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Thread: If you have had lumbar fusion please help

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    27

    If you have had lumbar fusion please help

    If you've had surgery please help

    Hi my name is Ivan and i've been looking around on the forums but i really cant get the exact answer im looking for, so for you's planing on getting surgery like me im pretty sure this topic here might help. If you have had lumbar surgery was it worth it? do you regret it? is the pain after the healing really bad or worse? what are the limitations how far can u bend twist? how far down or up are you fused? and what are the weight limitations? when it gets cold do the rods get cold too thus making ur back hurt more. any other info would be greatly apreciated

    Thank you very much if you can help me out here it would be great!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Bucks County, Pa
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    274
    I am fused from t10 to the iliac. I was in severe pain before my surgery. I had to take narcotic painkillers just to get through the day. Now I am 5 months post op and hardly even take tylenol. I am working full time again. I have lost some flexibility. I am still recovering so I am still getting it back. I feel much better since my surgery.
    We are in a wicked cold spell where I live and it doesn't seem like my rod and the cold get along to well but it sure beats the pain I was in before surgery.
    surgery 9/06
    Rothman institute

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    8
    Hi there,
    I'm fused from T9 to L4 and the surgery was just over 15 years ago.
    To answer your questions:

    The temperature doesn't seem to have any affect on the rods, however living in Queensland, Australia I haven't really experienced "cold" weather as such. I used to swim some mornings and it was about -3 degrees celcius on the pool deck and didn't notice any difference with my back.

    I didn't have pain problems before the op, and didn't really experience any immediately after. I have found though that over the last 5 years my pain has gotten worse but I attribute that to having a desk job.

    The more I am able to move the better. I have lost some flexibility ie. cannot bend from the waist. But I somehow seem to be able to compensate and my pilates instructors (one of whom is a cirque du soliel acrobat) are amazed at what my body can do in terms of flexibility. In comparison to some unfused people I am able to show a greater range of motion.

    I cannot really answer the weight question because I keep pretty slim and have only ever fluctuated about 5kg.

    It's hard to say whether I think the surgery was worth it or not. Having been an adolescent at the time, my parents paid so the value for money is not something I can comment on but I know it did cost alot!

    Sometimes, I wish that I could have had the opportunity to try and correct the curve through exercise before rushing into surgery. But the curve was that severe that I was operated on within about two weeks of the diagnosis. So my what if??? scenario was probably way out of the question anyway.

    I can say with certainty that I don't regret it. There are some days that I have severe muscle spasms (usually after prolonged sitting) that I end up 'crooked' again. Think here, hinging from the hip so that the torso is shooting off at a 45 degree angle to my hips and legs. When I think that I may have been getting around in this way permantly like a cripple, I definately don't regret having had the surgery.

    Good luck with your decision and I hope you get all the support you need.

    MelissaK

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    408
    I am fused L1-S1. It was totally worth it and I would do it again if I had to. It is a big operation and yes, it is painful. It is, after all, major surgery. In the hospital, they generally have excellent pain management resources and you will likely be sent home with a prescription for strong painkillers as well. No bending or twisting for 6 months (generally) No heavy lifting for several months as well. Your limitations will depend on what type of surgery you are having, your age and how many levels you are fused.

    Best of luck.
    Brandi
    Congenital Scoliosis, 58* lumbar curve
    Combined Anterior/Posterior Spinal Fusion w/Laminectomy May 22, 2006
    L1-S1
    Dr. William Lauerman
    Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC
    Pedicle Subtraction Osteotomy @ L3, Posterior Spinal Fusion L2-L4, rod removal with re-instrumentation T10-S1 and Laminectomy February 5, 2009 to correct flatback
    http://brandi816.wordpress.com/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    105
    I am fused from T-11 to L5. My upper back around the shoulder blades is not fused so I still have flexibility there. As far as the lumbar area, I do not feel very stiff. I can bend at the hip, but just cannot curl or round my back, as if I were to do a sit up. I used to do lots of pilates before the surgery so it's a little frustrating that I cannot round my back anymore, but there's quite a lot that I can still do. I honestly don't feel like I lost all that much mobility. I had lots of pain before my surgery and now am mostly pain free, though there are days where I've done too much lifting and bending (I have a baby) and I get a little achy.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do!
    Heather
    Surgery date: April 20, 2004
    Anterior/posterior surgery
    Fused T-11 to L-5
    Pre op lumbar curve: 70 degrees, thoracic curve: 42 degrees
    Post op lumbar curve: 19 degrees, thoracic curve: 18
    Surgeon: Dr. Boachie-Adjei
    Had successful pregnancy and birth 2 years post-op

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    72

    hard to say....

    well i am fused T11 to L3 and i have not really lost any mobility. i can bend to my toes with no problem and i think i can do everything else. i am about 9 months post op and i am not really satisfied. i do have regrets everyday. i guess i am still recovering so i can't say if it was worth it but if i had to answer now i would say no. I had pain before the operation but i never used and pain pills. here i am 9 months and take a Vicoden ES almost every other day. I have lots of pain in my hip that was not pre existing, and my left thigh has not been the same since surgery. it constantly feels like bee stings. my back aches much sooner now from normal activities. i hope i will eventually make a full recovery but i feel as if some things are permanant. but as of now i do say i wish i had never done it. maybe things will change in time. i don't mean to be negative i have definatly come a long way and maybe things will continue but i think i just expected to be better than this at this stage. i still can't work full time and i could probobly use some more physical therapy.
    Stephanie 28
    T11- L3 6-05-06

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    27

    Ivan

    Thank you all very much ur help, and Fitiani i hope all gets well, maybe it just takes some time for ur muscles to recover or get use to the new position. please keep us updated with ur recovery which i hope will soon be complete, as you've prob. read many people go threw some great deal of complications but at the end come out succesfull as for you feeling some things being permanent, what are they if u can say and why do u feel that?


    I think the best part of this forum is that we can defenetly exchange tips and tricks that we have accuired with time and experiences. lets keep this ball rolling and hopefully one day this will be a thing of the past.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    U.K.
    Posts
    137
    I had surgery 1 year ago. I am fused T9 to L5 as it was my lumbar curve that was causing me major problems.

    I still get back pain but not as bad as pre-op.

    I have said many times I would do it again in a heartbeat, but yes, my rod does get cold!

    I cannot twist at all, but can still touch my toes (just) - having said that, years of flexibilty excercises before surgery meant that I was very flexible through my hips pre-op. My back itself does not bend.

    I hope this is a hlep and ask away if you have any more questions.....
    Double 63(T)/75(L) deg curve with big sideways shift - Surgery in UK on 8th February 2006.
    Post op 30(T)/33(L)
    http://warpedwoman.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    10
    Hi Ivan!

    I think we "spoke" on another thread. I had my surgery 28 years ago. I was 14 and almost 43 now. When I had my surgery it was tough right after the surgery, but it definitely helped and I am probably going to do it again in the next year or so. It was worth it to me and it allowed me to be able to do the physical things that I wanted without pain. And I have been mostly pain free for a very long time. It's only been in the last few years that I've noticed that pain was impacting me regularly. I currently have more flexibility than I should as the T4 - S1 did not successfully fused. I am told that this was actually a good thing or I probably would have had flat back syndrome. Gotta look on the bright side!! I'll likely lose flexibility with this next surgery as it will now immobilize these vertebrae.

    Stephanie,
    Do you think that the pain in your hip is most likely from where the bone graph was harvested? It is common to have this for a period of time. My surgery was too long ago to remember if I had the hip pain. I too had a sort of loss of feeling in my thighs and upper arms. The arms came back and my left thigh came back. The right thigh still has a funny sensation. I believe it is pinched nerves from the operating table. Hopefully, this will improve for you.

    Thank for starting this thread as it hits right on the topic that best fits my current situation. Connie

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Euharlee, Georgia
    Posts
    449
    I was fused from T12 - L5 and my fusion continued to grow down and fused S1 on its own. I had part of the S1 fusion removed four years ago. As for limitations, I carried two children to full term and both weighed around 9 pounds. I had no problems during pregnancy. However, when my girls got to be a year old, I could not carry them anymore. My doctor had limited me to twenty pound of lifting. Restrictions depend on where and how you are fused and your age. As you get older, you tend to develop disc problems above and below your fusion. I have never regretted having my surgery. Most of my problems developed 30 years later.
    T12- L5 fusion 1975 - Rochester, NY
    2002 removal of bottom of rod and extra fusion
    3/1/11 C5-C6 disc replacement
    Daughter - T7 - L3 fusion 2004

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    10
    I think that one of my biggest fears is the possibility that my children could have scoliosis. I would just hate to think that they might have to deal with it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Montgomery, AL/Tuscaloosa, AL
    Posts
    28
    I was fused T10-L5 on December 14th, 2006. I don't regret my surgery, it was necessary as my curve was only going to worsen as I got older and potentially become more difficult to correct or correct as much. I'm glad I went ahead with it...I'm only 20 years old and my doctor was already only able to correct a little over 50% of my curve (which was about 46 degrees), mostly due to arthritis. My spine was already so stiff, I can't imagine how it might have been in 10-20 years.

    In the hospital, I don't remember being in horrible pain or anything, for the most part. They kept me so comfortable. The whole experience just seems like a dream and went by so quickly...for me anyway, I'm not so sure it was so easy for my family.

    My worst pain was the first week or so at home. I was allowed to take my pain medicine about every 3 hours but after about 2 hours I would be watching the clock...I'm not sure that the medicine they gave me was working that well for me, once they switched it I was able to last a lot longer (though I'm not sure if that was due to the medicine or if my pain was just letting up naturally). After about 4-5 weeks, I was completely off pain meds and muscle relaxers, and just taking Tylenol when I needed it. The most painful thing to me was my bone graft site at my iliac crest. I still have some pain there, particularly when I stay in one position for a long time, like when I'm sleeping. I wake up and change positions a lot during the night, and it's hard to fall back asleep so that's frustrating. I'm trying to go to bed a little earlier to make up for that lost sleep.

    Right now I'm still not supposed to bend or twist. I try to remember to bend with my legs. I'm feeling so much better now that sometimes I do forget and bend a little around my hips, but I haven't hurt anything. I should be more careful though. I'm still in a brace, and I'm getting really tired of it now that it's getting kind of hot here (I live in Alabama). Only a couple of more weeks though. A lot of times at home, I'm really just laying around and don't see any need for it, so I don't wear it as much as I used to, but I always wear it when I'm up and about and going places.

    One thing I have noticed since surgery is how differently I carry myself, I'm still getting used to it. The curve (lordosis) in my lower back is much less because of the rods so I feel like I'm kind of tucking my butt in! So I feel like I walk differently, it is taking some getting used to. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this or if I'm the only one..? haha. I've also noticed that I have trouble sitting with my legs straight out in front of me, that is mostly due to lack of flexibility...I probably didn't stretch enough pre-op and now I haven't been able to do much exercise since surgery, so my hamstrings are so tight! I want to wait until after my next appointment in two weeks to start any yoga or stretching or anything though. Oh, and one more thing, putting on shoes and socks, and especially pantyhose has been very interesting, since I'm not supposed to bend. In the hospital, OT gave me a device to help me put my socks on, but now I just sit down and pull my foot up and cross it over the other leg to get socks and shoes on...the first time I had to put them on at home though, it was pretty funny trying to figure it out haha. I wore pantyhose for the first time a couple of weeks ago and almost fell over trying to get them on...the best method I've found is laying on my back on the bed. Washing my face at the sink and brushing my teeth without bending at the waist was also a challenge for awhile. You'll find things randomly that you didn't think of as being particularly challenging after surgery that it's like, "hmmm..." but it's interesting finding new methods to do certain little things without breaking your restrictions.

    My weight limitation for the first month was no more than 5 pounds, and he didn't tell me at my 1-month appointment what it was, but I try to stick to no more than 5-10 pounds and am very careful.

    I don't think it's my rods getting cold, but on the rare occasion that it is really cold here, I do have more pain. I think it's just my muscles...if I'm shivering, my muscles are contracting and that is what my back pain when it's cold feels like...my muscles tightening up. I notice more pain on my bone graft site on colder days but I don't know if it's just a coincidence or not.

    Hope this helps some!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    france
    Posts
    18
    hello ,we had our surgery the same day i 'm fused from T7 to S1 i also have a brace to keep 3 month then i have 45 days to take it slwoly off .i keep it on to sleep because i waik up as before :complitely twisted so ....i feel safer i 'm still on pain killers and muscle relaxer at night to get thru ...i'm 40 and have 3 children 2 teens ...and a 3 year old ....i need to sleep ..
    as you my feet hum ...the doc just said don't put socks on
    i still sit up high not comfortable on a normal chair .!
    walking as you said is "bizarre " new way to walk !!! hahaha before wasn't the wrigt way either !
    next see the doc will be end off may ...try to keep up with our stories day to day Do you know what operating method you've had?
    soory for my english spelling i'm in france !
    see you

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    72

    hip pain

    i never had a bone graph and my hip was never touched. my dr. just used my rib that was removed for the bone he needed. my thigh has the most un-natural and uncomfortable feeling i ever knew. it is like a stinging/aching/zapping i'm not quite sure how to describe it but i just know its weird and wrong. my hip bone has felt like a fresh bruise since day one after surgery and at 9 months i would have thought it would get better. if i push on it it hurts soooooo bad i could throw up. when i apply the slightest pressure it zaps, burns, spasms... all sorts of painful stuff. ( its also the muscle behind it). my left leg ( same side as all the other problems ) sometimes feels like the blood is cut off like when you put a rubber band on your arm to tight but i don't think it has poor circulation because my foot is sooooo hot. ( all of the time ) the other foot gets cold like normal but the left one is hot every second of the day, sock - no sock nothing changes it. my leg just aches. i don't really have to much back pain as i do horrible rib and hip pain. now the rib i understand but the others i am having a hard time dealing with. plus my leg always feels jammed up and i stand on a stair and let it hang down and kinda do a pendulum type thing to try and relieve it. i plan on going back to physical therapy next week. i am hoping that it helps. i'll keep u updated. thanks and good luck!
    Stephanie

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Montgomery, AL/Tuscaloosa, AL
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally Posted by bonjour
    Do you know what operating method you've had?
    I had a posterior fusion from T10-L5. Up until the day before surgery, I was scheduled for anterior fusion with a rib removal from T11-L3, but at the pre-op, my doctor decided he needed to fuse higher and lower due to the arthritis, and I think a little progression of the curve.

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