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  • Recovering from Spinal Fusion

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    Old 04-10-2014, 03:46 PM   #1
    Join Date: Apr 2014
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    Recovering from Spinal Fusion

    Hello, I am hoping to gather some general information and try to make sense of what is happening to me 7 weeks post surgery. I had a spinal fusion at L4 L5 and clean up work there and at S1. I was doing really well until the 6th week post surgery. I haven't done anything I was told NOT to do...bend, twist, lift, etc.. Shortly after week 6, my foot and leg symptoms amplified. I had burning feet, numbness,(which never really subsided after the surgery) and leg pain. Now I have the foot stuff to beat the band, some leg pain, and pain in the right buttocks. (My right side is the side that had the most involvement.) I have contacted my doctor and he put me on a dose of prednisone and also some neuropathy ointment and Lyrica (I hated Hydrocodone) I have had some relief. Even on all this stuff, I have these peeks and valleys of pain. Is this a normal part of nerve recovery? I've been told that everyone is different and that in 12 weeks it will be better. I am mentally exhausted and fighting the blues in a big way. Anyone out there with any information? I would really appreciate the feedback.

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    Old 04-10-2014, 10:55 PM   #2
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    Re: Recovering from Spinal Fusion

    Welcome to the board.

    I saw some of your posts on other members' threads, and see that you had the Arcadia Implant. Technically, you have not had a fusion surgery. Did your surgeon say otherwise? Not that it matters a great deal, but I am just curious what you were told.

    Unless I missed something, the Arcadia implant does not yet have FDA approval and is in the third phase of clinical testing. It is a motion - preserving alternative to fusion. You mentioned you did not need a bone graft. The reason is because your procedure is a facet joint replacement. It doesn't affect the discs. In terms of recovery, I do not know anyone that has had this implant, but I would think recovery would be similar to lumbar fusion, but somewhat quicker since you don't have to wait to grow bone and wait for it to set up solidly, which takes around 12 months.

    However, you have had major surgery, involving bone removal, and with stenosis, there was probably some work to free-up the compressed nerves. Nerves do regenerate at a very slow rate...12-18 months is not unusual, and sometimes even then there is only partial recovery. Some people are left with some residual nerve damage.

    As to your specific questions, you usually want to be making a little forward progress, slight though it might be. The fact that things got worse at six weeks is a little concerning, as one worries about the formation of scar tissue. But, in general, it is not unusual to have continuing nerve pain post surgery, particularly if the surgeon had to work to get the nerves decompressed.

    Try to be patient and continue doing the things your surgeon instructed you to do. If you were led to believe this procedure would resolve your issues fairly quickly, you were probably given an optimistic timetable.

    With a standard lumbar fusion, people rarely begin to feel even somewhat back to normal for three to six months. And most comment there was a noticeable turning point at the one year mark. Patience is a necessary trait to develop when one has a big spine surgery.

    Please keep posting with your progress. I think you are the first one on this board who has had this implant.

    Last edited by teteri66; 04-10-2014 at 10:57 PM.

    Old 04-11-2014, 05:04 AM   #3
    Join Date: Apr 2014
    Posts: 4
    Shugster HB User
    Re: Recovering from Spinal Fusion

    My surgeon said that the Acadia device was similar to a fusion, would give me more mobility, and did not require a bone graft, which would mean recovery would be easier. Because it was FDA, I didn't know if I was actually getting one until after the surgery. After speaking with the doc and my husband, I felt that this was the better way to go. I think I may have been led to believe that I would be feeling better sooner. The doc office put me out of work for 6 to 8 weeks; but then when I got my stitches out, I was told by the PA that they would really like to see me not go back to work for 12. (I go back to work this Monday, but I'm not sure I will be able to do it. I have FMLA so if I am not able to I guess I will take another 4 weeks.) Then at the 5 1/2 week mark, my doc asked if there was a way I could go back part time. I think the initial information I've been getting had my head set in another direction, thinking that I would be fine in 8 weeks. Or maybe it was wishful thinking. I dunno. I am not able to start PT until the 12 week appointment. Perhaps patience is the lesson here for me. This is the roughest thing I've ever gone through. Thank you for you response, teteri66!

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