Chronic pain and spinal fusion

Posted by lynn12 @lynn12, Aug 16, 2018

Hi
I am wondering if there is anyone out there has experienced what I am dealing with? In 2006 I had a spinal fusion from T2 through L4. Actually the fusion failed and after one year had to be repeated, this time using a bone morphosizing protein that ensured fusion. Like most who have endured a surgery like this I am left with chronic pain. I have through the years also developed quite a dowagers hump. The surgeon explained that my problem went up so high that she actually bent the rod a bit forward during surgery otherwise noting that I may become off balance. As the years have gone by this hump is looking more and more pronounced. I absolutely hate it and feel so ugly, can anything safely be done or does it involve another dangerous surgical procedure? As you can imagine the thought of more surgery is frightening to me. What complicates matters is I am on Warfarin (blood thinner) due to aortic valve repelacement in 2001. Any surgery for me is always more complicated.

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@salsa

Yes I was told sitting was bad too, but alot will depend on how you are feeling, I just walked around the house at first, and then tried an outdoor walk, I walked too far and was hurting afterword. Unfortunately, during my recovery, i sprained my ankle on my sons toy so I am just know getting back to walking without pain in my ankle. In summary, I would walk as much as you can without overdoing it, your body will tell you when you have done too much. Also, I have found when I lay or sit too long, my back and hips feel tight so I need to get up and walk. hope that helped.

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Thank you, good advice to listen to one's body. So sorry you sprained your ankle on top of the recovery, double whammy! I feel quite stiff and pain now when I sit too long, more so on the right side. But then, I'm tight all the time. I am so hopeful surgery will give me the ability to enjoy life again. I did something really stupid yesterday, took the wrong envelope to surgeon appt. so didn't have most recent MRI. He wouldn't see me without the MRI, really no point. I live 30 minutes away so he could not accommodate that timing. I don't blame him, was my fault. Now I have another month to wait to see him. He is so busy and only one in town. So guess I wasn't meant to see him yet.

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I would like help with contacts on Spinal Decompression surgery. I realize this is not Spinal Fusion but this is the first discussion that comes even close that I have seen. Any contact information about Spinal Decompression is much appreciated. My surgery went well but my problem is with my stamina, pain after extended standing and walking ( I still have to depend on a walker more than I would like ).

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@tom2017

I would like help with contacts on Spinal Decompression surgery. I realize this is not Spinal Fusion but this is the first discussion that comes even close that I have seen. Any contact information about Spinal Decompression is much appreciated. My surgery went well but my problem is with my stamina, pain after extended standing and walking ( I still have to depend on a walker more than I would like ).

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@tom2017
I had spinal fusionon my lumbar.
As far as what I had, I used a walker about 8 weeks then switched to a cane.
As far as pain, I had 4 months of pure hell.
All that being said, I would check with your surgeon.
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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Any experiences with lumbar fusions?

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Hi @fjkphx you may have noticed I moved your post to this existing discussion on spinal fusions so that you can connect with others who have similar experiences. Simply click VIEW & REPLY in your email notification to get to your post.

I also wanted to tag fellow Connect members @grandmar @beckyann and @salsa have either had lumbar fusions or have had other spinal fusions and may be able to offer you support.

@fjkphx will you be undergoing a lumbar fusion? Or are you exploring your options?

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@grandmar

@tom2017
I had spinal fusionon my lumbar.
As far as what I had, I used a walker about 8 weeks then switched to a cane.
As far as pain, I had 4 months of pure hell.
All that being said, I would check with your surgeon.
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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Oh my goodness! I’m having fusion surgery this Wednesday on L-3 L-4 and L-4 to L-5. I have been having pain for about three years and I’m on Oxy. I’m able to walk(with my walker or cane) about 15 minutes before my legs give out. I am so concerned about the surgery and how long I’ll need to recover.
Being summer, my husband is looking forward to fishing, hiking, boating and tent camping. I’m think “Oh my…Lord help me!” I’m not sure how I’ll get through it. Almost cancelled several times. HELP

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@grandmar

Good advice,
I actually went home with a walker. I used it for the first couple of post-op visits then switched to a cane. I wore a back brace for a few months.
Yes, grippers are a great idea! Also have some ice packs and heading pads available. I don't want to scare you, but the first couple of months can be difficult.
As far as what you can and can't do, don't rush anything. As a matter of fact, do NOT do any of the things you know can reinjure your back. I believe that the reason some back surgeries are NOT successful is NOT because of the type of procedure or even the surgeon. I believe it is because people do too much, too soon.
I was told that even though the surgical area can look good, it can take a full year for a cervical surgery to be healed and 18-24 months for a lumbar to be completely healed.
I fell several months after my lumbar surgery.
I was 'healed' according to my f/u xrays.
Because of issues I am having, an MRI was taken.
Although I don't have pain, they can see that the spine moved at the fusion site.
Things are just so delicate and the older you are, the longer it takes.
I was 63 yo.
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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Thank you so much for the information you have shared. I am concerned about going up and down stairs. We have steps leading to our bedroom and bath. Thinking maybe we should put a bed and toilet down stairs. What is your experience? Thank you

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@salsa

Hi Beckyann, if you have a fusion, I would ask your doctor about your specific questions, taking trash out etc. I would say from my experience, do as little as possible so you can heal, at times I think I should be doing more, but then I realize I have metal rods in my back and a fake bone that are all trying to grow together to make me strong again. I realize that I must not push it, I would not overdue it at home after your surgery, your back will not be happy. I highly recommend buying some grippers to pick stuff up off the floor, they are lifesavers. A walker, or cane might help too, I used a walker for the first few weeks because it hurt a lot and I needed something to balance on. thats all i can think of for now, good luck to you.

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Such good advice. This group is really helping me come to terms with upcoming surgery. I have to say I’ve been feeling alone on this. Thank you

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@brendakaye

Oh my goodness! I’m having fusion surgery this Wednesday on L-3 L-4 and L-4 to L-5. I have been having pain for about three years and I’m on Oxy. I’m able to walk(with my walker or cane) about 15 minutes before my legs give out. I am so concerned about the surgery and how long I’ll need to recover.
Being summer, my husband is looking forward to fishing, hiking, boating and tent camping. I’m think “Oh my…Lord help me!” I’m not sure how I’ll get through it. Almost cancelled several times. HELP

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@brendakaye
Hi!
Take a deep breath and calm down.
March 2018, I had disc replacements on C5/6.
It was a quick recovery and my painful symptoms were gone within a week!!!!

I suffered from chronic pain 24/7 for over a decade.
The pain was horrible and there was a time I stopped walking for almost 3 years!
I couldn't bare the pain!!!

I started to see pain docs, but none could help me.
I reitred on disability for a few ailments.
I lived in New Jersey and could not take the cold!!!!
My hubby and I moved to the warmth of Florida.
I eventually found a FANTASTIC pain doc who was able to help me!
After 4 years, his magic stopped and I could no longer stand the pain which was now in my neck and causing horrible headaches.
In addition, I couldn't stand the lower pain, either.

It was then I decided to take my life back.
After lots and lots of research I found a neuro-surgeon.
He did my cervical surgery and then the lumbar.
About 7 months after my cervical surgery, I had my lumbar surgery.
I had L 3/4 done. I had an X-Lift Fusion.
Don't ask me what it is, I have no idea!

It's been about 9 months since the surgery and I am pain-free for the first time in a decade!
I am not going to lie to you, the lumbar surgery, FOR ME was horrible!!
The pain was terrible and the recovery worse!
It took me about 4 months, then one day the pain was gone; just like that!
I was pissed with my surgeon that he did not tell me about the pain.
But I now understand why he did the cervical first.

Each person recovers differently in a different amount of time.
I am, however, pretty sure that it will take at least a month or two to start to feel well.
Follow all the rules set by the surgeon and take this time to baby yourself!!!!!
No lifting, bending, twisting, sudden moves, hyper-extensions, or carrying anything heavy.
Even after all this time since my surgeries, I still follow those guidelines!!!
Many people feel better and go hog wild then complain the surgery did not work.

I used to cry and ask myself WHY did I do this to myself.
Now, I couldn't be happier I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good luck!
Ronnie

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@brendakaye

Thank you so much for the information you have shared. I am concerned about going up and down stairs. We have steps leading to our bedroom and bath. Thinking maybe we should put a bed and toilet down stairs. What is your experience? Thank you

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I think that is a great idea! I actually slept in my recliner chair in the living room for about a week.
I then moved into a room that had a bed that was softer than mine and lower so that I could get in and out.
I live in a one level home.
Not to give TMI, but I would get spasms when I would sit to use the toilet, that my hubby would have to come get me off.
You will probably need a walker to get around and get you in and out of bed and on and off the toilet.
As far as the toilet, you might want to have the toilet paper ready before you sit down IF the holder is not right near you.
Showers feel great but you need to prepare for them, too.
If you have a free standing shower, that would be best.
If not, get help to step in and out of the tub.
Have grab bars available.
You do not have to get the permanent ones, they do make good ones that use suction.

Hope this helps and prepares you.
Ronnie

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