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spinal fusion recovery time

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Old 07-29-2002, 05:27 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Farmington NY United States
Posts: 1
kilo39dn HB User
spinal fusion recovery time

can any one tell us how long the usual recovery time is for a T8 spinal fusion ,what to expect for movement and what are the outlooks for riding a Harley Davidson again?any opinions and facts would be gratly appreciated

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Old 07-30-2002, 04:33 AM   #2
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: England
Posts: 36
Hayley HB User
Re: spinal fusion recovery time

I’m not sure if there is an ‘official statement’ as to the length of time it takes for bones to fuse and I have no experience of fusion in that region of the spine.

However, I do have experience of fusion in the lumbar region - I was fused posteriorly 12 weeks ago at L4-S1, with instrumentation using bone harvested from my left and right iliac crests. I’ve been told that although I should see an improvement within 6 months it will take 12-18 months in total for the bones to fuse fully. My physio has told me that the bones will be pretty strong already and all I am feeling is pain from the bone graft sites/general post op pain – all of this should clear.

I guess it depends on the levels being fused, the severity of your injury, the type of fusion performed (anterior/posterior), if instrumentation is used to stabilise the site, how strong the levels are above and below the fused vertebrae and if you use donor bone or your own bone – I seem to remember someone posting here very recently who used donor bone. He was told time and time again that his x-rays looked great and everything was going well. Sadly he was still in immense pain so (don’t quote me here) I believe they operated again to check/remove the hardware. On going in they discovered the bone hadn’t actually taken and it literally flaked out.

I know my motion will be limited but I’ve no experience higher up the spine to know if you'll every ride your Harley again!

All I can say is that I am experiencing the ‘positive’ with fusion and I hope it continues on this upward spiral. There are obviously a number of factors that need to be taken into account when asking the question you have – perhaps a call to your consultant would be a good option.

Take care, I wish you luck!


Old 07-30-2002, 09:17 AM   #3
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Virginia Beach, Va
Posts: 160
davidc66 HB User
Re: spinal fusion recovery time

Hey Kilo, That was me that the fusion failed. The reason they went back in was because 2 screws sheared off at the bone leaving tips embedded but the hardware and vertebrae shifting.They told me for 2 years my fusion was solid despite my complaints. Xrays really aren't the greatest way to tell if a fusion is solid. Hardware can keep everything in place, However hardware isn't designed to bear the weight indefinitely.

If the fusion takes the hardware becomes just a fixture and the bone growth is actually stronger. Normal time in a brace is about 12 weeks and after that hardware should hold things in place as the bone continues to fuse.

MY docs have also told me 12 months before you see max benifit and total fusion if it's going to happen.For every level they fuse they say you loose 2 degrees of movement. 2 degrees isn't a lot of lost mobility and often the areas above and below become hyper mobile to compensate for the fused area. I'm fused from L1-S1 and can still lay on my back and roll both legs all the way over to the ground in either direction. All the rotation comes from my thoracic area now and I'm slowly developing problems from the hyper mobility.

Smoking cuts your odds in half of succesful fusion. So give your self every chance for succes.You really don't see many Thoracic fusions so it may be hard to find smomeone that has had the same sugery. Lumbar and cervical are the norm. I guess the ribs normally give the thoracic area added stability.I do hope you find some relief from surgery. Take care David

Old 07-30-2002, 11:25 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: England
Posts: 36
Hayley HB User
Re: spinal fusion recovery time

Hi David - nice to meet you.

Thanks for confirming I'm not going mad...I knew I'd read it somewhere...and thanks for expanding on the story!

Kilo - hope we've helped in some way..?


Old 07-31-2002, 10:30 PM   #5
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: green Cove Springs, Fl. USA
Posts: 51
Oma HB User
Re: spinal fusion recovery time

Hi, I could really use some help. MRI came back with C5&6 and C 7 & 8 are both bulging. As for lumbar S1and L5 have nothing between them and the two above them are compressed. I go to a pain Doc, Reumoltolgist, phys. therepy and a therepist to help me get over the depression, which sounds really stupid, because I can't work anymore. What should I do. What is the best thing for the Cervical Spine. I am so woried about being paralized, but there are so many of you, including my brother, and my sister had 2 lumbar surgeries. Are we on disability after the surgeries? Is is better to hold out as long as possible. Any help will make me feel better when I go in to the doctor next month. Thanks Oma

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