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X-ray and PT q

killian123kkillian123 Posts: 20
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
So I’m 5 weeks post op from a L5/S1 posterior fusion with hardware and was wondering how long it normally takes for the fusion to actually “fuse”. I was told roughly 6 weeks but I’ve been getting lots of conflicting answers. I would ask my Neurosurgeon, but he is away due to family issues and I don’t know when I should be getting x-rays done. My GP hasn’t been much help..

Also a question regarding physio…Aside from strengthening core muscles, walking lots, and stretching, what more does a physiotherapist do for lumbar fusions? I ask this only because my surgery was not an insurable case, therefore iam flipping the bill for all related expenses.

Thanks in advance and speedy recoveries and best wishes to all


  • I've never heard of anyone fusing in as little as 6 weeks. Maybe 6 months to a year is more like the time frame but keep in mind that each of us fuse at a different rate of time.

    You are pretty on the money with the PT. They start you off slowly and then increase the duration and number of reps they have you do. They tend to ad moist heat at the beginning of each session and ice at the end. Don't discount the instruction and knowledge they can provide. I was in your situation and ended up only going once a week to cut expenses. You have to be a very self motivated person to do all the exercises on your own at home, but it can be done. They also do ultrasound and message the muscles around the back.

  • I did research b/c I was facing fusion or revision MicroD.

    The EARLIEST fusion will START is 6-weeks but will take 6 months to a year to fully fuse. I could be a little off but basically it varies.

    Some key tips - do not take ibuprofin or smoke. They both inhibit fusion from what I read and was told. Of course I'm not a doctor.

    As for PT, some of the doctors said 3 weeks post op they would start aqua therapy depending on how I was doing and other wouldn't consider it until at least 6 weeks. On this one, I'll defer to others that have actually had a fusion.
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  • I have never heard of fusion that soon either. My physiacn said xrays at 6 weeks would probably not show any signs of fusion but do at that point to make sure nothing is wrong. The next xrays are at 12 weeks and said can sometimes see start of fusion. But I believe it takes months for a full fusion and looks like we all get there at different rates.
    As far as PT I agree with David that if you could swing 1x a week and do the instructions they give could help you move along quicker in your recovery. I think it depends alot on how decompensated your body was pre-op.Just with leaning over slightly now it doesn't feel like my back is ever going to bend again!!

  • Thanks for the info..yeah i messed up with the weeks and months..Good advice Dave, I was in good shape before my surgery so I think i will try to do the majority at home. Another reason is that iam an hour outta town..truck drinks alot of gas.
    Thanks again
  • A good PT will teach you a plan. They know you can't afford to pay out-of-pocket and will work with you. I would recommend spending 2-3 sessions with them at first so they can evaluate you as you start the exercises. Then go back every 2-3 weeks so they can see how you are doing and correct your mistakes.

    PTs in my opinion are better than any doctor at evaluating your strengths and weaknesses. Any chance of getting a tens unit for home? That is the biggest thing you will miss without PT. Talk to your doc and PT and see if you can work something out.
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