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How soon do most back fusion patients return to work?

kathyykkathyy Posts: 586
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I wondered, on average, how soon most of us return to work after back fusion? I am 6 weeks postop and plan on returning to work on a parttime basis on Monday. But I am lucky because my hub and I own our business so I don't have to "report in" to anybody.

Are most fusion patients returning to work (assuming the job is not physically demanding) between 6 weeks and 2 months? Bet some of you have gone back to work even sooner! Be interesting to know???? Kathy in Atlanta


  • From reading other people's experiences vs my own, I would say it depends on how many and what levels were fused and how active, healthy etc you were preop. I am 6 months post op L5/S1 fusion and in a lot of pain still. I would also say it depends on the success of the surgery as well. I seem to be having a lot of nerve pain which is difficult to deal with. I am basically being forced to go back to work Jan 20th due to financial reasons but I got a new job where I will be working from home 1/2 the time so that will be helpful (I hope).

    I am wishing you the best of luck on returning to work.

    Take Care,
  • I plan to return to work tomorrow (upon NS approval). I'm not sure if I'll be able to work full days, but I'm going to try my best. Fortunately, I will be able to get up form my desk often and walk around our office --- that should help. I couldn't imagine returning to work if any type of manual labor was involved.

    Best of luck to you.
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  • Kathy,

    I believe your estimate of between 6 weeks and 2 months for fusion patients returning to work is a little quick in most cases. Sure, everyone is different and every job is different but after reading similar threads people have started here I'd guess returning to work from 2 months to up to a year.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • I plan to return to work tomorrow. I control my own schedule for the most part so I plan to play it by ear. I expect I will have to get up and walk around often. I intend to try it with Tylenol alone since I need to concentrate and remain sharp. I walked the dog for an hour (a mile and a half) yesterday, and went to the tennis club and walked an hour on Friday.
  • i had my acdf 6 months ago..i hope to return to my job this week. (finger crossed I will be able to manage!). I am a special education teacher. I think the type of job you have also plays a part in when (and if) you are able to return.
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  • I am at about 4 1/2 months and am not back to work yet. I have a pretty physical job that requires me to lift immobile kids, move supplies, tons of steps and drive over an hour during my shift to different schools. Right now its just not possible, I have a hard enough time walking my 1 mile per day. Our first goal was to return tomorrow but now we are thinking March. We will see what happens. I have a flexible job, but need to be ready to run at the drop of a hat, no time to really take it easy if I need to rest.

    Kathy, your advantage is that you are really your own boss, doubt the other owner is going to give you grief if you need to get up and walk around,lol. I wouldnt hesiate to have a folding cot or chaise lounge chair shoved in the back so you could even lay down if you needed to.

    Just take it easy!

  • Yes,I know I am lucky that I am my own boss. My thinking is that I'll be lucky to make it 1/2 day for 3 out of 5. I just was generally interested to know how this fusion thing is actually playing out for everybody! We are each so different. My 56 years probably doesn't help and the 6 hour surgery and anemia is also not on my side. I'm NOT going to push myself at all. I hope none of us are. If I hadn't had such a positive 6 week checkup, I'd probably not even try for a couple of more weeks.

    Keep posting. Kathy
  • With my 4 level plif I have lifting and sitting restrictions.

    I reached Maximum Medical Improvement after 12 months but there is a lot of work I will never be able to return to.

  • Like you I am my own boss. I am a freelance photographer and I can start to work when I get the okay from NS or when I feel I am ready to take it on again. As you know I am four weeks out and I would say that for my type of job, I am lucky that I can stand for most of it, the squatting causes problems though for kid portraits. I am planning on taking my time in PT for now until about week 8 which will be closer to Feburary. For me the hardest part is gaining the strength back in my legs, and also because I wasnt able to use my left leg I was pretty sedentary prior to surgery so I really have to rebuild stamina. Surgery took the last little bit I had, but I will get there. You do have the advantage of being your own boss and I agree that it would be great to have something somewhere to lie down if you needed to for about twenty minutes if started feeling weak or tired. You know to take care of yourself and what you are limited in doing so trust your doc and your body to tell you what you are capable of, dont over do! Take care hon
    Erica (sure I will talk to you soon)
  • Had several complications, which one can never fore see and after a mental turmoil, relaise that my back is Number one and the job will follow - when it is right and a job that is right.

    I am not going to be back in that OR any sooner than I need to be, just to try and prove something. To me, No.

    Most employers do not thank you for it, you are little more than a human reource, and replaceable. Your spine is not.

    I also think it depends on your pre surgery diagnosis and problems as some will resolve quicker than others.
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