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Recovery time and return to work

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,
I'm a new member. I'm having a Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 mid July. My surgeon will most likely do a 360 (anterior / posterior). I'm curious how long until I will be able to return to work at my desk job. I work for "The Evil Empire" aka a bank and would much rather take the time off during the good times. I had an ACDF w/ instrumentation in Dec 2007 and was literally able to take conference calls in less than a week and back in the office in about 7 days. Yes most people thought that was too soon. Honestly though, while it sucked, I think getting out of the house quickly helped in my recovery. Also, any post surgical care advice? I've read some horror stories.
Thanks in advance;


  • Hi - I had a 1 level PLIF (L5-S1) and was back to work on day 18. I have a desk job also. I'm doing ok now. Today is my 4th week post op. Your surgery is different however, so I would guess that a 360 (anterior/posterior) will have a longer recovery period.

    I'm not sure what an ACDF is but you probably have a lot of experience with post surgery care. Just remember to never violate the BLT rule and to walk as soon as you can. Also, the things that helped me most at home were the "reacher", the sock device (I don't know what it's called but it's easy to put your socks on) and a raised toilet seat.

    There were a couple of times that I violated the BLT and I could feel it in my back, so that is the most important thing that you can do after surgery, is to not bend, lift or twist.
  • for both surgeries, I was back after 8 weeks. The ALIF was easier in some ways, but the PLIF caused a lot of spasms making it harder to sit for a long period of time. So both together at the same time, you may be looking at 6-8 weeks at home. The incisions heal up really good in 3 weeks, but at one month, you are still sore in the surgery area and the spasms are the worst. From my ALIF, I had left leg weakness where they pulled my muscles over that work the inner thigh and those nerves were screwed up. PT helped right before I went back to work immensely to strengthen everything and to loosen my back up. I'm still taking muscle relaxers even now and sometimes pain meds but I'm having more neck issues now than low back ones.

    Good luck and hope you do great! Sounds like you are a good healer and will do well. Don't push to go back to work too soon though. These surgeries take a lot out of you. I was worn out coming back to work and worked a lighter schedule for the first 4 weeks back. I've had to readjust my monitor, chair, and keyboard to help my posture. I still need a keyboard wrist pad.
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  • At the level of L5-S1, sitting will still be your enemy, whether ALIF, PLIf or 360. See at least if they can accomodate you with either a raised workstation/standing position, or zero-gravity chair. Make sure everyone around you knows the BLT's are a no-no. You will be very, very tired. If you do have to sit, I found a memory foam pillow helps. Good luck.
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