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  • 3 Months Post-Op Spinal Fusion at L5/S1

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    Old 02-25-2012, 04:46 PM   #1
    baseballmom2
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    3 Months Post-Op Spinal Fusion at L5/S1

    Hi,
    I am hoping someone out there can tell me what I am experiencing at 3 months post-op a L5/S1 fusion is normal?? I am very frustrated. I can't sit without feeling like a pressure cooker. Driving is miserable. I also tucker out with pain in my back around dinner time. Then, I am on the couch or the heating pad the rest of the night. My surgeon says the fusion looks perfect. At 3 months I am 50% fused and bone growth is evident. I just feel miserable in the evenings and do nothing socially. I am in PT. I walk 2-3 miles every day! My doctor says this is all very normal. How do I know if this is muscle pain (which is what he thinks) or nerve pain? Some days I think the pain is new pain, yet other days I think it is different pain than prior to surgery. It is all I can do to drive to my son's school (10 minutes away). I am back to work, but it is tough. I want my life back!!

     
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    Old 02-25-2012, 07:34 PM   #2
    Nanacan
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    Re: 3 Months Post-Op Spinal Fusion at L5/S1

    Not sure if I really have an answer for you, but I definitely feel for you! Also from what I understand on here, spinal cord disorder is mostly cervical surgeries. I've actually had both but most recently cervical fusion. It's been 10 yrs since I had lumbar fusion at L4/5. I actually had Laminectomy , foramenotomy & discectomy first- I didn't get any relief so went to another doctor who said only a fusion would help. I didn't notice a lot of relief at all until at least 4 months. At 6 months I tried to go back to work but only lasted about 3 months. I'm not saying this to discourage you, I'm just saying that I found out before surgery it seems the doctors make surgery out to be a lot easier than it is! I have been told that my bones fused just fine& driving was definitely a problem for me. Never could sit for long periods. I would give it more time before you panic!! Are you in a brace? I sure hated that thing! Lol good luck, hope it all works out good!
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    Old 02-25-2012, 11:53 PM   #3
    teteri66
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    Re: 3 Months Post-Op Spinal Fusion at L5/S1

    Welcome to the forum. There are actually two separate boards for back issues -- this one and one called "Back Problems" where you will find most of the lumbar "spineys." You might want to post there as well, so more people will see it.

    I have a couple thoughts on your problem. First, do not worry. You are still early in the process and it is normal to have some pain at this point. However, if it seems like the pain is different or more intense than previously, you will want to discuss it with your surgeon (who will most likely tell you that you are early in the healing process and everything looks great...be patient, etc.).

    Unfortunately with a L5-S1 fusion it is not all that unusual to have problems with the SI joints. Sometimes you end up "trading leg pain for butt pain", to quote my surgeon. It has been my experience that if this is managed properly in the beginning, the patient can keep it from becoming a chronic issue...You can look for sacroiliac joint dysfunction and read about it to see if anything sounds similar...then you can ask your surgeon about it when you next see him.

    I would suggest that you are overdoing the walking at this point. A good way to judge is if you are having increasing pain, back off for awhile and see if that helps. You may just be doing more than your newly engineered spine is capable of handling at this point.

    I think the fact that you feel bad by evening indicates that your spine is tired by the end of the day.

    You have to remember that your lumbar spine has been through an assault. The segment of the spine that used to take most of the brunt of movement is now joined together into one solid block, so the first movable thing beyond this is the SI joint, which was designed to have minimal movement. Everything needs to become accustomed to its new function or settle down and recover from the trauma.

    Regarding sitting, do not sit for more than about 20 minutes at a time. If you must sit longer, get up briefly and take a quick walk around the room. Sitting puts 30% more stress on the spine than either standing or lying down.

    There is a product you may find useful called a Back Joy, available online. It is a lightweight portable sitting device that supports your "bottom" in a way that kind of forces the spine into good alignment. You can use it in your car. I used to take mine to restaurants and the theatre...great on airplanes.

    When you are driving try taking a towel, rolling it and laying it along the outer side of your right thigh. This will hold your leg in position so that the knee stays aligned with the hip and the foot is aligned with the knee. This should keep you more comfortable when you drive.

    I remember when I was 3 months out from fusion, I could only do one errand at a time, or go for one appointment, etc. I didn't have the energy to string errands together like I did previously in my life. You will find that it is easier to avoid doing too much and sending the back into a flare than to push it, cause a flare and then spend days or weeks trying to get back to the point where you were prior to causing the flare. If you're not very careful, you can take months going one step forward and then two back...It takes a long time to get to the finish line that way.

    You must learn to be patient and just take things one day at a time. Recovery from fusion is a long process. Your fusion will not be set up and truly strong for a year. During that time your body will still be using energy that is drained off to that healing. It can take quite awhile to get energy levels back up to where they once were....So try to accept that this is just part of the process. A year may seem like a very long time while you are going through it, but the way I look at it, if you look at the big picture of a lifetime, it isn't long at all. The benefits of giving yourself time to heal properly so you won't have to go through this again are worth the temporary inconvenience. Know that what you are experiencing is common and things do get better.

    Please feel free to stop in any time if you have concerns or questions, or just need to vent your frustrations! Many people on the board have had lumbar fusions and we are happy to try to help you in your journey.

     
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