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14yrs since last fusion/ need 2nd- updates on recovery needed

VickiVVicki Posts: 57
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Fourteen years ago at 34, I had an L5S1 fusion. It was hell on Earth.They used bone from my hip and it still hurts. Now I have to get the L4 done. My recovery last time was long and miserable. Plastic cast for 9 months- no driving for at least 8wks yada yada yada. In 2008, what's it like to have a fusion? I know its 3-5 in the hospital but what do I expect when I get home? I am really bugging out thinking about this procedure. All I can remember was the horror of it all. Please, your honest feedback is sorely needed. I don't have 3 months to give up to have this done- yet again. I'm hoping things have improved with this procedure/recovery. HELP!!!!!


  • Vicki, I had a 2 level fusion l4-s1 on June 10th, every case is different but bone fusion takes time. I don't think it is much different time frame for recovery than it was 14 years ago. That said, there is probably better techniques and experience and also better pain control. I am at 12 weeks and just starting to feel pretty good. I have not taken pain medication since week 3, but have been limited in what I am able to do due to BLT(bending, lifting, twisting)restrictions. I had a velcro brace that was easy to put on and off and was not uncomfortable at all. Only weighed 2 lbs. I was able to stop wearing by 8 1/2 weeks. Like I said all cases are different. Talk to your doctor and get as much info as possible. I am so sorry you have to go through this again. It is a fear we all have, but it is good to know that you did at least make it 14 years. I hope most of them were good ones. Take care.
  • Hello Vicki,

    As Seekinghelp pointed out, there are a lot of improvement in spinal surgery. Of course, everybody has different experiences, but based on my three-level fusion in May, I can tell you that a surgery and recovery is not always painful. Some of the techniques my OS used may be applicable to your case as well, so you may want to discuss them with your surgeon.

    1. Instead of cutting through the five layers of muscles, once the he made an incision through the skin and fat, my OS then separated (without cutting) the muscles to free the spinal column.

    2. He did not use bone from my hip, but used the parts of the vertebrae he removed during the laminectomy and foramenectomy parts of the surgery, he mixed these with allograft (cadaver bone), thus no second incision was needed.

    2. Before sewing me back together, he washed my spine thoroughly with morhpine and antibiotic mixture, then inserted a morphine pump that directly delivered the drug to the surgery site when I activated it..

    I assume these measures are responsible for the fact that when I woke up after surgery, I had absolutely no surgery related pain. Nor did I feel more than slight discomfort, after the second day my morphine pump was removed (because it made me ill). Of course it helped that he has a reputation of being an outstanding surgeon.

    Talk to your surgeon, and ask him what can he do to make your surgery easier on you and less painful.

    Good luck, keep us posted.


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  • Hi

    I have read around alot and seems that spine surgery is an area of fast advance.

    I think you will find the experience different from b4 but like said above, all experiences, doctors and your body are different.

    Good luck. >:D<
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