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Post-Op Recovery Tips?

Hello everyone!

I'm currently 11 days post an L-5 S-1 spinal fusion for the second time (the first one failed) and want more than anything for this one to heal correctly, quick as possible, and permanently. I'm just wondering what some helpful things to do during this time to help my back heal as well as possible. I'm in a back brace and wheel chair currently, but literally any suggestions would be wonderful!

Thank you,

Gabrielle Catania


  • Are you wearing a bone stimulator? I wore one for a solid 6 months... but found out yesterday I need to start back. I'd ask about it for sure if you don't have one. Obviously smoking is horrible for fusion.... and so are all NSAIDs, but you probably know to stay away from those things. I've also read limiting caffeine can help with fusion. Hope you are out of the wheel chair soon....
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Hi Gabriella

    Your story sounds like mine!

    After my redo for a failed and infected PLIF I also had the rigid brace 24/7 for 3 months. However uncomfortable, wear it! I had a loose screw for months and the brace kept things steady enough so I could (and did) fuse/

    I stuck to my docs recommendations to the letter: Started walking at 10 days out (limited to a few sessions a day), then steadily increasing to 3 daily miles at 4 weeks. Your doc will help you set the right goals.

    I was given very simple PT to do and weaned off narcotics very quickly. I think this helped a lot with having a clear head to plan my activities! Sitting was actually the most difficult thing to step up and soft lounge chairs or sofas killers.

    The most useful things for me were:

    1. The satin-sheet on the bed and learning an ace log-roll technique
    2. A grabber
    3. A bottom-wiper
    4. A shower chair and soap on a rope
    5. A wheelchair memory foam cushion on a hard straight backed chair.
    6. A fuelband to track my real level of activity.

    For me, going back to work at 12 weeks was definitely a factor in healing my back. Having something else to focus on and the self-worth that work brings helped me get over glitches and setbacks more easily, because the back just takes the time it needs to heal. My doctor worked with me to design a pacing program for work:- work 6 weeks, take one week off, rest days after flights and so on, and it helped me wonderfully through the fatigue that is inevitable.

    All the best on your recovery journey!
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