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Multi-level lumbar fusion - now 2 months post-op - Question?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,550
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello to everyone,

I had a lumbar fusion at three levels (L3 to S1) with instrumentation on June 13th (they used bone from laminectomy at all levels and cadaver to perform fusion). My surgeon dealt with lots of scar tissue from a prior diskectomy and foramintomy (in 2002), and so I was on the operating table for a total of 7 hours.

Doing well (I think so anyway) overall, but still have variable nerve pain in right ankle, right lower calf, and (sometimes) right hamstring and glutes. Some discomfort (not always pain) in lower back...have difficulty sitting for long periods of time (I sit for hours at work)...have lots of difficulty getting up from lying position.

I must say that I have been challenged physically to get back to work - i.e., stamina has been a real issue here. Mentally, I have been ready for a couple of weeks (one can only watch so many episodes M*A*S*H - I'm now into the fourth season!)...I am very curious as to what other folks may have experienced in terms of return to work timelines, particularly with an office-type job (no lifting, etc - only sitting for hours on end in front of a computer)?

BTW, I am not an M.D...I have a Ph.D...


  • I'm not as far along as you are by a long shot.

    I do know that my NS has told me that sitting for more than 20 miuntes per hour is not good the first few weeks, then moving up to 40 minutes per hour.

    I also will not be allowed to lift or twist for probably 3 months.

    Good luck! I'm going to borrow Gilmore Girls and watch that series! I think I've already seen every M*a*s*h episode there ever was! LOL
  • Hi, thanks so much for the reply!

    I have read your other posting - it sounds as if you are presently doing remarkably well! Continued best wishes for recovery!

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  • Hello MSG,

    Did you really had your surgery on June 13? That makes you only 5 1/2 weeks post-op, not two months and it is still very early in your recovery, especially after having three-level fusion. I had an identical surgery to yours (L3-S1) on May 1, so I am about six weeks ahead of you in recovery.

    As well as I am, I still don't have the same stamina as pre-surgery. It gets better day by day, but I still get very tired after doing just regular stuff.

    You said that sitting tires you out, well at this stage of your recovery perhaps you should not sit longer than 20-25 minutes without moving around. Finding a comfortable chair with straight back support is also very important. I can now sit without constraints, although I feel better getting up once in a while and moving around.

    As far as your difficulties getting up from lying position, I wonder, what kind of a bed do you have? Is it comfortable enough? At first I was uncomfortable in my firm bed, but once we purchased a 3' memory Foam things got better. Also, in what position do you sleep? Maybe trying a different position would help.

    You probably know, that walking is your best exercise. I find that walking a lot makes helping me greatly in my recovery.

    Hopefully, once your nerves regenerate, your nerve pain should get better. If not, your doctor should deal with it.

    Wishing you the best in your recovery.

    Take care,

  • Hi Kin,

    Thanks so much for your response. You are right that I am only 5 and 1/2 weeks out (I suppose 2 months is wishful thinking!)...

    I have difficulty getting up from either sitting or lying positions, actually...however, I do think that this is part of the healing process. My wife and I do need to explore purchase of a new mattress, as I think the mattress I have (while only 4 years old) is far too soft. However, the bed is higher than most, so that helps some.

    It's really good to hear your positive thoughts - and to have a comparison with someone who had essentially the same surgery as I have had. And yes, walking is great, although I still wish I could break out into at least a jog (or better yet, a run)...I used to be a prolific runner in my 20's and 30's. But need to look forward now, put away the running shoes, and get a good pair of walking shoes. Thanks again, and I wish you well also! :)

  • Mike -

    My husband is 15 weeks out form a L2-5 posterior fusion w/ L4-5 TLIF. Based on my expereince observing him, you seem to be "on schedule". We thought we knew and understood how difficult a recovery this would be, but it is harder than we expected. Every day:
    * Do the right things: calcium, walking, etc
    * Avoid the wrong thisngs: no BLT
    * Keep the faith: stay patient, be positive

    Best wishes for continued recovery. Terri
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  • Mike, I am nearly 12 weeks with the same surgery. Though I had a very bad scoliosis and that had to be corrected as well so my surgety was 12 1/2 hrs. 10 days hosp 2 weeks rehab.
    Currently I am having a few problems and I am trying to work out what is the cause.
    I am having quite a bit of pain in my right side (the left is perfect)but this is only on movement. If I stay still it is fine. Sometimes I can walk it out other times it is so sharp that I cant. I am seeing the Surgeon for a check up this week to get to the (pun intended) bottom of it. :D
    I actually think it may be my lounge chair. I had an extra cushion made for firmness and height and this was good initially but maybe it needs to be repaced. That is a guess as I cant work out anything else.
    When I saw him at 6 weeks I was doing really well, with only minor pain and I had come off most of my meds. Sleeping and energy levels were my biggest problem, though I have since discovered that I am still quite anaemic from the surgery -so that explans the tiredness.Mind you if I had a job I would not have been ready to go back to it- so kudos to you for doing that.

    Let us know how you are progressing
    Blessings Sara
  • I had a 2 level TLIF and was out for 14 wks before returning to work. I had some of the same nerve discomforts in my legs as you are having and began taking Lyrica 75 mg 3 times a day and that did the trick. I am currently still taking Lyrica at 5 1/2 months post op. I did do physical therapy for about 3 wks before returning to work which I think helped me out. It was tough for a few wks until I built up my stamina in working 12 hr days. I still wear my stimulator 4 hrs a day and hopefully get to rid it next month after my follow up. Don't rush things and enjoy the rest while your body needs it. Good Luck!

  • It's been 8 weeks and i have not returned to work. I feel great, I just don't feel like going back. well maybe this week, But I have been recovering nicely. I am feeling like nothing happened to me, expect for when I got to pick up something off the floor. I use my legs in a squatting position to pick it up, I am thankful to have been a personal trainer it makes it much easier. But two weeks after surgery, sometimes I sat for 1 hr while using my bone stimulator because I couldn't wear it in the bed.

    Physical Therapy is very good though.
  • I want to thank you (Kin, Terri, Sara, Keith, and Phil) for your very helpful responses and kind words.

    I also wish the best in recovery for all of you! ;)

  • I am now three months post-op from a fusion from S1 to T10. The procedure went very well and I have been pretty much pain free. I do well until about mid-afternoon. In the evening the lower back starts to ache a bit. I too have had a loss of stamina, but I think it is coming back. I start out-patient physical therapy next week.
    Good luck
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