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Old 02-17-2009, 07:25 PM   #1
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Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hello Everyone,
I wanted to introduce myself and hope to get to know some of you as well. I had a PLIF on 12/08/2008 and am still having pain. I came to the board to see if I could get some encouragement and questions answered.
Due to my occupation going back to work is going to be a while I think and walking outside is also going to be several months.

My main question at this point is:
How much pain is normal at this point in my recovery?

I have an appt. with my surgeon on Monday and haven't seen him since my surgery. My last 2 month appt. got cancelled and rescheduled for Monday, but I really wanted to hear from other patients who have had this done. I also have not had an x-ray so I don't even know if I am fusing at this point or not. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I am, but not sure.

I continue to have post surgical pain, but all my pain in my right buttock and down my leg is gone. Thank goodness, but I am curious as to what level of pain is normal at this point? It's worse first thing in the morning and if I am up and about for too long. I seem to get tired really easily as well. To be expected I know due to the length of time of not doing much at all except walking. I am still not able to bend, lift, twist or drive yet per Dr. nurse.
I am still taking pain meds a few times a day with a muscle relaxer 3x/day.
I have expressed my frustration to my doctors nurse and she has tried to reassure me that it's ok and normal to have pain and be taking pain meds still. She said when it's time they will wean me off of them..... but when is that going to happen I wonder.????

Anyway, I am a mother of two boys, 13 and 4 years old and have an awesome husband. I also feel bad that it's taking so long and I feel like I continue to have pain which causes me to do much around the house. I do what I can standing without bending or twisting, but still unable to do a lot at this point....

Please anyone with any advice at this point will be greatly appreciated. Just some support would be awesome.

Hope to get to know everyone in the same boat as myself. Sorry this ended up so long, but I have lots to say and no one to really relate to and to truly understand where I am at in my recovery.
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mommyof2ak
Post-op 12/08/2008
PLIF L3-L4 with titanium cage
(Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion)

Last edited by mommyof2ak; 02-18-2009 at 10:16 AM.

 
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:47 PM   #2
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Back Ache HB User
Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hi! I had a 1 level, L3-L4 fusion on 9/29 with hardware etc etc. At the 2 month mark, I was feeling pretty good. Except - I had very little energy or staminia. I was still on some pain meds with tylenol, I was walking 2+ miles a day, did not drive, could not do household chores. My boys 13, 10, & 4 have been wonderful. It is very difficult to let them do so much but I have to recover and I need them to help me so I can be a better mom with this is all over.
Everything you say sounds exactly like what you should be experiencing. It is a long road, but keep walking and try not to over do.
Goodluck!

 
Old 02-17-2009, 10:03 PM   #3
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hey Marta,
I had a lumbar fusion of L4-L5 on November 12th, 2008 (without the hardware..bone onlay fusion only). Where have those lift teams been all our lives!! I have been out of my brace for about a week now and still I am very careful with all that I do. I am bending ever so slightly as I have to have a flexion/extension film done next month and don't want any surprises!!

I am still taking something for pain at night and muscle relaxer in the evening. My worst times of day are around 2 pm due to muscle fatigue. I usually put heat on my back at that time and it relieves it so I can make it to the evening before I have to hit the pain meds. I have walked, walked, walked but still not able to do anything that requires sitting for a long period of time.....I can but it is not comfortable. I've been able to drive short distances but still wear my brace when in the car as I am paranoid that someone will rear end me and guess I assume every little bit of support helps!

I read that the fatigue part from a major surgery of this nature takes about four months to improve. I have noticed some improvement in just the last week. Seem to be able to get more done around the house before I'm ready for the sofa. I am not having the numbness and foot drop that I had prior to surgery but still have some electric like inconsistent pain (guess it's just those nerves waking up!) and of course the muscle fatigue. I am hoping that improves now that I am out of the brace. But, I think it all just takes time and lots and lots of patience....grrrrrr......I'm not too good at that!

Sounds like from your note and questions that you are doing good. Just hang in there!
Jan.

Last edited by JanKR; 02-18-2009 at 10:23 AM. Reason: please bring your attention to the posting rules

 
Old 02-18-2009, 11:02 AM   #4
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hi Mommyof2ak, and welcome to the board! This is a great place to get answers to exactly the kind of questions you have! There are plenty of us who have been through this surgery. We're happy to help you as best we can from our own experiences.

Pain at this point? Normal, normal, normal. This is a huge surgery, though the surgeons tend to downplay it. I think they're afraid of scaring off patients. Everyone is different, of course, but to still need pain meds at this point is entirely normal. For me, pain-free was never the goal, not even on my radar or my doctor's either, but I am sooooo much better off now. I'll take pain meds for the rest of my life, but I'm so grateful that my surgeon did what he did for me. So I pop pills, so what? I can deal with that. As long as I'm careful, I won't get addicted. My doctor is happy to continue to give me the scripts.

I spent most of the first two months in bed, and much of the third, too. After that, although I needed to lay down for significant spells during the day, I was up more than I was in bed. I did have a long fusion, 8 levels this time for a total of 14. You'll probably move at a faster pace than I did in your recovery. But don't worry about the timetable. You're really right in the ball park. Your doctor will let you know if he's not happy with your progress.

I'm glad you have such a supportive family. That really helps a lot! Make sure you let them know how much you appreciate them. Maybe if you can, get your kids something special as a thank you, gift cards to the video store, or whatever would be special for them. Leave them notes. I sent cards to my husband at work. I bought them ahead of time, and my kids would go out and stick them in the mailbox for me.

Remember that your job right now, mom, is to get better. You need to rest, walk, eat healthy, and rest and walk some more. It's a long process, but it will be so worth it! You hang in there! And if you have other questions, please don't hesitate to post them.

Blessings,
Emily

 
Old 02-18-2009, 02:55 PM   #5
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bekkieboop89 HB User
Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hi Mommyof2ak!

Don't feel bad about not being able to do things around the house - your pain is justified and very normal. Just like you looked after your boys when they were sick, they get to look after Mom now. It's very fair and understandable - get your husband and older boy to help out, you need to relax and heal. I'm sure your little one will love helping mommy out (getting you the remote, pillows, etc). By improving your quality of life, and taking this time for yourself, you are improving their quality of life, too.

I had my fusion exactly 21 days after yours, and I'm still in pain every day. Not as bad as before - thank god. Like you, pain that was once going from my buttocks to my toes has vanished. Also, like you, my pain is worse in the mornings and if I'm up and on my feet too long. I had an appointment with my Doc 2 weeks ago, and he told me that so far everything was looking great - maybe that will make you feel better (someone with similar post-op symptoms to yours getting the green light from a doctor).

If you still feel like you need the pain meds, then keep taking them. The more comfortable you are the better you will heal. Don't try and push yourself to get better before your body is ready. Frustration is totally normal and all of us here on health boards understands and will help you through.

If you ever need to talk or rant or cry (etc) you can always message me. We had our fusions close together, so we gotta stick together!

Take care and I hope you get good news from the Doctor!,

XOXO!
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"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.” - Frank A Clark

 
Old 03-02-2009, 07:01 PM   #6
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hello all - I'm so glad to have found this forum. I had X-Lift lumbar fusion (L4-5, titanium rod and pins) on Feb 12 and was sent home on Feb 14. I live alone and have no family. I have not yet seen my surgeon for follow-up. I was still out of it when he came to my room after surgery so I have no idea what was said. After a few cancellations I am finally seeing him on Monday 3/9. In the interim I saw another surgeon who removed my staples. I am still in pain and last week had a hard time getting a prescription from his office. They said it's addicting but my gosh it was only 10 days after surgery. Now, I won't see him for another week, I've always had a high resistance to medication. When I left the hospital I was given dilaudid, 2mg every 4 hours. That did nothing at all so I doubled up on it and it does help somewhat but for a short period of time. I'm only taking them twice a day to get some relief and to make them last. The main reason I am writing is to thank everyone here for their comments. I, too, had pain in my butt, both sides, mostly right, and running down my legs for years after a car accident. I finally had a discography done and the pain on the right side was attributed to the L4-5. Although I have 3 discs that are herniated, my surgeon only did one saying physical therapy will probably help the left side. Since the surgery, the pain in the left side has gotten worse instead of better and I still have the pain on the right side. Is this normal? Of course, my back is still painful, but from reading the board I see that's to be expected for some time. Also, my legs are so tired all the time. I do walk around the house from time to time just to get moving but the stairs totally exhaust me. I'm lucky that my surgeon was able to go in from the side so I only have two small incisions which are healing wonderfully. But I'm concerned about the butt/leg pain and the fatigue in my legs. I saw comments here about fatigue but do you mean overall fatigue or only in one area? Another thing is that I think I am sitting at my computer too long. I will discontinue that and hope I haven't caused any damage! Any comments you could offer would be so appreciated. Best of luck to you all!

 
Old 03-03-2009, 10:30 AM   #7
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hi Wondering,
I am almost 4 months out from a traditional posterior laminectomy/fusion with a 3 inch incision and must tell you that two to three weeks out from surgery is very early on. At that point I was getting up every couple of hours from the sofa or bed and slooooowwwwllly walking around the house for short distances. My legs were VERY weak prior to the surgery with foot drop on the right so that was improved post-op, but I wasn't breaking any track records. I had a lot of muscle pain and intermittent sciatica type pain but every day it got a little better. Won't say that I didn't have those "set back" days, as I think most of us have had, but I just made myself get up and walk.

Sounds like you really need to address the pain meds with your physician on this visit (as I'm sure you are planning to do!). Regardless of what they are using to control your pain they should be providing you with sufficient pain medicine so that you can walk and mobilize. Walking is the most important thing you can do and you need to have your pain in control to be able to do that. Once I got to where I could make five loops around the house I started keeping a journal. I would get up every two hours and walk around the house about five times and increase the numbers of times I went through the house as tolerated. Sounds OCD, but I really felt better the more I walked. I started the journal about two weeks out from surgery (prior to that I wasn't walking so much that I couldn't keep track).

As far as the specific pain symptoms that you are currently having, that too, should be discussed on 3/9. Judging from my own experience and what I've gathered on the boards, the surgeon will most likely tell you that it should improve with time. This is not a simple surgery to recover from, and I would think they would expect you to require some form of pain meds for a while. I am almost 4 months out and still have to use something at night depending on what I've done during the day. I still have generalized fatigue that requires a down time in the afternoon but my legs are not weak at this point. I will say that I did a trip downstairs at around two to three weeks out from this surgery and it was quite painful. So I just postponed any further excursions down there until I was stronger.

Good luck with your visit on the 9th and try to stay positive......things get better over time.
Jan.

 
Old 03-03-2009, 03:49 PM   #8
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hello JanKR and thanks for your response. You're almost four months out? Maybe because of the traditional posterior? I had an x-lift procedure and I was under the impression that I would be further along than I am now. The doctor who took out my staples told me I could drive and that was 7 days ago. I know I'm not ready for that. I do walk around the house and do stairs, and have been doing so since the day of my release, with and without meds. I didn't want to baby myself, and being alone there are times I must use the stairs. (Funny about the OCD!) When I am standing or walking, I feel only the back pain from surgery. But when I sit or lay down for more than a few minutes, the butt/leg pain is worse than before. I'm hesitating to call it sciatica because the traditional route of pain does not run down the back of my legs. It starts in the butt and runs down the sides of my thighs to my calves (only one side at a time). I've already had spinal epidurals that were useless. So, I guess I'll just have to wait and see what my surgeon says on the 9th. Thanks again, and wishing you well.

 
Old 03-04-2009, 07:53 PM   #9
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icequeen123 HB User
Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hello everyone,
I am new to the boards having just registered a few minutes ago. I had a L4&L5 fusion with instrumentation and laminectomy on February 13th, 2009. I have had other surgeries in the past such as c-sections and hysterectomy etc. but nothing was as painful as this back surgery. I too had the terrible hip and butt pain about a week after surgery and then it lasted until about two days ago and it now seems to be gone. Of course I still have the horrible back pain from the surgery and I have weird pain in my right calf. It's like an aching pain and goes to my foot sometimes. It's definitely not like the sciatica I had before but it is very annoying. The hardest part for me is just not being able to do much at all. I can't wash dishes or clean the house or stick something in the oven etc. I still use my walker because it's just excruciating trying to walk without it at this point. Sleeping is absolutely crazy as well. I can never get comfortable and toss and turn all night. It feels like there is a log in the middle of my back or a rolled up towel or something lol hard to explain. I am still on pain meds and muscle relaxers and don't see me going off them anytime soon since I still have incredible pain. Anyway I am being long winded once again. I just wanted to introduce myself and see how everyone else is doing after this surgery.

 
Old 03-04-2009, 09:46 PM   #10
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hello, IceQueen, and welcome. I'm new here, too, and had my surgery the day before you did. I'm also having a difficult time with pain and from reading the other posts, I think we are in for a long haul. That's something I was not expecting. :-( I think we both have to reassess our situations and resign ourselves to bearing with it longer than we thought. You definitely need to get some stronger meds if you are tossing and turning at night. You should be sleeping on your back with a pillow or two under your knees so that your back is flat against the mattress. If you sleep on your side, be sure to keep a pillow between your knees. Once I get into position I try to stay there because it's too painful to start re-arranging things. But then again, laying on my back or either side puts pressure on my butt so I am forced to shift around a bit. Have you seen your surgeon for post-op follow-up yet? Although I am in pain all day, I do have a medication for at night. It's called seroquel. It's actually classified as an anti-psychotic (no! I'm not nuts!), but it's used for other conditions such as insomnia. 20-30 minutes after I take it I [B][I]usually[/I][/B] sleep the night through and wake up with no grogginess. Maybe you could mention that to your doctor. Of course, everyone is different. Maybe something as simple as Ambien will help. As far as the pain, I am taking 4 mg of dilaudid but it doesn't do much so I've added 500 mg of percocet, something I've had in the cabinet since August. It definitely helps but only for a few hours and there is no way it will last until my next visit so I take it sparingly. I'm curious to know what others are taking. I can understand the pain in my lumbar but the butt/leg pain was scaring me because it's worse than ever. And my legs are getting weaker. I'm glad you told me that your butt pain has subsided, maybe mine will, too. Well, good luck, and write any time you want.

Last edited by Wondering Alone; 03-04-2009 at 09:48 PM.

 
Old 03-05-2009, 07:13 AM   #11
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hi Wondering,
You are so right about being in for a long haul. I guess I had unrealistic expectations about coming home and being able to just return to being superwoman hehe but then of course I woke up and realized I was fooling myself. I know that when I had the butt and hip pain I would literally cry sometimes because it hurt so bad no matter what I did. I hope that gets better for you because that was the worst. The leg weakness and general fatigue is something I can relate to as well so I think that must be something that's normal with this type of surgery. I take Lortab and Robaxin since dilautid did absolutely nothing for me no matter how much they gave me in the hospital. The worst problem for me right now is the spasms. It's like a person is standing behind me and grabs my back and just squeezes it and doesn't let go. I will definitely talk to my surgeon on Monday when I go in for x-rays to see if there is something he can give me to sleep because this is ridiculous. They told me I have to get plenty of rest but that's impossible right now so something has to change. I get frustrated when I drop something and I go to pick it up and realize I can't do it. My doctor told me that recovery would be at least a year. What time frame did yours give you. I am interested to know if that's the norm or if it's different for everyone. Thanks again for welcoming me to the group

 
Old 03-05-2009, 06:14 PM   #12
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hi Icequeen - you know, we have a lot in common. We had our surgeries one day apart, we both see our surgeons for follow up on Monday, and we're both from NY (Long Island here)! I wonder why you're having spasms? That's one thing I don't have. I know what you mean about dilaudid (revised) but, I have always had a high resistance to pain killers. Even in the hospital on morphine, it didn't help but they wouldn't give me more. At least I am able to sleep during the day. In fact I've been doing a lot of that, so much so that I don't know what day it is. I sleep for hours here and there and also sleep at night (just plain pooped all the time). This Sunday we turn the clocks ahead but believe me it makes no difference to me at all. LOL! Well, IQ, take care and I hope for the best for both of us. I'll get back on after I see the doc. Good luck with your visit, too!

Last edited by Mod08; 03-06-2009 at 01:49 PM.

 
Old 03-05-2009, 06:46 PM   #13
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Mommev38 HB User
Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hi mommyof2! I had my plif surgery with hardware one day after you, Dec 9th, and also won't be going to work anytime soon because of my occupation. (Daycare Teacher). I still have quite a bit of pain at this point also. I didn't have a 3 mo check up at all but I am doing physical therapy that I started a couple weeks ago. It's been somewhat helping. I'm also suppose to be doing a lot of walking which I do inside the house(boring) and at the mall, but can't wait to do it outside but who knows when that will be with living in WI! I've been ok'd to drive since 6wks, so I'm surprised you're not driving yet, but so many doctors do tell their patients diff things. But it is painful to drive though. One of my daughters has her temps so I let her drive a lot so she's getting good practice. Have you started any physical therapy yet? I also have x-rays before each appt so I'm hoping to see some fusion at my 4 mo check up in April. I was actually relieved to hear others are having pain too at this point, I was thinking maybe I shouldn't be hurting like by now. Mine hurts worse when I first get out of bed and then later in the afternoon thru bedtime. I was told I could start to wean off my brace this month but I really don't feel like I'm ready for that. Do you have a brace on, and if so, when are you allowed to have yours off? It helps to have others going thru the same thing that your going thru-esp so close to the same date. I have three children,
(18,16,13) and they've been a great help along with my husband. Keep me informed on how you are doing, ok? Tami

 
Old 03-05-2009, 07:20 PM   #14
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

I thought perhaps you might want to hear something positive. I had my surgery March 2008 - yes that's right almost a year ago. I also had pain at 4 months - in fact it got worse for a couple of months and it has finally gotten significantly better and is 95% gone. I used the walker from March through August because my balance was really off and I worried about falling. I am still up a couple of times at night but that is also decreasing. In my case, the spasms in the legs were from a lack of Magnesium/Calcium/Vitamin D - not enough in the supplements I was taking. As soon as I increased it, the spasms stopped. I get a bit better every week and am still amazed that I am improving. Be patient and try not to worry about the cleaning - that almost drove me over the edge as well.

 
Old 03-09-2009, 05:19 AM   #15
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Re: Post op Post. lumbar fusion.....

Hey Wondering,
That is so neat to find out that you are in New York as well. I live in Lockport which is about 20 miles from Buffalo. I see my surgeon today for x-rays and follow-up to see how I am doing. I am definitely going to talk to him about the back spasms and the pain in my right leg. It's like this constant dull ache and along with the spasms and back pain, it's just insane. I was able to get out and do a bit of walking this weekend and it totally wiped me out. I was also in so much pain last night that I was nearly crying it hurt so bad. Hopefully the doc will give me something to help me sleep as well. I will let you know how things went when I post tonight. I hope that you are doing okay and improving day by day. Take care

 
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