View Full Version : Surgery in your future? Here's a tip...

12-06-2007, 11:48 AM
This is specifically for those of you who still have some time before your surgery, are having long fusions down into your lumbars, and may be a little out of shape... Something I'm learning the hard way, post-op, and wanted to pass on in case it would help others. (Sheesh! it's rather embarassing to admit!) :o

First, if you are good at squatting, skip this. If not, read on. My fusion is 20" long, T2-L4, and I'm not supposed to put any strain on those last two lumbar vertebrae, and am supposed to only bend a little, from the hip... My problem is that I have not squatted for as long as I can remember--maybe never, for all I know! But that is how I need to move up and down now--like for my job of putting books away on lower shelves, or at home--getting things from lower shelves in cupboards, refrigerator, etc. I am going to physical therapy now, to build up the strength in my legs. I always thought they were strong, so don't be fooled like I was. (I'm also working on my arms/shoulders, but will talk about that in a separate post.) I need to learn to squat, keeping my back straight and perpendicular to the floor. Easier said than done if your "center" or sense of balance has never been able to do that. It looks like a long process for me to learn to do that. YIKES! :eek: Good thing I'm not going back to work this next semester! It looks like I'll be working on this stuff for a long time. Currently I'm going to pt 3 times a week, plus doing about 2 hours' worth of pt on the other days at home. I'll be going to pt through December, but will need to continue at home after that.

My suggestion to you is that if you can't squat, start working on it now, before your surgery, if at all possible. I know some of you may have too much pain for that. I probably did. :( Maybe your doctor could even prescribe pt ahead of time. Just a thought. Best wishes!

12-06-2007, 12:01 PM
I absolutely agree with you. I too thought my legs were incredibly strong and I was amazed at how quickly I lost my muscle tone. I have had constant aching in my hips and thighs since my fusion, T8 to sacrum. I have just discovered that although I have been working on the squats it is stretching that is relieving the pain and enabling me to do more. So stretch, stretch, stretch it limbers up the muscles so they are more willing to do the work without the aching afterwards.

12-06-2007, 04:31 PM
I third this suggestion! I walked miles faithfully before surgery, and though my physical therapist in the hospital after surgery commented how much it had obviously helped me post-op, and that I had strong legs, I still was not prepared for the everyday squatting that this surgery necessitates!

Walking was never a problem for me, but my new way of moving (very carefully and no bending at the waist to pick things up, etc.) really strained my quad muscles for a few weeks until they built up.

12-06-2007, 09:03 PM
Am I reading it correctly that you are less than 3 months out from fusion to the sacrum and you are doing squats and stretches? Are you (or your doctor) not concerned that the fusion isn't solid yet? It seems awfully soon ... or maybe I'm just jealous because my recovery is not going as well. :(

12-06-2007, 11:01 PM
This is good to know. Thanks for posting it. I just bought an exercise bike since walking hurts my back a lot. Is this a good exercise to do?

12-06-2007, 11:36 PM
Have any of you ever tried whole body vibration to help avoid muscle atrophy? It is something that I've been researching, and I will most likely be giving it a go. Randomized clinical trials show that it is as effective at building muscle as intense exercise, in less time and it stimulates bone growth.

A colleague of my shattered his pelvis and femur in a motorcycle accident, he had 5 surgeries to put the pieces back together. now, after a few months, he looks amazing.


12-07-2007, 07:08 AM
Walking was not a problem for me pre-op-- and I used an exercise bike every day for a few months just prior to the surgery. That is why I thought my legs were fairly strong. It's a whole different ballgame to do squatting. It involves different leg muscles and a sense of balance.

Briarrose--my doctor had suggested biking or other similar exercise to stimulate the heart to work harder. But I am a whole bunch older than you. He had said more often other things can go wrong during the surgery than from just the spinal fusion surgery itself-- like having heart problems, etc. I didn't want to have a heart attack in the middle of the surgery! So that is why I did the exercise bike every day! I haven't used that bike post-op because it also had handles that move, working your arms--but also causing your torso to twist. Also, my tailbone hurts sometimes from just sitting on normal chairs. I can't imagine how it would do on a bicycle seat... :( I do use an exercise bike at pt, with stationary handles. That is what they have me warm up on each time. (And theirs has a seat more like a tractor seat than a bike seat...much broader and more comfortable.) :rolleyes:

12-07-2007, 12:25 PM

Thanks for the reply. I do squats once in awhile (like once a week), but I know that isn't enough. I'll start doing them more along with the biking. I'll throw in some lunges too.

I going to get a new x-ray today, but I won't be able to see it until the 18th. I really want to know what my curve is now!

12-08-2007, 09:25 AM
Thanks for the tip. My doctor prescribed PT to stretch muscles prior to surgery but I never thought of doing squats. I guess I need to start doing them. Thanks