my day laying down, the other 10% walking! And yesterday my dr. said I was doing GREAT!
    I really do think this is Ego talking! I read somewhere on this site once, that whatever your SURGEON tells you about when you can resume work, or some semblance of a normal life, DOUBLE that!!!
    I laughed out loud when I read your post, and I can't wait for the "follow-up" to THIS story!!
    We will be waiting for his progress reports!
    PS And what's up with the little surgical "bungie cords"??
    gotta love that!!
  • Glad to see you Miss Music! :D
    I have no idea what he was talking about on the bungie cord things! Give you quite a mental image - huh? ;)

  • Wow, 3 weeks after a fusion! I had an L5-S1 fusion when I was 15, and I was back in school in about a month, but I was 15 and very fit from playing rugby, and likely fused quickly. I had to wear a geeky brace and couldn't do anything remotely physical for 4 months.
    Today, I'm 3 weeks post-op from a microdiscectomy and there ain't no way I'm ready for work yet, and I'm a mental health therapist and not a construction worker.
  • He told me I would be back in 3-4 weeks (OF COURSE IT WAS 2 MONTHS). This is the same Dr. who put in the plastic rods w/out telling me (I'll post the post-op X-ray tomorrow, kind of scary looking).
  • My NS asked me what I do for a living, asked me what my typical day was like and then said I might be able to be back at work after a few weeks (when the hard narcs are finished).

    I hope I am not off for more than 8 weeks, my job is not very physical and I work from home with some driving a few times a week.


  • I think my surgery must have been a simpler case? I got in a car accident a little over 2 weeks ago; was in traction for a day or two in the trauma unit; then they fused c4-c5 with instrumentation and released me the next morning. I was back to work (desk job) 4 DAYS later. This is my second week back full time. I'm pretty amazed!

    For construction, I imagine you still need much longer than 3 weeks though??
  • Shera, like neck of steel said, there is a big difference in recovery from cervical fusion and lumbar fusion.

    Most people struggle to get back to work 3 weeks after having a minimally invasive microdiscectomy, never mind a fusion! And in the construction industry??? I'd be extremely surprised! ....
  • My surgery (decompression and L3-S1 fusion with instrumentation) went like a charm, I had no pain so I did not get any narcotics or other pain killers, yet after 2 1/2 months my stamina is still quite low. If I finish preparing a very simple meal, I am too pooped to clean up without taking a rest. Yet I was in very good physical shape before the surgery, as I am now. But would I be ready to go back to work? NO WAY!!. When my surgeon changed his progonosis for my recovery from 3 months to 6 months after he saw my spine, he was not joking.

    I guess the guy who expects to go back to work in a few weeks after lumbar fusion has his head in the clouds and is completely removed from reality. Tell him to sign in to SH, and see it for himself.

    Kin }:) }:) }:) }:) }:) }:) }:) }:) :? :? :? :?
  • WOW,
    Wonder if this doctor has some magic dust..Lets see, I have been off since November 2007, after surgery number 2 in March of this year, both doctors have said perhaps by December of this year I may be able to get back to some job, just forget about being a Plumber again..but I do wish him well all the same.
  • What the "Bungie cord thing" is he is talking about is the Zimmer DTO system. That is what I had 16 weeks ago, with a Doc. that specializes in the DTO system!! http://www.zimmerspine.eu/ctl?template=MP&op=global&action=1&id=9975
    The middle screw to the top screw is a bungie cord with a clear sleeve over the cord to stabilize the section it is placed into. The theory is that, just say in my case, L5/S1 is fused with the rods, and the L4/L5 section gets the bungie.
    It helps disperses the load over the whole spine instead of the disc above the fused disc. Most people that get one section fused, years later you end up having to get the one above it fused due to to much load on the above section. This system helps prevent this by dispersing the load over the whole spine. Hope you under stand what i'm saying, kind of hard to describe. But all I know is i'm having savior pain, but slowly getting better!!! But going to work at 3 weeks would be a miracle!!!Please let us know what happens.
    Thanks, B.Ex.
  • aaahhhhh... I see. I am still learning about this whole process, and didn't realize what a difference there is for recovery between lumbar and cervical fusion. Since my acdf was from a car accident, I didn't get a chance to do any research first! This is a great site!
  • Like Kinpain said just have him sign on to this board & get the real skinny.
  • Someone is smoking something different than cigarettes and cigars.I really hope it ain't the NS.For the patient's sake.
  • image OK - I ready to do your surgery now!

    I will keep you all posted!

    Today, Boss said, "He is in the hospital and in a lot of pain." Ya think!

    Thanks for the bungie explaination - I thought maybe my boss was hitting the funny pipe too! :D
  • Can't believe it at all.

    I started back part time at a sedentary desk job after 4 weeks post L5-S1 laminectomy and fusion, but it was real hard going! OK, I was 46 then and not exactly too fit prior to surgery.

    If your son in law is quite fit and strong he might be able to return to work 3 weeks after surgery but I doubt for a minute that his surgeon will allow him to do any physical work for quite some time after a lumbar fusion. I don't think it matters whether he is fit or not, the fact of the matter is his core muscles in the lumber region will have been cut through to perform the fusion and he needs these to heal and regain strength to support his back before he can carry out any physical activities. This takes a lot longer than 3 weeks.
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • Hello Cranky,

    L4 & L5 Laminectomy Disectomy in 2006, TILF L4, L5 and SL 6 weeks ago. I don't see it Cranky, I am at my 6 weeks post-ops and I am still at home. I am a Secretary, my Dr. just gave me permission to go back to work 7 weeks post-ops. I am a Yoga, Pilate and aerobic instructor, I just recently went back to the gym doing light weights, biking and the treadmill, which is what I do in therapy anyway. I am also a Figure competitor, I have an upcoming conmpetition in September which I am definately going for.

    Honestly he will be in too much that work is going to be the last thing on his mind. Specially when he realizes that he can't put on his own shoes and underware and his butt aches like the surgical site does.

    Trust me this is no joke.
  • that I am a neckie! I've never had to experience those "butt aches" :jawdrop: unless someone can compare it somehow to giving birth.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I guess a single level must be different than 2 level. I was in collar homebound for 2 weeks, unable to drive 4 or 5 weeks.. But that was 2 years ago.
  • OMG, Cranky-
    You crack me up!! WHERE did you ever find a Smiley doing a
    Bong???? Now THAT's creative posting!! I'm still not even doing "Smiley 101" yet. You ROCK!!
    Love it!
  • I am five weeks post op of a three level ACDF with instrumentation (also, a corpectomy and vertebrectomy, which I am not sure what the second of the two actually is). No collar of any kind was given or recommended after surgery.

    When I had asked, pre-op, how long I would be out of work, he said, "less than a week." My surgery was scheduled for a Tuesday and I reiterated, "I can go back to work on Monday?" My surgeon gave me a funny look and said, "you better be able to!" So I followed his action plan... and was back to work, six days after surgery. I do not do physical work, but rather work with computers. Looking back at it... I'd say that my doctor was too aggressive and three weeks may have been more appropriate. I stuck it out, but the first two weeks were hell on me. I would say that the stress of my position, was the leading reason I should have taken more time. If I had a physical job, I could not be back at work now, five weeks post-op. To make it through my work day, I have to take an extended lunch break to lie down, have to take meds to manage the pain, and come home to basically take it *very* easy, other than a daily two mile walk in the evening, until I go to sleep. I believe if I had three weeks to just rest, I'd be better off now... but there is no real way of knowing this.

    Maybe, as one of the other posters had mentioned, my surgery was not as complicated as some or maybe I just got lucky? My doctor is suppose to be one of the best (claims to have done 2-3 thousand cervical surgeries, maintains a dual nuro and ortho specialty, and even has a PHD), so I do trust his judgment. Both my second and third opinions did elude to a similar return to work schedule of one to two weeks. Which I will maintain, is aggressive, now having the wisdom of hindsight.

    I have not yet seen my doctor for the one month post-op to go over the CT scan I had two weeks ago to see how the healing is coming (later this week), but at the 1.5 week post-op visit, he was generally happy with my recovery and stated that most of my post-op trouble was not due to work, but rather my ligaments reacting poorly to the surgery, which he claimed is an unfortunate side effect that less than 2% of his patients experience. He did give me a soft collar to wear, at my discretion, while I was at work. This does help me make it to the end of the day.
  • Come on My doc told me that after my 2 level fusion i could go back to work after three weeks. I am a Detention Deputy

    4 1/2 months later i went back to work.
  • Boss man has reported back....
    Son in law is "in the worst pain of his entire life". This is saying a lot. He was once in a hunting accident and was shot - with a shotgun - in the leg - and almost died. But, as we all know - back surgery is much worse!

    I told him, "Just because you are released from the hospital in a couple-few days does not mean it was not a major surgery." image

    Anyway - he is home, has bungie cords in his back, and is in super mucho pain. Starting to realize the three week line was a big pile of POOPY!

    So, keep the replies coming - you guys are making me look very smart. //smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/36/36_27_4.gif
    Which I like, totally AM! 8)
  • We could do with some surgeons who have actually been through this crap before they start advising!

    I'm sorry to hear that he is in so much pain though. I remember all to well how it felt and I was in hospital for 8 days post op. It was horrible.

    Cranky, of course you totally smart ;) 8) :)
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