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AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:21 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My Dr. said I could fly. I had a L2-S1 fusions on May 1. Both flights a little over an hour with a 2 hour wait inbetween. Has anyone else flown this soon after surgery and if so did they have problems. I assume going through the screening will not be easy, with walker, and brace full of metal. As it is the plates and cable in my neck always set off the alarm. AA said the walker will either go in the cargo hole or a closet. Also should I ware my ted hose? I sure don't want a blood clot. Hope everyone is having a good day.


  • Hi Maritom,

    I had my surgery exactly the same day as you, but I have not been flying yet. So I let somebody with more experience in that area answer the first part of your question. But as far as the second part, I think - as a general rule - it is always advisable to wear support hose when flying or going on a longer car trip. Especially if your walker may not be with you, you probably will not be able to more around much and it will protect you from deep vein thrombosis. I went to a conference once where a flight attendant advised everybody to use it, as she said one of the most frequent post flight problem is blood clot.

    Have a great and safe time on your trip.

  • We flew from Atlanta to Pittsburgh at just over 3 months. Chris' fusion was one level shorter than yours....his was L2-5. We did not have a connection, but did have 1 hour drives on both ends of the trip. I did everything with the luggage. Our PM doc suggested we order a wheelchair even though Chris can walk b/c he thought it would take some of the stress out of the trip. (Wheelchairs go through special screening and the Atlanta airport can be crazy at times.) I took a small inflatable pillow to put behind Chris' back in my carry-on bag. I also took Chris' meds and his grabber in my carry-on bag. He wore his back brace to fly even though he was no longer wearing it on a regular basis (we just thought it might help)

    The flight to Pittsburgh was ok. Chris has trouble sitting for long but was able to get up frequently. He was beat at the end of the trip. We had to make 3 stops during our hour drive after picking up the rental car and as soon as we got to our destination, he layed down on ice.

    The return trip to Pittsburgh by car was easier (no stops) but the flight home was much more difficult..we had turbulence and the location of our seats made it much more difficult for Chris to walk.

    This last week, at 4 months, we flew again (Atlanta to Raleigh/Durham) to return to see the surgeon. The flights were a bit shorter and the trip in total was a lot easier. This time I took a pillow along for Chris to sit on (donut hole pillow) that seemd to help some as most ariline seats are not very comfortable these days. Chris did not take his back brace for the trip.

    Some key tips:
    1. have someone else handle the luggage
    2. take your meds on the plane - do not pack in your luggage - you may need a little extra pain meds
    3. get seats that allow you to get up easily to walk
    4. order a wheel chair.
    5. avoid flying at peak times if your airport is as bust as ours.

    Take your time. Enjoy your trip. Terri

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  • Ask to preboard that way you will have extra time to settle in to your seat without being rushed.

    Also tell the flight attendant what you are dealing with .
    That way they can give you a seat with extra leg room.

    Heck the flight attendants on my last flight let me lay down on a bed of pillows that they made for me in there work station.

    Take extra meds as you will most likely be sore from moving about the plane.

    Ask your DR for a flight card.
    ( It is a card that states that you are a spinal patient)
    It will help get you through the pre boarding screening much easier.

    Good luck and have a great flight.
  • If you call the airline that your ticket is with and request medical assistance, they will put it in the computer and it will be on the manifest. This saves the hassle of having to tell everyone who is scrambling to do last minute preparations. This will include wheel chair assistance, which is great for preboarding and getting you and your walker through security as well as your escort. So by doing this you simply have to let them know you have arrived and they will take care of your luggage and you.

    I have done many long international flights a month to two months after surgery. My doc is always very good about making sure that I have plenty of muscle relaxers and pain meds for the flight and a few days afterwards.

    The key is, don't be afraid to ask for help from the moment you arrive at the airport.

  • I only ahd a one level fusion but i was flying at week three. I got there early and they let me on the plane before everyone else. As far as metal detectors they did not go off with the new hardare that I have. I just took it easy and made sure that I enough time to get to my next flight and yes it more then likely will wear you out as it did me. I hope this helps.

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  • Thank you for all the advice. Terri, I plan to print your advice out. I love this site.
  • just more encouragement... i flew after 3 months. all the above advice is great. i called ahead and asked for preboarding which helped a lot! and you can get assistance at the security gate as well. i had to learn to ask for help after my surgery which was the hardest part for me. It's not as bad as it sounds. i was actually more comfortable on the plane that i am in a car.
    good luck!
  • I flew 7 hours international at 8 weeks post fusion and second all the good advice from the others here. Key thing during the flight is to get up and move around. And, don't forget your meds!
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • Laying in bed last night I remembered often when I fly and change to the smaller airplanes it requires walking out on the tarmac and climbing up and down the stairs.
    Call AA they were so nice. A disability specialist will call and set up what I need. I do better going up the stairs but often the foot with the nerve damage isn't doing what it should. They also said three of my flights are smaller planes. Oh well it will be all good. I did not want a wheel chair as I thought walking with the walker from plane to plane would be good for me. My husband and kids think this is not one of my better idea. We shall see !!
  • I'm glad that you called the airlines. In June when I came back from the states, the airlines didn't want me climbing stairs even though I said it would be ok. So they had anyone in a wheel chair or that required assistance loaded onto something similar to those trucks they use to load food and they lifted everyone up to the door so they could load first and easy.

    The key is to let the airlines do what they are comfortable with, and they will take great care of you and make your flight as easy as possible. They've even provided me an escort to hold on to walking up and down the isle on the longer flights. Quite remarkable how kind and helpful they have been to me.

    Good luck and have a wonderful trip.

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