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restrictions after L5S1 fusion surgery

hend0383hhend0383 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:53 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone,

I am scheduled for L5S1 surgery at the end of July. I have been living with numbness, back and leg pain on both sides for the past 23 years... sometimes debilitating mostly bearable although I think I have just become used to being in pain.

My question is this... After the surgery, what restrictions will I need to observe? I am very active in the gym and love weight training, always being very aware not to do exercises that would aggravate my situation. What daily limitations will I experience? Is fusion at L5S1 a stable area that will not lead to other issues down the road? My concern is that fusion will lead to follow on problems later in life... I only want to do this once... finally what can I do physically and mentally to prepare for the surgery?

Thank you all for you input.



  • Hi,

    I had L5/S1 fusion the end of march this year. Your doctor will tell you when you can get back to weight training. I do core exercises and free weights. You have to start small tho. I also walk and swim. It is wonderful to be weightless. My L5/S1 is the 3rd fusion I have had in 4 years. I had a serious accident being knocked unconscious by an out of control snowboarder (hit & run). I had lots of PT and other things to try and fix my SI joint and back. Then a laminectomy at L4/L5. Then a fusion of L1-L5. And then L5 started slipping this year and had to be fused. My spine was very unstable after the accident and I know people say if you get fused one level it puts pressure on the lever above and below. I know lots of people who have had only one fusion and are fine. I think because my spine was so weakened that the non fused parts just couldn't take the stress. At one point my spine actually started collapsing in on itself (that was when I had L1 to L5 fused; they tried to straighten as best they could but still lost 1/4"). I don't think I am the usual fusion scenario. Like I said lots of people have only one fusion and are fine. It just takes time to heal and you have to respect that. You will get back to your activities, you may have to substitute other things for awhile or scale back. Good luck!!


    Spinal stenosis, spondolysis, spondolythesis, L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion with instrumentation and bone graft from hip, L1/S1 fusion with replacement disc put in and a nice bolt from my spine to my pelvis; PT, accupuncture, prolotherapy, many cortisone injections, 4 rhizotomies. Currently on tramadol.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • I've finally decided to go for an L5S1 fusion July 5. Since this will be my first spine surgery I too want to know what happens next.

    Disability retirement
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  • Hello All! I've had multi- levels done. What I can tell you is NO LIFTING of anything heavier than a gallon of milk for several weeks. Your DR. and PT will guide you on progression of activities. Walking is about the only activity at first. You will see what you will be able to do as well. Some people are very debilitated before surg. and have to progress slowly, but it sounds as though you are in great shape,so recovery will be better too. Going up and down stairs is difficult, walking long distances, sitting for long periods. Bending and twisting are restricted also, so activities that require that are limited. I must tell you from my experience that you can't overdo anything, don't push your body beyond what it's telling you or you will pay the price. For example, I would try to mop the floors and do a few too many loads of wash and I would be practically bed-ridden for the next day. LISTEN to your body, You will learn as you go along what you can and can't do.Core strenghtening exercises are great,but ask your physical therapist what you can do. Your job immed. post-op is to heal and rest. If you are a type A like me it was hard to adjust to at first. Look at this time as an opportunity to catch up on all those books and TiVoed shows you've been meaning to watch. You deserve it. Best Wishes for your recovery!
  • I am not in too bad shape physically even though I don't exercise anywhere enough. The only thing slowing me down these days is back pain and pain meds.

    I too am a Type A personality and already cannot sit still when there's nothing for me to do. However, I do have a couple of hobbies that force me to stay in one spot for sometimes hours on end. I'm hoping that I'll be able to focus on these activities (when I'm not rehabing) to keep my mind occupied.

    Disability retirement
  • I think you will be fine--the first 3 months are the toughest--but manageable--get a hospital bed for first month, esp if you have a two story home.

    All good advice above

    One thing to note--L5-S1 is low in the spine and not as susceptible to movement as higher vertabrae. So, a good chance with following DR's advice and advice here you will do well.

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  • Thanks for your comments. On a bad day I can't wait for the surgery. On a tolerable day I ask what's my hurry. On a good day, who knows? I don't really have good days. Every positive comment helps me to come to terms with the necessity for surgery.

    Disability retirement
  • Hey guys i read your forum and decided to chime in.Looks like a few of us will be going through this around the same time,I also have surgery scheduled for July.Not sure on the day yet. I am having L5/S1 fusion with ADR L5/L4. Good Luck to us all.
  • I am supposed to have ALIF S1-L5 on June 6 (although the hospital called me and they think its June 8 which is a problem I have to work out tomorrow) and I am getting nervous. I also wonder about the recovery period. But, honestly, when I heard the hospital has possibly messed up the date and I may not have the surgery as schedule I started to cry like big baby. I didn't realize until then how much I was hoping for it so I could be in less pain. I am in so much pain. I don't take any painkillers. I am even allergic to NSAIDs which leaves me with nothing. I can't stand it anymore.
  • had the surgery April 4th followed all the rules,haven't exercised for over 2 months, started PT last week and I am in such agony, can't stand or walk still taking hydrocodone, doesn't work. HELP, is this a common problem? Had this pain 10 months before going for surgery; and now it's back with a vengeance.
  • My advice to anyone feeling unusual or relentless pain is to call your Dr. until you get some kind of satisfaction. Hulaw.. you can get a nerve block or cortisone injection to tide you over. You can be referred by your surgeon or sometimes they can do it themselves. I was in the same boat as you. Prior to my surg. my surgeon sent me right to a Dr. in his bldg. that day and I made the arraignment for later that week and I had a nerve block in my spine. I don't know what I would have done otherwise.And pain-in-the-leg,what did they do to you in PT? You are never supposed to come out afterwards with more pain than you started,as I always say "If you feel like something is wrong then it is". ASK, talk to your physical therapist and surgeon.Maybe are you doing too much at home or work. I know that this far out after surgery your pain level should be dropping down. Call you Dr. tomorrow, I am concerned for you being in so much pain. Hend,haven't forgotten about you...I came on to see if you had anymore questions. Hope you are feeling better.
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