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    Old 10-14-2013, 02:17 PM   #1
    rosebud2028
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    Question Spinal Fusion

    I am preparing for spinal fusion in a couple of weeks. I would like to know what the post recovery is like? Will I go directly to rehabilitation center after leaving hospital? Does it really take 6-8 months before I will be normal? Have so many questions and would like for someone who has had a slipped vertebrae and spinal fusion to share with me their experience. I would like to know all there is to know about it .This will be me first spinal surgery. I broke my back in 1998 my 2nd lumbar and it did not heal correctly. I just started to have real pain from this injury a year ago. I have tried all treatments epidurals, shots in my right hip and pain meds with no relief. MRI couple of weeks ago show slipped vertebrae. Time for surgery ...even though I am a little nervous, I am sure all will be well. I have had 9 unrelated surgeries over the years. I will appreciate any comments or advice.

    Last edited by rosebud2028; 10-14-2013 at 06:49 PM.

     
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    Old 10-15-2013, 05:05 PM   #2
    teteri66
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    Welcome to the board. I am sorry you are having to go through a fusion. I hope you have consulted with more than one spine surgeon so you know the surgery is absolutely necessary.

    You didn't mention which level is causing the problems. Do you know what type of fusion you are having? Most are done with hardware of some type, and entry can be from the front, back or even from the side. It can make a difference in your recovery.

    Many people start to feel fairly OK by the third month, but often, if you are having radiculopathy or some type of nerve pain, it will take many months more for it to go away. The fusion itself is not fully complete (set up strong and hard) for a year, so you need to modify some activities until that point.

    If you look near the top of the main Back board you will find a "stickie" note entitled something like "Post surgery must haves...." It is a list of things that people have found helpful to have right after surgery. Most of the items are not necessary, but as you read through people's suggestions, it will help you to get an idea of life after surgery.

    You will not be allowed to bend or twist at the waist for several months post surgery, so plan accordingly. Arrange your kitchen so that the things you use often are at counter height or easily reachable. Get clothes that are easy to get into with an elastic waistband like yoga pants or sweatpants. With my first surgery I had a satin bottom sheet which made it much easier to turn over. I did not need it with a subsequent fusion, so perhaps it matters what kind of shape you are in to begin with and just where you have your incision.

    I also found a raised toilet seat to be necessary. Sometimes the hospital will send you home with one. If things go OK and the PT and OT feel you can manage on your own (doing simple tasks like toileting yourself, getting food, walking stairs if your home has them...) you will be realized after a couple nights in hospital. You will only be sent to a rehab center if the hospital staff feels you are not ready to go home. Most patients are able to go home.

    The most important decision is finding the best spine surgeon that is available to you. The quality of the hospital is also important as infection can be a big problem with fusion.

    It is a big surgery and you can count on the first week being difficult. But we all seem to make it through. Good luck.

     
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    Old 10-15-2013, 06:15 PM   #3
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    [QUOTE=rosebud2028;5232551]I am preparing for spinal fusion in a couple of weeks. I would like to know what the post recovery is like? Will I go directly to rehabilitation center after leaving hospital? Does it really take 6-8 months before I will be normal? Have so many questions and would like for someone who has had a slipped vertebrae and spinal fusion to share with me their experience. I would like to know all there is to know about it .This will be me first spinal surgery. I broke my back in 1998 my 2nd lumbar and it did not heal correctly. I just started to have real pain from this injury a year ago. I have tried all treatments epidurals, shots in my right hip and pain meds with no relief. MRI couple of weeks ago show slipped vertebrae. Time for surgery ...even though I am a little nervous, I am sure all will be well. I have had 9 unrelated surgeries over the years. I will appreciate any comments or advice.[/QUOTE]
    Rosebud,

    Hi, I am just passing 3 1/2 months post op on a tlif l5/s1. One thing to remember is everyone's recovery is different. You won't read that just once on here. I'm not sure what your surgery entails, however, I am also in VA and a teacher and can say that I am back to my teaching job of 3rd graders full time. I LISTENED AND DID EVERYThING my spine neouro surgeon told me to do. They will have you up and walking within the first 24 hours. It is not a cake walk, but keep on top of your pain and keep your pain level at a minimum, that is also a key. This site is a wonderful tool and support. I'm still leaning on it. I will keep you in my prayers.

     
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    Old 10-15-2013, 09:24 PM   #4
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    Thank you very much...very helpful. Where is the Back board you will find a "stickie" note entitled something like "Post surgery must haves...." ? This is my first post, and I haven't really navigated around this site much. So you think I need a 2nd opinion? My surgeon has over 30 years experience and care about me as a person..as well a patient. I have been with him a year as well a orthopedic, and pain interventionist. I will go to office visit with him tomorrow for follow up of the MRI I had last week. He actually showed the previous MRI to me, my vertebrae is slipped..looks like a "stair". I have been on narcotic pain meds for a year and have had spinal epidurals and shots in my hip. None of these treatments helped..at all.

     
    Old 10-15-2013, 09:27 PM   #5
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    Thank you, I have all faith that God will guide my surgeon and there will not be any complications. The one that concerns me is the possibility of bowel or bladder problems. What do you know about that? God bless you

     
    Old 10-16-2013, 02:20 PM   #6
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    I can tell you that I have had two spinal fusions done, they were both at the same location. The first was in June of 2011 and I had two discs that had completely disintegrated. Had not had any problems until I baked a birthday cake for my husband and when I went to take it out of the oven the pain was so excruciating I dropped the cake. Three weeks later I was in for surgery. Post op, I stayed in the hospital for a week and then went home. No rehab or anything. Starting about 6 months after fusion pain returned only worse, I was still on Oxycontin at this time as well. Surgeon said that they fusion did not take that there was no bone growth to hold the cage. Surgery to replace hardware and install a bone growth stimulator was done in April of 2012. Stayed a week in the hospital required a 4 pint blood transfusion and then I was sent to a rehab center for a month of OT and PT. Being in that facility was wonderful as it allowed me to focus on what I needed to do versus being at home and thinking I needed to conquer all the daily chores there. I for the last probably 6 months at least have been experiencing severe pain again and numbness in my left buttock and down the leg. Not sure what is going on at this time, but my advice is to get a second opinion no matter how fond you are of your doctor. I adored mine and really thought that he was very caring, but there was never any follow up after the third month of the second surgery. It was just referred to pain management who kept me on Oxycontin for 2 years despite my pleas to be taken off of it because I didn't like how it made me feel. I knew I was addicted. Make sure that you take care of yourself and that you don't try to handle a lot of things once you leave the hospital. I know that is easier said than done, but it will affect your recovery. I will keep you in my prayers and please let us know how you are doing.

     
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    Old 10-16-2013, 05:53 PM   #7
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    Smile Re: Spinal Fusion

    Thank you very much! I went to spine doc today and my surgery is postponed until I quit smoking. He said it will not heal if I am a smoker. So I am wondering...if you are a smoker? I will be having anterior surgery and will take approx. 2 hours. I have one slipped vertebrae and it is grade one. Other grades are extremely rare. I have tried all the treatments and tired of being doped up all the time. Nothing has helped this pain. I am so miserable in pain 24/7 for the last year..So, I am going ahead and give the surgery a try. I quit! ASAP! smoking is not worth me not healing properly. I will have bone graft from my pelvis. He told me today that I will be in pain for a while..it will also be sore from the bone graft. I am walking by faith..all will be well. I sincerely pray that you get better soon and are completely healed..in Jesus name. God bless you

     
    Old 10-16-2013, 07:06 PM   #8
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    [QUOTE=rosebud2028;5233296]Thank you very much! I went to spine doc today and my surgery is postponed until I quit smoking. He said it will not heal if I am a smoker. So I am wondering...if you are a smoker? I will be having anterior surgery and will take approx. 2 hours. I have one slipped vertebrae and it is grade one. Other grades are extremely rare. I have tried all the treatments and tired of being doped up all the time. Nothing has helped this pain. I am so miserable in pain 24/7 for the last year..So, I am going ahead and give the surgery a try. I quit! ASAP! smoking is not worth me not healing properly. I will have bone graft from my pelvis. He told me today that I will be in pain for a while..it will also be sore from the bone graft. I am walking by faith..all will be well. I sincerely pray that you get better soon and are completely healed..in Jesus name. God bless you[/QUOTE]

     
    Old 10-16-2013, 07:15 PM   #9
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    Wink Re: Spinal Fusion

    No, I am not a smoker. Gave it up years ago. I know they said the same thing though when they asked me, he said he would not do the surgery if I was. My first one was a 360 in which they went in from the abdomen and the back. I chose to have cadaver grafts as he highly recommended not taking from the hip because it could cause other problems. I was leery but after doing research decided that was a good thing. The surgery lasted 9 hours. The next one he just went through the back and that was 7 or 8 hours. I have osteoporosis and am Vitamin D deficient which I highly recommend that you ask them to check your levels. I feel like this deficiency is what led to my back issues and I have severe TMJ that I have had surgery on that still hurts the majority of the time. I know that most of the population is D deficient so please I encourage you......get checked. Otherwise the surgery could be a waste of time. They believe that is why my bone did not grow back after the first one. I will keep you in my prayers and great on quitting smoking! It is really not worth the risk associated with healing and with being under anesthesia. Hang in there!

     
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    Old 10-17-2013, 03:22 PM   #10
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    When you first click on "Back Problems" when you first get on Healthboards, the stickies are the first threads you will see on the page. It is the top one.

     
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    Old 10-26-2013, 10:44 PM   #11
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    Rosebud, when is your surgery? I am also in VA and am truly thankful for my spinal neosurgeon. What surgery I had normally takes 3 hours took 6. I'm so thankful he took the time needed. Although I am not 100%, I am not in the pain I was. I also went with cadaver bone, for the sake of pain that is extreme for having my own bone drilled out. That is another whole recovery as I have heard. I just past my 4 month anniversary and am doing well. I will keep you in my thoughts as you try to stop smoking and have success with your surgery. Just do what the doctor tells you. Prayers.

     
    Old 10-27-2013, 07:52 PM   #12
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    Hope everything goes well with you. I had a spinal fusion on July 17, 2013.I am 57 year old female. I broke my L1 it was compressed at least 75% while on vacation from a banana boat. I had T-12 L-1 and L-2 fused. Surgery was through the back and a Harrington Rod was used. My surgery was done at a outpatient center. I came through okay but how my husband got me home I do not know. I was on pain meds. I was in a whole lot of pain for at least 4 days then it got a little better. I also had to wear a back brace for almost six weeks. Then I started physical therapy. My pain is nothing like it was when I was first injured. But I still have good days and bad. I work for a automotive company but am still out of work. I have to return by the beginning of Jan. I am really worried because I have problems with lifting. Lifting is like 25 -50 lbs, on feet all day. Getting in the bed after surgery was hard for me and rolling over was awful. Definitely need an elevated commode seat. The cold weather is making me hurt more. Therapist told me that with my injury it could take close to a year for things to really get better. My neurosurgeon was great, can not say anything bad about him because my pain was so bad when I saw him. They also say walking helps you in your recovery. Wishing you well. I know all people are different.

     
    Old 10-28-2013, 03:44 PM   #13
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    I think the bone graft is the scariest part of this surgery. I get dizzy just thinking of my bone being drilled. My surgeon said I will have a better chance of the fusion being successful by using my own bone. I have smoked for 40 years and praying that I will heal successfully. I have quit smoking (one week) but wondering if the years of smoking will still leave nicotine lingering around in my blood. I am taking vitamins and have postponed the surgery for another 30 days. I want to be sure there is no nicotine in my system. [B][COLOR="Red"]Can anyone tell me more about the after effects of the bone graft? [/COLOR][/B]Surgeon is going anterior and seems there will be less risks by going through the abdomen. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my posts..God bless you

     
    Old 10-28-2013, 06:55 PM   #14
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    Hi Rosebud! First off good luck! If you trust your dr and did the research then go with them. I had L5-S1 done posterior with bone graft. I was warned of the pain that can be caused from the bone graft, sometimes can be described by people as worse than the fusion itself and achy but for me I had very little pain from the site. I did everything as prescribed, as I didn't start PT till just about 3 months post op and returning to a physical demanding job. I'm 1 yr post op and at 100%, doing crossfit, running 5k's, mountain biking, and just having fun and feeling great doing it... Good luck with everything!!

     
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    Old 10-28-2013, 07:43 PM   #15
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    Re: Spinal Fusion

    Thank you, you are very encouraging. I have heard horror stories of long term pain and aching from the graft site. I will not be able to work again..so I know that out. My job was standing on cement and lifting for 8 hours sometimes 8 hours 6-7 days a week. I am pretty sure I will get my SSI . I am having the surgery done at the end of November and will keep everyone posted about how I am doing and making progress. God bless

     
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