L5 S1 Fusion recovery

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MerylT
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Joined: 01/13/2011 - 4:03pm
L5 S1 Fusion recovery

Hi. My L5 S1 Fusion op was at end July 2011. I saw the registrar for a follow up appointment in December and they are very pleased with my recovery. The fusion has completely sorted the problems I was having with the vertebrae slipping due to the total degeneration of the disc. I can now sleep flat in bed and lie on the ground without my muscles seizing to protect the spine. I have no pain unless I overdo things and the registrar said this is more muscle pain which needs to repair due to being ripped apart to do the fusion. I am walking up to 5 miles a day and can bend over and pick things up from the floor which I couldn't do for the last 5 years.

I am really happy with how the op has gone and am so pleased I had the fusion. I have now been discharged and the doctors won't need to see me again unless something changes!

Meryl

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fusionman
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Joined: 12/22/2011 - 7:59am
Wow Thats Great

Congrats, I have just begun my recovery my surge was 11/21 and reading things like this make me feel better. How long did it take you to return to work? Also how long did it take you to start feeling "normal"?

MerylT
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L5 S1 fusion

Hi Jeff. I had a 12 week break (I am a fiddle player). I found the playing was ok by then - I was told holding a violin was very good exercise for my core muscles - in fact I was playing a little a week after the op. The car journey for the first gig of an hour and a half each way was uncomfortable but I took a hot water bottle to ease my back. I only used paracetamol for about 4-5 weeks after the op and nothing really since then. I was very careful not to lift anything too heavy but my surgeon and physio had me doing bending and stretching/twisting exercises from a week after the operation. I also was walking up to 5 miles a day on the treadmill within 16 days of the operation.

The only slight ache I had was if I bent forward in front of a computer for more than half an hour for the first 4 months. I reckon that is now almost back to normal and sitting in a car is ok. I have only driven once since the op and found that was a bit uncomfortable still.

I feel better than I have done for over 5 years. At least I can sleep in a bed rather than upright in a recliner and I can bend forward to put my shoes on! So that is definitely back to what I was before the disc deteriorated completely.

I was lucky that I had no nerve pain before the op. The problem was purely a mechanical one due to the lack of disc causing the vertebrae to move and the spinal muscles then spasmed to try and protect the area. The fusion stabilised the area straightaway so the muscle spasms and stiffness stopped and I was able to sleep normally in a bed from the day I came home from hospital.

I do feel that the fact I walked and did physio exercises from the day after the op helped to stop any scar tissue forming. I was worried about bending and twisting as I had read that so many people were told not to do this but the physio felt I should get the area back to normal as fast as possible. This has certainly worked for me. I do notice if I don't do the exercises for a day then the back feels less mobile but that might be my imagination!

The registrar told me the healing process would take up to 18 months and they wouldn't expect to see fusion until 6-12 months but they had no worries about it fusing. He said they had patients going back to playing rugby so the hardware was not going to move.

I hope your recovery is going well and you feel the benefit from the fusion op soon.

Meryl

backache99
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Last seen: 5 months 17 hours ago
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Joined: 11/01/2010 - 4:05pm
well done

i wish you a continued success in your recovery ,i am one week post op the same operation ALIF and its been hell .my main problem is feeling sick ..so i am anti sickness tablets as well as a bucket load of pain killers ,only able to do recliner exercise at anything knackered me out i even have ti have my wife shower the lower half of me ..after that i am so finished i need to lay down due to pain and more pain .i know its early days yet but i hope that i get as good a result as you seem to have .in the last 10 years i have only 2 hours sleep at night then the pain kicks in waking me ..so i end up back on the recliner !
tony {UK}

1997 laminectomy
2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014

MerylT
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Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
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Joined: 01/13/2011 - 4:03pm
Fusion recovery

Hi Tony. Sorry to hear you're having such a hard time. I tried everything to sleep in a bed - I wore a bum bag with shoes inside to try and stop myself rolling onto my back. What was annoying was the length of time it took to get the doctors to realise that there was a mechanical problem with the back. The physio looked at my MRI and said there was normal wear and tear with no nerve impingement so didn't want to do anything. Luckily she said I could have the back surgeon look at the MRI and give his opinion which of course then came back saying it was very obviously the lack of disc which was the root of the problem. I can't believe I lasted sleeping in a reclining armchair for so long. Now I remember how important being able to sleep properly in a bed really is!

Have you tried drinking ginger beer for the nausea? I found this helped a lot with any sickness I have felt in the past. I was nauseous after a previous operation when I was given morphine so for the fusion I asked for an alternative and was given pethadine so no sick feeling!

Hope your pain level reduces soon.

Meryl

MerylT
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Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
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Joined: 01/13/2011 - 4:03pm
Fusion recovery

Hi Tony. Sorry to hear you're having such a hard time. I tried everything to sleep in a bed - I wore a bum bag with shoes inside to try and stop myself rolling onto my back. What was annoying was the length of time it took to get the doctors to realise that there was a mechanical problem with the back. The physio looked at my MRI and said there was normal wear and tear with no nerve impingement so didn't want to do anything. Luckily she said I could have the back surgeon look at the MRI and give his opinion which of course then came back saying it was very obviously the lack of disc which was the root of the problem. I can't believe I lasted sleeping in a reclining armchair for so long. Now I remember how important being able to sleep properly in a bed really is!

Have you tried drinking ginger beer for the nausea? I found this helped a lot with any sickness I have felt in the past. I was nauseous after a previous operation when I was given morphine so for the fusion I asked for an alternative and was given pethadine so no sick feeling!

Hope your pain level reduces soon.

Meryl

backache99
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Last seen: 5 months 17 hours ago
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hi Meryl

i have medication for sickness and it works very well its called cyclizine 50 mg tabs 3 times a day.what i wanted to know was how long was it before your voice returned to norml {my vocal cords have been scratched during extubation }
tony

1997 laminectomy
2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014

MerylT
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Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
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Joined: 01/13/2011 - 4:03pm
hi Tony

I had a sore throat which developed about 5 days after the op which I assume was from the anaesthesia but this went after a couple of days. I did suck boiled sweets in the hospital to lubricate my throat so maybe that helped. I didn't notice any problem with my voice but the op only lasted a few hours so perhaps I was lucky I didn't have after effects of the intubation.

Meryl

airborne72
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Joined: 11/16/2010 - 9:14pm
Congratulations MerylT on

Congratulations MerylT on your successful outcome. We all need to hear more of these stories.

And Tony, what in the world does "knackered" mean? We speak the same language, but I have never heard that word. Those of you closer to the Crown sure do talk funny.

backache99
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Last seen: 5 months 17 hours ago
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knackered{is slang for fuxxxed}

my appetite is coming back in dribs and drabs {another local saying} meaning slowly ,the anti sickness tabs work well but i am finding that i don't need them as much now .i am still picking at food as and when i want it .my aim is to get more mobile and reduce the pain meds but i know it will take time ,i can't bare to look at the incision wound on my tummy it freaks me out and its a reminder of what i have just been through .{its only been two weeks} my wife says i am coming along well .but i feel like she is just being kind .she has been a fantastic help and turns into nurse mode as and when she has to {she was a nurse for 20 years}
tony

1997 laminectomy
2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014

Scotty
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Last seen: 2 years 8 months ago
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Joined: 01/13/2011 - 12:24pm
I have seven spinal fusions,

I have seven spinal fusions, including S1. After I had S1 fused, I noticed my balance was not real good. My doctor advised that since S1 is the base and fused, many times your balance will not be as good as before surgery. My last fusion included T12 and that made me taller as the fusion "pulled me back". When I stand, I have to be careful and not step backwards due to the pull of the fusion. My bigest problem in all my 5 back surgies is the loss of my left calf muscle due to nerve damage. You can't "toe-up" without the calf muscle and hinders walking. Otherwise, keep on trucking and be patient.I will be able to get back on my Harley in June and that will help.

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