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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

Re: L5/S1 fusion
Mar 10, 2013
Hey. I had a two level fusion on l3/4 and l4/5. One thing I am kicking myself in the butt for was not doing enough research on this surgery. This is a very invasive surgery with a very, very slow recovery. Expect a minimal of 6 months. I'm still in a lot of pain only because my nerves were beat up bad before surgery. I'm still out of work and the doc is taking me off another month. My surgery was nov 28 2012. I get discouraged a lot but I have to remember I had two back surgeries in 8 months. Laminectomy and fusion on both levels. If you have any questions about anything I check this daily. Please feel free to ask because I was I had.
Re: L5/S1 fusion
Mar 11, 2013
It is always a good idea to get more than one opinion before agreeing to such a big surgery. There are different ways to approach a fusion and different surgeons may have slightly different ideas of how your issue is best resolved.

Regarding recovery is really hard to say. Some people are able to recover fairly quickly from a one level fusion while others are still having problems a year later. There is no way to predict who will do well and who may end up with issues. In all cases, even though bone growth may show early, (as soon as 3 weeks), the actual fusion is not complete for about a year. This is when the bone has "cured" and set up so that it is hard and strong. But usually it is for the first three months that you must be really careful to avoid lifting, bending, twisting, etc. Also the amount of time spent sitting should be limited to 15-20 minutes at a time. This shouldn't be a problem with teaching as you can get up and walk around. Standing and walking are much better for you than sitting.

I have had two lumbar fusions -- a one level PLIF at L4-L5 first, and then a couple years later I had the surgery I should have had the first time...L3-S1. I too had very severe stenosis and spondylolisthesis at L4-L5. I was practically comatose for the first eight weeks with my first surgery. With the second fusion, which was much more complex, I felt quite excellent after about ten days and stopped taking all medications at that point.

One of the main problems, even when things go perfectly and there is little residual nerve pain, is that the surgery takes a lot out of the patient. Most feel that it takes a great deal out of them and are surprised how long it takes to regain a normal amount of energy.

One of the biggest mistakes I have seen others make is trying to return to work before their body is ready. It almost always leads to new complications, a renewed increase in nerve pain, etc. I realize that most people cannot afford to take unlimited time off work...but it is helpful if you don't have a specific deadline that is hanging over your head as you recover.

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