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Lumbar fusion? How long before going back to work?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I know that every patient is different, and recovery will vary. But I would like to get an idea on how long it took before you went back to work.

And if you can indicate if you had 1 level, 2 level, fusion, or ADR.



  • I hope to find out too. I have a job in which I sit a lot and bend/reach/twist quite a bit so I think it will be 3 months before I can do that. I may not be able to go back to that job full time but it's ok. I will look into other jobs but I will wait and see.
  • I had a level three lumbar fusion, and just met my 3 month mark. My NS doesnt start PT till now....... so I have no clue when or if I will be able to go back to do what I was doing. I would like to do something, even if it means I have to go back to school. (Was a nurse and EMT)
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  • I had a 2-level ALIF on October 10 and started back at work part-time on December 8- I am easing my way up to full-time hopefully at the end of January. My job is a lot of sitting, and my co-workers are extremely helpful so I'm lucky. My max at this point (almost 10 weeks post-op) is about 4-5 hours at a time.

    Good luck!
  • Thanks. That is very helpful. I am going to be having two levels done, just don't know yet if one level will be disc replacement, or if I will have both fused. Decisions, decisions.

    Anyway, how long is your drive to work?
  • I was considering the same thing- my insurance would only cover the fusion. After speaking with a few doctors though, there's a good chance that's what I would have decided on anyway.

    Regarding work, I am lucky because I live about 10-15 minutes away from work- more in the snow, since apparently salting Chicago streets isn't a priority anymore :) Anyway, I'm sure if I lived farther that would have lessened the amount of time I could spend in the office... At work though, I'd say the most important thing is to find a comfortable chair (if you sit a lot)- the better it is, the longer you can sit and it really does make a huge difference!

    I know you're in the planning stages now, so feel free to pm me if you have any double fusion questions :)
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  • My boss bought me a very good chair for work, since I was having such a hard time sitting in the cheap chairs they had for everyone in the lab. In fact when I am out, other people use my chair.

    My insurance won't pay for disc replacement either, so if I had it, I would have to pay for that portion myself (~$8000). But if I think my health and well being are better off with the disc replacement, then that money will be well worth it. But I haven't decided if it is worth it or not (not the money - but is the ADR going to be better for me).

    What made you decide on fusion instead of disc replacement?
  • 15 weeks. I had a one level posterior fusion. I am a RN with a very physical job, working 12 hour shifts. My employer would not allow me to come back with any restrictions. My NS would have preferred I work shorter days to start, but it was not an option, so I took a few extra weeks off from my initial plan. Good-luck to you. Sue
  • Well, before I go into this, there was no clear-cut decision in this so I had to go by what I discussed with the doctors I saw.... and my decision was based on the weight I put on certain factors, so others might have easily decided to go with ADR. Anyway...

    I have heard some wonderful things about ADR, and I think it has a lot of potential to be a better surgery than a straight fusion- for a while I was planning to petition my insurance. Then... I met with a few different doctors (3). One was all for ADR. The other two told me that ADR is the future, but it is too new and they won't even do them.

    Basically, they said that the hardware out now is not yet up to their standards, and while most of the surgeries they've seen have been successful in the short-term, there were two major concerns for me- 1) there was not enough long-term knowledge of what happens to the discs, and as I am in my 20s I hopefully have many years ahead of me, and I would rather take my chances on known risks (with a fusion) than the unknown (with ADR)- but that is just me.... and 2) though both doctors said they have witnessed mostly success with ADR, the few unsuccessful surgeries led to life-threatening emergency surgeries to fix the problems... something with when the artificial disc malfunctions or mis-aligns it can get lodged in your organs, which really freaked me out.

    That being said, it seems like a lot of people have had great experiences with ADR so I can't speak from any personal experiences... all I know is that my recovery has gone smoothly, and I'm happy with the decision I made :)
  • It sounds like you made the right decision for you.

    I am 46, not as young as you, but still young when thinking about the long term consequences of this type of surgery. I am leaning toward ADR, but not completely decided yet. I have a little while in which to decide.

    Thanks for sharing your decision process.
  • I had a one level fusion L4-L5 Nov 10th. I also sit at a computer all day long, just wondering how long it took to get back to full days and full strength
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