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Sixth Month Anniversary of Surgery - Still with significant pain

forneyfraufforneyfrau Posts: 16
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I've just made the 6 month anniversary of my surgery. I had hoped by now that I would be in very good condition and without pain. I had a TLIF in June of this year on my T11-L1. It's an area that's rather unusual to the other posts that I have read. The surgery went well and I stayed out of work for 8 weeks. I am a school teacher and have returned to work full time as of August. I find that by the end of the day that my back muscles are very sore and often times tighten up without reason. I have significant soreness by the end of the day and definitely know that I am not normal, as in it's no doubt that I've had a significant surgery. Housework seems overwhelming particularly after a long day at work. I go back to the surgeon on Wednesday. I had an xray today to check the progress, and from what I can tell, everything is in place. I just wish I could shed this soreness in my back.

Is there anyone out there either at the same stage as me or just beyond this stage that can enlighten me and let me know if what I'm experiencing is normal? When can I hope to feel quasi-normal?

I want to get back to other activities that I've been avoiding, such as biking, exercising fully, etc. Does it take a full year to get back to doing this?

I am not on pain medications any more. It seems that my dr. doesn't want to offer me anymore of them because he hasn't ok'ed a refill since August despite the fact that I tell him I have serious aches and pains.

Do I just have to "suck it up" and take the pain as part of the status quo now?

Any input appreciated--


  • I think you are correct in that very few of us on the board have any experience with surgery in that middle region. I'm sorry I cannot help in that regard.

    I can tell you that at six months I was quite a bit better, but did not really have my usual energy back. My son was married at my six month mark and I remember that I could only manage three or four hours at a time before I was pretty worn out. Of course a lot of the stamina depends on for how long one is laid up prior to the surgery. It can take a year until the fusion is solid and strong. Until that time, I think the body still devotes some of its energy to the healing process.

    Some surgeons do not handle pain medication after a certain point in recovery -- 6 weeks, 3 months, etc. It differs from one to another. Some discharge their patients at six months while others are more interested or willing to follow their patients longer. Perhaps you might want to start seeing an interventional pain management doctor for your continuing pain...or a physiatrist -- a doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation. This specialty deals with getting people back on their feet and back to functioning as well as possible. They do all the things a PM doc does,can prescribe medications, they do injections, nerve blocks, etc. They have more tricks in their bag than just prescribing drugs. Some specialize in spinal cases.

    It is likely that your surgeon will evaluate you and may release you to begin some of those activities you mentioned.

    I hope someone on the board will be familiar with the type of problems you had.

    Good luck with your upcoming appointment.

  • I am also unfortunately unfamiliar with fusion in that region of the back. I have talked a good bit about muscular recovery with my PT, and he has said that it can easily take 12 months to get through all the muscle spasms and fatigue issues.

    Have you asked your surgeon about a muscle relaxer? I came off all my pain meds at 2 months post-op because my surgeon said that his patients do much better off of them. It's great being off the pain meds, but I felt like I needed something for the days when my back muscles are really aggravated so my surgeon has remained willing to prescribe me a muscle relaxer to take as needed. For me that makes a world of difference. You might give that a try. If your surgeon is unwilling to prescribe even a muscle relaxer it might be time to give pain management a go as gwennie suggested.

    Congrats on reaching 6 months!
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