Looking for spinal fusion success stories



  • Waiting for the call. It is so difficult.
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,340

    I know what you mean. Even when I had my Cardiologist's approval it took several phone calls and portal messages to make sure that the approval made it successfully to my surgeon. My surgery was on Friday, I think that I was still working it up to Wednesday - argh.
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  • Feeling ok after  5 days.  Very very tough. Will focus on being positive.
    Thanks to all.
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 809
    edited 12/28/2016 - 9:55 PM


    I'm your same age and I have had what I would call a successful fusion of my L4-L5-S1.  The recovery is not easy and will probably be longer than you want or plan for... but for sure I'm a LOT better off than I was before surgery. I would say 95% of my pre-op pain is gone.   I do have some minor daily nagging discomforts but they are not really that big of a deal.  I'm not running around doing what I did when I was 25 years old but as a whole my life is fine with some common sense lifestyle changes.  I don't go out and play basketball, or carry heavy loads of firewood... but I'm active and swim almost every day along with daily walking.   Some things you can do to help ensure the success of your surgery and fusion include:  obey your doctors orders 110%, obey the no BLT rules 110% even when you start to feel better, do not do anything that will overly stress your back for at least 12-18 months, walk outside every day at least once even if it's just for 5 minutes and better yet walk outside twice a day.  Don't smoke or take any kind of NSAIDS during your recovery, and if your doctor approves it use a bone growth stimulator. 

    The surgery itself is a piece of cake... your asleep... it's the recovery where you will need to put on your big boy pants.  The first week will likely be hell... assuming you are comfortable in hospitals stay in the hospital as long as you can as they can help a lot with hospital grade pain killers. Some people react badly to anesthesia or various pain meds make sure your doctor knows any issues/allergies you have experienced before with different meds.  Make sure you have a family member to help 24/7 once you are home for at least the first week and better yet the first 6 weeks.  Don't panic if you still have lots of nerve pain or even new nerve pain coming out of surgery. The inflammation in your nerves heals VERY slowly... taking weeks or even months to subside and until it does your nerves will fire and give you lots of pain.  Having said that however it is good to try and get off the pain meds as soon as possible post surgery... some of them can be very addicting.  Once you start to feel better you are NOT healed... the actual bone fusion process is VERY slow... so don't over do it or you will pay the price.  Your health and healing comes first for the next 12-18 months... no excuses or compromises.  Follow the rules... use good common sense EVERY day combined with LOTS of patience and a positive attitude... and should get you through it just fine with a whole new lease on life.

  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 809
    edited 12/28/2016 - 11:32 PM


    Sorry... I just now realized you're 5 days post op.  Some of the above inputs you can ignore... other bits may be useful.  Hang in there you're just at the start of 26 mile marathon... slow and steady wins the race.  Are you up and walking yet..??

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  • JameyhJJameyh Atlanta, Ga.Posts: 98
    Hi Steve,
    I am a 60 y/o female who had an ALIF and PLIF 24 days ago.  Prior to surgery I suffered with severe pain and spasms in my low back and right buttocks along with unbearable ache/pain down the back of my right leg and foot.  I was diagnosed with radiculopathy (sciatica)  in May and given Tylenol #3 and Flexeril.  I took the meds a few days but the only thing that helped was not walking.  My symptoms persisted and I visited my rheumatologist thinking perhaps I needed a right hip replacement since it hurt so badly.  An X-ray in July revealed that I had a spondylolisthesis at L4 and rheumy says I had hip bursitis (I think he was just speculating) and I got a steroid shot in the right bursa.  Rheumy also put me on a Butrans patch (transdermal opiate).  A week later the pain never went away.  Finally persuaded my internist to order an MRI to get a better diagnosis.  It revealed I had DDD, pars defect and a grade 2 spondy at L4.  
  • JameyhJJameyh Atlanta, Ga.Posts: 98
    Continued....Plus it was noted I had neuroforaminal narrowing and moderate canal stenosis.  I believe we share the same problems.  After a consultation with a neurosurgeon I was basically informed that surgery was my only option.  I had unsuccessful PT for 3 months, failed epidural spinal injections, massage was intolerable and chiropractics would not have helped.  The surgeon said surgery was my only viable option and I trusted him.  I had the surgery to remove the bad disc, and apply instrumentation to correct all the degenerated areas for support.  Stayed in the hospital 5 days.  On day 2 when I was lifted out of bed, had a corset type abdominal support and walked with a walker to the hallway, I immediately noted that the pre-op pain was gone.  No sciatic pain, no back spasms and no hip pain.  It was gone!!!  My post op recovery has been uneventful.  No bending, twisting or lifting.  No trouble getting comfortable in a recliner, no trouble sleeping on my sides in bed.  I am not allowed to drive but that's no biggie for me.  Able to eat and not having the typical constipation that comes with the use of opiates.  I have only taken the Hydrocodone 10 mg at 9am and 9pm but if my back gets sore I take a 5mg Valium to relax the back midday.   I see the surgeon on Jan 18th and hopefully will start PT and get moving again.  I am a new person and at 60 I never thought I would feel this good.
    Hope this gives you a positive outlook for post surgery.  Good luck Steve....
  • Hi.
    Appreciate the new advice. BLT and all...
    9 days out. going fast.
    So 40 staples in my back, hopefully taken out in a few days.
    Getting used to routine and restrictions.
    Old and new pains and feeling everwhere.
    But I can walk and my wife says i walk straight. AMAZING! 
    I have not used walker. Toilet riser is key.
    Bathroom is working well so I am happy.
    Mornings are 12/10, so painful everywhere.
    I know i have to patient but when so bad, it is unbearable.
    How will i survive when fast acting diolodin is finished???

  • relievedrrelieved Midwest USAPosts: 4
    There ARE positive outcomes to fusion surgeries...
    I have two friends that are one and two years post-op, respectively, both having returned to a pain free normal life following a spinal fusion.
    Their success stories gave me the courage to under-go a L5 - S1 fusion 13 weeks ago.
    As with any major surgery, it is key to find the best surgeon for your specific procedure!
    Other than the fact that a three month recovery period felt grueling and never ending, my surgery and recovery have gone quite smoothly. Pain meds have been a mute point for me, as I have never been on anything stronger than 650 mg Tylenol. Even post-op!
    Had my three month (13 week) follow up appointment with the surgeon yesterday. Everything checked out beautifully! I am now taking the Tylenol on an 'as needed' basis only, more or less when I have overdone it.
    After receiving advice from the physical therapist yesterday, I was released to resume normal activities! I am already able to tolerate sitting for 4 - 6 hours at a time without a break. And, overall my pain levels are 0 to 1, depending on my activity at the time. 
    These are heartfelt, encouraging words regarding a L5 - S1 fusion procedure. I am confident that I will be joining my friends in the category of success stories!

  • JameyhJJameyh Atlanta, Ga.Posts: 98
    Dear Relieved....I am now 4 weeks post op.  My pain is very minimal also and I walk straight.  I have not had my post op yet but I assure you I am a new person.   I walked a lot today and would not have been able to do 1/8th of this pre-op.  I feel fortunate to be one of the lucky ones.  Have faith...there are successful fusions happening every day

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