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Has anyone stayed active after lumbar fusion

I just wanted to see how active people were able to stay after a lumbar fusion. Right now my activity level is next to zero, but I'm looking at a 2 level fusion L4/L5 L5/S1 and would like to return to fishing and possibly hiking in the future and wondering what your activity level was post fusion.
Microdiscectomy/Laminectomy/Foraminalectoy L4/L5/S1 Oct 2009, Mar 2012
Laminectomy L4/L5/S1 Dec 2009, Oct 2012, Dec 2012
Microdiscectomy and Synovial Cyst removal Feb 2013
St Jude Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted January 2014



  • I had a PLIF of L4 / S1 in February this year, and have tried to increase my mobility levels from about 1 week post op from very short walks through until 6 weeks plus post op where distances gradually increased. It hasn't been without problems, and think that's pretty typical of the ups and downs such surgery entails. I started back at the golf course from about 10 weeks post op, initially just walking but by week 12 or so I was beginning to take shots. I am now almost 6 months post op, and I do play a full 18 holes which equates to a 16 km walk over the course of 4+ hours. I try to walk about 5 km per day if possible, however I have to say that regardless of how much activity I do / don't do, I still suffer with residual back pain, and nerve pain which seems to get inflamed through activity. My surgeon at my 5 month follow up was extremely happy with my progress, especially given my surgery was a revision from previous surgery in 1997.

    Hope this helps give some idea of activity progression, of course everyone is different, and I certainly don't consider myself healed at this stage, but certainly a vast improvement to pre surgery levels, and hopefully things will continue to improve over the next 12 - 18 months :-)

  • It took me 18 months to get back to my abnormally normal self. Today, I walk, do floor exercises, play golf like Nick, better I hope, travel, and just about anything a 64 year old guy can do. I will always have trouble with standing, like in a line, and my back muscles get fatigued in the evening. I'm lucky because no matter how much I overdo it, the next day I'm recovered.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
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  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 08/06/2013 - 9:51 AM
    I had a decompression and PLIF fusion of L4/5 done over 3 years ago.
    At 3 weeks after my fusion I could walk about a mile.

    I am now able to move about well. It is standing for very long that does still give me problems. I think that may be coming from other levels of my spine. I have a small spinal canal and many degenerated discs, facet joints and bony spurs.

    I find that if I keep moving I am most comfortable.
    I do have problems in my neck and thoracic spine too and had a 2 level ACDF in November last year, and do have other degenerated levels in my neck. I am pleased with how much better I am now and am hoping to join a Pilates class soon. At the moment I am doing 1:1 Pilates with the instructor. My surgeon gave me the all clear for this although he did say that it must be a Clinical Pilates class and I must let the instructor know about my various problems.

  • to reply to the question asking if anyone has stayed active after a lumbar fusion. well in april i was in a bad car accident which broke my sternum, 6ribs and breast bones and 2 of my vertebrea t11-t12 broken so bad they were basically exploded. i was paralyzed from spinal shock but as i was pulled up and out of the car it somehow uncompressed my vertebrea from my spinal cord and thank god i can walk allthough my doctors never seen a patiant with my injuries ever walk again and the most hes ever done for anyone with my injuries was to do a spinal fusion just to get the patient able to sit upright in a wheelchair. as for being active after my 6 vertebreas were fused well for me ive been able ti go fishing walks play with my 3 yr old and pretty much everything i did before. i do rely on pain meds due to severe nerve damage pain. my main problems are that i cant turn or twist or bend as far as i used to. i cant pick anything up tho or it will cause me pain for a few days and i have more restrictions then a typical spinal fusion from scoliosis patients because of being that i have a broken back and sevvered back muscles so i had cadavver bone graft and ligament n tissue put in. night time is depressing due to only laying on my back because if i lay on my side its too painful and very uncomfortable and causes way worse nerve damage. my body is very sore in the morning and i do have to rotate from sitting and laying positions all day but if u didnt break your back and have many other injuries and are having the fusion to limit movement to help your pain then i think u will be just fine and right back to your usual activities with a bit of getting use to the new limits of spinal motion that u will have.
    spinal fusion t9-l2 and spinal cord injury

  • You have certainly had some awful problems with your spine. It does sound like you have had an amazing recovery from what could have been very serious spinal injury.

    How long ago was your car accident? Do they expect that you will get further improvement still? Mind you, you have already changed their expectations of your recovery so perhaps you will do that again. :-)

    I think reading your story will encourage many other members who are facing spinal surgery.
    I know that thoracic surgery is very hard to recover from and very painful.

    I really hope that you will find that you can get more comfortable at night to improve your sleeping. I assume that you already have a pillow under your knees.
    I hope that you have a grabber to help you pick things up.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that being able to talk to other spine sufferers will help and encourage you too.

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  • backache99backache99 Posts: 1,314
    edited 08/13/2013 - 5:10 PM
    and most of the people that I thought would reply to it have {well done guys} have I stayed active since my ALIF .that's a big fat NO ..the last 18 months of my life have BEEN ( edited by Spine Health Moderation Team- please review the forum guidelines) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.the operation has left me with permanent lower back ache ..so bad that I can't even lay on my bed or recliner .I feel ill all the time and now I have bowel problems {I think brought on since the and due to the abdominal approach to the surgery } don't get me wrong I had a fantastic consultant but on reflection I was not a suitable candidate for this massive operation ..I was turned down by at least 4 other consultants and now I know why ..I am in pain 24/7 and life is so bad right now .again don't get me wrong .I am VERY LUCKY I have a fantastic wife and lovely home and a 4x4 so not doing so bad but I can't enjoy any of it as I am excluded from everything due to the crippling pain .i hate being this way .I hope your operation goes well .but remember things can and do go wrong
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Had plif on 6/12/13 and my lumbar spine feels great. Off pain meds at 2 weeks. Small amount of tightness at the incision. 8 weeks post op today and Dr says everything looks great. I also had acdf on 7/17/13 so still recovering some from that. Walking 2 miles per day now. Going back to work and starting PT in 2 weeks and I do not have a desk job. Can't wait to go back to the gym. Not sure if I'll be able to run again but I'm hoping!! Good luck to you!
    PLIF L5/S1 fusion 6/12/13
    ACDF 5-7 7/17/13
    44 year old Mom of 10 and 12 year old girls, full time veterinary technician.
  • So I got a second opinion from a new doc the end of last week, as of now I'm leaning towards a neuro stimulator. So no fusion at least for now, I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Thanks for all the replies anyway.
    Microdiscectomy/Laminectomy/Foraminalectoy L4/L5/S1 Oct 2009, Mar 2012
    Laminectomy L4/L5/S1 Dec 2009, Oct 2012, Dec 2012
    Microdiscectomy and Synovial Cyst removal Feb 2013
    St Jude Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted January 2014

  • I'm 16 weeks out from lumbar fusion (L4/L5) and feeling great! My activity level before surgery was low since everything hurt. I've been able to get my life back on track since about the 6 week point. I'm walking anywhere from 45-60 minutes a day. I was recently pulled behind a boat in a tube (very carefully), was able to ride a jet ski and went tubing down a river! I've gone on vacation (6 hours on a plane) and feel better than I have in years! I feel incredibly blessed to be one of the lucky ones and hope I can encourage others. I was so afraid to have the surgery and eventually decided that I just HAD to take the chance and I'm so glad I did. Best of luck to you!
    Lumbar laminectomy L-4/L-5, 2006
    XLIF with posterior pedicle screws L-4/L-5, 4-23-2013
  • In 2000, at age 39, following "surgically successful" L4/5/S1 fusion, it took me 18 months to 2 years to get back to some semblance of normal. LONG journey (battle) to get back to "new" normal. The past 13 years have been a mixed bag of ups and downs with back pain and related since the surgery but all in all it "fixed" the issue at hand - at the time. Now facing a massive resurgence of sciatica and a third surgery for L4/5 "redo" and a L5/S1 decompression. My Dr. said my spine above the fusion, which is really the "work horse" after fusion looks great for 13 years out. Best advice... go at a reasonable pace... don't overdo it... if you're in doubt - don't lift it, move it, or do it! Not sure when your surgery is, or your age or general health, but assuming a highly skilled surgeon, successful fusion, and properly paced recovery plan, there's no reason you couldn't get back to fishing and "reasonable" hiking. Age, present health, activity level, muscle conditioning, etc, all play a part in recovery. Good luck!
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