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Painful to Sit - How long?

TessGTTessG Posts: 23
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My 77 year old mom had fusion surgery L5-S1 on June 10. It's really painful for her to sit for any length of time. She can only stay at the dinner table comfortably for 3-4 minutes before she has to get up and walk.

The recliner tires her back out so she can't stay there too long either. How long, on average, were you uncomfortable while sitting (to the point that you just couldn't do it)?


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    Thats a big question.
    But for starters since your more is stll just a babe in arms in terms of post surgery and that she had this surgery later in life, its hard to give a figure of time before she will be comfortable.

    My first lumbar surgery was in 1978, my last lumbar surgery was in the late '80s. Still to this day, its important for me to have th right kind of chair to sit it. That makes all the difference to me. I prefer a straight high back chair with some seat cushion and that it allows me to easily have my feet on the ground at a 90 degree angle with the ground.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks for the replies.

    Pebbles, how do you typically EAT if you can't sit any longer than that? Do you have all your meals lying down? What a shame that people have to live with PAIN like this. I wish you well in your recovery!
  • Well, I sit on the couch and lay on my side proped up to eat. It's really annoying because it's like I rush my meals just so I can lay down again. Probably not good for digestion and come to think of it that's probably why I have indigestion all the time.

    Thank you so much for you well wishes. I just wish we could make your mom feel better. How are you doing as her care taker?

    It's getting late Tess, so I think I'm going to shut it down for the night, but hope to see you tomorrow. Give Mom a big kiss from Pebbles and you deserve the biggest hug and kiss for taking care of her!image
  • I had L3-S1 fusion 10 weeeks ago now. Though like everyone I have had pain on and off I have been pretty lucky with sitting. 4 days post surgery they had me sitting for about 20 mins each time (usually just meals to start with. Now I can (if I have to )sit up to an hour, as long as I have a good supportive chair with arms.
    I try to get up and least walk around for a minute every 20 minutes but I went to a concert last week where I couldn't and it didn't kill me.

    Does your mum take any anti-inflamatory meds? They may help her, even the rub in cream over the counter one. But check with the Dr first.
    I had a laminectony 7 yrs ago and was the same as your mum. I couldn't sit for 2 minutes and it was dreadful. Eventually (4 weeks later) I was given a steroid anti-inflam and overnight I was a different person.
    What I am saying is dont just assume that because she is older, that she has to expect less.

    All the blest to you both
  • Hi Tess,

    I am just a few years younger than your Mom, but of course it does not necessarily mean that we recover at the same rate. Two days after my L3-S1 fusion (on 5/1/98) a nurse set me on an arm chair and for about 15-20 minutes it actually felt good. When they transferred me to rehab after 3 days, from there on I always eat my meals while sitting. The PT told me though not to sit longer than 20-30 minutes at one time. Actually, I needed to get up and walk a bit after about 20 minutes. I know that lot of people have problems with sitting after fusion surgery.

    My problem was finding the right chair. One of the first chairs I could tolerate was my computer chair (padded with arm rests, and relatively straight) although for a long time it felt better if I put a soft pillow behind my back. Other than the computer chair, at first, I tried all chairs in my house until I found one that I could tolerate. Your Mom may have to experiment.

    It'll may take her some times before she can sit for an extended time, but at this point, maybe she shouldn't sit too long.

    Hope things will work out for her.

    Kin :) :) :)

  • All of you who have had fusions....what kind have you had? I am having a TLIF-with the metal cage and bone from my hip. Have you had that??
  • My husband still finds it difficult to sit for very long periods. He can watch an entire movie in his zero-gravity chair. He was in agony after after a 1 1/2 hour flight even with a cople of stretch breaks. He can eat a meal at the kitchen table but gets up immediately. Be patient, it seems to get a bit better with time. Terri
  • Hi everyone,
    I am new to this site as far as posting, but have been reading alot before and since my surgery. I am hoping maybe someone can give me some advice:
    I had a L5/S1 laminectomy/microdectomy with fusion on June 11,2008. I think thats what its called. I know they took out the disc and put in a rectangular thing with bone and bone meal and then titanium plates. I have seen them on my x-rays and MRI films since surgery. I was in the hospital for 4 days and since then have been staying with my parents as I live on the third floor of an apartment complex with no elevators- yes that is 34 steps up/down. I am fortunate that I am a school teacher and am off from work till August 11.
    I had a bladder infection that took 3 rounds of antibiotics to get rid off.
    My question is when do you think I should try the stairs to go home? I am back to using the walker as I have terrible pain in both hips/tush. My dr. switched my muscle relaxer today to zanaflex. So we shall see. I am still taking vicodin for the same pain. My lower back only hurts if I do to much walking/sitting otherwise happy about that.
    I go to PT 3 times a week and they tell me my hip flexors need tp loosen up. I do the stretches.
    I am getting frustrated as I am a single mom and my poor daughter (16) has had to stay at a friends house since June 11. My mom and her don't get along, another strssful thing for me. My son is with his dad and there is no room for her there either.
    But the stairs scare me to death. I have fallen, really looks like bending on one knee, twice now from spasms.
    Any suggestions? Thanks for letting me share, I am so grateful for my surgeon telling me about this website.
  • Oh what bad luck living on the 3rd floor!. Honestly I wouldn't be pushing to go home until you are really comfortable with lots of stairs.
    Remember that it wont just be yourself going up and down but you will have groceries (OK the kids can help a bit) parcels, umbrellas and coats, and all the assorted things we tend to lug in and out of our homes.
    Also remember when you go back to work you will be tired at the end of the day and to face so many stairs could be a major mental hurdle.
    I'm just saying be ready for it and dont jump in too quick.
    Get your PT to start you with stairs (they usually have a pportable set in their practice)and do them over and over.

    Then get an OT to go with you to your home. Oh and remember dont let anyone just assume that if you have done it once you are fine. I did the stair from my garage with the oT and she said you are great with this!!!!! The next day was a different matter.

    Can your son stay at a friends for a week and let your daughter stay at her dads for a change? Might be good to shift them around a bit.

    Also have you tried a heat pad on your gluts? I find it makes such a difference. Just allows the muscles to relax and I sit with the heat pad at the back of the chair or under my back when I am lying down. (not sleeping).

    All the best to you
  • That is great advice that Angelback has given you. Definitely see if you can have some home PT just until you feel comfortable with the stairs. She's exactly right too in saying don't let them think that just cause you do one rep that enough. don't be afraid to speak up and let them know you are scared about the stairs ok?

    Keep us posted.
  • That is great advice that Angelback has given you. Definitely see if you can have some home PT just until you feel comfortable with the stairs. She's exactly right too in saying don't let them think that just cause you do one rep that enough. don't be afraid to speak up and let them know you are scared about the stairs ok?

    Keep us posted.
  • thanks everyone for the advice.
    also, I have to check into home PT. I go to a facility for it. They also don't have stairs for me to practice on. They have wood blocks that I use to go up and down on. I have practiced at the movies. I made it up 4 steps this time which was 2 days ago.
    This is a question for the ladies..... when its that time of the month do you find the spasms to be worse. I just got mine last night and I was in tears. Even laying in bed didn't help until the meds kicked in.
    Also, is vicodin the strongest pain med? I only take 1 every 4-5 hours and don't want to get addicted to it. I see so many different meds on this site. My doc is real good about listening to what I want to try and we come up with a mutual plan.
  • I am almost a month post-op from a PLIF and I can sit for roughly 10-15 minutes before I have to get up and move a little.
    At first I had a problem finding a chair that would work for me. The chairs in the house were either too low or too high.
    My husband went out and bought me a high backed computer chair with arms on it and that worked perfect. Maybe this would work for your mum.
    Good Luck to you both.

    Christina :)
  • Thanks so much for all the suggestions and sharing your stories. Mom is inpatient, but when I share the experiences of others here, perhaps she'll realize she's not alone and things will just take time.

    Christina, I do have a wonderful computer chair that I use at home... very spongy when you first sit down so no fear of "shock" to the lower back. I'll let her try it for dinner time.
  • Hello,

    I did TLIF almost 7 weeks ago, just 3 days after surgery a the nurse and a PT had me sitting for 30 minutes to an hour every day. I spent 6 days in ICU and 3 days on ward, after I was discharged I would sit for about 1 to 2 hours with my Bone Stimulator on because it was uncomfortable having it on in the bed. I got up from time to time to stretch and walk.

    I am very athletic so I guess that makes a lot of difference.
    I have not gone back to work because I work on the second floor and there is no elevator. I am giving it some more time.
    I found that walking loosen up my butt though, the more I walk the better I feel, so I think you should walk more often.
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