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Fusion L5&S1 question

TomophobicTTomophobic Posts: 25
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I posted in the newbie forum and someone suggested I post one of my questions here. Here goes, I am a 40 year old mother of 2 (+2, my boyfriends) and I have been told I need a fusion of L5&S1 with hardware and a decompression. I have scolioses,spinal stenosis, DDD, and spondylethosis. My career is in retail and requires I lift 50 lbs often and 80-100 lbs at times. I spend a lot of time on my feet and also some bending. My question is this: In your opinion and from your experiences, what are the odds that I will be able to return to this job, and if so, how long before I would be able to. I asked this question when I saw the neuro and ortho and was not given a straight answer. This was last November and I have been going to a Pain management docter to avoid the surgery. I also have attention deficit disorder and the combination of the pain and the meds have made it impossible for me to focus,make decisions, and complete tasks. If I continue like this, I will loose my job anyway and then I won't have insurance to pay for the surgery. If anyone could give me some guidence, it will be very appreciated. I have been an observer of this site for a while and have gathered a lot of valuable info so far.


  • I believe that others will agree when I say that you will never be able to lift 50 lbs. after fusion. I had the same surgery, and have the same other conditions that you have, except for the 2 boyfriends, including ADHD. I don't think that I will be advised to lift more than 10 or 15 lbs., even after I am fully fused. You have probably read where members write about missing their "old lives". Well, that's part of it. There will probably be several things that you will find that you have to give up. I hope that your job isn't one of them. Maybe others will comment soon, but that's my opinion. Also, having the surgery was the best thing that I have ever done.

  • Thanks Rusty, but I don't have 2 boyfriends, I have two additonal children that are my boyfriends. I guess I should have worded that differently! Back to the back troubles... Did you have much trouble with your ADHD while in pain and on pain meds? I find making even the simplest decisions almost impossible. I don't see my employer being able to accomodate me if I can only lift 10-15 lbs. No wonder the surgeons were so elusive when I asked them about that. This is all really very stressful!I know that surgery is inevitable, as I have tried everything else already and have had no relief so far. I am just really scared and need my job to help support my family.
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  • Sorry about the boyfriend comment. I misunderstood!!! Oh, yes. Add pain meds to an attention problem, and you get a "swiss cheese brain". I can hardly remember what I did an hour ago! It does make your mind fuzzier, and if something that I need to do, or need to decide, is important, I write it down. That way I have something to refer to so that I can make sure that I stay on track. In the left column of the page you will see "Private Message". If you'd like, send me a PM and I'd be happy to share all that I can about the fusion or ADHD.

  • Don't go in to it with the pre-conceived notion that you won't be able to lift over 50lbs again. I had a 2 level L4-S1 fusion (360 ALIF) and I can certainly lift more than 50 lbs. Albeit carefully, but your recovery has a lot to do with how you approach it.

    Go into it thinking positively and do exactly what the docs and PT tell you to do.

    Do I still have issues - absolutely. Would I want to lift 50 lbs continuously now, nope. But, go into it thinking that you are going to kick butt and get back as much as you can.

    Talk to your doctor, both PCP and surgeon regarding your ADHD medication. I would suspect there is a happy medium they can decide upon where you will be able to have pain control medication along with taking ADHD medication. My son's doctor is really pushing us in the direction of VyVance (sp?). It is a safer version of medication than the Adderal he is taking now. I just have to convince him to swallow a capsule!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • My Pain Management doc has no clue when it comes to the ADD meds and I'm not currently seeing a surgeon. I'm going to see a psyc soon for the ADD problems. I have read some good reviews on the Vyvanse on addforums.com. You might check it out. I am going for a second opinion on the surgery soon, and I last saw an neuro and ortho team last Novemeber. How long was it before you could return to work?
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  • and the post op instructions were:
    Do nothing for 2 weeks
    2-6 weeks increase activity, but still no bending lifting twisting etc.
    after 6 weeks return to usual activities, if you have an active job with lifting required you will not be able to return to work for at least 3 months.

    That was my instructions, yours may be different, but it gives you a bit of an idea.
    Hope it helped
  • Since you asked for opinions then I will give you my 2 cents. After spine surgery the area below and above the fusion are stressed after surgery, therefor you must follow your doctors instructions. The restrictions in the previous post are pretty good to go by. My thoughts on this matter is if you try to lift 50 pounds after 3 months the chances you will herniated another disk are pretty great. Some fusions take longer the 3 months in the lumbar area. You will be risking having multiples spine surgeries by lifting 50 pounds after a fusion with in the first year. Everyone is different and there may be a back brace you can wear to your job also. I would follow your doctors advice only however. Us spinal patients are just living the experience and not 2 people are the same.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • That was just what I was looking for.Thank you
  • I was back to work at 6 weeks after my fusion. I should have waited a bit longer before going back. However, I stayed in rehab almost 5 months after surgery. I was feeling preety good until I got into "Work Conditioning". That was a 2 week session, 3 hours a day. I am of the opinion that is what caused me to start hurting again. There was a lot of BLT and weight lifting. It was all supervised and the rule was it you begin to hurt, stop. But after two straight weeks of it, I was living on pain meds again. I was fused before they let me begin that program.

    Probably the best advice I can give you is that if it doesn't feel right or you think something isn't a smart move to make, don't do it! Gradually go back into things.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • well after my fusion of S1 L3 L5 L5 with all the hardware the Drs. told me that I may be able to lift 10 to 20 lbs and no more for the rest of my life I am just 3 months out of surgery both feet are tingly and numb also left leg they still do not want me to drive so heavy duty work will never be any more for me I have to change the way I do things for ever just be carefull everyone is diffrent on how they heal Hope you all the luck and take care of the boys
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