View Full Version : Recovery times

08-04-2006, 06:25 PM
I was just wondering how long the average recovery period is. (for those who have had the surgery)

After talking to some people, I figured it would be at least 6 months before I could start somewhat normal activities but I went to a spine specialist today and he said I would be able to "bounce back" within 6 weeks. Is this normal? I wa expecting to have to take a semester off from college as well for this and he said that I most likely wouldnt have to as long as I did it during winter break

08-04-2006, 08:48 PM
Everyone heals at different rates and recovery times vary. I'm going back to work at the end of August part time for two weeks and then returning full time. I still get tired easily and don't have as much energy as I used to, but I'm feeling better each day.

08-04-2006, 09:03 PM
Hi Treacherous...

As you'll read a lot, it really depends on the individual. Your age, and the amount of work that's being done on you will definitely be factors.


08-04-2006, 10:52 PM
I will also be returning to work at the end of August. I have heard that a lot of patients "turn the corner" so to speak around 6 months. I honestly feel better everyday and am amazed at the progress I have made thus far. When I was in the hospital, I didn't think I would feel better - ever. But within a couple of weeks I started PT, was going up and down the steps 2-3 times daily, showering and dressing on my own. You really do find that you can do more and more with each passing day. Each case is subjective and it really depends on your age, what type of surgery you are having and your overall health.

08-05-2006, 01:13 AM
ah, ok. thanks everyone.

well, I am 19 (but I'll be 20 when I get it done) and I am fairly small (barely 5ft/95 lbs) which he said would be one of the major factors as to why it should be a quick recovery. also said my whole procedure should only take a few hours which I found stranger since I'm having t5-t11 fused, I believe

08-05-2006, 03:47 AM
Hi Treacherous...

At 19, your recovery should be very rapid. Many people your age are back at work/school within a month to six weeks.

Good luck!


08-05-2006, 12:39 PM
I'm 20 years old and am having anterior surgery to fuse T11-L3 this December...actually during the last half of finals week since I will already be done with finals. This will give me a full month to recover at home with my Mama tendin' to me :).

My doctor told me that for the first month, all I will really be up to is laying around the house/sleeping.

At about the one month mark, I should start regaining some energy...enough that I can go sit in a one hour class a couple times a week (I'll only be taking one or two classes the semester after surgery because that's all I have left before I can start nursing school...very convenient).

After a month, I will be moving back to my apartment, about two hours from home...I have a roommate/best friend, a wonderful boyfriend, and close friend who is in nursing school to help take care of me until I'm totally self-sufficient again. I think after a month of being at home with Mama, I'm going to be ready for a change of scenery anyway.

I'll wear a brace during the day for the first three months and he told me that after about two or three months I will probably start to feel more like myself again, and I may not be totally 100% for up to 9 months to a year or so.

As far as the fusion goes, he told me that at one year, I should be about 90-95% fused, but it takes two years for it to be completely fused.

Of course...everybody recovers differently and I know my recovery may be different than what my doctor expects, and yours different from mine.


08-05-2006, 06:11 PM
ah, ok. thanks everyone.

well, I am 19 (but I'll be 20 when I get it done) and I am fairly small (barely 5ft/95 lbs) which he said would be one of the major factors as to why it should be a quick recovery. also said my whole procedure should only take a few hours which I found stranger since I'm having t5-t11 fused, I believe

I think the lenght of the fusion, physical shape and age are a factor. Your fusion is not that long, but again a lot of things can come into play. Just make sure you're eating well before and after, take your iron/vitamins, and keep in shape. But those first few months are the hardest. I think the fusion heals completely at about one year, but that doesn't mean everybody feels pain for all that time. I had pain two years post op, but after a month was taken off meds and that didn't help. I also noticed big changes every week, there are ups and downs but it gets better gradually.

Keep that in mind, and respect your body and the time it needs to heal, even if it is different than what the doctor says. Healing and not overdoing it is important for you to recover the best possible way.

10-12-2006, 10:26 PM
I'm having anterior/Posterior surgery next year ill be nearly 22 yrs old when i get it down. I'll also be getting fused from T3 - L3. Even though ill still be young does anyone from experience think ill have a hard time recovering????

Also how long will it take for me to be able to do things on my own?? (without help going to toilet etc etc)????

Thanks in Advance

10-13-2006, 12:14 AM
Hi Leelee...

It varies GREATLY by individual, and by how much is being done. Most people your age are off pain medication within a month and back to work/school within 2-3 months. I've known people who took a lot longer, and I've known people who got back much faster.


10-13-2006, 06:47 AM
I am now 2 &1/2 mths & I can say I am doing most things myself....I'm 46 so you should rebound much faster than I or at least the same. I am in good physical shape & always was an active/athletic person...I am back to my baking even though I do get more tired on feet if I'm standing for a long time..I feel basically back to myself except I am feeling better due to my surgery...I cut my pain pills in half & only take a half for most of the day...I still have some numbness where my rib was taken out & a little in my left thigh but nothing much to speak of....I just can't wait to get my brace off!!! in due time, I guess....Ly
fused T-11 to L-5-Dr. Boachie/Kim@HSS in NYCity
ant/post...95thorocolumbar curve reduced to the 50's

10-13-2006, 08:44 AM
I have to admit, this was a good thing to hear today. I had my surgery 4 weeks ago today. I was fused from T5 to L4/L5 (I'm not sure which).

Anyway, recovery has been gradual. Some days I feel a ton better others, I feel like I've taken two steps back. They sent me home from the hospital just 5 days after surgery. I thought I would never make it. The first couple of days were rough, but my mom (bless her soul) has been more than wonderful. I still take pain medication every 4 hours and valium to relax my muscles (not sure for how much longer). Every day does seem to be better and better for me - although this cold front that came through Cincinnati really makes my back ache...

For the first time this week, I took a shower on my own and didn't become dizzy. I was proud of myself. I've been walking at least 1 mile a day for about 2 weeks now. Still there are times when I think, how in the world will I be able to go back to work by November 1st and sit at my desk for 8 hours a day? I just hope that I keep progressing like I have been.

Thanks for all the updates on recovery - reading some of these posts really helps keep me motivated on my down days. Thanks everyone!


10-13-2006, 02:29 PM
I think the "one step forward two steps back" can be the phrase for how some recoveries are. I could get days when pain was barely a factor and then wham! I had a lot of nerve pains. This went on for the first year, and then the second year it was less and less.

It truly is different how some can be almost pain free without taking any type of meds(wich is what I believe is being healed, not having to take many meds,especially narcotics) in a few months and others who still have to take meds after the three month mark-wich is normal b/c nerves take time to heal.

10-13-2006, 06:37 PM
I have had more good days than bad but when I have a bad one such as today you feel like you may be regressing or something is terribly wrong. But then the next day you bounce back. My medication is making me extremely emotional which is ironic because pre surgery I was extremely unemotional. Even though I didn't have a great day I did walk a little farther than I have been.

10-14-2006, 05:06 PM
I think the "one step forward two steps back" can be the phrase for how some recoveries are.

I think this sums it up perfectly, for me anyways. I would feel great, go out, walk around a lot and then Bam! The next couple of days I'd be in bed recovering from my busy day. It was frustruating at times because you begin to wonder if you'll ever get better. Luckily for me, it passed and while I still pay for overdoing it at times, I feel better than I ever thought I would.

10-15-2006, 12:28 AM
This is good info to read, because I was just wondering about recovery times.
Mom (73) is one and a half months post op and just had a week with more pain than the week before. She found the a couple Tylenol didn't even touch the pain. She did like doing a guided visualization about letting the pain leave her body and imagining the area filled with golden nectar.

I guess everyone is different. It helps to read that it can take 6 months to get back to somewhat normal, because last week was a bit discouraging.

Take care, all,

10-15-2006, 04:43 PM
Dear Laura,

I certainly can relate to the tylenol not helping your Mom. I am 11 weeks post-op and still not off all pain meds. Plus I am 47, not 74. Did the dr. say that there was a reason for your mom to be off all pain meds except tylenol already or was it her choice? I weaned off the oxycodone at 7 weeks because I felt like I was getting dependent on it, but the pain was still too much for just tylenol, so my dr. let me take darvocet-n which is a little milder and includes tylenol. It is just enough to take the edge off. Lynn, who had surgery just a week after me, still takes a small dose of percoset when she needs it.

Like others mention, doing too much will still start up the pain. Sometimes that is just being upright too long! I have to lie down mid-day yet as my back does not have enough stamina to keep going non-stop. Perhaps your Mom could talk to her dr. about a pain control specialist. Let us know how she does.

age 47
posterior surgery 7/24/06
for S curve T70,L76
30 degrees correction

10-15-2006, 05:31 PM
My 15 year old son had a spinal fusion(t3-L3) on August 14th he spend 7 days in the hospital. Had a rough time in the hospital. He went back to school full time after 5 weeks. He was ready to go soooner than that but I was worried about him being shoved or bumped. He only took pain med's the first few weeks after surgery and normally only at night. I'm still trying to keep his activities resticted, but its hard because he's an active teen. His doctor said he will be able to snow board in Feb. I believe being active is what helped him. He didn't want to sit around and whin. Good luck!

10-15-2006, 06:11 PM
I couldnt imagine only taking tylenol. I am takimg Viciyin and valium and still have pain. Although they just changed it a couple days ago.

10-15-2006, 10:45 PM
I'm one year post-op... and some days i move around just fine and almost forget my back... but tonight with the changes in the weather and storm system coming in, and doing more physical work than usual this weekend.. i'm aching and hurting like a real bear!! May have to get into my pain pills again for the first time in months :(