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What to expect

crashhccrashh Posts: 40
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
So I am told I may need a fusion l4l5 i think. what should I expect for recovery and hospital time. I am 10 weeks post op discectomy.


  • Well, there is no one answer as everyone and their surgeons are so very different. I am 10 weeks post L4-5 fusion (Polar-similar to TLIF). I was in the hospital for 5 nights. I had a PCA for 3 days, catheter 24 hrs, drain for 3 days, walked on eve of surgery. I had help at home for a week after discharge. The first several weeks at home I rested in bed and walked, avoided sitting. Thank goodness for a laptop to keep me occupied. I drove at 3 weeks, water PT at 4 weeks, in a TLSO brace for 10 weeks- weaning over last 2weeks. Started PT at 9 weeks. Hope to go back to work around 13-16 weeks. My pre-op hip pain and limp are gone. I have SI joint pain and intermittent sciatic pain that goes away. I am still taking pain meds 2x a day and muscle relaxer(soma) 2x a day. My low back feels really, tight, I think it is the hardware.

    You might take a look at the Aug/Sept surgery thread and the Oct/Nov thread for lots of surgery stories. Good luck to you on your decision. Do lots of research and write down all your questions to take with you to your surgeon.
    >:D< Cali-Sue
  • Just as a comparison, Cali-Sue and I had our surgeries on the same day. Mine was TLIF L3-L4 with instrumentation. I was in the hospital for two nights, catheter for approximately 24 hours, no drain, and up the first evening after surgery. When I was released, there was no bending, lifting, twisting, but I could go up and down stairs with help. I was able sit quite well after the first week. I did experience nerve pain in both thighs for the first week, then it was gone! I was off pain meds at the end of week 3, weaned off the turtle shell brace starting week 8 (it took me about 2 weeks although my NS told me I could take up to 4 weeks). I was told I could drive at week 8, but it still bothers me, so I hate it. I began PT at week 9, and have 22 PT visits scheduled. Since week 8, I have been trying build up my stamina by walking up to the school where I teach. I have actually taught one class a day since that time, and today I actually taught three. I officially begin half-days on October 27 (this has been downgraded from full-time until Thanksgiving). My pre-op lower back pain and nerve pain is gone, but my hips and groin area ache after PT or being on my feet too long. Since week 3, I only took muscle relaxers when I woke up and then before bed, and acetominophen for the aches. Week 10 I started back on the muscle relaxers every six hours as I was experiencing some tightness in the back which I attributed to resuming teaching duties.

    So...as you can see, there are similarities, but everyone is an individual!

    Good luck with your fusion.
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  • To hard to answer.
    You can check out our recovery thread for Aug/Sept surgeries.


    Like Cali said all different.
    1st surgery I was in mon-thurs.
    pain pump in for 3 days
    cath in for 3 days
    drain in for 3 days.
    got up to walk on the 3rd afternoon.
    Fourth day they made sure I could walk up and down stairs, sit up in a chair for 15 min.
    I was on a liquid diet till the 4th day.
    By 4 wks I was feeling good. I was allowed to do walking. I did waist level house work.
    Lots of sleepless nights

    Recent surgery revision
    I was in Wed-Fri
    Pain pump 2days
    Cath 2days
    Drain 2days
    Liquid Diet 2 days
    Up walking and eating on the 3rd day. No pain this time getting out of bed as I knew what to do and what to expect. Much easier hospital stay.
    Slept the 4 days I was home then I started in with the sleeping habits, waking up , getting comfy again and falling back to sleep.

    I just hit the 4 wk mark today. Im not where I was last year at this time. They just gave me a brace at my post op yesterday.
    I have other issues going on so I'm not walking like I should. I am doing housework here and there. But all light stuff with a grabber.
    Riding in the car is a tuffy . Depends on the length of the ride.
    When I came home I could deal with sitting for about a hour or so. Until all the anestheic and IV meds were out of my system. Now I can only tolerate the 15 min like they want you to every 4 hrs.
    Still log rolling. Which I forget sometimes and boy do I feel it.

    So basically in a nutshell not one person is the same in recovery. One is going to wake up feeling fantastic and have a easy recover. The second might take weeks.
    So you won't know till your surgery is over if you have it, your home and go from there.

    Good luck!! O:)
  • caught up in the "may need to have". Instead try to use this time to get yourself as fit as possible to avoid it.
    I know sometimes Drs say these things to cover their backs such as , well all is good for now but you may need to have these..... fused in the future.
    Try not to buy into anything till you know for sure.

    If you don, then you can prepare yourself but better to focus on the moment and your recovery.

    Blessings Sara O:)
    P.S I dont mean to ignore anything you have already been told or an feeling, just trying to keep things positive.
  • How is your recovery going from the disectomy? I am at 6 weeks post-op for a disectomy, too. What has made them say fusion might be necessary? How sure are they?

    Sorry I can't answer the questions about fusion. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you that you won't have to have it! :)

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  • I'm 3 weeks post op and feeling great. I have pain, but so what? I take my pain meds and muscle relaxers, wear my soft velcro brace, and I do everything basically like normal.

    I had L4-L5 fused but they went through the front and the back. I can feel the screws sometimes stabbing at my muscles and it's kind of annoying, but it's cool. I feel a LOT better than I thought I would be. I heard tons of horror stories so I was prepared for the worst and insanely pleasantly surprised. My surgeon is so happy and could tell just by looking at me at my 2 week post op appt that I was doing great.

    I was in the hospital 4 days, would have been three, but I had stomach issues. I find the stomach part the worst. My back is whatever. Some of my incisions still hurt, but it's cool. My stomach incision hurts when I sneeze and stuff, but that's only like, 2 seconds. I felt HORRIBLE in the hospital, but as soon as I got up and walked around I felt SOOOOO much better. The more you walk, the better you feel, it seems. They kept assuring me of that. And it's true. I don't spend much time in bed or anything. I'm generally up running errands or walking around the mall shopping, Lol. I drove a little before 2 weeks post op, drove myself to my 2 week post op appt. I actually found myself wondering if they really did put screws and rods in my spine, because I thought it would feel so much worse. Lol. I can feel them through my skin, with my fingers, though, so I know they did.

    Basically I thought the MicroD was a piece of cake, and the fusion, soon as I got home, has been pretty freakin easy, too. Mornings kind of suck, til I get up and moving, and by bedtime I'm pretty achey, but it's alright. People will try to tell you it's because I'm 22, but that's not true. Everybody is different, and age has nothing to do with it. This is the third surgery my body has endured since I was 16. I also have asthma, costochondritis, generalized anxiety disorder, and plenty of other things along with my back problems. Still have a herniation at T11-T12, and I've had cervical issues with shooting pains down my arms, as well... But I just don't make a huge deal out of it. It's all good, I'm alive, I'm blessed with today, and hopefully blessed with tomorrow.

    So don't stress out. It's not too bad of a surgery, and I'm sure you'll be fine. If it's indicated for the right reasons, it's a wonderful thing. My sciatica, near foot drop, foot weakness, foot numbness, and shooting back pain are all gone. Have been gone so I woke up from surgery.

    I wish you the best :)
  • I am at almost 12 weeks post-fusion (anterior/posterior L4/5). Anterior surgery on 7/21 and posterior on 7/23. Home on 7/25. Up and walking in the hospital on evening of 2nd surgery. Took Valium and Hydrocodone for less than 3 weeks - starting weaning off meds at about 1.5 weeks because the meds made me feel so awful. Have used only ice and heat since for discomfort. At 4 weeks was walking about 1.5 hours a day in 20 - 25 minute segments. Started Water PT at 4 weeks. (Then developed abdominal pain - not sure if related to surgery or diverticulitis so was in hospital for 3 days with IV antibiotics and liquid diet, then more antibiotics and soft diet at home - the meds made me very ill - this set me back several weeks in recovery). But I traveled for 11 hours by plane and car last Monday, 4 hours by car on Tuesday - no ill effects. We now have house guests for a week. I do get tired if I sit too long. I can walk about 20 min at a time without my back getting tired - am weaning off brace. I start PT again on Tuesday. Getting back my stamina and energy has been the most difficult part of recovery.

    This site has excellent info about what you might need and what to expect post-surgery. I hope you don't need it though!
  • At my 3 month post-op with my surgeon he spoke of possibly having to remove the hard due to the increased pain I am having in my lower back. I am coming up on 5months post-op and the pain is worse. I have been in PT since march 09 and today they told me they were going to stop seeing me since I am in so much pain and restart PT after the hardware is removed. Of course I do not want to have another surgery but I will do what I need to do. My main question is, is it possible that I hurt myself again? or is it the hardware that is giving me problems. Is it possible to have the hardware removed 6 months post-op Spinal Fusion. We did xrays and the bone is growing back very very fast. The Reflex Extension Tests will be done in 4 weeks but I am not sure what that consists of. I think it is just a certain type of Xray.
    I look forward to all of your input.
    thanks, crashh
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