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  • Pain after spinal fusion

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    Old 03-25-2020, 07:30 AM   #1
    spinalfusion
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    Pain after spinal fusion

    I had lumbar spinal fusion surgery in early January, so I am about 10 weeks after surgery. The terrible nerve pain I had in my butt and thighs is gone (hooray!), and my incision has healed well, but I have a lot of achiness in my lower back, and it gets worse towards the end of the day. It is hard to find a comfortable position to sleep, and I wake up every hour or so and have to get up and walk around a little, which means I am not getting a good night's rest. Is it normal for my lower back to ache like this 10 weeks after surgery? I am worried that something is wrong, and my surgeon is in a city 7 hours away, so I can't just go see him.

     
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    Old 03-28-2020, 12:11 AM   #2
    teteri66
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    Re: Pain after spinal fusion

    Hello and welcome to the board. Sorry you had to wait for a response!

    How many levels did you have fused and what was your issue? Is this your first spine surgery?

    I will await your reply...but, yes, it is very normal to have all kinds of aches and pains for many months post surgery.

    Everyone is different. Iíve had four lumbar spine surgeries. Sometimes you wake up with pain you never experienced before...because a nerve was stretched during surgery...or something else occurred.

    My advice for you is to learn to live one day at a time. Be patient and try not to worry! It can take a good twelve months to recover from fusion...so just try to relax and keep doing what makes you healthy. Be sure you take many small walks every day to help prevent the formation of scar tissue. Avoid any activity that requires bending and twisting at the waist. Drink lots of water, eat well.

    You are still very early in recovery...so try to learn to be patient, relax and keep taking gentle walks. Also you might want to try the following:

    Lie on your back on the floor with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Place arms close to sides, palms facing up to ceiling. (Be sure your body is aligned.). Relax and breathe deeply so your belly rises and falls...for 2-5 minutes.

    This is a natural form of traction, helps to realign the spine, etc.

    Happy to answer questions....I am fused from L3-S1.....

     
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    Old 03-28-2020, 06:25 AM   #3
    spinalfusion
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    Re: Pain after spinal fusion

    Thanks so much for your reassuring words. This is my first spine surgery, so I have no idea what is normal and what is a cause for concern. And now, in virtual "house arrest" due to the Corona virus, I have too much time to focus on every ache and pain.

    Patience has never been my strong suit. But your advice is good - patience is necessary for the next few months.

    I can't lie on my back on the floor, because if I did, I could never get up. I live alone and have no one to help me here. Will that exercise work on my bed? That's where I do my physical therapy exercises (leg lifts and knee drops).

    I live in the cold, snowy Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and my house is on a hill, so walking outside is not an option. I do walk around the house a lot. I have a pedometer app on my phone and am logging 1,500 to 2,000 steps a day. Hope that is enough. I am being careful not to bend or twist. I have a "grabber" that I use constantly. And I'm paying someone to change the kitty litter box and take out my trash. I do drink a lot of water and try to eat well.

    Did you experience chills (no fever, just chills) after your lumbar fusions? That is so strange for me - normally, I am warmer than everyone else. I used to keep my house at 63 in the winter. Now I've set the thermostat at 69, and I am still having bouts of chills - not constant, but several times a day.

    If I have any more questions or concerns, I hope we can keep in touch.
    Jenn Donovan

     
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    Old 03-30-2020, 02:37 PM   #4
    teteri66
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    Re: Pain after spinal fusion

    I know Houghton. My son used to go to hockey camp at Mich Tech in the summers!

    Regarding walking, more important than how long or how far you walk, is that you walk short distances frequently...like every couple hours. Walking is the single best exercise to stretch out spinal nerves. This helps to prevent scar tissue from attaching to a nerve. Just walking around you house for 5 minutes at a time adequate. Just do it often! As Spring eventually arrives, perhaps you can drive to a flatter path or track to walk on, as you build up strength.

    You could try the traction exercise on the bed.

    I donít specifically remember chills but general anesthetic plays havoc with hormones. I remember it taking almost a year for my body temperature regulation to normalize. Also many people are deficient in Vit D after spine surgery, so you might want to take a supplement, especially up there in the frozen northland!

    I found it helpful to just take it one day at a time. Learn to listen to your body. And work on that patience!

    Stay safe!

     
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    Old 03-30-2020, 02:52 PM   #5
    spinalfusion
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    Re: Pain after spinal fusion

    Thanks for your reassuring words. I had L4-5 fused, maybe more. I'd have to look it up to be sure. I do walk around my house as much as I can every day. Nowhere else to walk since I live on a steep hill that I can't walk up and down right now, and the mall has closed. I aim for 2,000 steps a day - and sometimes make it, sometimes not.

    I will try the traction exercise on my bed, which is pretty firm. I think I'll run it by my physical therapist first, just to make sure he thinks it is OK for me to do.

    I know that patience is the key. It's just hard to do sometimes.

     
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    Old 03-30-2020, 03:09 PM   #6
    teteri66
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    Re: Pain after spinal fusion

    I remember some of those steep hills! I was almost afraid to drive up some of them!

    It does get tedious but just remember that you cannot hurry recovery. Those that set time goals and try to push are often the ones who end up causing themselves further difficulties.

     
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    Old 03-30-2020, 03:13 PM   #7
    spinalfusion
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    Re: Pain after spinal fusion

    Good point. Thanks. I'll work on my patience. I keep thinking of the joke: "God, give me patience. And I want it RIGHT NOW!"

     
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    Old 04-02-2020, 05:11 PM   #8
    teteri66
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    Re: Pain after spinal fusion

    Yup! But try to develop it. As I said earlier, learn to listen to your body and do not try to push. Some people get away with it, but, it ultimately catches up to them. Take it slow and easy. Work on getting stronger. Do your back exercises every day...and donít stop once you are through recovery! If you have extra pounds, try to lose them!

     
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    Old 04-03-2020, 06:22 AM   #9
    spinalfusion
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    Re: Pain after spinal fusion

    Thanks again. I know I should lose weight. I am very heavy for my height and have been ever since I went through menopause 20+ years ago. But with all the aches and pains after surgery and being stuck in the house [with nothing to do but eat :-) ], it is getting harder, not easier, to drop some pounds. I did lose 20 lbs after the surgery, but I'm sure I've gained it all back and then some.

    Life is just so challenging right now. Thanks for your support.

     
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