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Old 03-07-2008, 08:37 PM   #1
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Question What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

I have been hearing mixed stories..Some folks same don't lift anything heavier than 5 lbs....Some say no more than a quart of milk?

My surgery for Posterior Lumbar Fusion L3-L4 and decompression was 4 1/2 weeks ago.....I have been lifting things such as a 1/2 gallon of milk, etc.

Is this considered TOO heavy?

Today I also started driving a short distance and ran a few errands, does anyone think getting in and out of the car can be harmful..I am turning first to get my feet out keeping my shoulders over my hips and moving slowly?

Every time I as the Dr's office they say listen to your body.

Any thoughts...Is it Too soon? Originally my Dr. said I could drive after 3 weeks???

Many thanks to you all.

 
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Old 03-07-2008, 08:53 PM   #2
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Wink Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

I can tell you what my Dr. said. I too had the posterior fusion at l3-5, and I was told not to lift more than 5lbs. for the first 3 months. Then at 6mos. he upped it to 10 lbs. and at 9mo. he upped it to 15 lbs. and at a yr. he upped it to 20lbs. and told me that he never wanted me to go over that amount.

As for driving, I was also told to listen to my body. It does sound like you are being careful getting in and out and if you can do short trips w/o pain, I would guess it would be fine. If you ever drive a little too much and are later in pain, don't do that again for a while.

I warn you, though, once you start driving you will be tempted to get out and do stuff. You still are just out of surgery and the fusion wont be hard until the 3 mo. period...You'd hate to go through it all over again, because you got inpatient and wanted to get out and run errands. Also, remember that you are not allowed to bend, twist or lean. So if you are out doing errands, I would bet that many errands need you to do one or the 3 no-no's. Here's a suggestion, wrap plastic wrap or a lifting belt around your waist when you go out. This way, when you unconciously lean over or bend forward, you will notice it.

Good luck and let us know how you do.

Lorie
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Last edited by lfoster21; 03-07-2008 at 08:57 PM.

 
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:26 PM   #3
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

Hi Laf ~

Everything I've heard is a gallon of milk. Sounds like I'm lifting too much!

I think the other issue with driving is whether you're still taking strong pain meds.

 
Old 03-07-2008, 09:48 PM   #4
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Wink Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

Just an FYI, a gallon of milk is aprx. 10 lbs. Making a quart weigh 2 1/2 lbs.

Lorie
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Last edited by lfoster21; 03-07-2008 at 09:50 PM.

 
Old 03-07-2008, 10:01 PM   #5
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

My paperwork said a carton of milk so I asked the physician assitant yesterday, what size carton. His response 10 pounds or common sense

 
Old 03-08-2008, 12:31 AM   #6
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

Les I was told to let pain be my guide, right out of the gate of being discharged from the hospital. As to driving, my docs approach was also about the pain guide, but also that before I drove to make sure I full command of the car, to include being able to utilize all the safety feature nuances of driving. Turning my head to see properly, breaking easily, etc.

When I took my first outings, they were very short and I never parked anywhere that I couldn't just pull away. No backing up for me, because turning my head back and forth was just too hard and of course turns that spine just enough that it was just too uncomfortable.

Be careful doing too much of anything right now. If you are feeling good, you want to keep it that way. Remember you are still recovering from major major surgery and you MUST let that back heal so you don't undo all that surgery work and your spine is given the full opportunity to heal correctly.

Lifting I was told to keep everything "light" period. I believe my restrictions were not to lift more than 10lbs for quite awhile post op. I dont have any restrictions at all now, but was told it was wise to not lift more than a bag of groceries (weight wise) going forward. Lifting heavy stuff is what got me into this mess in the first place, so I take this lifting restriction very seriously.

It sounds like you are doing really well. Keep that going.
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Old 03-08-2008, 04:42 AM   #7
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

I am 19 days out from my fusion. They sent me home with written instructions to lift no more than 2 lbs. Yes, TWO pounds. But here is what my Dr actually said. The amount of weight is less important than how you lift it. The closer it is to your body, the more it can weigh. So when i get milk or juice out of the fridge, I get up close and almost hug the item like it is my 6 month old. It is a whole physics, leverage type thing. Regarding driving, I drove yesterday, twice. The 1st time was a half hour and I hurt big time when I got home. It felt scarey because it was somewhat focused where one of my screws is. But as I lay there, I took my hand and rubbed the spot and it was a spasm. The 2nd time was just 5 to 10 mins. and no pain whatsoever.
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Old 03-08-2008, 07:21 AM   #8
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

Laf, it sounds like you're being careful, and you've gotten some really good answers here. I just want to add that I kept a plastic garbage bag on my driver's seat for months so that I could slide easily to get in and out of the car. I did it just like you described, too, being careful to keep from twisting. My surgery was in Sept '06 and I actually kept the bag there until summer, when it got too hot to be sitting on plastic. With my long fusion, it's still awkward getting in and out of the car, and I'm often tempted to put the bag back. Maybe I will once my son who's learning to drive doesn't need to use my car anymore.

You sound good! Keep hanging in there. 3 months was a big turning point for me in feeling better and beginning to be more active. Maybe it will be even sooner for you!

Take care,
Emily

 
Old 03-08-2008, 07:35 AM   #9
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

Wow.that was fast.....Thank you all so much...........Emily I forgot about my plastic bag I used it getting home from the hospital..I will do that today..

Lorie........My sister and I were trying to figure out how much a quart of milk weighed...so helpful to know a qt is 2 1/2 lbs.......we never did well in that class in school (LOL)

And thanks Justoneofus.....I will only slide into parking spots....

2bbackontop.........Don't worry about feeling the screws I thought I was also "feeling" them through my skin....My Dr. reminded me they are very deep inside and you cannot feel them to the touch...You might feel some inflammation around the incision, but that's apparently only the " soft tissue"

Have a good weekend all....so helpful to know I haven't undone anything yet..
I won't see the Dr. until by 6 week post-op appt..and it's difficult to judge on your own......so many questions.....

Thanks again.

 
Old 03-08-2008, 09:31 AM   #10
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

Common sence - this is right and listent to your body another one...
Just be careful with all you are doing. What can be good for me, may not be good for you. Some people are OK with lifting 20 pd, i have hard time after i tried 8 PD. Everything is very individual. That is why don't go by book, listen to your body.
Personally, i still have a hard time getting and out car, but for some it may not be a problem.
Take your time and take it easy.
Best of luck to you!

 
Old 03-08-2008, 11:22 AM   #11
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

Does anyone else get weird looks from the cashier when you ask for your grocery bags to be "light?"

I asked politely yesterday and the cashier still looked at me, so I added that I'd recently had back surgery. Her response was: "Well, why are you at the grocery store then??"

 
Old 03-08-2008, 11:32 AM   #12
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

That's not very nice..........The guys are usually nicer....

If they won't bag it that way...ask them for extra plastic bags and re-bag it yourself.......some of the teenagers are helpful if you ask for help too.........


Also Stop and Shop has that great service.........Peapod that delivers, it's a bit expensive but great....if they bring it in your kitchen ask them to put it on your counters...and hopefully someone will help you unpack it...

Good luck....

 
Old 03-08-2008, 12:38 PM   #13
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

Wow, MM, I can't believe that cashier was so rude to you! It's one thing to wonder why someone wants light bags, but to say you had no business being at the grocery store? If her supervisor heard that, she'd have been disciplined!

I love my grocery store (never thought I'd make that statement!) because they take care of me. Several of the cashiers commented when I came through in my brace after surgery, one commented that she hadn't seen me with a cane before when I was having a flare up, and ALWAYS when I say to the bagger, "please, nothing too heavy, I have a back problem," they go the extra mile to make sure they aren't making them too heavy. And this isn't even the premium grocery store in our area! It's just the regular lower cost one, good old Food Lion. One of the cashiers even decided one day that I looked like I was in pain and found a bag boy to load my groceries into the car for me. I went to customer service a couple of times and filled out their customer comment card listing a few of the employees who have been particularly helpful to me. I hope they were recognized! They deserved it!

Maybe that cashier was just having a bad day, although that's no excuse, or maybe you need to find a different grocery store. You don't need an attitude like that when you have a real problem that can be easily accommodated!

Laf, I wish I had a service that would deliver, but it wouldn't be in my budget anyway, since I'm no longer working. But if no one's home to help me unload, I often pick out the perishables and just leave everything else in the car. My hungry teens like to eat, so they'll get it in for me!

The little things do make a difference!
Emily

 
Old 03-08-2008, 01:47 PM   #14
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

I had laminectomies, but no fusion....but my surgeon also told me to lift nothing heavier than a gallon of milk.

 
Old 03-08-2008, 03:58 PM   #15
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Re: What's considered TOO heavy to lift after spinal fusion??

Maybe I am just lucky or because my problem is very noticeable (they way i walk, cane) but usually my cashiers are very nice and helpful. I always ask not to put to much groceries in one bag and they gladly do this for me.
I think it just one seed like this, most people have compasion for disable people. I want to believe they do.
I can't walk anymore through the store, so i take a scooter (it took me a long time to do this due to pride, but now what a heck, i need to do things and who cares anymore?) so peole usually help me to get stuff from shelves. Feels good to know that most people are there for us to help.
I used to be same way, I always helped people if I saw they are having problems or they just old to do something.
Good luck to you in a future!

 
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