Almost 8 months post-op and still cannot run

I am 60 and a picture of health....5;9", 165 lbs...I can bike, spin, swim, walk, dance and row....but I cannot run...which is my passion.
I tried running 4 weeks ago, and I completely relapsed....pain maximus returned...on my right side.
After prednisone and rest and ice, I am now restored to my original condition.
My surgery was 2 bilateral titanium supports with 6 titanium screws at L4-L5 and L5-S1 in Feb 2016.
At this point, am I pushing it or should I go in for an evaluation to see if I need additional surgery ?
My goal, before leaving this earth, is to do a triathlon with my 3 daughters.
Right now, that is in jeopardy.
Any advice or comments .... greatly appreciated.


  • Hi joeb
    Did you have fusion success if this was part of your surgery and did your surgeon say you could run within these timescales?

  • AJ -
    re: "fusion success"....that is still to be determined.
    At least it relieved my spinal stenosis. ..I can now hold a cup of coffee.
    However, the remaining issue relates to the spacers that were placed between L4-L5, L5-S1, especially on the right side...which is where the problem emanated all along. I had documented my acute unilateral sublexation in excruciating detail to my surgeon prior to surgery. I could not put any pressure on my right foot.

    re: "run within these timescales"
    The normal period is 1 year....(ask Tiger Woods and Andy Murray, the Wimbleton champ) .
    However, due to my tremendous physical condition and the fact I've been rehabbing 2 hours per day since Feb 2016, I was hoping to "short-cut" that timeline. However, from some of the comments on this site, it appears that timeline cannot be defeated with this type of surgery.

    I'm just a little bit concerned at this point, and am wondering if yet another procedure is required....after all, that is not at all uncommon for this severity of a back condition. The guy who recommended my surgeon has undergone THREE separate surgeries to fix his condition....$125,000.
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  • victorrvvictorr Tampa bay,FloridaPosts: 18
    First of all,you have not given yourself enough time for the fusion to be completely solid,as an ex runner and long distance triathlete,with the same surgery you had,my Dr.basically told me to hang up my running shoes,and I was only 48 at the time,running is too much for a fused back,my advice to you is to do the same,choose another cardio sport that gets you off and doesn't hurt your back,believe me I know how hard it is to not run anymore,bottom line is simple if you continue to run you're eventually going to injure the next level up and back under the knife again,I certainly do not want that,just reminisce on all the wonderful times you had when you did run free.
  • Well interestingly neither my doctor nor my physical therapist has indicated I must hang up my running shoes. But I do appreciate your comments regarding the time-requirement for the fusion.
    Victor, how long was it before you hardly noticed the effects of the surgery ? 9 months, 12 months, more ?
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,340

    I think that you are pushing it, so maybe back off do more walking with short running mixed in.  Don't assume that you will easily jump back into running.  I guess what I am suggesting is test the waters before jumping in with both feet.

    At about 9 months from my cervical fusion, I finally felt like I could do simple tasks without hurting myself.  I am going on 12 months in a few days and still know that if I overdo it, I will pay for it afterwards.
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  • Yeah, Bruce, that's what I thought....and I appreciate your feedback.
    Upon further review, I see that Tiger Woods and Andy Murray "only" had microdisectomies.....and each of them indicated a one year period till full recovery to get back to their sport !!

    Omigosh, where does that put a double bilateral titanium support surgery ?
    18 months, 2 years ? Holy smokes, I never expected surgeon was pretty "mum" on my full recovery period.
    The other thing against me: I'm over 50 !!
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 809
    edited 10/11/2016 - 5:56 AM


    Like all the others above have said you're NOT fully healed and fused yet...not at 8 months... no way.  You've had a BIG surgery... and bones grow VERY slowly.   Even once you look fused on your x-rays the fusion isn't necessarily strong... it can take up to 2 years.   In my personal opinion you should seriously take victorr's advise... your spine is NEVER going to be the same again as pre-op regardless of how fit you are... and the imbalance of forces and pressures on your remaining discs will very likely cause further problems if you were to start running again.  Running is highly stressful on the spine... about the only thing worse is golf.  I've been through a double level lumbar fusion just like you with the same screws and rods and even with being VERY careful about my post-op activities... now already at less than two years post-op the next 2 disc levels above my fusion are starting to herniate and impinge on my spinal cord. 

    You are absolutely playing with fire if you think you can go run a marathon post fusion... Doctors by their nature are always wayyyyy overly optimistic about what is possible post surgery... it's the used car salesman in them... they can't help it.  I'm not sure it's possible but I would suspect if you had a true honest conversation with your surgeon he would tell you to hang up your running shoes as well... but with your enthusiasm I somehow think he's going be reluctant to tell you the hard cold facts. A lot of doctors are afraid to make it so cut and dried. 

    Just for your reference I'm 62 and it took me a full 12 months plus post-op before I was close to feeling normal again after both of my fusion surgeries and I only truly felt solid at 16 months.  I do not run, lift anything over 10 pounds, or do any kind of aggressive sports.  I swim every day of the week... it gives me a great cardio workout and doesn't stress my spine... not to mention it's also a great emotional boost as well.  There's something about the water that is very therapeutic...

  • Wow Harry, thanks for that....and swimming is helping me as well.
    But in looking at your in the world did one of those titanium screws break ?
    Did you fall or have an accident ?
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 809
    edited 10/11/2016 - 9:54 AM


    No accident... the actual bone fusion at the L5-S1 level was weak and incomplete so over time (18 months) one the screws at that level failed due to over stress/fatigue.  The screws are only designed to hold you together until you fuse (6-12 months) and if they have to endure a longer period they are more susceptible to failure.

  • victorrvvictorr Tampa bay,FloridaPosts: 18
    Hey Joeb,after my surgery,it took a full year before I felt almost normal,it's a tough call,it all depends on diligent you are with yourself after surgery,you need to give it time to heal,otherwise it's going to bite you back,and I don't think you want that my friend.
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