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Old 11-28-2011, 11:58 AM   #1
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Question Returning to work?

Being 11 weeks out from L4-S1 PLIF surgery, I'm contemplating my return to work. I was supposed to meet with my doctor this week but they had to reschedule to next week. My recent thinking was, that with the progress I've seen in PT, I'd be able to return to work next week.

Now, I was hoping to meet with my doctor prior to this to get an idea of the fusion healing progress. But with the rescheduling, that throws a wrench into my plan.

For those who have had the surgery, how soon did you return to work and did your doctor give you any advice? Should I wait to see my doctor before returning? My work isn't all that physical with the majority of it being computer work. I know I have to focus on not sitting for extended periods, but is there anything else I may not have considered?

Any help/advice is appreciated

 
Old 11-28-2011, 02:16 PM   #2
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Re: Returning to work?

Wow. Has it been 11 weeks since your surgery? Many people return to work at 12 weeks if they are feeling OK, and off pain medications, particularly if they need to drive.

Any possibility of trying it part time for a week or two so you can ease into it?

 
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:59 PM   #3
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Re: Returning to work?

Yea, it's been a quick 11 weeks. I've been off all pain meds for about 2 weeks now and only take a few Tylenol when I get achy.

To be honest, my main reason for returning to work is so I don't have to deal with my short term disability insurer. I went a month with no paychecks because of trouble getting them information and having them re-approve my claim. It would be easier to get paid by just going back to work. I'm not sure if part time would be any easier and I haven't had any issues with stamina or strength. And as I said, my job isn't all that physical.

All in all, my recovery has been going great (knock on wood). There are the occasional aches but no major pains. The good days outnumber the bad at this point

 
Old 11-28-2011, 06:57 PM   #4
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Re: Returning to work?

It shouldn't make much difference in your bone growth whether you are working or not, since you say your job is not strenuous.

Perhaps you could call the surgeon's office and explain that you feel you are ready to go back to work and were planning on starting this coming week...that your appointment was postponed, but you'd still like to return as your leave is ending, etc....I would think they could quickly check with your surgeon and call you back.

If you don't have any complaints at this time, I wouldn't think he would object.

 
Old 11-28-2011, 08:45 PM   #5
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Re: Returning to work?

I'll give them a call tomorrow and see what I can find out.

Thanks for the sounding board

 
Old 11-29-2011, 12:05 PM   #6
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Re: Returning to work?

I went back at 9wks. I am a therapist and sit a lot so that has been my biggest pain in the butt (no pun intended) I have a relax the back chair that my employer bought for me as an accomadation. If you have a dr. script for a ergonomic chair or anything else for that matter, your employer lawfully has the right to get it for you. Hope that helps. Oh, and as long as you can change body positions as needed, you should be okay. Exhausted but okay.
Heather

 
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Old 11-30-2011, 01:34 PM   #7
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Re: Returning to work?

Spoke with the doctor and he said as long as I feel good there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to return to work on Monday. There are no restrictions except to not sit for more than 30 minutes at a time and still pay attention to the BLT.

I'll just have to wait till Thursday to follow up and get my x-rays done. Hopefully there will be some signs of bone growth...

 
Old 12-20-2011, 04:52 PM   #8
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Re: Returning to work?

Sundedo ~

How are you doing now that you are back at work? Please post and let us know how you are feeling.

 
Old 12-20-2011, 05:10 PM   #9
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Re: Returning to work?

[QUOTE=tetonteri66;4897551]Sundedo ~

How are you doing now that you are back at work? Please post and let us know how you are feeling.[/QUOTE]

I've been back a little over 2 weeks now (started back on the 5th) and it's been going well. The first week was rough. I tired quite easy and trying to get back into the swing of things took a lot out of me. But as the days went by it got better. The hardest part has been watching how long I sit at a time. I tend to get engrossed in my work and found I was sitting for a hour or longer. To remedy this, I just set up a timer on my cell phone for 30 minutes. When it goes off, I get up and just walk around.

I'm still doing PT and it's been going great. The strength is returning to my back and legs as well as increasing endurance.

No pain meds, just some Tylenol for aches. I did get a prescription for muscle relaxers, but only take them after I've been very active and have trouble sleeping. All in all, I consider myself well on the way to a significant recovery and have no regrets for having the surgery.

 
Old 12-20-2011, 05:22 PM   #10
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Re: Returning to work?

That is excellent news. Sounds like things are going well. It takes quite awhile for a person's strength to return and until they start to feel somewhat back to "normal." I hope your progress will continue and you will feel stronger and stronger as the weeks go by.

Thanks for the update.

 
Old 12-20-2011, 05:28 PM   #11
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Re: Returning to work?

[QUOTE=tetonteri66;4897561]That is excellent news. Sounds like things are going well. It takes quite awhile for a person's strength to return and until they start to feel somewhat back to "normal." I hope your progress will continue and you will feel stronger and stronger as the weeks go by.

Thanks for the update.[/QUOTE]

Thank you, and thank you to every poster here on the boards. This place has been an invaluable resource for me both pre and post surgery.

I noticed the other day that it had been a few days since I noticed any issues with my back. It's been so long since I had even one day without thinking about my back. It put a big smile on my face Now, I still have some not so great days, but those are getting fewer and more dispersed.

My next checkup with the doc is in March so I hope to see some really solid growth in the fusion. At the last appointment we saw the beginnings of growth so I think it's going to be a successful fusion.

 
Old 12-20-2011, 06:14 PM   #12
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Re: Returning to work?

sundedo,
What was your diagnosis before surgery? I am a year post two level lumbar fusion and I am still in a significant amount of pain. What levels did you have done and just curious to know the details of your surgery. I am really happy for you and I hope things continue to progress so well. Heather

 
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Old 12-20-2011, 06:29 PM   #13
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Re: Returning to work?

[QUOTE=musiccitygirl;4897597]sundedo,
What was your diagnosis before surgery? I am a year post two level lumbar fusion and I am still in a significant amount of pain. What levels did you have done and just curious to know the details of your surgery. I am really happy for you and I hope things continue to progress so well. Heather[/QUOTE]

Here's a quick summary:

I ruptured L5/S1 in 2008, had a microdiscectomy to repair the rupture. They diagnosed me with DDD after reviewing the MRI's from that episode and said that more surgery was probably in my future. After doing a few months I started to develop pain in the lower back that continued to increase as the months went by.

My surgeon referred me to a pain management specialist to try ESI's. I saw no relief from those so they tried RFA on the L5/S1 nerve roots with no relief. At that point they did a new MRI and found that L5/S1 was basically gone, L4/L5 had a rupture that healed but was slightly herniated, and I started to develop bone spurs and arthritis in L4 through S1. After talking about it with my surgeon I decided that fusion was my best option to give me a chance at pain relief. I had 2 lvl PLIF L4-S1 with cages and full hardware. I'm not sure what the rules are here for posting pictures, as I have a good picture of the x-ray with all the hardware

At the time of surgery, I had sharp pain in my lower back and glutes with radiating "burning" type pain down my left leg. I wasn't able sit, stand or walk without pain and I absolutely DREADED sneezing.

I think the vast differences in surgical outcomes depend on so many factors that it's difficult to do a apples to apples comparison of results. Have you talked to your doctor about your pain?

 
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