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Post L5/S1 fusion - pain when sitting, anyone else?

lynchpinllynchpin Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all.

I'm 2 months out of an L5/S1 fusion. The pain has died off to a very minor ache I get at times, which can be addressed by lying down usually. When I sit to eat meals I find that I develop an ache in what feels to be the fusion site, which I'm assuming is pretty normal. I was just wondering, how long did people find that this persisted?

Any other info would be great. Thanks.


  • Hmm, I can't really remember anything like that but I can say that for ages after (and still now really, 11 months post op) I have to sit with really good posture or I start to hurt. I couldn't sit on soft/low seats for months but I guess your dining chairs are firm? I did find that sitting at the right position to eat but still keeping good posture was a bit tricky sometimes - I spilt even more food down myself then normal ;)

    People have commented on my "good posture" since the op. Maybe I should have learnt it before...
  • It's been 10 weeks since my 2-level fusion and I also experience pain if I sit for too long. It's usually at the base of L5-S1. And, like you, I have to lay down to relieve it.

    Maybe I sit down for too long? I went out for lunch yesterday and sat for about 1 hour. Then, last night, I was sitting more upright in bed to watch the tv (with extra pillows, 2 more than usual) and felt the repercussions all blimming night! I couldn't get comfortable and felt very stiff and sore throughout the night and especially this morning. Pain meds (again) have helped.

    Sleeping at the best of times isn't good at the moment. I'm still waking up after one and a half hours due to niggling back pain. Perhaps I shouldn't be sleeping on my tummy? I don't like sleeping on my back or side for some reason.

    I hope I can sort this out before Monday 4 October, as I'll be going back to work. There's nothing worse than working after you've had an awful nights' sleep.

    I can sympthathise with you Lynchpin. Let's hope it all settles down for all of us soon eh?
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
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  • Hi lynchpin,

    I am one year out and sitting is still a major issue for me. I am able to sit longer than right after my surgery, but I still get pain if I sit at the dining room table or sit too long at my desk. I brought the sitting issue up with my surgeon at my one year checkup, as it is still a concern, and he told me that sitting puts a lot of pressure on the back (specifically the lower spine), but it may improve. I took the "may" part to mean it may also never be great.

    I hope it gets better for you. Recovery is a long and slow process, but it does get better! Hang in there!! Sounds like you are doing remarkably well for being so early in recovery!

  • this is just for your info, but my Ortho told me only to sit long enough to eat and use the rest room for the fist few months, because of all the pressure it puts on the fusion that is trying to heal. Did your Dr give you any restictions? You are still very early in your recovery, maybe ck with Dr,
  • Hi, I think it's pretty normal. My PLIF surgery was in May and it was a good two to two and a half months before I could sit though a meal without the deep ache. I think it was three and a half months when I sat through my first movie without any pain. Although, sitting for two hours at a time even now (5 months post-op), I am fairly stiff and have to walk around a bit to feel un-stiff. Give it time. I know that's not what you want to hear, but that's the real story. Stay well. Best, mel v.
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  • Reading these comments, I am a little scared about returning to work. I am 6 weeks post 2 level fusion with additional hardware to above adajacent level. My company was bought out in April, and the new company made our start dates the day the merger took place, so did not qualify for FMLA. Thus, I was only granted 6 weeks leave, which means it is time for me to go back to work. I am really scared because I have a desk job that requires me to work on the computer for 8 hours a day! I can get up and take quick breaks, but am really scared I will mess everything up. I do still get numbness and tingling in legs when I sit for too long, and a stinging sensation in my back when I sit too long. Has anyone else experienced this? Any suggestions to prevent damage?
  • My surgeon said sitting will be limited, and just listen to my body and lie down when it gets a bit sore. I was just a little worried, as a lot of people on here seem to be getting back to work while I'm still in quite a bit of discomfort, especially since my job is a sitting-down one.

    I know my situation is a little different to most; with the heap of fusions I had in my upper lumber/thoracic as a child the doc said it's basically like a giant lever working on that joint that's trying to fuse when I move. Must... be... careful!

    @ballmom, from what I've been told by my physio etc, sitting is pretty stressful on the lower back. I'd be speaking to a physio about doing some core muscle exercises to help support your back and take the load off of it - it's kind of like sitting with your stomach muscles clenched, but different muscles to what you'd normally use. Try doing some Googling on "core abdominal" and see what you can find, or hit up your physio if you have one.
  • Hi ballmom,

    Your situation might fall under the Americans w/ Disabilities Act, could your employer get you an adjustable computer station/podium where you can sit/stand as needed?

  • @lynchpin: I was actually very fortunate to come home from the hospital with home PT, so I started core strengthening the week after surgery. I am sure this is how I have been able to recover relatively quickly. I will definitely keep it up though! Thanks for the advice.

    @pfd: I will look into that. I actually work out of my home office, so I can get up and down as needed without much problem.

    I knew going into the surgery it was going to be a tough recovery and I didn't have long to get back to work. I don't think one can fully be prepared for what the recovery is like. So many things come into play, both physically and mentally. This has definitely been a life changing event!
    Good luck to all in recovery!
  • mcriskmmcrisk Posts: 1
    edited 02/27/2013 - 4:03 AM
    Hello everyone. Although I'm new to the whole forum concept, I felt like it was necessary to visit and make a post. I'm not looking for an official diagnosis of my issues, just feedback if anyone has had similar issues.

    Over 6 years ago, I carried 20 loads of gravel in a wheel barrel. That night I began to experience tingling in the sole's of both feet and pain in the L5/S1 area. There is intermittent pain/tinging down the back of both legs however; the most significant problem is sitting and only lying on an ice-pack seems to help. I've had 4 MRI's since 2006 and most recently a discogram at L5/S1 which increased the pain by what seemed 100 fold. I have also been told by multiple neurosurgeons and pain specialists that the vertebrae and discs show no abnormalitites (bulging/herniated) and that the L5/S1 disc is just hypersensitive ... which obviouisly doesn't tell me a whole heck of a lot. Finally, the sitting aspect as mentioned previously causes the greatest amount of pain and I've been forced to use a lumbar cushion wherever I go (work, car, at home, etc...). I have also been through years of physical therapy which have yielded no significant results in addition to an L5/S1 nerve root block this past January which decreased the tingling in my feet but did nothing for the pain.

    To reiterate, I realize this is not a doctor's forum. However; I'm just looking for similar situations and possible pain relieving aids in order to avoid surgery. However; given the 6+ year problem, I am considering surgery because I cannot live like this for the next 30+ years.

    Thank you all for your time.
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