Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!


Quick Start Forum Video Tutorial

There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

We're building a better forum experience with you in mind. Beginning June 26, 2019, all Veritas Health forums will move to forum.veritashealth.com.

Learn More

Back to Work 5 Weeks Post 3 Level L3-S1 Lumbar Fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,082
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had severe back pain and leg pain for 2 years, with leg pain becoming more severe as each day went on. I agonized over the surgery. The day before the surgery, I walked around my block and had to get in bed right after, barely made it.

I had anterior/posterior lumbar fusion surgery (L3-S1). Spent 6 days in the hospital and 7 days in the Rehab hospital. My experience in the Rehab hospital was beyond horrible, there was nothing rehab about it. I finally got home; around 2 weeks post surgery. Every day at home, was better than the day before. I received a walker, but have never used it. It sits beside my bed with a board from the garage between the handles used for shelf beside the bed, for my glass of water, and remotes.

Week 3, I cruised around the downstairs of my home, walking. Within a few days I started walking with my wife around the block. A few days after that, I took off without her, with my cell phone of course. In my fourth week I was walking a mile, 3 times a day. By the end of the 4th week, I was walking very good, able to sit in my chair when I was not walking. So in the last few days prior to going back to work, from 8a in the morning to around 8pm at night, I was not in bed at all.

Back to work: I can work mainly in an office setting (at my desk most of the day), off to meetings several times a day on average. My job is working with me, considering I run an operation that is 1.8 million square feet and normally I would be out walking that space ½ of each day, but for my recovery time, I can confine myself to an office setting for as long as I need.

My 5th week I was back to work, I worked half days, going in around 11am and leaving around 3pm, 5 days a week.

My 6th week back to work was the same as my 6th.

My 7th week back to work was full days. Going in at 9am and leaving at 5pm. Everything was fine until around 3pm, from 3pm to 5pm was hard. My muscles in my legs hurt so much, and back pain was starting. Keep in mind that my 7th week was full of meetings, so I am up and down with hour long meetings in between, with some of those hour long meetings, required me to stand the whole meeting. On Friday of this week, I canceled most of my meetings, which kept me in the office the whole day. I used a scooter (provided by my work) to go to and from the several meetings I had to attend that day. I was not as bad when I got home on Friday, my only issue is I was stiff, I think from not getting any walking exercise done that day. I forgot to mention that on Thursday that week, I over did it. I went outside and walked close to 3 miles and that afternoon, walked up a staircase that had about 30 steps on it. When I got home that day, I was so sore; I had to go right in the bed.

8th week starts tomorrow, I don’t have very many meetings planned and will try to spend most of my day at work at my desk and go outside for a couple of 1.5 mile walks.

I gave all this info to help you understand. I have to say that at times I am worried that I have gone back to work too soon and don’t know if it will hinder my healing. But I also feel if I can control my days better that I should be fine. My progress seems to be going better than a lot of those I read about on forums like this.

At this point I do have nerve pain in my left foot that is getting better.

I also have a slight foot drop that does not seem to bet getting better. I can no longer walk quietly, a little slapping sound when my left foot hits the ground when I walk.

Most of the pain I experience is what I perceive as muscle pain in my left leg, let hip, and left leg calf. I walk with a limp from my left leg and I feel like my muscle is deteriorating in my left leg. Not sure if this is related to my nerve issues in my left leg. I am hoping that since my nerve issues in my left foot is getting better, it’s not burning as much as it has. A few weeks ago it was burning so bad I could not stand it. I could not even tough my foot.

So, understanding all of this, what are your thoughts on my return to work and my general progress to date?



  • I'd have to say that my impression is that you are doing an excellent job of testing your limits, establishing where your parameters are and pressing ahead with an excellent recovery.

    Good on you!

    Welcome to Spine Health!

  • Not an MD...but the foot drop was the cause for getting me to see a surgeon and for my op. It sounds (and remember not an MD) that your extra walking etc., may have inflamed some areas. REST! Something I have trouble doing myself!
  • advertisement
  • you are doing extremely well.
    I am really suprised that you are back at work so soon but you seem to be managing it.
    Is there anyway you can get a recliner chair in your office you you can have a rest in the 3pm timeslot when you dont feel so good???
    I am like you and not a couch or bed person but I have made myself have a rest each afternoon. Sometimes I nap for 1/2 hr sometimes I just read but to take the pressure off my back is the main focus.
    Have you had any PT? I just wondered because you said you are limping. You want to fix that before it becomes comfortable and a PT can help you learn to walk better. (check with your Dr first).

    But honestly- you are an inspiration!
    Blessings Sara
  • Be careful! I too pushed it getting back to work and I'm paying for it. 3 months I felt great after surgery. But then, a normal work routine and rehab kicked my butt.

    Some days are good, others suck (bad). Though you have probably been cleared to do some BLT, be careful with that. I'm convinced that is what did me in.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Thank you so much for the words of encouragement. I am concerned though and maybe I did not do such a great job of explaining. I am on the fence right now as to continue working or going back on a Leave of Absence, which will hurt my family financially, maybe event towards bankruptcy with all things considered. I have been impacted pretty hard with the economy and my wife does not work, she home schools the kids, all four of them.

    I worry that I sit too much, finding the balance is not easy. Today for example, I got to work at 8am and other than taking 2 walks, about a 1/2 mile each, I sat the entire day to about 5pm. By 5pm, I was hurting, and hobbled my way out of work, got home and took my pain meds.

    I worry that I have returned to work too soon and don't know if I am hurting my recovery or not. I need to work, need to earn the money; I just want my healing to go well. I know the optimum way is to take the time off and let the healing process go it's way, but I also have to earn a living.

    I have decided to let my team know (I am a Department Head where I work) that I will be going back to short days for the next 4 weeks. I don't know how long though Public Opinion will support me, not just my department, but others. I work in a political environment that at times could be a drama on TV. So I worry about taking the extra time off each day. You know, people saying, didn't he have that surgery a month and a half ago, why does he need to work short days, when everyone else is working 10-12 hour days? Get the picture?

    If I go back on Leave, Short Term Disability only covers about 1/4 of what I make, so we will get behind on the mortgage and everything else if I go that route. I am also in talks with 2 potential employers who will have positions available in 4 months or so, so I am putting pressure on myself to be ready for either one of those jobs without my potential new employer knowing that I had surgery. I can't have them worrying about if I can do the job or not.

    What can I expect at 4-5 months post operation, will I be moving around really good, no pain by then, reasonably good body movement? I’m not talking about playing tennis. I know it is different for everyone, but you can get some idea from my post. I know in my mind that I am actually doing better than most in many ways, but at times feel like I am behind in my mind.

    Help me with some perspective please>>>>>>>>>

  • advertisement
  • Wow, you did go back to work very soon for a fusion patient. I had only a one level and was off for 15 weeks. I am an RN doing patient care, so had to go back to 12 hour shifts with no restrictions. It was challenging, but I am hanging in there so far now at 5 months post-op. Well I presume your surgeon released you to go to work, and if you feel you can manage, while still maintaining any restrictions, then why not press on. On the other hand if you feel your job is deteriorating your progress, then perhaps re-consideration is called for. Is it possible to lie down at some point during your day? Can your employer provide you with a more ergonomic work station? Perhaps a desk that rises up and down so you can stand part of the time? I know sitting is very hard on a Spiney's back. I was not allowed to sit for more than 15 minutes until I was 8 weeks post-op. Of course this decision is a very individual one between you and your doctor. If you do decide to take off more time is it possible you have sick pay or vacation pay that you can match with your disability? I live in California, and we have state disability which was matched with my sick pay. I actually made more money on leave cause SDI is not taxed. Good luck to you whatever you decide. You are right to be concerned, cause fusion is major surgery and you only have one chance to do it right, heal that is. >:D< Cali-Sue
  • I bought a Recliner for my office, it is helping survive the day, so far, for the last 2 days, I have not hobbled out of work to my car, I've walked straight up.
  • Welcome to spine health.
    Sounds like your on track to me also.
    I'm not saying this goes for everyone, but once back pain always back pain.
    I also agree with people thinking "well they went in for surgery , they should be fixed" Oh what a quote!!

    I totally undertstand the finacial aspects of it.
    I have not worked since 05 with no disablity etc.
    Low and behold hubby got laid off Tues. With no savings, credit etc in this house so we are flying by the seat of our pants as so many other americans no matter what their position or job.

    1.On the weekends walk like you were post op.
    I know it hurts when you get home BUT thats from sitting and your used to your routine of walking.
    Walk after dinner mabye? Treadmill? Its the sitting that seems to be causing your pain.

    2.Trying a heating pad at work?? You can plug it in under your desk. Or reusuable gel filled icepacks thrown in the fridge ( HEAVEN) on numbing the pain.

    3.A pillow underneath you like a seat cushion and one behind your back.
    Keep wiggling around in your chair and get up often VERY often.

    4.A back brace may keep you more supported during the day hours.

    I found that out all to well during the Holidays and sitting for long peroids of time at others houses etc.
    Felt better when I was at the Mall "tehehehehe"
    Yes I was totally worn out by the time we got back to the car and I sat. I wanted to get back up and start walking again.
    You went though a major trauma to your body, muscles, nerves etc being cut. Now with no "pun" intented we are screwed like a peice of wood! LoL

    So it does take months some people 4 months some 6 months to a year. Each of us are so individual its to hard to pinpoint a time frame of when your going to feel your self again.

    I certainly am not a good example to use as I think the GOD of the OPERATING ROOMS loves me or something?!? Not sure on that yet mabye its the lovely stretch marks they like making worse??? =)) As I have had so many operations It will take a miracle for me to feel good again O:) O:)
    Ethier that or winning the lottery O:) O:) O:) :D :X

    Hang in there keep doing what your doing. Keep making sure you watch that footdrop!!

    I wish the very best of luck to you in recovery..
    Terri B)
Sign In or Register to comment.