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  • Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

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    Old 11-30-2007, 08:54 AM   #1
    queenie5
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    Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    First time to this board. I am 55 years old. I had a previous laminectomy when I was only 19. I had my fusion done Sept 24th. So, I'm about 91/2 weeks out. I'm surprised at the amount of pain I'm still having. Around the house, I'm doing fairly well. We usually walk in the evening. After walking the pain is much worse, and then I'm usually miserable the next day. Previous to surgery, other than the 14 months of pain..... I was in pretty good shape. I work, I'm pretty thin. I'm a nurse, and I also do photography. Anyway.........is this unusual. I doctored at Rush in Chicago. He saw me 3 weeks post op, and doesn't want to see me again until Jan. 14th. I had in home PT the first 2 weeks and he doesn't start rehab until 12 weeks or so. Anyway, is the pain thing this long lasting. I thought I had a fairly good pain tolerance, but I'm fairly miserable!

     
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    Old 11-30-2007, 01:48 PM   #2
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Hi Pamela, and welcome to the board. Sorry you had to find it for this reason, though.

    I had a fusion on September 25, 2006. I hate to say, but you're very normal. This is a huge surgery, and it takes a longer time to heal from than most of us realize going into it. I was still on Percocet at the stage you're at, and I was just starting to be up for any length of time. I was still lying down for much of the day and was up for no more than a couple of hours at a time. I missed church for 9 weeks, and when I went back, I stood at the back for most of the service, as sitting was just too painful. By the time I got home, I was spent and laid down right away. I walked for maybe 30 minutes or so at a time, often less. I, too, had home PT for a couple of visits right after surgery, but that wasn't really for PT. It was more for making sure I could do what I needed to do around the house, could manage the stairs, etc. I didn't start real PT until 5 months post op.

    Maybe you can try walking for a shorter time but twice instead of once a day? If you're still miserable the next day, cut it back to once. Don't despair! You're right about where most of us were at 2-3 months. Are you keeping your pain meds up, even if you're having a better day? I'm sure you know this, as you're a nurse, but keeping it in your system helps a whole lot, rather than waiting until you hurt.

    I hope you feel a little more comfortable. Sometimes it helps simply to know that what you're feeling is normal!

    If you have any other questions, we'll do our best to help you. We're not doctors, we've just been there, done that!

    Take care,
    Emily

     
    Old 11-30-2007, 01:53 PM   #3
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Pamela, I had my fusion in March 06 and still in a lot of pain. I am having second Surgery on Dec 20th this year.
    Your pain is very normal unfortunatelly. This is a very early stage still beleive or not and you will have some ups and downs down the road of recovery.
    Everybody was telling me to be patient and I was expecting they are talking about couple of month, oh, no...
    Best of luck on your recovery!

     
    Old 11-30-2007, 08:58 PM   #4
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Thanks so much for the replys. I had to laugh about the church thing. I tried to go 2 weeks after I was home or maybe 3 weeks. We sat in the back and lasted about 30 minutes. That was 7 weeks ago and I haven't been back. I'm going to try this week. I also was trying to cut way back on the pain med. I did that about my 6th week, and ended up setting myself back about 2 weeks. Nurses are not good patients! I really think the docs minimized this surgery. I really thought I'd be completely normal with possibly some residual pain, if it didn't completely take care of the problem. At this point, I have no idea if the surgery worked or not. I'm glad I found this board, because it really helps to talk to someone whos had the same thing done. Thanks again.

     
    Old 12-01-2007, 04:43 AM   #5
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    [QUOTE=Pamela J.;3330711] Nurses are not good patients! I really think the docs minimized this surgery. I really thought I'd be completely normal with possibly some residual pain, if it didn't completely take care of the problem. At this point, I have no idea if the surgery worked or not. I'm glad I found this board, because it really helps to talk to someone whos had the same thing done. Thanks again.[/QUOTE]

    And especially, GOOD nurses are not good patients! The doctors don't tend to tell you what the recovery is really going to be like. I wouldn't have had a clue if I hadn't found this board. I have such great respect for my doctor; he's my hero! But he didn't give me any details about recovery unless I knew exactly what to ask. I think it's partly that they don't want to trigger the way psychologically for the patient to have a harder recovery, but it's also partly that they only see us for 5 minutes or so every now and then after surgery. They really don't "get" what it's like to be at home trying to follow their directions and going through the pain, constant grogginess, frustration, boredom, etc. I'd go in for a post op appt and tell him about pains I was having, and he'd tell me that I was still "early on" in this, even at 6 months. It really takes a good year for a full recovery. I was still seeing improvement at 11 months.

    Normally, fusion doesn't even start showing up on x-ray until at least 3 months, so don't be disappointed if you go in and see nothing going on. Lots of people here haven't seen anything happening for much longer than that.

    Just keep doing all you can to give yourself the best chance at fusion. Eat as healthy as you can, walk and rest, no BLT's unless it's a sandwich, and if you're a smoker, ditch them.

    Hope today's a better day for you.
    Emily

     
    Old 12-22-2007, 02:15 PM   #6
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Now I'm at my 12 week period. This last week has been so discouraging. The pain seems worse. I can't sleep through the night. The pain is my lower central back and throbs into the buttock region and down both thighs. It seems like a different pain now. They told me no antiinflammatories, but it doesnt seem like the vicoden even takes it away completely. I called Chicago this week and they didn't return my call. Now with the Holiday I'm sure theres no getting in touch until next week. I was hoping he would start my PT a little early. I see them January 14th. Maybe I'm just going to be one of the bad statistics................. Very discouraged at this point. Would love to hear from any of you 10 -12 , or 14 week post op people!

     
    Old 12-22-2007, 11:50 PM   #7
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    I think it's way too early for you to get discouraged. As you are healing right now, lots is going on back there. Your entire spine and your back is readjusting to the new changes and that gets everything back there alittle mad.. that they are having to pull extra duty now.

    During this time, things also get real stiff and achey, to include muscle spasms. Are you on any muscle relaxers at all? This along with your pain medication might be that extra boost to help you along and control the pain. Are you taking any nerve medication has anyone suggested trying you on a medrol pack to see if inflammation is a factor.

    Hopefully with some new meds, PT and some more time, will change things in a positive way for you.

    Hang in there and keep us posted.
    __________________
    "believe in the beauty of your dreams"- E. Roosevelt

    L5/S1 bulging @ 18, now 46; still there (but no pain)
    Fusion at L4/L5 Apr -2006
    Solidly Fused Nov-2006
    A Success, but still improving!

     
    Old 12-23-2007, 12:31 AM   #8
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Pam, I agree with Tammy completely. This is major, major surgery and frankly I believe many doctors are not completely honest about the recovery time from this surgery. They are probably scared to death if they tell people the truth they won't go thru with the surgery.

    You are going to have pain off an on for the next year. The key is understanding if anything is causing it. For instance, thru documenting my pain my surgeon and I were able to see that my pain was mechanical in nature. It worsened as the day progressed and increased with activity. Once activity decreased my pain would calm down.

    Also try to give you doctor concrete descriptions regarding your pain. Let them know if the pain is burning, numb, shooting, tingling, dull, cramping, aching, buzzing, knot feeling, etc.

    Explain to your doctor if a particular activity causes the pain. An example would be: when I brush my teeth my pain increases in my back (cramping, ache) and I can't straighten back up for a few minutes. Another might be, when I empty the dishwasher, I get shooting pains down the leg that according to my family I go white in the face - my daughter had to get me a chair to sit down on because my legs became very weak and could not support my weight.

    Explain to your doctor if a particular body position relieves the pain. If I lean forward while sitting, it reduces pressure. If I lean forward on the cart, it takes pressure off of my spine. If I lay in a fetal position, it helps tremendously.

    Explain to him your pain scale. On my scale of 1 to 10. A one would be a stubbed toe, a 5 would be slamming my fingers in a car door, a 10 would be giving birth to a baby, having my appendix rupture, first day after spinal surgery, or having the bone shatter in arm when I fell and they needed to add pins to stablize the arm. No 2 people have the same tolerance to pain and categroize pain in the same way.

    I hope these tidbits help you and I strongly encourage you to take the time doing this for your doctor = It takes alot of time but it has helped me communicate with my GP concerning my pain levels and he truly sees my pain levels and what I deal with on a daily basis. It has also helped him determine what further testsing or medications are necessary.

    Good luck and I pray that you find some comfort soon.

     
    Old 12-23-2007, 05:26 AM   #9
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Thanks for the Responses. It doesn't seem like there is any activity that provokes it. It is just a constant deep ache that radiates, and goes down mid thigh. It has been very rainy the last few days. I'm in Northwest Indiana. I decided to just stay on my pain meds until I see them in January. We're about an hour and a half from the Dr. so its not just someone I can run in and see. They're not very good about getting back to me either. I guess I'm just afraid that maybe this was all for nothing. And I'm sure all of you have had the same feelings! I think I've been pretty patient (the first 12 weeks anyway). Hopefully I'll find out more in January. Were you told not to take any anti inflammatories? I feel that is what I need, but they told me no advil, motrin etc. I guess they all have their own protocols they follow. So basically I'm on Vicoden. They gave me valium too, but I don't notice it does much unless its a day that I'm totally losing it! I had planned to go back to work in about a week. (I'm a nurse in oncology. But, theres no way thats going to happen. I'd probably last about 2 hours. I also do photography. I have been doing that since about 6 weeks post op. But thats intermittant, and I do my own scheduling, so its not like the nursing job. As far as the pain scale, I think mine is a little different.....................I think I would put smashing my fingers in a car door very close to childbirth!!!! I've been rating mine about a 6 the last few days. But actually I hate that scale. If the Dr. doesn't really know you personally that scale means nothing to me. Like you all said, everyone rates pain differently. My 6 may be your 2!!. Thanks again. Didn't mean to write a letter, but theres no one to talk to except someone thats had it done!

     
    Old 12-25-2007, 09:42 AM   #10
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Thanks for your response. I've only had one post op visit, so I guess not being in touch with them very often, you start to think you should be further along then you are. I'm only on Vidoden, which Im trying to stay at one a day. I have valium, but it doesn't seem to do much. Have a wonderful day. Merry Christmas! I've been up since 3 am, so I'm going to grab a quick nap before we start our parties. Very difficult to get a full nights sleep!

     
    Old 12-31-2007, 08:25 AM   #11
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Hi Pam, I am in my 11th week post op, fusion l5-s1. I have a lot of pain and I do sometimes think that I am one of the bad statistics too. Sometimes I think I picked the wrong doctor, who knows. I'm very limited with my movements, I have a lot of pain mostly in the center and right side of my back. Also my right leg from the knee down hurts a lot more still then it was before the surgery. I take Lyrica twice a day and vicoden 2-4 times a day. I would like to hear from people that went thru this and actually feel good eventally. So this way we know there is hope. I can't wait to feel better.

     
    Old 12-31-2007, 09:41 AM   #12
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Have you had a recent visit with your surgeon? I see mine in 2 weeks. I haven't seen him since 3 weeks post op.

     
    Old 12-31-2007, 12:36 PM   #13
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    I have seen my surgeon 8 weeks after the surgery, had a CT scan and everything looks ok. He said it will take some time for the nerve irritation to heal, and also for fusion to heal. But I know a person that 4 weeks after the surgery was totally fine with the exception of stiffnes in the back and still some numness in the leg, but no pain. My next surgeon appoitment is Jan.22. I hope I'll be able to start some type of PT because my legs and my lower body is getting stiff.

     
    Old 12-31-2007, 05:02 PM   #14
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    My heart and prayers go out to you both...I hope you both find the answers that you need and find good "pain relief." Happy "Pain-Free" New Year!

     
    Old 01-01-2008, 08:03 AM   #15
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    Re: Post op Fusion L 5 and S1, and dynamic stabilization L 4 and 5

    Hello, and how are you?

    I just had Dynamic Stabilization (w/ Fusion) at L4-5 & S5-1. I am doing horribly, and I have 2 small kids at home. My dr was NOT pleased that I am not yet driving. I can barely walk, much less DRIVE in this pain. I am also supposed to start PT on the 10th! My gosh.

    Happy new year, and I hope you're feeling some better. I am now 7 weeks post-op.

     
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