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when were you pain free after fusion surgery

L5S1LL5S1 Posts: 51
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi all fusion survivors:

I had a L4-S1 TLIF almost 3 months ago.

My morning pain and stiffness has been awful (about a 6-7) and I'm still on all my post-surgery meds. During the day when I'm up and about I'm in minimal pain (2-3). At two months the 'during the day' pain was almost down to zero, but then I took off my brace and started PT so the pain crept back up.

So, when does the pain end? When docs/people says that the recovery can take up to a year. They're talking about the fusing, but how long does it take for the pain/stiffness to heal?

Do you remember how long you were in pain after your fusion surgery? When were you finally off your meds?

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13

Comments

  • I didn't,wouldn't and am not pain free after 18 months. I don't really believe that is going to happen. "Pain free" is a marketing thing.

    The stiffness. Forget it. you'll always have stiffness. Those basic stretching exercises you learned in PT to stretch your back and remove stiffness. Those are now your life long friend. Do them every day. It makes moving after waking much better.

    Now that said, and that is more of a 'my reality check". My pain levels since the surgery are 80% better. I'm fused and released from his care. I'm not filled on pain, nerve, killers and taking depression meds like many. I take a low dose hydrocodone or advil some days. I work out 4-6 days a week. I'm doing almost anything I want. My quality of life is significantly better.

    If you were told to expect a 0-1 pain level all the time. Someone told you a lie...
  • Glad someone asked this question. Today is exactly four weeks since my laminectomy and two level lumbar fusion. My pain is about a 2 when moving. Zero pain when still. I am taking Vicodin in the afternoon and at bedtime. I am glad I got the surgery. My sciatica pain was really bad, and now it is all gone. I just hate wearing my brace, but I live with it. L5S1, I hope your pain continues to diminish.
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  • I'm not sure you'll get a true answer to your question because, for those people who are completely pain free, they may not visit this forum any more.

    Having said that, I was pain free after the initial operation healing from 2 level PLIF last July. It lasted for 6 weeks and I thought it was a walk in the park.

    However, it's now been about 9 months post-op and I'm back on the same meds I was on before the fusion. I've also got other pain issues going on that are being investigated and, to be honest, my overall health isn't so marvellous either. Ha! I'm just cracking up.

    At my last visit to my local doctor, he said that in his opinion, he now thinks that I'll have this back pain for the rest of my life now. That's definitely not something I want to hear, especially as I'm trying so hard to overcome it with pain meds, positive attitude, spine injections, gym exercise to strengthen my back etc. etc. So I'm still living in hope that I WILL be pain free after my fusion surgery - eventually!!!!
    SUE
    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 !!
  • I agree with Sue those that are here still have problems therfore your answer will be skewed to the negative.
    As for myself it's been 18 months I have a non-union I'm still in pain but not as bad as prior to surgery.I got away from taking meds on a regular basis 3 weeks post op now I only take oxy on an as needed basis.
  • I'm one of the relatively pain free fusion survivors. I'm now 17 months out and life keeps on getting better and I'm a lot stronger.

    It took 6-7 months for most of the post-op pain to go. I was then able to gradually increase my activities. I was on the strong pain meds for about 3 months and then paracetamol after that. My surgeon aims for 80% - 90% reduction in pain, and I'm about 90%.

    Are you able to walk around the block? That'll help loosen you up as well as regular gentle stretching. Even now, if I sleep reasonably well, I have pain and stiffness when I wake up. Once I start moving around, then it gradually eases and then I can take the dogs out for their walk over the park.

    With the physio, I had to modify the exercises to suit. I still can't lie on the floor and do those exercises on my bed. Some people put a pillow under their back, but I find it easier on the bed.

    Trish












    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
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  • It took me 6 months until the pain was tolerable enough to start tapering off the pain meds.

    By 7 months I was off all pain meds and most of the post-op pain was gone.

    Now, at 9 months I am totally pain free.

    FYI - Everyone's recovery is different and most of the people that I spoke to did not need strong pain meds after about 3 months which is why I was so worried and posted my original question. Unfortunately, others never get pain free and need to remain on pain meds indefinitely.
  • Hi. I had a fusion of L5 S1 and discectomy at the end of July. I had no pain apart from the wound site, was sent home 2 days after the op with just paracetamol and diclofenac and I only took paracetamol for a couple of weeks and then stopped. Since then I have had no real pain unless I overdo things. I was walking 5 miles a day on the treadmill until a week ago but have reduced that as I had a week of niggling pain which has now gone. The fusion has corrected the vertebrae slippage from before the op so I can now sleep lying down without my muscles seizing and the morning stiffness has disappeared. I was told mine was a mechanical problem due to the lack of disc and so the fusion has stabilised the area.

    Meryl
  • noni9nnoni9 Bend, ORPosts: 2
    Five weeks out from L4-S1 spinal fusion. In so much pain, I can't stand to walk in the hall of apartment. I've been out of Percocet for 36 hours. When will the pain end. My daughter says I should be off pain meds and able to walk 3000 steps per day. I am so depressed.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,248
    Hello noni......
    I am sorry to hear how miserable you must be feeling.

    As you have added onto a very old discussion thread......may I please suggest you start your own discussion?
    More members will see you there and be able to comment with their shared experiences.
    Sue
    Spine-Health Moderator
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 901

    Dona

    Don't be depressed a LOT of people have a lot of pain and are on pain meds for many months after fusion surgery...  it's a BIG surgery... and 5 weeks isn't really that long.  You can see from the posts above a lot of people were on pain meds 6 months or more after surgery... and in my case I was on pain meds for 4 months before my inflamed nerves finally calmed down enough to get off them.  Some people are lucky and get of the meds in a couple of weeks but for most it is a lot longer.  For some of the lucky people your daughter is right... they heal super fast... but those cases are very rare... and most folks take a LOT longer.  Everyone is different  and everyone heals at different rates... don't be upset by it that you are taking longer than your daughter expects... it's perfectly normal.  It is good to walk everyday if you can as it will help in rebuilding your back muscle strength... but you need to listen to your body... and walk only as much as you can tolerate slowly building up more and more and step by step as you get stronger. If walking is difficult try small walks 3 times a day instead of once a day as that will give you more distance without the pain.      

    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
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