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Back surgery, Lumbar, L3,4,5 fusion with interbody cages, screws, etc.

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,002
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey everyone, I'm new here, don't know if anybody got my post yesterday, so I don't know if it made it there. I had my surgery on Nov. 7th of this yr. (08), still have a lot of pain in my back, and LOTS of pain in my left leg still. I take Vicodin 3 x day, + Valium for back spasams. I was wondering if anyone else has had this type of surgery, & how long it took to even feel half way normal again. I am getting so depressed, can't sleep, hardly walk. I was so active before. Any feedback would be helpful. I just want to get out & start walking again. I think the leg pain is the worst, but the back pain is still really bad. HELP!! Thanks, Linda


  • You had a lot done there. I had fusion @ L-4,L-5 S-1 with screws and rods on Nov. 20 of this year. It took about 3 weeks for horrrible aching in my legs to go away that was not there before surgery but the sciatic pain was gone in recovery. My back hurts and the spasms are real bad while trying to sleep but that area has been badly traumatized by the cutting. I am 41 and was in excellent shape besides the obvious going in. If u want more info id be glad to help what i can. hang in there it is hard and its early dont panic your on a journey here, learn from it and be your best. I write that because I need to here it too. A lot. Merry Christmas, Ed.
  • Hi Ed, thanx for the reply. I still haven't gotten out to walk yet, that really bothers me. The feeling of strangling around my left foot bothers me a lot too. I really want to get off the pain meds, but the doc said that it would be at least 6 months. Don't like that. I do walk around the house a lot, do some laundry, & dishes, but some is almost too much. Most sites I have looked at say at least 6 months to a year for recovery. I am 52 yrs. old, & WAS very active. Not now, getting depressed by the day. Hopefully the pain will ease up a bit soon. Thanks for chatting. God bless, Linda
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  • I had only L4/5 fused - that was 5 months ago - so cannot speak to a multi-level fusion. But I can assure you that the feeling of depression you are experiencing are pretty normal. At 3 weeks I cried everyday. I just wanted to feel like myself again, to do things without being in pain or exhausted and to have some semblance of "normal" life! I even went to my family doc and asked him what was wrong with me - he reminded me that I had just had major surgery (2 actually, since it was anterior/posterior) and reiterated that it was a 1 to 2 year recovery. Of course, I had been told before surgery that recovery could take that long but didn't really believe it. I thought "not me, I'm healthy, in good shape, etc. etc.". Hah!

    A couple of things that really helped me were talking to two old friends who are my age or older (58) who had had fusion surgery and reading the posts on this forum from others going through the same thing. One post I read over and over - it was posted by Lakeside and she titled it "The waiting game". I just looked and it is under the thread "Please post surgery patients be very careful ;) UPDATE" back in October. It really helped me to put things in perspective.

    Walk as much as you can - it does help the pain and also makes you feel like you are taking some action to speed your recovery. I walked around and around the house before I felt up to walking outside. And my first outside walk was about 1/2 block, I think. Walk, rest, and eat right. It really helped me to establish a routine each day that except for showering and dressing consisted mostly of walking, resting, and eating. I also kept a log of what I did in terms of walking and activities. As time went on, when I felt like I was making no progress I was able to look back and see that I was doing much more I could do x number of weeks before.

    Sometimes I think the hardest part of this recovery is patience. But it will get better - certainly with ups and downs and way more slowly than you want.

    Hang in there!
  • Welcome to Spine Health, I had L4=S1 fused with screws and rods, etc. Mine was a TLIF and it's been over 7 months. I had a hard time with back pain and sciatic and I understand how you feel. It's frustrating not being able to do much and recovery can be a tough journey. It's still early for you and I hope you will be able to start PT to help you along soon. Also, the cold weather may be giving you a hard time, a lot of us are combating that. I didn't do well with my recovery, and I think in my case, being deconditioned was a contributing factor. I never exercised and had a sedentary lifestyle, and it's not good for anybody. If you are able to walk at some point, just take baby steps at the beginning. Try not to overdo things and wind up giving yourself a setback. I really hope things work out for you and that you come away from this recuperated and happy.
  • Hey everyone, thanx for the replys. I feel like I'm starting on the "upswing" finally, the pain is still quite bad, but I think the leg "squeezing" is the worst. I'm so afraid that I'm twisting, or bending too far, so things won't mend, but then again, I don't want to just sit & do nothing. I'm going to try to walk more, little by little. Sure seems like it takes a while to even feel a little "normal". My husband is great with taking care of the house, & me, so I feel very blessed. I hope I don't need any additional surgery for the "squeezing" in my leg, I don't know what that is all about. Didn't seem like it was that bad before surgery. So ya all keep talking at me, & maybe I'll get through this. He did say 6 months to a year. I've also gained about 20 lbs. Nice. Merry Christmas to all! Linda P.S. I am still taking Methadone, 10 mg 2xday, & Vicodin E S 3xday, & Valium 5mg, every 6 hrs.
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  • You are doing great.
    It is a big surgery and it will take time to get over. Forget out the pain meds, in fact maybe some slow release ones would work better for you - something to tlk to your Dr about.
    I had L3-S1 done last May and a few weeks ago I started at the gym. Ok not doing weights and things but the treadmill, some light weights,and exercises.
    The more you can move around now the better for you later but that doesn't mean walking for hours a day. If you can make it to the end of your street or 10 houses up and back 6 tiems a day that is a good goal to start with. You know what you can do so just slowly increase it every day.
    Try not to sit too much as that doesn't do you any favours.
    The squeezing may juat be tight muscles but it is worth mentioning to the Dr as I am only guessing here. I have not heard that mentioned before but we all tend to feel things differently.
    Yes depression is part and parcel of this surgery and dont feel bad if you want to ask for antidepressants sort term.
    Have you been given any exercises to do? That helps mentally as much as anything as you feel you can do something for yourself. DO you have a brace? (I didn't).
    Also water therapy is great and you should be ready for that by now. SO even just walking in a heated pool can do wonders.

    I really hope things improve for you soon.
    Blessings Sara O:)

  • in Sept. 07, L3-5 fusion, except I didn't have the cage, just the rods and screws. It does take a while to get it back together.

    While I'm not 100% better, my back and leg pain is 1000% better than it was before the surgery. I still take vicodin as needed (mostly when stressed and/or at work), and also take lyrica and effexor. I feel an occasional twinge down my leg, but no numbness or tingling like before.

    My goal, before my surgery, was to jump on the trampoline santa brought my daughters 2 years ago. I DID IT!! This past summer. No flips or tricks, but bounced up and down and also some butt bounces.

    Hang in there. I know it's hard. Don't be in a rush. Have you started PT yet? I started at 6 weeks, and it helped me get moving.

    Things will improve. You've come to the right place for help and support. Also, if you think something isn't right, call your surgeon's office. That's what they're there for.
  • I had a 360.. Anterior/posterior fusion 3 months ago tomorrow, cages, rods, screws, BMP, etc... And I feel great, except my incision site on my stomach still gives me issues. Back is fine, front is crappy. It takes a while with incisions on the stomach, which I already knew from my csection with my son, but it is still annoying. If it weren't for the pain I have lower down my back, underneath my fusion site, I probably wouldn't need any pain meds... But I still take at least 8 Percocet a day, generally 2 at a time. I stopped the Valium now that I am going to start physical therapy... Hope that will reduce the need for painkillers.

    Lumbar fusion with interbody cages and hardware is a really common surgery among those who reach the point of surgical intervention... And especially here. It's probably one of the most commonly performed. So there are PLENTY of people here who can offer you insight and support.
  • Thanks for all the advice! Today was the first day that I have gone outdoors to walk for any distance. I feel so set back, gaining weight. The trails I used to do 4 times a day, I could hardly get 1/2 way down 1. I guess it all take time. Pain is quite bad. Do you guys think Vicodin E S 3xday + 10mg. Methadone 2xday is a lot of pain med still? Has been 7 wks, tomorrow I had surgery. I had a lot more done, just didn't put it all, 9 things in all. I see a lot of you are on stronger meds, I thought. Who am I to know what is strong, doesn't seem like mine are strong enough!! LOL All I'm doing tonite is laying in bed with pillows! Too much in one day I guess. Take care, God bless, Linda
  • Linda, pain medication varies greatly from person to person. Also, since you are 7 weeks post op, I am assuming you've been on meds for at LEAST 7 weeks... The body builds up a tolerance to narcotics over time. Also, the healing process is always filled with ups and downs, and if you are going to physical therapy, you will most likely have an increase in pain around that time... I wouldn't worry too much about the amount of pain meds if your doctor hasn't said anything to you. Take comfort in the fact that you are under the supervision of a doctor, and if there were something wrong with it, they would adjust your dosage accordingly. As long as you are always honest with your doctor, then whatever you are doing, based on their instructions, is what is right for you. If you trusted them enough to perform surgery on you, then I'm sure you trust them enough to medicate you :)
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