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Old 04-16-2005, 07:46 AM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 17
Amica HB User
How long before you began to feel better after fusion??

Hi everyone,
Wondering how soon everyone felt like they had begun to feel better and maybe were going to make it through the recovery period?! I am a little over three weeks post op a posterior L4-5 fusion using BMP. I am doing walking each day but still feel fairly weak. My legs and feet are still not good...lots of tightness, pins and needles, numbness, etc. Seems like more since the surgery. But everyone tells me it takes time for the nerves to heal. This recovery period sure is hard...gets depressing.

Old 04-16-2005, 12:41 PM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Tempe, AZ
Posts: 312
StMishl HB User
Re: How long before you began to feel better after fusion??

Just a quick note (I'm sure others will jump in too) that I think weeks 3-5 were some of the WORST... I felt like I should be feeling better by then, and just wasn't. Everyone had stopped "babying" me (even my mom would ask, "arn't you better YET?!?") and yet I still felt like poop!!

For me it helped to hear over and over that a fusion is a MAJOR surgery and it can take up to a YEAR to feel better. My "surgery pain" was MUCH better at around 6 weeks. I know that getting out a bit helped at around 3-4 weeks, careful trips to Target (not to grocery shop, just to walk -with a friend for help)... for a new pair of sweats or a book. Cabin Fever is BAD.

Pay attention to your body though, and take it easy on yourself - emotionally and physically. Any increased pain or new numbness needs to be addressed w/ your doctor - speaking from experience here - 4 month post fusion L4-L5.

Best wishes for a speedy & complete recovery.
StMishl Failed Bk Fusion, facet joint/hip issues & RA -Wish I could Jump like him!

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Old 04-16-2005, 02:49 PM   #3
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Fl
Posts: 571
Bionicwan HB User
Re: How long before you began to feel better after fusion??


I can really say it no better or more exactly true, than StMishl said it.

your only three weeks out which can seem like an eternity mentally, your at that part where you think you should be seeing bigger and better results and begin to start 2nd guessing everything and wondering the SAME things we all wondered at this point,...I thought I was prepared for the long & slow recovery but when I got a few weeks out I was worried I was NEVER gonna get back to feeling like "me" again.

Excellent for you to get out a little bit here and there but at 3 wks if memory serves me I was only doing the Dr visit thing, in a week or so perhaps you can do like she suggested if you feel up to it ~ go to the store or anything just to get out of the house a bit.

I wish you loads of luck
this too shall pass

Old 04-16-2005, 03:13 PM   #4
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Stratham NH
Posts: 1
DeDe2 HB User
Smile Re: How long before you began to feel better after fusion??

Hi Amica,
I had L4-5 spinal fusion w/bone graft and laminectomy(decompressing nerves in spinal canal) due to stenosis and spondylothistesis ( lay term- grade 2 slippage) on Feb.17th. I know just what you're saying, it can be very discouraging and I think it just seems like so long even though it hasn't been that long. Sounds like you're doing great with the walking. I'm not doing as well as we had hoped at this point because of severe burning and pain in my feet and legs. My backs feeling pretty good, incision site looks great, if I could just get rid of my lower legs and feet My surgeon is hopeful that those symptoms will start decreasing soon. He's hoping that the nerves just need time to recover. I also had severe nerve compression when they got in there. Not doing as much walking as I would like to because of the pain. I'm now taking Percocet every 4 hrs. Now that I'm at 8 wks. would sure like to be doing more that I am. I hope things go well for you and that all your nerve issues resolve. Guess that's the thing that takes the longest. It's nice to know there's someone else out there. Take care...Denise

Last edited by DeDe2; 04-16-2005 at 03:15 PM.

Old 04-16-2005, 03:41 PM   #5
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 17
Amica HB User
Re: How long before you began to feel better after fusion??

Thanks so much for your responses!! It helps so much to know I am not the only one!

Old 04-16-2005, 10:07 PM   #6
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 48
ktshobe HB User
Re: How long before you began to feel better after fusion??

Wow, same thing here! I had an L4-L5-S1 TLIF on 21 March, and the foot pain is killing me! Surgeon says also that it will eventually go away. And it seems like the back pain is increasing. But I guess in the larger scheme of things, that it takes several months for this to heal, we shouldn't be suprised. I also feel like my feet are swollen, so my old walking shoes are really tight now. I am able to walk for 30 minutes, so that is good.

Best of luck for all of us! I am just glad to be out of the hospital - how dreary!


Old 04-17-2005, 03:13 AM   #7
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 6
Kendall9321 HB User
Re: How long before you began to feel better after fusion??


I had a double fusion, anterior and posterior and the minute I woke up in the recovery room all my pain was gone. I just had the normal incision pain, but the back, butt, leg were completely free of pain. I didn't even need the morphine pump in my room after my surgery. It stayed that way for three months and one day the pain came back with a vengence, more severe than ever.

My surgeon told me to come in immediately and he began ordering all the tests. The all showed I was fused. He said something had to be wrong if I was in pain. He suspected a nonfusion, but the films weren't showing that. He couldn't believe that wasn't the case and even showed my films to some other Ortho back surgeons and the all agree, according to the films, I was fused. He ordered a Hardware Block to see if that was causing my pain. It was positive and back to the OR we went.

When he opened me up, he was shocked to find he could wiggle my rods back and forth with his fingers, it was reported as a gross loosening. But guess what, it was loose because my upper fusion did NOT fuse, NOT at all. The films all lied. He told me the films have fooled him before and he went ahead an operated based on my symptoms and my pain. Thank goodness, many surgeons would never do that and tell their patients the films say they are fused and there is nothing else that can be done and they will have to learn to manage the pain.

This is what I say to that. If a surgeon can't tell you why you are having pain and can't determine the reason for the pain, then how the heck can they say there is nothing that can be done for it. If you have pain, something is causing it and I wouldn't never accept an answer like that.

You are still in the early stages of recovery and I don't think I would be too concerned yet. But if you go 2-3 months and are still in pain, your surgeon needs to know about it and start the process of determining what is the cause.

But back to your question, even after the redo fusion surgery, I woke up in the OR in zero pain and I reached down under the sheet to see if my left leg was still numb. It was not, it was better and so was the pain. I had to slowly wean off the Duragesic patch over the following two months after the surgery so I wouldn't go into withdrawal but I never needed the pain meds again. Again, I had incision pain, but I am 9 months post-op and doing great.

Just make sure you keep your surgeon informed of your symptoms at all times, even if by phone. It is really important to keep all this documented in your chart for many reasons.

P.S. About your legs being weak. That is normal. You are off you feet now and will be for the next couple of months and your legs are going to get weak. But other than walking around the house to prevent blood clots, just let everyone wait on you. You may feel better, but your spine is just begining the fusion process. It takes 3-6 to secure a fusion and a full year before it fully fused. At 6 weeks post-op, my surgeon had me to water therapy. It was wonderful, you are weightless and can do so many exercises for every part of your body, and because of the water, I felt so much safer and never felt I did anything that would hurt me, that would not have been the case with land PT.

Don't worry, as soon as you have recovered enough, you can slowly start walking longer distances and the strength will come back in your legs and your whole body. There is plenty of time for that later, right now, follow your surgeons instrustions for post-op care and don't do anything that could jeopardize your recovery.

Good Luck, I hope you have a full recovery and will be free of all your pain.

Old 04-17-2005, 02:24 PM   #8
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Tempe, AZ
Posts: 312
StMishl HB User
Re: How long before you began to feel better after fusion??

Just a note:: Kendall-- I WANT YOUR SURGEON!!! I am facing many of these issues and am green with envy of your obviously wonderful dr. who has what mine (and many others) so blatently lack - an ability to listen to their patients!! =)

Well said to Amica.. again, listen to your body and TRUST what it is telling you!!
StMishl Failed Bk Fusion, facet joint/hip issues & RA -Wish I could Jump like him!

Last edited by StMishl; 04-17-2005 at 02:25 PM.

Old 04-18-2005, 05:55 AM   #9
Senior Veteran
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 590
Mistina HB User
Re: How long before you began to feel better after fusion??

I had a fusion at L4 L5 and boy, the recovery went really slow and was torture to me, honestly. I hadn't left the house at 3 weeks yet. I don't think I left for about4-5 weeks. I had it bad. The recovery was really rough on me along with the meds and stomach problems, most of all the withdrawls from percocets.
It honestly took me about 6-8 weeks 'start' feeling better. Don't get discouraged, your so early into it. I am now 5 1/2 months post op and feel pretty good. Still don't bend and twist but feel much better. I went back to work (computer/desk job) at 3 months and back full time at 4. I had a boat load of leg problems and muscles problems after surgery that had me really really worried. I still have muscles tightness problems and can't seem to get them stretched very well. It's a process, for sure.
You'll do fine, it's just takes time.

Old 04-18-2005, 06:33 AM   #10
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Oh
Posts: 33
cervey-Peg HB User
Re: How long before you began to feel better after fusion??

Hi all,

I had a decompression l4 l5 fusion on 3-9 with hardware. After reading this thread, I felt I had wrote some of them myself. I am not quite 6 weeks yet. What really got my interest was the foot pain some of you had, and still have.

I started having back pain in jan 04, and the foot pain followed about 6 months later, and now after surgery it is worse, it drives me nuts. I wasn't sure if it was back related or not. A few months before my surgery, I went to see a podiatrist, all he did was take a xray and gave me inserts for my shoes. hardly no help at all.

It seems that I go from pain here to pain there, right now I have alot of hip pain, and my hamstring and calf muscles feel so tight and sore, it hurts to walk. Getting over this is such a slow process, it can easly discourage you.
I worry all the time with all these different pains, if all is well.

I still take percocet every 4 hours too, tried to come off of them, but the pain is still too much.

Reading this thread sure help me to know I am not alone in this, and others have some of the same problems I do.

I wish all of you a good day.



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