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Thread: Recovery - strength and flexibility

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    New Jersey

    Recovery - strength and flexibility

    Hello all,
    I wanted to share my recent experience in recovery. My surgery was May 2016.
    While I am fully recovered by the surgeon's standard, I have been frustrated with not having the strength I had before surgery. I tried multiple rounds of physical therapy (I could not find one with full spinal fusion experience.) Then, I tried working out on my own at my local gym, but they treated me like a senior citizen. (Maybe in age, but not in spirit.)
    Last October out of desperation, I signed on with a personal training gym. The owner's wife had full spinal fusion and he knew exactly what I was talking about.
    So after these few months, I am touching my toes and lifting 44 pounds. My strength and flexibility have improved dramatically, although still not 100%. I have a ways to go, but finally feel hopeful I can get back to "normal."
    Even so, I feel better than I have in many years.
    I was fully cleared for all physical activity after one year. I think I was scared to push myself and break something.


    T4 to Sacrum; 70 degree lumbar corrected to less than 20 degrees.
    5/7/2016; Dr. Schwab, Hospital for Special Surgery.
    61 at the time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Hi Marlene,

    What a hopeful post on what can happen with the appropriate amount of commitment and a little luck. I think it is amazing that you can touch your toes! I agree with your comment that it is very hard to find an appropriate trainer who has any idea of what you need and what works when you have a fused spine. There are trainers that know something about scoliosis but I think it is pretty rare to find someone who knows about both fused spines & scoliosis. I find it very hard to find appropriate exercise classes. I don’t think that your fear of pushing yourself was out of line when you were in recovering from your surgery since it is possible to harm yourself if you exercise incorrectly. The safest thing I’ve found is to correctly use some of the Nautilus equipment at my gym and to walk/hike. I am very careful about trying to achieve a “neutral” posture whenever I do any exercises and also to try not to twist my spine when I am carrying any load. I have learned to avoid exercises like sit-ups, “burpees”, and double leg lifts. I am also very leery of things like kettle balls which can easily place asymmetric loads on your spine.

    Do you have any other suggestions about how you continue to exercise and not hurt your back [besides having a competent trainer that gives you good feedback]? Thanks, Terry
    1973 Diagnosed with scoliosis [left thoracic curve 75* and right lumbar curve of 72*]
    Spinal fusion surgery with Harrington Rod instrumentation
    Left thoracic curve corrected to 55* and right lumbar curve corrected to 45*
    2013 Significant pain down right, upper leg
    2015 MRI of lumbar spine detects "multilevel degenerative disc disease with disc bulges and facet hypertrophy" AND
    the presence of a "possible nerve sheath tumor" at L2-L3

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