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2 Level Lumbar Fusion surgery expectations???

I am going to have a 2 level lumbar fusion November 20th (L4/L5, L5/S1) I had a microdiscectomy and a few other things done in April. So about 7 months ago, and I reherniated both discs within a few weeks of surgery. I did PT for a few months after surgery and had an MRI done and thats when we found out the reason for my unsuccessful recovery from surgery. Anyways since this a workers compensation case I had to go see a psychologist and another doctor to see if I meet the requirements for the fusion surgery. I guess I do since I got a letter a few weeks ago in the mail saying the procedure has been approved and now is scheduled.

My question is what can I expect after surgery? I am only given 2 days in the hospital by the insurance company and hopefully I won't need to be in more than that (I am having a PLIF if it makes a difference on recovery time) I know the microdiscectomy post surgery pain wasn't too bad but still a bit painful. I am guessing the fusion surgery is going to be more intense and much more painful, I just don't know what to expect. I am 34 so not too old but have a beat up back for sure. So if anyone who has had the same or similar surgery could let me know what to expect I would appreciate it.

And since I work in the heavy lifting field I'm guessing my days of manual labor are done too? Anyway thanks for any help or insight you may have.


  • cant speak for every one since every one is different. but I was held in hospital for 5 days, main cause was the drainage . could not wait to get out of there. the pain pump helped a ton though. first day out the ride home was rough. bumps are bad. best advice I can give is take it slow and easy. we don't think about it normally but a lot of vibration when walking, ect . I pretty much stayed laid up predominantly till day could remove bandages and take a shower. been pretty smooth sailing since minus a few days I paid for over doing it one day. similar circumstances, am 38 male. flooring installer. waiting for the go ahead from doc to find out if will be able to return to it or not. hard parts staying optimistic . getting back in shape will be rough, had a acdf c4-6 in Feb., did lumbar in august. so basically been idle since Feb. keep your hopes up, nothing is written in stone as to what you will or will not be able to do once recovered.

    good luck and keep us posted on your recovery.
    C4-6 on 2-15, L4-S1 on 8-15. fusions with hardware.
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 728
    edited 10/22/2015 - 11:41 PM
    Dear Anderson...

    You're still pretty young and that helps a LOT on the recovery... but for sure the fusion surgery is going to be a lot bigger deal than the discectomy. I've had 2 fusion surgeries (both PLIF) and in one case I woke-up pain free and in the other case it took 4 months for the nerve pain to go away. The pain and discomfort at the surgery site was never a really big deal expect for the first 3-4 days after surgery... at least compared to the nerve pain. For sure recovery is a long and tough road but keeping a positive attitude and NOT PUSHING IT is key... it will take months not weeks... be patient!! Once your doctor clears you to do PT keeping after this every day helps a lot as there is lot of back muscle trauma on a PLIF... and you need to get that muscle strength back to help support your back. Even once you are back to full strength you are only asking for more trouble if you go back to your heavy lifting job... after all it's probably what got you to where you are at today. I didn't listen to my doctor about no heavy lifting and that's what got me back under the knife for my second surgery.. a tough lesson learned.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • MrAnderson1981MMrAnderson1981 Posts: 17
    edited 10/25/2015 - 2:33 PM
    Thanks for the info hvills and slanky. Yeah it's going to be a longer recovery and more intense than my microdiscectomy I had a few months ago. And as far as heavy lifting I hope my dr gives me a weight lifting permanent restriction. I don't think my job will take me back since I was hired as a mover and won't be lifting couches or beds anymore. And not to mention I've cost them a lot of money with workers compensation. Anyways I will let you know what happens after surgery. In the mean time just sit and wait.
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