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  • Four Months Post Surgery

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    Old 02-01-2019, 06:29 AM   #1
    Riccardo15's Avatar
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    Unhappy Four Months Post Surgery

    I am 61 years old and had back surgery in early Oct. It was a 2 level fusion and laminectomy. Early in it was painful but I am use to being active so I started physical therapy early and did it often. I listened to my body and tried not to over do it. I was able to walk a moderate paced mile by week 8 and I was back at work at 10 weeks. I work in health care and I spend time both at a desk and moving about the facility. My surgeon sent me back with no restrictions, but my physical therapist advised me to limit the weight I lift for a few months. He did okay my using light weights, cables and pulleys if only to get back into my personal program. I controlled the soreness with acetaminophen. Weeks 8-11 were encouraging. I felt like I was healing, getting stronger. Weeks 13-15 have been horrible. I am back on my cane, wearing my back brace. I am taking low dose narcotics. I am considering requesting an MRI. The only things I have been guilty of were lifting a frozen Christmas turkey that was much larger than I expected and sex. My surgeon said it was okay to try sex, but I have to admit pain interrupted most attempts. Also the weather has been progressively colder. Winter ain't coming it's here.

    Anybody got a similar experience to share, or words of advice? It is getting me down.

    Last edited by Administrator; 02-01-2019 at 07:30 AM.

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    Old 02-01-2019, 08:04 AM   #2
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    Re: Four Months Post Surgery

    Welcome to the board. Having had four lumbar spine surgeries, I really hate hearing stories like yours...particularly the part about the surgeon basically giving you the green light to plow ahead without restrictions. Even though you think you were being cautious and listening to your body, you have discovered that you are attempting too much too soon and, you are paying the price.

    Too many spine surgeons are overly optimistic in the recovery timeline they tell patients, often making them believe they will be back to normal within six months time. In reality it takes a full year for the new bone to grow in, to solidify and set up to the point where it is strong and durable. If there was nerve compression prior to the fusion, it can take those nerves a long time to regenerate as nerves heal extremely slowly. Then with the fusion, there are new limitations that all surrounding soft tissue must become accustomed, you can see there is a lot going on and all of it takes time.

    When people try to make things happen sooner than the body is ready, the result is nerve flare and various soft tissue issues caused by over compensation, additional stress, etc.which results in a set back in healing. If the fusion was in the lower lumbar spine, people often develop what feels like “hip” pain...but is often actually coming from additional stress on the SI joints and piriformis muscles in the buttocks.

    You can request a new MRI but my guess is that what you are experiencing is mostly the result of your body needing to first, recover from the surgery and second, muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia learning new positioning and structural alignment. You say the only “guilty” activities you engaged in were lifting a too large turkey and some sexuality activity, but I would wonder what types of things you are attempting with cables, pulleys, and weights. Any type of repetitious activity can be harmful, even walking on a treadmill for more than about ten minutes at a time. Anything involving repeated bending should be avoided. I am cautious in how much I lift...and have a permanent restriction of no more than 35 pounds.

    I can tell you from my own experience and from what I’ve seen from being on some boards since 2005 is the following: I personally do not know of anyone who has had just one spine surgery. (2) Surgeons often give no or few restrictions after the first surgery. (3) after the second surgery, you begin to hear some restrictions caged in “it might be a good idea to avoid....”(4) After this point, you notice that physical therapists, surgeons, etc. begin being truthful about what is and is not possible after spine surgery!

    For you right now, the most important thing is to walk. Scar tissue is mostly finished forming by twelve weeks, but walking remains the best way to stretch out the spinal nerves. Don’t attempt to increase speed or strid. Walk on a flat indoor mall is preferable to a treadmill. Don’t worry about speed. You are not doing this for aerobic activity/benefits. You are doing it to aid healing, to get all the soft tissue accustomed to the new limitations and new structural alignment and posture, and to stretch out the spinal nerves. Personally I would lay off the gym activities using weights, cables, machines until you are further along in your recovery. Once nerv flare begins, it can be very difficult to get it back under control. That old adage about no pain, no gain absolutely does not apply to recovery from spine surgery! If you find an activity hurts, stop immediately!

    Also sitting outs more than 30% more stress on the spine than standing or lying down. Be sure to get up at least every hour and walk around your space for a brief interlude. Now is not the time to go sit through a long play or movie without a break...same for riding in cars.

    Finally I recommend the following exercise to be done at least once per day. It is a natural form of traction that helps the discs to unload, helps with structural alignment and also works to reset the parasympathetic nervous system when done properly.

    Lie on a carpeted floor or mat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. (Be sure you are in a straight line with knees squarely above ankles, hips above knees, shoulders above hips, head above shoulders...). Place arms close to sides with palms facing up to ceiling. Now relax, and, breathe slowly from the you can see belly rising and falling. Maintain this position and breathing for two to five minutes.

    Most importantly, do not despair! Recovery from spine surgery requires a great deal of time and patience. I doubt very much you (or your surgeon) have done anything “wrong.” Try to maintain a positive attitude and take things one day at a time.

    I’m happy to try to answer any questions you may have moving forward. Good luck.

    You don’t specifically state what area is causing pain now. Is it nerve pain or what hurts and when...doing which activities?

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    Old 02-22-2019, 07:00 AM   #3
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    Re: Four Months Post Surgery

    I wondered how you are feeling now? Any improvement in your nerve pain?

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    back pain, fusion recovery, regression

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