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Old 11-01-2010, 10:04 PM   #1
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Post Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Having three level fusion on the 17th of November. I'm 32 and new to any kind of back surgery. I hear that not a lot of doc's like to do more than two levels so I'm interested in hearing if anyone else has had more than two levels done in the lumbar.

And if so, how was it? How was recovery? I'm really nervous about the pain to come afterwards. Any thoughts?

Last edited by BigDEEZ; 11-02-2010 at 12:55 PM. Reason: No replies

 
Old 11-03-2010, 02:34 PM   #2
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Hello BigDeez! Since you did not give us any other info, we just have to assume that you have had all the tests you can have done, seen more than 1 doctor, and are convinced that a 3-level fusion is your only option.
Now, as far as what to expect I can give you alittle insight into that. I had a single level fusion at L5-S1 in 2004. Your doctor will give you pain meds and muscle relaxers when you leave the hospital. You will probably be in hospital for 2 to 3 days. Make sure you get something for constipation because you will have that with all the pain meds you will be on in the hospital.
Do you smoke? Smoking is very hard on recovery after a fusion.
I will also be having a fusion on the 17th. Mine is a 2-level fusion (L3-S1). That will give me 3 levels fused.
About recovery, do everything the doctor tells you and you will recover fine. Normally it takes 6 mos to a year for your back to fuse. You didn't say if you were working or not. I'm still employed, and hoping to go back to work by march. It all depends on what you do. I just walk on concrete 10 hrs a day. Don't do anything that strenuous. Mostly tell other people what to do.
Walking will be your best exercise. Just follow doctors orders and you will be fine. Is there pain after surgery? Sure there is. Don't be afraid to tell doctor how you feel. If the pain meds you are put on are not cutting the pain then tell your doctor. I will keep in touch. Take care and good luck to you.
Keith

 
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Old 11-03-2010, 02:50 PM   #3
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

I'm sorry BigDeez that I didn't post how my recovery went with that surgery.
The next day they had me walking down the hall for the 1st time. My right leg was hurting so bad that I couldn't hardly walk. It was determined that a screw was in a nerve root. I'm only telling you this in case you have leg pain the next day that you didn't have before surgery. After that was corrected I started on the slow recovery process. It is slow. The 1st 2 weeks are the worse. Alot of bed rest. Don't get discouraged. This is a major surgery. Recovery is slow. It took me 14 mos. to really start feeling alot better. Some people, it don't take that long. Now, I did go back to work at 16 wks.
My advice is walk, walk, and walk when you can. Follow advice from doctors. Other people on this forum might give you other advice also. There is alot of good people on this board. Just be patient. If you need other questions answered just ask me.

 
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to parman For This Useful Post:
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Old 11-03-2010, 03:31 PM   #4
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Thanks Keith for reaching out to me. I gave a big dissertation in my first post with all of my info and wasn't getting any response and figured that maybe people were turned off by it so I edited it to it's current status. This is why there is a lack of information so sorry about that.

I've had this injury since 98' when I was medically discharged from the Army for it. For a period of 10 years I went through the ringers of treatments; meds, chiropractors, PT, oblations/rhyzotomies, facet injections, epidurals, etc.. The epidural injections really got me through. Well, leading into your work question, I got another sales job selling mortgages where I was in a chair for 10 hours a day. This did me in. I left my job without coverage of WC or anything thinking I would get one more suited to my limitations but due to the economy and my disability I was unable to secure work. Luckily my wife got a great job to cover us but now I'm at home caring for 3 children, 5, 4, and 5 months! You can imagine my struggles.

I got two opinions and a very trusted opinion by my orthopedic surgeon who is amongst the absolute best in my area and he endorsed my first opinion of the 3 level that I felt the most comfortable with. I think going through other smaller but yet still serious back surgeries such as discectomy, etc. and ultimately coming to the fusion is too much O.R. time and too much risk with no reward.

So I don't smoke, no work but will be seeking Voc Rehab a re-employment service through the VA, and am expecting a very rough recovery. My biggest questions are about the hardware and if there is any recognizable pain from it. My buddy had pins put into his wrist and said the pain from the pins was the worst. Being that I'm getting a three level I figure I will be about 60% bionic! <-(was searching suitable smileys but came up empty)

I guess like anyone would be facing the same surgery I am a bit scared of waking up from it because of the level of pain I will be in.

Thanks again for reaching out to me and I wish you the best with your surgery. I hope your and mine recovery is speedy and as painless as possible. BTW, where are you getting yours done if you don't mind my asking?

 
Old 11-03-2010, 04:04 PM   #5
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

BigDeez, I had no pain from my hardware. Never to this day have I felt anything from my hardware.
Now, they have to take my hardware out to make room for new hardware during my 2-level fusion in 2 weeks.
Since you are only 32 you will recover fine.
I'm 57 yrs. old and have had 5 back surgeries.I keep a positive attitude and expect to recover and be back to work and on the golf course next year.I'm a big golfer and I exercise or did regularly.
My back surgery will be in Nashville, Tenn.

 
Old 11-03-2010, 05:21 PM   #6
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Nashville, father of Country Music...right? Well for 57 with back surgeries and an avid golfer I would say that you are doing just fine. I'm sure you will have just as a speedy recovery this time around. Before I did any research I was really nervous about this and still am but seeing that quite a few people have had three level fusions and recovered it helps me with keeping a positive attitude. I really do think that I will recover just fine from this. Up until about 14 months ago I was in the gym 3 days a week, 2 years straight, with a strenuous resistance routine. I hope that if I find myself in a manageable state that I will once again focus on fitness and diet as a means of prevention of adjacent level degeneration and to keep me in as best a shape as possible. I'm sure I will in no way be able to match the level that I trained at before but I'm hoping to be good enough to do what I can. Also I'm hoping that being only 14 months ago I was in great shape that this will help me with recovery. I don't know if that's just wishful thinking but it makes sense.

Out of curiosity, how did one of your screws make it's way into a nerve root? Did it penetrate out of the vertebrae? Sounds painful.

 
Old 11-03-2010, 05:50 PM   #7
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Oh it was painful! The screw was put in the nerve root during the surgery. The nurse told me that it was only the 4th time that happened to my nuerosurgeon in 18 yrs. Lucky me, huh! Well after he went back in and re-positioned the screw in the right (correct) place, I was fine. Don't be scared. You will do fine. If you are as fit as your post sounds, then you will be fine.
At 54 I was playing on my company's basketball team. That is after 4 back surgeries. Wasn't as good as my HS days but I did play.

 
Old 11-08-2010, 12:24 PM   #8
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Sorry I don't have any been there done that help but I am kind of in your boat. Only exception is I am not and never have been fit.
I had a microdiscectomy 3 months ago and though I got some relief it wasn't what we hoped for. After comparing my MRI from 3 week ago to the one this time last year he said my DDD was progressing much faster than they thought and he really did think fusion is my only option. (he is my third opinion)
My surgeon is actually an orthopedic surgeon but he is the best spine dr around. He did my last surgery as well.
My fusion is set for Dec 1st. As of now we are not 100% sure if it will be a 2 level or 3. He wanted to study my MRI more and he will let me know on my preop appt on Nov 19th.
Here is where we are most similar. I am 34 yr old mom to a 9 yr old daughter and 5 yr old Identical twin boys. One of the twins is a Type 1 diabetic. I also do in home daycare where I have a full time 3 yr old, part time 2 yr old and the 3 yr olds baby sister will be starting Nov 15th and she is 8 weeks.

I am VERY lucky that my mom has retired and is stepping in along with my husband and mother in law to take care of my kids and the daycare kids so I can keep my income coming in.

Because the other surgery is still so fresh I am VERY anxious/nervous/scared about the fusion. But I just keep looking at the bigger picture. That picture being able to enjoy my wonderful husband of 11 1/2 yrs and my 3 BEAUTIFUL children.
When I went in for my Microdiscectomy my family kept telling me children that I would be all fixed. When it failed my 9 yr old took it VERY hard. So I don't think she can handle it if this one fails. I know I won't be 100% because I also have arthritis in my back but even if it don't work as far as she will know it did work and I will make myself ride bikes and jump on the trampoline with them like I did a year ago before getting down in my back.

Good luck (to both of you) and heres to 3 successful surgeries and speedy recoveries!!!!

 
Old 11-09-2010, 11:15 AM   #9
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

God Bless You!

 
Old 11-09-2010, 04:31 PM   #10
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Momwithnosleep, thanks so much for your input. Here [I]is [I]to three successful surgeries! God bless and you all will be in my prayers as I am trying to steer my attention away from the impending surgery that is about to take place as I am sitting outside the E.R.!

I'll tell you, as the 17th approaches I'm finding my nervous anticipation spiking higher and higher if you know what I mean. My faith in Christ let's me know that I will have a positive outcome from all of this although it is still a major surgery so I will have to limit my nervousness.

The scenario you were explaining with the failed prior, lesser surgeries is the exact scenario I am trying to avoid by choosing the fusion. I did get another opinion by a doctor in North Jersey that wanted to do a discectomy and when that failed (notice I didn't say if) try the (I'm sure I will get this wrong) Dianis stabilization system? I think that's what it's called. He stated it's a structure supported by some type of plastic bands that pull tight along my spine (similar to braces) and hook into plastic spacers placed in the disc area that limit motion in certain directions. Then proceed to a fusion, maybe. I spoke with my Orthopedic specialist who is a spine wizard. Other than doing surgery there isn't anything he doesn't know about the spine. And even he concurred what I suspected was the best option of stabilization my entire 3 disc problem area (L2-L5). The other 2 lumbar levels are mostly fine with minor issues. So with the help of God, my commitment to a full recovery and adhering to all doctors orders I feel that this will be the best course of action. Too much time in the O.R. is too much of a risk in my eyes when I can just cut the non-sense and get to the treatment that will offer the best outcome.

I sincerely hope that you and Parman (who after his surgery will change his name to "betterthanparman") have very successful and very speedy recovery surgeries!

 
Old 11-10-2010, 08:30 AM   #11
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Newbie here, wishing you all good luck with your upcoming surgeries. My DH is going in for a fusion at L5/S1 on the 26th. He had a discectomy in July which didn't hold. He's in more pain now than he was prior to the July surgery. He's very worried about getting back to normal. He's had some bad luck with his back. An ACDF at C5/C6 in 2007 and another at C6/C7 this past February. The cervical fusions have gone fairly well and he's very anxious (as am I) about the lumbar fusion.

I know people who have issues/problems/pain/etc. are the ones who usually post on message boards so I'm thankful, Parman, for your posts. We're working on filling up the hope meter as it's been drained recently!

Best wishes to all!

 
Old 11-10-2010, 12:08 PM   #12
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

BigDeez,
First, thanks for your service to our country and Happy Veteran's Day!!!! Ironically, I am having a two level fusion on the 12th of Jan 2011...and guess what? I am a vocational rehabilitation for the VA (Ch. 31). Vocational Rehabilitation is a phonomenal program and they will take care of you!!!!! You will want to go into a job that is light to sedentary and one in which you will be able to change body positions as needed. When did you get out of the service? Are you eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill? If you are, you will want to be careful in which Ch. you use. In TN, the new GI Bill is a better bang for the buck. And once you have used the new GI Bill, you can reapply for vocational rehabiltation as we can get those months back. But, if you use Voc Rehab 1st, every month you use under voc rehab, you will lose under your GI Bill. The 17th is right around the corner. I wish you the best of luck!!!!!
Heather

 
Old 11-10-2010, 05:45 PM   #13
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Heather,
Thanks so much for your kind words of thanks. And I give all the same thanks to you for your service to our country! Not many people truly appreciate our Vets and what they do or have done for us so to hear it is nice. I focus my thanks to all Vets obviously but certainly those that have been giving a lot and especially to those that gave all for us! To these and all other Vets, I wish you all a Happy Veterans Day and a real big THANK YOU!!!

I got out a long time ago, in a time that most of us call 1998 (including me). So no post 911 for me. My GI Bill has expired regretfully. I have been the primary source of income for my family and to find a way to fit in school has been almost impossible so I had to let it go. Now though, I will most certainly be pursuing Voc Rehab. If you don't mind my asking, what did you get VR for? School, Job training, or union work? My main focus would be to obtain a degree in theology and social services as that is where my heart is at.

I wish you the best of luck in your oncoming surgery on the 12th of Jan. That's 6 days after my birth day. I'm not sure why that's important to note here but I included it anyway for some reason. You will be in my prayers and I'm sure you will have a great outcome and rapid recovery. I'm mostly worried about the pain and recovery period to follow mine. I feel in my heart this is the proper or appropriate course of action and that it will lead to the straightening out of my life and allowing me to become a productive member of my family and get me moving again. My life in my eyes is really quite pathetic. I do a whole lot of sitting and pill popping. Unfortunately though without the pill popping I would be immobilized mostly and even more pathetic. I really can't wait to get the recovery process started, I can't express enough. Again, I wish you all the best!

Nemeria,
I'm sorry to hear about your DH. I'm a sports minded person and to me a DH means designated hitter. Which in this sense wouldn't fit because I can't see how you could get someone to volunteer to get your surgeries for you or how that would be of benefit to you so I'm going to guess this means Dear Husband? I'm so against NS's suggesting a discectomy before a fusion if they think you're a potential candidate for fusion. I can't count on fingers or toes how many stories I hear of discectomies making the pain worse and then very shortly after they are right back on the table getting the fusion which should have been done the first time around. I will pray for your DH (still not 100% sure so I will continue to use the acronym) that all goes well and for a rapid recovery!

 
Old 11-11-2010, 09:50 AM   #14
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

BigDeez,
Happy Veterans Day! I have the day off and I am enjoying being lazy. I never get to do that with two kids, a husband and a full time job. You asked about VR. I went to school and got my undergrad in psychology, then straight into a masters degree program in Vocational Rehabilitation (WVU). You are so young, and if you have the desire to be in school for 5+ years, I would recommend it. It is a job where you would get to help other disabled veterans figure out what they want to be when they grow up I always tell my veterans this no matter what their age because I think getting out of the service is comprobable to getting out of high school and trying to figure out what you are going to do with your life, and have to deal with disabilities at the same time.

I have been with the VA Vocational Rehabilitation program since 1997, and while it is a lot of work, I really do love it. I hope you have a good rehabilitation counselor. Don't let them tell you what to do, you need to be a part of the decision as well. Whatever you decide to do, you must make sure it falls within your interest, abilities, and aptitude. The sky is the limit. Have you been found entitled yet? What is our SCD percentage (if you don't mind me asking?).

Are you getting your surgery through the VA? Oh, and I understand what you said about the discectomy, the first NS I saw wanted to do the same thing. The 2nd NS (top notch from Vanderbilt here in Nashville), said if I did that, I would be back in a matter of months for a fusion. Are you having a bone graft? My surgeon uses cadaver bone. He said he didn't believe in fixing chronic pain in one are just to create it in another.

I hope to hear from you again soon and keep me posted please.
Heather

 
Old 11-11-2010, 10:01 AM   #15
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Re: Three Level Lumbar Spinal Fusion

BigDeez,
A PS to my last message. I re read your message and reguardless of having to take it easy and popping pills, your life is not pathetic!!!! You sound like an amazing person and your are a very proud poppa I am sure. I don't know how you do it with three tiny kids. My boys are 8 and 10, (and 42 hahah). They are so caring and are really great to help me out. But, your little ones still need taken care of. They are just babies. I salute you!!!!! This surgery is going to be the fix we both have been looking for! I just know it!!! Have a wonderful day! Heather

 
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