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Old 07-08-2008, 02:47 PM   #1
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Not fusing....any suggestions??

Hi All, well I am about 9 weeks fusion post-op, and I am feeling pretty good.
However, I was my dr. last week and he told me I am not fusing as much as he would like. I asked what I could do to help, and he told me not to take Advil (I havent from the get-go thanks to this site) and do not smoke. I dont smoke. Any ideas here what I could do to help my fusion process? Also, what happens if I never fuse? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again, this site is AWESOME because the people are AWESOME!!

 
Old 07-08-2008, 05:30 PM   #2
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Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

Hello Jahindy,
Many people use a bone growth stimulator (BGS)to increase fusion chances. They can be internally placed units (a surgical procedure and done at the time of fusion so far as I know) and external units. I had one for my 2nd attemopt at a fusion. I did eventually have fusion in the intervertebral space (the lateral fusion attempts never formed at all) but it was 16 motnhs before my surgeon found certain eveidence of any fusion on scans or xray. I was pretty happy that day, I can tell you.
Others may jump in to say I am behind the times but a few years back, there was NO CHANCE of seeing solid fusion prior to 12 weeks post-op. Neiterh of my surgeons even looked for it before the 3rd month. So your doc being unhappy at 9 weeks is not something I can make sense of at all. But maybe things have changed?
As for a BGS, they come in lots of models. Mine was a glorifed corset-type device that buckled on and had a small timer so I could keep track of my hours. I had to wear it at least 4 hours a day. It was no problem when I was up but I couldn't lie down with it on. Anyway, I don't know of anything else that you could do to up your fusion chances. Best of luck to you - Suzy-Q

 
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Old 07-08-2008, 06:12 PM   #3
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Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

Thank you so much Suzie-Q, your input was very helpful to me, and has put my mind to rest somewhat.
Thanks again!

 
Old 07-08-2008, 06:28 PM   #4
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Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

I had a Bone Growth Stimulator for my neck fusion and it worked well in helping the fusion. But for the neck it was easy, I just wore it around my neck for 4 hours per day. Not sure how they do so for the back.
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 07-08-2008, 08:00 PM   #5
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Wink Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

I have the same information as the others. My Dr. also said they would not be able to tell if there was a fusion, for at the minimum of 12 weeks. Even then, when i was not fused at 12 weeks, my Dr. said it could take up to 6 mo. for some to show up. So, I'd say not to worry at this point.

I did use an external bone stimulator after my 2nd fusion, but only because my 1st fusion failed. I'd say the best thing you can do is not put yourself at any additional risks of breaking a fusion. Be careful driving, not only becasue of accidents, but because you twist so often when you don't even realize it. Make sure you are not bending, twisting, lifting, reaching, etc. I was told that doing these things before a fusion was seen, could hinder a fusion from forming. I don't know if you are planning on going back to work at any point soon, be careful to stick to your restrictions...until there is a fusion seen.

As for what happens if you don't fuse, my Dr. told me after my 1st faild fusion, that eventually, he would have to go back in to at least change out the hardware...since he used small screws that were meant to only assist the fusion. W/o a fusion, they were not strong enough to support the spine on their own. However, until they started to cause me a problem, he would nto recommend going back in for that reason. He also said that if because of the failed fusion, my pain cont. to worsen and it got to the point of me not being able to live any kind of life, then he would go back in and try to re-fuse me with BMP. BMP, being a special fusing material that hardens faster and more often.

I wish you the very best,
Lorie
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:27 PM   #6
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ms_west HB User
Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

I highly recommend taking a supplement of Calcium and Magnesium and eating those foods which are high in calcium: milk, diary and green leafy vegetables. This supposedly helps with fusion.

Also be sure not to bend, twist, or lift. It can prevent/interrupt the fusion process as well.

 
Old 07-09-2008, 01:33 AM   #7
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jahindy HB User
Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

I do tend to bend more than I should. I think I will have to be more aware. I didnt realize it could hinder the fusing process.
Thank you very much!!

 
Old 07-09-2008, 02:08 AM   #8
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Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

Jahindy, I am 2 weeks post surgery and my doctor started me on a bone growth stimulator as soon as the staples were removed. This is because I am a smoker, but according to him even if I had quit he would be using one as long as I had smoked within the past 7 years.

It's an external device that straps to my waist, and I use it once per day for 30 minutes. In fact, the device is designed so it won't even turn on more then once per day and times itself.

He will also keep me in a brace for 6-9 months. I can not remove the brace for something like showers until he starts to see the bone form a "callous."

 
Old 07-09-2008, 03:31 AM   #9
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zeroman HB User
Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

I have to agree with the others as far as how long it takes for fusion to even start. I had no signs till 14 weeks and it took a bit over a full year for both level to finish. but finish they did.

just take it easy bending and twisting, wear your brace as recommended (if you have one) and take lots of walks (walking helps get the blood flowing at the fusion site).
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back surgery in JUN 06 - two level ALIF (L3-4-5) with cages and BMP - SUCCESSFUL!

 
Old 07-09-2008, 08:50 AM   #10
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Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

There are already some good suggestions. Here are a few more:

- eat a diet high in protein. It helps your body produce the cells that support bone growth.
- keep your weight as close to its ideal as possible. You don't want to be stressing other joints. You want your body to be focused on healing just that one fusion spot.
- get enough sleep and rest. Your body cannot heal if it is running without rest.
- keep your spirits up. Though it's hard to quantify, it does make sense that your body will do better healing if your attitude and spirits are lifted. So, indulge in a comedy movie, stay in touch with friends, smell the roses!

It's great you're willing to take an active role in your healing. My very best wishes to you!
- Margaret

 
Old 07-09-2008, 10:54 AM   #11
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jahindy HB User
Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

Thanks Chatter, I will follow your advice.
I do want to take an active role in my healing. I do not ever want to go under the knife again!!
I've said it before, and I will say it again..this site and the people are the greatest!!

 
Old 07-09-2008, 07:55 PM   #12
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Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

Hey there,

I would say be sure to take it easy. Do not push yourself, just remember that this is the rest of you life and you do not want to have to go through another surgery. It usually gets very complicated once you have to go through mutiple surgeries, the risks go up the success goes down etc. If you can go for little walk a few times a day, that would be great. It gets the blood flowing and that helps in fusing. Although it has only been 8 weeks and if you are fusing slighty then I wouldn't worry about it. Stess also doesn't help. I was never told to do this but you may want to look into Calcium and whether or not you are getting enough, and if you should be taking a suppliment, something to look into anyway. But all I say is walk as you can, even 5 minutes 3 times a day and take it easy, just let yourself heal, it's still really early in the game.

Good luck, best wishes and keep us all posted on your progress.

Beachgirl

 
Old 07-10-2008, 06:44 AM   #13
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jahindy HB User
Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

Thanks Beachgirl. I ususally walk about a mile a day. Not at once, but throughout the day. Does this seem enough to you? I will look into the Calcuim supplement.

 
Old 07-10-2008, 11:56 AM   #14
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Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

I think a mile is a great start. If your body allows you to go a little further each time, by all means do it. BUT, listen to your body, if you are sore the next day, take it down a little. Walking is the best thing right now, well actually if you could go swimming, that would be the very best thing for you. THere is zero impact in the water so it makes it very hard to hurt yourself and it's a very natural thing. You don't necessarily have to swim a lot of laps but you ca tread water, do aerobics and or alternate. I love to swim, I can't do it right now but it's my absolute favorite thing to do and the best thing for all of us with back problems. I would strongly encourage you to try that out if you can. Otherwise like I said, walk as your body allows you. Anything that gets the blood flowing to the site is a really great start and should help with fusing.

Good luck to you and let me know how you make out.

Take care,
Beachgirl

 
Old 07-10-2008, 04:02 PM   #15
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Re: Not fusing....any suggestions??

Some docs will give you a specific amount of mileage to aim for and others just say to walk as much as you can. Sometimes a patient may have a nerve that is acting up and it isn't possible to walk that far...so the important thing is to try to do a little bit more every day or two.

 
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