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Back Problems Message Board


Back Problems Board Index


Re: Plif
May 28, 2011
I have only had lumbar surgeries, so I cannot give you any comparison between cervical and lumbar recoveries....I think most will agree the first week is not fun, but things do improve after that point. Can you have someone around to help when you get home from the hospital? I could have gotten along on my own, but it is nice to have someone there to help out if possible.

Near the top of the back board page is a "stickie" note entitled "Post surgery Must-haves" (or something similar.) People have listed things they enjoyed having after surgery. Read through it as it will get you thinking about what things will be like when you first come home, what things YOU will want to have, etc. 99% of it is not necessary...just things others found useful.

After my first fusion the things I found indispensable were a raised toilet seat and a satin bottom sheet. It is very difficult to reposition yourself after lumbar fusion, and in hospital, I felt that I was attached with velcro to that bed. With the satin sheet it is much easier to move around. Some people solve the problem by wearing satin or silk pj's but I preferred to wear "lounge clothes" that made me feel dressed, if someone stopped by...you know, like yoga pants and a t-shirt...and the lovely brace, of course, if up on my feet.

I had two fusions with two different surgeons. One no longer believes in using a brace, so I didn't have one the first go-round. My second fusion was a 3 level and I wore a brace...and was very glad I did. Even though I thought I was not bending or twisting with the first surgery, after using the brace, I realize I was. Also, you'll find that your posture will improve from wearing the brace for several months...so it isn't all bad...:eek:

I'm not sure what you mean by mobile...but you will be up walking within 24 hours of surgery. Some people use a walker at the beginning...but that only lasts a short while. Driving is a different story...most don't drive until after their first check with the doctor, depending on how much pain medication they are on. I drove after 8 weeks with my first fusion, and sooner than that with my recent fusion.

You should be walking frequently post surgery...walking shorter distances more frequently is better than taking a longer walk once per day. The reason for this is that it is very important to keep the spinal nerves stretched out, which walking accomplishes best. This helps to keep the forming scar tissue from attaching to the nerve as it fills in...so, at the beginning your most important activities are to walk and equally important, to rest. Your body will need all its resources directed toward laying down new bone...so resting is an important part of recovery. Time spent sitting will be restricted. Some docs only let their patients sit up to eat meals...for no more than 15-20 minutes at a time. Sitting puts at least 30% more pressure on the lumbar spine than either standing or lying down...so plan on reclining when you are not on your feet.

You might want to set up your kitchen and bath so that things you use every day are at a convenient height so you won't be tempted to bend or reach. Get a "grabber" for those things you drop! I never realized how often I dropped stuff until I had my first lumbar surgery. Here's where having small children around the house comes in handy....but a grabber works just as well.

It is important to know that fusion is a big surgery and that recovery is long. But don't let reading on the board scare you. Before I went in for my first surgery, I was convinced it would be the worst experience of my life, and I was terrified. Compared to my fears and expectations, it wasn't all that bad!! But too many people think it will be a quick process, and they are the ones who suffer from lack of information. Prepare as well as you can, do whatever exercises you can to try to keep in shape as you await surgery, and try to maintain a positive attitude.

Many on the board have had fusions and will have other comments to share with you. Please post whenever you have questions, comments or concerns. Someone should be able to help!





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