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Any firefighters have fusion and back to work?

firemankenffiremanken Posts: 7
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Lower Back Pain

I had a L4-L5 fusion with hardware four weeks ago. I am still having a lot of lower back pain with numbness and tingling in both legs. I also have right leg pain and right leg foot drop. My doctor sent me to therapy 3 days a week two weeks after surgery. Some of the movements I can do but no usually pain free. I've had a setback this weekend with increased pain, more problems with the foot drop and swelling near the incision. I feel like I'm a webble and I have to concentrate on every step I take. I have an appointment with the doctor tomorrow. I'd like to have him schedule an EMG.

That was a little background but my real question is any firefighers who have had a fusion. I have been on the job for 20 years and before surgery I asked the doc about going back to work he said "we'll see". What is your work status? Did you have to retire or are you back to work?



  • Ken,

    The answer is maybe. See how therapy goes and how the spine heals. You need at least 6-12 months for the spine to fuse up and support weight beyond you own. If you're used to jump into burning buildings and carrying people out with you. You maybe asking too much. That level when fused will create some level of limitation on flexion. You have to pass the PT test and you know what the tough parts are. A friend had a 2 level ADR and he can't do what he loves to do anymore. A single level fusion. May not be a show stopper.

    I would suggest that you make a backup plan for what you can do if you can't return to what you did before. With your experience you have a lot to share to new guys to help make them smart and save their lives. So think about what else you could do if you can't pass the physical. Also check with the insurance company. They have some say over whether you can return to certain jobs after certain surgeries.

    Good luck and thank you for you years of service. Some of us do appreciate it!!!

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