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2 level posterior lumbar fusion

tcr1130ttcr1130 Posts: 122
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

Was wondering if anyone could give me details of post op and recovery following a 2 level posterior lumbar fusion...; doctor told me yesterday i will need a 2 level done ..... other than the 3-4 days in hospital and back brace for 6 weeks... id like to know how bad it will really be and what are the realistic things that are going to happen or i will go thru..

anyone that has gone thru it i would love to hear back from you

thank you



  • I had a three-level (L3-S1) fusion in May. Now everybody recovers at a different rate, but mine went exceptionally well. Even then, you can count of at least 6 months of recovery when you have to be careful. Many people also need pain medication, I was fortunate that I did not. But regardless how well and how fast you recover, a multi level fusion is a serious thing and you need to dedicate yourself to do your best to recover. There is lot of good info on this site that helps you to prepare for your surgery (look under the stickies) and afterward. Also, there are a lot of "experts: here who can share with you their experiences.

    As i discovered, the three most important things for successful recovery are:
    a capable and experienced surgeon, a positive attitude from your part, and dedication to do the right things (e.g., WALK, WALK, Walk!).

    Wishing you an easy and successful recovery,

  • im just plain scared to death... is one surgeon better with a lumbar fusion than another ( neurosurgeon vs orthopedic surgeon)....i just dont feel like i know enough to make this decision.... i know that i dont have any other choices i have tried them all.... but a two level seems a big deal to me... i just want to know more before i have it done... i dont i will stop being scared to death.. but think the more i know from people that have gone thru it the more it would ease my mind sometimes better to know the worse, and find out it wasnt as bad as you thought!!!!
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  • I'm scheduled for a three-level fusion on November 19th. I had a couple of surgeons refuse to do it, because three-levels are generally not recommended. Two is usually do-able. However, I have not responded to any of the other treatments, including extensive PT. I just keep getting worse. Turns out that in addition to the severly torn discs, I have substantial arthritis in my lumbar spine. Without the fusion, my back will not fuse well by itself. So, I'm going for the fusion. I just have to have faith that it will be the best thing for me. There are lots of folks here who have had similar experiences and they are surely helping me to ease my mind.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • i had a two level lumbar fusion (ant/post) on Oct. 6th of this year. i had struggled with back pain for several years and got to the point where injections and PT were no longer working even after a microdiscectomy in 06. the constant pain was controlling my life and i decided it was time to proceed with the fusion. the first two weeks after surgery were the toughest...all postop pain and soreness. i was in the hospital for five days. by the end of the second week i am walking one mile a day. currently i am still taking pain meds but only at night to help me relax and sleep. i was really afraid of having this surgery especially only being 38 yrs old but my back feels stronger than it has in a long time and i am very optimistic about the future. i used an ortho surgeon. let me know if you have any other questions...
  • "As i discovered, the three most important things for successful recovery are:
    a capable and experienced surgeon, a positive attitude from your part, and dedication to do the right things (e.g., WALK, WALK, Walk!)."

    This is absolutely right.

    I would suggest that you get another opinion before you make a decision as a different Dr may have an approach that is better for you or he may just tell you that the first one was right and you will feel better.

    You will read about the good, the bad and the Ugly here and that is because we all have different experiences.
    Neither surgeon is better, but you must make sure to have a spinal surgeon eityher O/S or N/S.
    Read as much as you can as a fusion is not a walk in the park (well it will be when you get out there LOL) and does require dedication to a strict lifestyle.
    I see you have had a cervical fusion so you have an idea but from what I have heard a lumbar takes more to recover from.

    I had a 3 level with correction to scoliosis so quite a bit different to what you may have. But you will need several months off work and to have your house prepared for not BLT bending lifting or twisting. You will need help areound the home for a while as it is too easy to think 'I will just do that". You may or may not have pain, I have noticed that often the pain kicks in when the brace is weaned off (I didn't have a brace) and PT is started.
    I dont think you can ever be fully prepared and I have seen some people here just sail through their surgeries and then off to the distance which is great, while other take a bit longer to get there.

    Keep going to aquatherapy and strengthening your core muscles as much as you can.

    Blessings Sara O:)

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  • quote -

    [Kin said

    "As i discovered, the three most important things for successful recovery are:
    a capable and experienced surgeon, a positive attitude from your part, and dedication to do the right things (e.g., WALK, WALK, Walk!)."

    This is absolutely right.]

    Ditto angle back and Kin.

    also apply a little bit of your own commo sense here too. If your guts don't trust what your told, seek another opinion. That goes for PT, NS, OS anyone really!

    If you have a doubt - weed it out
  • I was very scared of the recovery process as well. I ended up needing help for 7 weeks because I got an infection. most people don't, so don't dwell on mine! before deciding on the surgery, I remember going outside at night when the kids were in bed and my husband wasn't home from work yet and just bawling. praying. seeking peace. I am 37 and had dealt with back pain issues for over a decade. Once my neurosurgeon convinced me this was the best option (3rd opinion, all said the same thing but this one clicked with me) then I read read and read. I decided if others could go through this and be success stories, I could, too. the recovery process was one day at a time. lots of pain for sure, but also lots of meds and lots of rest which most always helped. Now, I still have pain, still take meds, but it's different pain and I know I'm getting better and better. no regrets. oh, I had a two level fusion like I think you're having- L3-L4 & L4-L5. if this is what you need, you can do this. hundreds of people do it every single day. you're strong, I am guessing, after having dealt with so much pain & all the procedures many of us have been through. I had two neurosurgeons tag-team for my surgery. my humble opinion, I prefer a neuro over an ortho for a fusion. I had an an ortho do my laminectomy. that didn't go so well, but not entirely blaming him. he just took too much bone out which added to my instability problems down the road. anyway! ask questions, vent, being scared is very normal. for me the fear was like for two weeks. I could barely breathe sometimes from the anxiety. I didn't talk to my kids til I felt positive about it. I did cry with my husband several times. he would listen and then tell me everything my neurosurgeon had said to me, why it made sense, why I needed it. it felt good to be reassured by my husband. :)
    best wishes to you.
  • you will know when it is time....you won't want to deal with all the restrictions your life contains due to your back and the pain will not be something you can function over the top of very well. Talk to lots of ppl and find out who has done well with fusions in your area. You could post your general area and ask ppl here to pm you if their surgeon is nearby. You at least want two opinions, if not more and make sure you have tried extensive PT, injections, massage etc. to the point where you feel you have exhausted your options. If that's where you are at you will be very nervous but you know you need to get your life back. I had the same two levels, but a year apart. (we knew that would probably be the case, but were hoping to just get by with one) I am 5 mths. out now, almost done weaning the brace, am walking 3 miles, back to making dinner and carpooling but I'm still healing and my life is dedicated to the 1-2 yrs. it takes to totally heal. You will find many stories and advice here that are amazingly helpful, especially the threads on successful surgeries~check it out.
  • It is very wise of you to learn as much as you can prior to surgery. I did not - I think because I did not want to hear any possible "scary" things - but then had to learn quickly after surgery to try to figure out if what I was experiencing was normal. Fortunately, I had 2 friends who had recent lumbar fusions and I found this site which is truly filled with great info. I did access one of the lists on this site "Post-Op Must Haves" prior to surgery and am so glad I did - the list is very "on target".

    I agree that whether neuro or ortho you will want a spine specialist. Again, on this site there is a list of questions to ask your surgeon before making a decision.

    The first 2 weeks home from the hospital were the most difficult for me - after that, recovery has seemed not so much painful as long, slow and boring. But now at almost 3 months post-surgery I am finally getting back to a more normal life - I just have to keep reminding myself that if I over-do I will be tired and achy later!

    Wishing you a successful surgery and pain-free recovery!
  • thank you for all your comments.... i have exhausted all my options..... over the last year i have had over 20 steroid shots... rhizotomy.... land based therapy and the aquatherapy..... the spect scan and discogram confirmed everything......

    peoples personal experiences mean a lot to me right now... not medical advice per say... more what you went thru... leading to a surgery, after you came out of surgery.. your recovery at home... i think it would scare me less to know some things up front... because i am pretty much thinking the worst right now....

    I meet with the doctor nov 12th.. i have till then to think not of whether i am having it done.. its when.. and how bad with it be..... he tells me then if i am a candidate for a two level xlif - otherwise it will be a two level plif

    thank you for all your comments!!!!! it is so appreciated it
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