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Back Problems Message Board


Back Problems Board Index


Re: A new spines
Aug 1, 2013
General anesthetic creates havoc with hormones. It is not unusual to have all kinds of weird things going on. It can take several months to work through your system. Don't be alarmed if you become very emotional, cry, etc. Lots of people have "symptoms" along those lines.

I would be concerned about the fever. Keep an eye on your incision--you do not want to have an infection that goes unnoticed. One of the biggest risks of spine surgery, particularly when having an implant, is picking up an infection in hospital.

A fusion is a big surgery with a long recovery period. You may show signs of bone growth early on, but the fusion will not be complete for a long time. It takes about a year for the new bone cells to form, grow together, and then to mature and become hard and strong. After this point in time, when one exercises, the bone will actually become stronger.

You will find that your recovery will consist of baby steps and you will take several forward and one back. Just when you feel like you are making progress, you will do "too much," which will cause a flare-up of nerve pain, or a symptom you thought you'd gotten over, and then you will need to recover from that before you can make some forward progress again.

It is important to learn to listen to your body, and to not try to push forward too quickly. Right now, all you should be doing is resting and taking short, frequent walks. The point of walking at this point is to stretch out the spinal nerves. This helps to prevent scar tissue from attaching to the nerves as it forms and fills in, primarily in the first twelve weeks post surgery.

You may here people say things like "I'm already walking a mile twice a day."
They seem to think that if a little walking is good, lots of walking must be better, but it doesn't necessarily work that way. You are not walking for aerobic activity at this point. The danger in walking this much is that it zaps too much energy that the body needs to grow bone and it increases the chances of irritating the sciatic nerve. Then pain can develop to the point where the person no longer wants to walk because it is so painful. So it is much better to plan on walking a little bit every time you need a snack, or make a trip to the bathroom, etc. Even just making a couple laps around your house or up and back down a hall will accomplish the job of stretching out the spinal nerves.

As you become stronger, you can also start to increase your distance, but continue with the little short walks every couple hours, too.

Most surgeons limit the amount of time a patient can spend sitting to about 15-20 minutes at a time. Sitting puts 30% more stress on the spinal column than other positions like standing/walking or lying down. Try to recline, using lots of different sized pillows to support the back when you want to be off your feet.

You will continue to avoid any activity that requires bending or twisting at the waist, reaching up overhead or to the side, pushing, pulling, and do not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. These restrictions will continue for many months. In reality you may continue to self impose some of them well into the future, if not forever. Some people end up with a permanent weight restriction -- I'm not supposed to lift more than 35 pounds ever.

Be sure to eat nutritiously and drink lots of water and other fluids. Don't let yourself become constipated...straining is not good for the surgical area that is trying to heal.

Always keep in the back of your mind the thought that you don't want to have to go through this again and you want to do everything in your power to maximize the chances that this fusion will be a success. Remember this when you get the urge to run the vacuum cleaner or sweep the floor, etc. Most housework is very hard on a new fusion so think before you proceed!

Many of us on the board have had fusion surgeries, so please feel free to ask any questions or come for support or when you need to vent to others who will understand what you are going through.

Good luck -- you've come through the worst of it. Now you just need to learn to be patient and to listen to your body.





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