View Full Version : Recovery Lull

05-19-2011, 10:40 PM
Hi All,
I had surgery (fusion T2 to L1) March 31, 2011..about 7 weeks ago. I feel like I should be doing better, more. Just doing minor housework, loading dishes, cooking is still tiresome. I am a bit anemic, but almost back to the low normal range.

I also am still having pain in my back, which makes me cranky. My surgeon said I should be off pain meds (except Tylenol, Ibuprofen). But frankly, by early evening my back is really hurting. I have some pain meds left from when I was discharged, but I feel guilty using them.

I was hopeful for better results, I went from about a 60 to a 30 degree curve. I also have to wear a brace for 4 months, which is a bit of a bummer trying to find clothes that fit. I haven't been able to work out, my doctor told me to walk. How long did you all have to wait before returning to a light workout routine?

I guess I just want to get back to "normal" quicker. I am wondering how long it took others to feel like they were back in the groove of things. I have two young boys, and want to be able to go to ballgames without being miserable sitting there, and tool around with them more. I would also like to take a few road trips later this summer.

Wishing everyone a summer of recovery!

05-19-2011, 11:00 PM
Hi Anita...

You're less than 2 months postop, so it doesn't surprise me that you still have pain. I'm sorry that your surgeon is telling you should be off pain medication. We're all individual and we don't fit into a mold. After my first surgery, I was on pain medication for more than 4 months. I now work with spine surgeons who do a lot of deformity surgery, and they tell patients to expect a 3-6 month recovery, if they're average.

You need to be careful about working out until your fusion is semi-solid (usually about 6 months for adults). Until that time, you should be compliant with your surgeon's directions. Have you talked to him about doing safe things (like recumbent bicycling, physical therap, etc)?

Hang in there. It almost always gets better. I'm 4 months postop. I was pretty unhappy until about 3 weeks ago, but then things started improving.


05-20-2011, 11:53 AM
Hi Anita,

I had recovery surgery on March 11, 2011. They removed my existing harrington rod and then extended my fusion as far as they could. In addition they replaced two disk segments because it was worn down bone to bone. I was on my pain meds for seven weeks, and probably needed them for another two weeks. Your recovery will take time. I am back to work now after being out for eight weeks and I have good days and bad days. I keep reminding myself of how I felt before the surgery and that I am making progress slowly.

Hope your recovery goes well. Take it easy and dont over do it.


05-20-2011, 05:17 PM
Hi Anita,
Please be patient with yourself! Seven weeks is still so early in the process! It truly is a marathon, not a sprint! I know that I felt an increase in energy at 10 weeks. However, I continued to rest for about an hour at mid-day until about 4 months post-op. After I stopped resting at mid-day, I would be utterly exhausted by 8:00 in the evening. Now, at 9 months, I can stay up until 11:00pm and can sleep through the night! Woo-hoo! But, seriously, recovery is a long process! I know it is tough with young children, but take it easy!

Also, although your curve may still measure 30 degrees, I'll bet it is hardly visible to others! And remember that it no longer has the risk of progressing!

Kathy (also a "buckeye")

05-20-2011, 05:31 PM
Hi there,

I am 5 months post op and I still have daily pain and have to resort to pain meds a couple times a week. I am still not back to work full-time and when I leave work I go home to bed and lay down the rest of the evening. I don't know that this is normal but my dr wants to wait til my 6 month follow-up in June to assess. Driving, walking, all of it increases my discomfort and I was a very active person before this surgery and coped with significant daily pain. Just remember - this is a LONG recovery for many people. If you stop and think about what our bodies went through it's really A LOT so cut yourself as much slack as you need. Everyone heals at a different pace and if you have any underlying medical conditions (malnutrition, anemia, etc.) the process can take longer. I thought for sure I'd bounce back super fast and be back to my 'active' routine by 6 months but unfortunately not. Try not to get too frustrated with yourself and remember that in the big picture of life this is a very short amount of time. It should get better but the 'when' is different for everyone. I can't stress enough to GO SLOW AND FOLLOW DR ORDERS regarding exercise. If you don't you could prolong your recovery or injure yourself and require intervention. Anyway hope this helps some. Feel free to message anytime.

Take care!

05-20-2011, 05:39 PM
It sounds to me like you're right on track--I know it's hard but try to have patience. Heck, you're only 7 weeks--you will continue to improve for YEARS!!!

Initially I felt a twinge of 'I wanted to be straighter' (look at my numbers below), but you know what? I feel fantastic now, I shouldn't progress any further and I do about anything I want to 2.5 years later. Honestly, I was jealous of those who I read about going down to practically nothing.

We are all different, I totally trust my Dr.'s judgement, and if he felt this was the most he could safely correct me, well then, that's what I have. I did adjust to about what the bending Xrays predicted.

05-20-2011, 09:42 PM
Everyone already made good points. I am a little over 4 months post op and feel great most of the time. I only do a few light arm weight exercises while lying down. I bought a pedometer and walk 4-5 miles every day and use the pool, however, I don't have any formal physical therapy yet. Dr. Lenke is pretty strict about limiting exercising to the pool and walking until 6 months post-op. I think we have to follow the Dr.'s orders even when it's natural to want to do more sooner. It takes patience!

05-20-2011, 11:36 PM
I agree with others here. I think you're being a bit hard on yourself. At 7 weeks I couldn't have considered going back to work. My surgeon told me this surgery requires a minimum of 12 months to recover. I was still on medication at 7 weeks, just starting to reduce gradually. I know it must be very hard with kids. I only had myself to think about and I took it very slowly. When I got impatient, my partner said, "you've only got one shot at this, don't try to get ahead of yourself."

Take care Anita!

05-28-2011, 02:22 PM
You are at a place that I found difficult, myself. You feel like you are at a plateau. And you are well enough to start to be annoyed at being laid up. But you are still so early in the recovery. Patience, my friend. Easier said than done, right? Just take it one day at a time. Pay attention to the small details, and take the time to realize how far you have come. Continue to moniter your progress, no matter how small it may seem. Lots of baby steps add up to a journey! I would force myself to find things that were better than before. I would say, "Wow, I was able to sit through a 2 hour movie that I couldn't do two weeks ago", or " I actually enjoyed cooking dinner this week, it didn't exhaust me!". That was how I was able to control my impatience and see progress. Little things at a time! I am amazed at where I am now! You will be there, too.