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sitting-how long before it gets easier

kathyykkathyy Posts: 585
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Well, I made it to 3 full weeks post op yesterday and I'm getting a little better each day. Had PLIF and decompression. But my question is regarding sitting. So far I get pretty uncomfortable and have increased "burning, tingling" leg symptoms after sitting for 20 - 30 minutes. I'd like to be able to go back to work in a few weeks but my job primarily entails sitting at a computer.

I'd love to hear from others of you as to what you've experienced in terms of sitting. Have you become more comfortable sitting longer and more often? At what point did it begin to get better? Thanks! Kathy in Atlanta


  • I had AIBF surgery 6 weeks ago and I still have pain sitting after 10-15 minutes. I think it is going to take a while before the pain starts to subside.

    My surgeon has told me not to sit for more than 20-30 minutes at a time until the fusion takes a hold. I go back to the surgeon's office at the end of Jan for X-rays. He feels that after 3 months the fusion should be pretty well established.

    Hope this is helpful and best of luck.

  • I don't know if this is how it goes for everyone, but I was having major back/hip pain when sitting until about week 6. At that point I became able to sit for a few hours at a time as long as I got up every half-hour or so. I'm improving little by little, today is 2 months since L4-L5-S1 ALIF and I just started back at work on a part-time basis (also a lot of sitting at my job).

    What I tried to do at home was 'build up' my sitting time, even it if means just sitting for 10-20 minutes a few different times a day, do it as often as you can (or as often as your doc allows)... that seemed to really help me and the intense pain wore off a bit.

    Good luck!
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  • Do you have sitting restrictions from your doctor? It is fairly common for the doctor to give these, but of course not every doctor does things the same.

    My doctor is very conservative, my sitting restrictions were not changed till 15 weeks. Previously the recommendation was only 15 minutes 4 times per day. Now I can do 30 minute periods as tolorated throughout the day.

    I can only make it 10-15 minutes while seated on the edge of the chair. If I sit all the way back in the chair I am lucky if I can make it to 5 minutes. Fully reclined isnt to bad for up to an hour.

    Take it easy and listen to the advice of your doctor. It seems like it takes forever, but you will be doing better in no time.

  • On the subject of sitting, if my doc gave me firm instructions then I missed them. But thanks to this website and other research I did pre-op, I knew I needed to limit my sitting to the 30-45 minute arena several times a day with the shorter time being the rule for the first few weeks.

    I have noticed that sitting has gotten lots better than when I first got home from surgery so that's good! I can also tolerate walking more too. My doc's nurse told me to try to live as normal a life as possible and be as active as possible and to heed my body in terms of overdoing it. Just wondered what everyone else's experience has been after back fusion.

    I'd like to think that one day my life will return to some reasonable level of normalcy! Not that I was every really normal (LOL). At least that's what my dear sweet hub would say ;) Kathy in Atlanta
  • great topic..I'm interested to see the answers.
    I made the mistake of sitting for 4 hrs. at a ladies' breakfast. We were all yacking and I didn't even think cuz I had no trouble sitting until then. I wore my brace, had my chair pads but it put me into a 10 day flare up. I'm 6 weeks later and still can't sit more than 15 min. now.
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  • That is about all I can take...
  • The first few weeks or so I was only allowed to sit 30 mins and then I had to get up and walk, or move a bit. Later (maybe at 6 weeks?) I could sit for 45 mins. At first I set the egg-timer, but I seldom needed it, as after a while it felt good to get up. But what is very important is the type of chair you use. At first, straight-back computer chairs with arm-rests were the best. Hard chairs were a pain, but I could make them tolerable by using a pillow on the back. The first few moths I even carried a small pillow with me if I went to a restaurant. Interestingly, movie and theater chairs were fairly comfortable.

  • I can't sit more than 10 minutes either. My back will hurt more and so will the sciatica.
  • ..& sitting for longer than about 15 minutes just kills me. And that's with a chair pad, etc. I can sit longer if I have my legs straight out in front of me, but otherwise...no go!

    Luckily I am a teacher & get to move around all day. My heart goes out to anyone who MUST sit as part of their job...I just can't imagine that, as the pain is unbearable, the legs ache/go dead/burn & the sciatica kicks in...

    My NS said to just "adjust" to it, as he feels it's a part of the "new" geometry of my spine since the fusion & the other levels now taking on re-alligned loads from the now immoveable L4/5 (what takes the majority of your sitting stamina.)

    Walking is a breeze, as is standing. Just can't SIT!

    A fusion friend of mine (4 years out) has same problem 7 he laughed about what will happen to us when we're really old & can't walk/stand...suggested we invent a new device that would allow us to be supported & mobile in an up-right position that would segue into a "lower to the bed" position.. :)Wheelchairs would not work!

    Oh well! It could be worse! Thanks for starting this thread, Kathy. I think it must be universal for us now.


  • I am 9 months out from my fusion and still don't tolerate more than 30 minutes sitting...but I can do better with standing. I had a writing desk put into a wall so I could stand and do work - is that an option for you? (the desk cost me about $180, but it did involve screwing braces into the walls), or maybe you could come up with a desk and invert the hutch so its at a workable level for keyboard & monitor? Also, for sitting I have found memory foam pillows are wonderful and not super-expensive, I covered mine with pillowcases that match the office decor.
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