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lots of fusion, your story?

DanaDDana Posts: 60
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had upper back fused at age 17, and now all lumbar nearly 3 months ago at age 49. I'm still amazingly stiff, as if my body is gripped by a vise. I walk slowly with effort, stanindg straight has been a challenge. My body doesn't feel like mine. Surgeon seems to think this is okay, it can take a year or more to know what is what, but I want to know anyone out there with lots of fusion who went through this in a big way and how long it took, etc.
I'll mention I am and have always been in great physical shape, so this is such a drag. I thought I'd be doing much better by now, but....
anyone else with lots of fusion to share?


  • Dana,
    My entire lumbar region is fused, held together by screws, plates, rods and maybe even some Crazy Glue along with a chunk of my hip bone. I am coming up on my 2 year anniversary and I just turned 60. In my younger days I was quite active and in decent shape. However, I was in terrible shape when I had the surgery. It took me 13 months before I could begin to exercise (not PT) and push myself. As for stiffness, I have it. As for pressure pain, I also have that. One good example for me is when I am walking. If I'm wearing headphones I have to turn my body to make sure no cars are coming. I pretty much have to turn my whole body. I am too stiff to turn just from the waist up.

    I can proudly say I walk 4 miles, 5 days a week, no matter what the weather is. I also do a number of core exercises and use dumbbell weights. My doctors considered me a successful fusion almost a year before I considered me a success. I hope this helps.

    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.
  • Thanks Dick. What about pain? Do you still have pain? My stiffness still comes with pain. Does your body feel like it is "yours" now, or still foreign?
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  • Good questions Dana. The pain I feel is a pressure pain, like someone has reached inside me and is squeezing my spine. Its not a sharp pain, its just there 24/7. It took me awhile to get used to it. As for how my body feels, thats a great question. No, I don't feel the same as I did prior to my back problems. I can say the same thing about my knee replacement I had in 2000. It took years for my mind to accept my artifical knee. Its been almost 23 months and my mind still lets me know there is something artifical in my back.

    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.
  • Dana -

    I don't have lots of fusion - just one level - but do feel the pressure/squeezing sensation - sometimes more than others. When I walk for example, it feels like it gets tighter and tighter with more pressure as I walk. Aqua therapy has helped that quite a bit - the stretching I do in the water seem to do more than the stretching I do at home. Probably, because I can stretch more in the water with less effort. On the other hand, it always seems I feel the hardware more in the water - maybe it does not float as well as my body?? Are you doing any PT at this point and if so, has that helped?
  • One level and you have issues? I have a friend who is doing fab after 5 months of one level. Never felt better.
    It is 3 months today I had the lumbar done. I do light leg lifts, arm exercise. No bend/twist or lifting allowed. I've always worked out so I have modified. But the squeezing/muscle problem is a problem. Net-net I am doing worse now than before surgery. Fighting it, though.
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  • I had 3 level lumbar fusion - at 3 months I was still using the walker, still had pain, and was wondering if my balance was ever going to return. I am almost a year and I can walk 4 miles, am pain free in my back, but have some nerve pain in my leg. I can sleep in my own bed most nights and rarely have to take a dilaudid. Although I still can't drive, my surgeon has a plan and I expect to be able to drive by the summer. I hope to be able to start working again as well. I have learned the meaning of the word patience, have learned to cook and would have the surgery again in a heartbeat. For some of us, it is just very slow going. My body has just recently started to feel like mine. O:)
  • DelawareGirl: Wow, I am so sorry that your recovery is not going better. Were there complications during your surgery, any other issues? I had my 3 level, L3-S1 on December 2, 2008 and I was back to work after 5 weeks. I spent a week in the hospital and another week in a rehab hospital, those were horrible weeks, but after I got home I never had to use my walker. I was driving 4 weeks post op.

    This just goes to show, there are so many factors involved in the recovery. I think regardless of how well we do, I think most of us would agree that the recovery is nothing like we thought it would be. Much, much harder.
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