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Mary Lane 04-16-2012 03:37 PM

Spina Fusion
 
I live in the UK and have recently undergone L 3/4 fusion with discectomy (TLIF). Obviously, I have been searching the Internet for information and testimonials from people who have experienced a similar procedure. I note that most of the comments are from US residents and it seems that the normal practice in the US is for a back brace and walking frame to be used post operatively. This is not the case here. I was discharged from hospital and expected to walk unaided, which I did. My strength soon grew quite dramatically. I found the most uncomfortable was rising from a lying or low sitting position, but walking is fine. It is 4 weeks today since my surgery and I have been walking every day and have built up to an hour (about 4 miles) today. I also managed to return to my regular step class and participated for 25 minutes. I could have gone on for longer but didn't want to push my luck. Of course I had a very low level step and didn't jump at all or do any sort of teasing movements. My surgeons advice to me on discharge was to use my common sense, but that I could do anything that felt comfortable, so I do. The point I am making is that I have not come across many recoveries that have been as rapid as mine (although I still have slight sensations in my back, I am almost pain free and off all medication). Incidentally, my surgery was quite invasive, not MIS, I have s large scar on my back which is healing very well. So, does anyone else feel that the reliance on mobility aids could be delaying recovery time? Or am I just lucky? FYI I am a 51 year old female, otherwise, in good health. :)

teteri66 04-16-2012 06:41 PM

Re: Spina Fusion
 
I think one thing you are overlooking is that the majority of people who have problem-free recoveries are not posting on forums such as this. You are reaching conclusions based on a very limited sampling that you see online.

Just in my own experience, I have had two surgeons with opposing points of view. The surgeon who did my first fusion does not use braces and does not believe in them. He also does not have any set protocol for recovery, but basically instructs patients that they may do any activity that doesn't hurt.

My second surgery was more complex and more levels were fused, and this surgeon had me in a brace. But, I think he puts almost all his patients in a brace, mainly to remind them not to bend or twist.

It is not standard for a patient to use a walker (walking frame) once he/she leaves the hospital unless they need to for safety reasons.

I would say, more than anything, you have been lucky. With my first surgery which was a one level, I was on pain medication for the first eight weeks. I only took pain meds for 10 days with my second fusion, even though it was a much more complicated surgery involving some spinal reconstruction. I believe that it is just a very individual thing as to how someone is going to react to the surgery, how the body will respond to all the anesthesia, etc.

And at the risk of offending you, I also think you are taking an unnecessary risk by going to a step class four weeks after fusion. It is probably less problematic since your fusion is a little higher, but at L4-L5 and L5-S1, the fewer steps one takes, the better. That action of stepping with one leg and then pulling the second leg to meet is very hard on the SI joints and can be irritating to the piriformis...which often becomes irritated after a lower lumbar fusion anyway. Patients here are generally told to limit the number of trips they make upstairs (if they live in a multi-story house) and even months post surgery are advised to avoid step ladders.

But I am happy if it is working for you. Four weeks is still very early in recovery. I just hope you are not setting yourself up for problems in the coming weeks.

Mary Lane 04-17-2012 02:33 AM

Re: Spina Fusion
 
[QUOTE=teteri66;4962691]I think one thing you are overlooking is that the majority of people who have problem-free recoveries are not posting on forums such as this. You are reaching conclusions based on a very limited sampling that you see online.

Just in my own experience, I have had two surgeons with opposing points of view. The surgeon who did my first fusion does not use braces and does not believe in them. He also does not have any set protocol for recovery, but basically instructs patients that they may do any activity that doesn't hurt.

My second surgery was more complex and more levels were fused, and this surgeon had me in a brace. But, I think he puts almost all his patients in a brace, mainly to remind them not to bend or twist.

It is not standard for a patient to use a walker (walking frame) once he/she leaves the hospital unless they need to for safety reasons.

I would say, more than anything, you have been lucky. With my first surgery which was a one level, I was on pain medication for the first eight weeks. I only took pain meds for 10 days with my second fusion, even though it was a much more complicated surgery involving some spinal reconstruction. I believe that it is just a very individual thing as to how someone is going to react to the surgery, how the body will respond to all the anesthesia, etc.

And at the risk of offending you, I also think you are taking an unnecessary risk by going to a step class four weeks after fusion. It is probably less problematic since your fusion is a little higher, but at L4-L5 and L5-S1, the fewer steps one takes, the better. That action of stepping with one leg and then pulling the second leg to meet is very hard on the SI joints and can be irritating to the piriformis...which often becomes irritated after a lower lumbar fusion anyway. Patients here are generally told to limit the number of trips they make upstairs (if they live in a multi-story house) and even months post surgery are advised to avoid step ladders.

But I am happy if it is working for you. Four weeks is still very early in recovery. I just hope you are not setting yourself up for problems in the coming weeks.[/QUOTE]

Mary Lane 04-17-2012 02:45 AM

Re: Spina Fusion
 
Thanks for your comments. I agree it's more likely that problem free procedures are less likely to be reported on forums such as this, which was one reason for my post; to put a more positive light on things for people who may need this surgery as I did a few weeks ago. As you pointed out, my surgery was relatively straightforward and not as complex as some. However, it was still essential in order for me to ever be able to walk again! Like you say, everyone is different and recovers at a different rate. But I would like to think that anyone reading this pre-op may be given some hope and reassurance that there are people out there who have few or no problems during recovery. And I would close by saying that this procedure has changed my life, and I thank God for it despite the initial pain. All the best to you in the future


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