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Back to work after 360? Realistically when?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,000
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
When I was out last year for my back problems, which ultimatelly resulted in a TLIF @ L4/5. I was out a total of 8 1/2 months. (from May 1, 2007 to Jan 15, 2008) The first 3 months I was futzing around with a Chiropractor. His adjustments felt fantastic for about 1/2 day then I was in the same pain as before (which seemed worse). After 3 months of 3x per week he finally declaired that he could do nothing further for me and finally referred me to an Ortho Doc. It's where I probably should have gone in the 1st place. After a series of x-rays, CT scan and MRI my problems were discovered (DDD, sciatica, spondylolisthesis) and a plan of attack was discussed. I finally had surgery on 9/25/07. When waking up in recovery, one of the first things I noticed was that the pain I had before surgery was totally gone. Other than the surgical pain I felt great. Doc told me not to get too excited just yet. We had to insure the bone graph(s) were going to start growing.

After several follow-ups, x-rays, CT scans and MRIs, my constant complaining of lower back pain (seems to be located mostly on L and R sides just above my buttocks and in surgical area) and loss of balance my Surgeon informed me that there was no indication of new bone growth. This was at the 11 month mark. BUMMER L) His suggestion was to either wait a while longer (6+ months) to see if anything happened of to consider another surgery. If I decided on surgery, he recommended a 360/Global fusion. First an ALIF then a PLIF done @ same time. I decided to go for it and it is scheduled for election day, 11/4.

Anyway, after the TLIF in late Sept last year, I returned to work in just under 4 months. My employer made adjustments for me and stuck me behind a desk/computer. Even bought me a new chair. I was actually surprised that I even had a job after being gone for that long.

This time around, Empoyer knows I'm going out for surgery but wants me to return as soon as possible.

How long after the surgery can I realistacally plan on returning to work after a 360 fusion? I don't want to be gone too long but I don't want to return too early either. It would again be behind a desk until I am able and released to full duty.


  • Kevin,
    First off, everyone heals and recovers differently so what I can say only applies to me. I had my 360 fusion, part one on April 2, part 2 on April 10. Each surgery lasted 6 plus hours. The 2nd surgery through the abdomen was by far the worst because of the cutting of those muscles and the taking of the piece of hip for the fusion. I had to wear a fusion brace(turtle shell type) until mid August. Doctors wanted to make sure fusion was taking place and the spine was stable and they were. I was cleared to go back to work in early November but I had retired a few months before.
    Not knowing your age and your physical condition and the type of job you do, its hard to predict when you could return to work. I could have gone to work wearing the brace if I didn't have to stand, walk distances, and could maybe lay down a few times a day.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • ...for the reply. Any and all info I can get is most helpful. My surgeon wants to do the ALIF/PLIF at the same time. ALIF first, roll me over, then the PLIF. He mentioned that at the time of the PLIF is being done, the hardware from the TLIF would be removed (I wonder if I can have it as a souvenir?) and new hardware installed. <?> The surgeon recommended it this way, but to me it seems like a lot of truma to the body all at once. But what do I know? I just figured out how to add an avatar. =D> :W

    I'm a 53 yo non-smoker. Recent wellness fair/clinic at work (Oct 6th) rated me as in good health but slightly overweight. :$
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  • I had anterior/posterior fusion in late July 2008 - am not quite 12 weeks post-op now. (I am 58 and in very good health prior to surgery though I had not been able to walk for long periods - 30 minutes or more - without pain prior to surgery). Now I can sit for about an hour without getting too uncomfortable and walk about 20 minutes at a time before my back starts to get tired. Still in brace (turtle shell) though using it less - doc says I must use it at least another month. I still need to lay down a few times a day to take pressure off my spine. Bone growth had just started at 8 weeks. I start PT next week.

    My surgeries were done on two different days - one on Monday and the other on Wednesday - I went home on Friday. However, a friend had both on the same day and surgery lasted between 9 and 10 hours.

    I believe that most people would say that the 360 surgery has a longer recovery time than TLIF - but of course there are so many factors that it can differ greatly for each person.

    I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming surgery!

  • megb said:

    My surgeries were done on two different days - one on Monday and the other on Wednesday - I went home on Friday. However, a friend had both on the same day and surgery lasted between 9 and 10 hours.

    I believe that most people would say that the 360 surgery has a longer recovery time than TLIF - but of course there are so many factors that it can differ greatly for each person.

    I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming surgery!
    Thanks for the well wishes. I tend to agree with you that the 360 procedure would have a longer recovery time than say a TLIF or PLIF alone but, my doc swears that in his experience in his practice the 360 patient recovers more quickly than a TLIF patient (and has a higher fusion success rate) with the exception of the initial surgical wounds. His reasoning is the 360 procedure attacks the spine from both sides and offers more stability during recovey than the TLIF, PLIF or ALIF alone. Made since to me at the time we discussed it. How 'bout you guys? Yes? No?
  • I have heard that the fusion rate is higher with 360. As for recovery, I am sure the doctor knows more than I do - so if he says it is a faster recovery then he is probably correct. Either way, I am sorry you have to have surgery again.
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  • I had my 360 done on Jan 11, 2007 and was back to work March 8th, 2007.

    That was too soon though. I can't stand to sit around, so I went back to work to keep from going nuts. If I had to do it over again, I would have stayed off until about May. Rehab and work conditioning kicked my butt and I think that is what caused me to start down the slippery slope of having pain again.

    The 360 does seem to have a higher fusion rate associated with it. See if they plan the back (PLIF) portion of your surgery minimally invasive or not. I had the Sextant System used for the PLIF portion and that made a huge difference in recovery. I had many more recovery issues with my abdomen versus posterior access area.

    Wish you the best!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Had my surgery on 22 July 08. The first few weeks were hard but then I was up and moving on pain meds. Started Bone Growth Stimulator device just after 6 week check up and ever since I have been sore and having more muscle spasms and more pain in left buttock and just below the surgery site. Is this normal? I see the NS this afternoon for my 3 month check up. I am anxious to return to work but do not want to work with pain anymore. How long is a realistic full recovery period for this procedure? Thanks for this forum.
  • My penny worth...

    I haven't had a 360 (nearly) but fortunately my 2 level fusion has now fused. #:S
    But, after 3 sergeries in 20 months, I am pretty shot.

    I feel mentally very well :))( - glad to be alive actually....but my back is very weak.
    I am 4 weeks post op now and walking not far 5 minutes for a normal person, takes me 20 minutes ...I am so slow. My back pain kicks in after 30 mins sitting down.

    I think now the job of rehabilitation is another challenge. My mind more than willing to haste around the shops and get on with life, but as soon as I try, my back aches, I feel sick.

    What I am trying to say is, let your body be the guide. If you set yourself up for being back in 4 months and you don't do it, your setting yourself up for failing and a dissappointment, more stress u don't need.

    Look into disability law and employment law. You may be surprised how it can protect you.

    Good luck with your operations.
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