Spinal Fusion Recovery

Posted , 4 users are following.

Hi all.

Well I finally had my fusion surgery on Saturday morning.

Laying here in my hospital bed at the wonderful St George's in Tooting, London.

The experience so far is fairly good.

Recovery from the anaesthetic was OK. Took them a while to "get on top of" my pain before I was comfortable in recovery. I was there newly 3 hours before going back to the ward.

My wonderful surgeon Matt came to see me after he'd finished his surgeries for the day, just to let me know all went as planned with only one slight hiccup that I lost around a litre of blood in theatre. He managed to fit 2 cages and 4 screws into my spine as this was better plan for me going forward.

I came round with a fentanyl PCA rather than morphine because I'm used to the higher strength analgesia as I already use fentanyl patches. Also had fluid drip (Hartmanns) and urinary catheter fitted, plus a vacuum wound drain.

First 24 hours were OK. Good pain control with the fentanyl PCA plus oral meds (codeine, paracetamol, diclofenac, diazepam and tramadol).

Managed to sit up on Saturday evening on my own in the edge of the bed, but this was very brief.

Sunday morning I hadthe PCA taken down and then managed to go to the toilet (BO) with no support. I couldn't believe how little pain I was in!

Had a little bit of a setback Sunday afternoon, suffering an absolutely blinding headache and just knocked sideways by it. I recon it was down to the fact my wound drain wasn't vacced and fluid had built up in my wound, consequently placing pressure on my spinal column. Only my theory, but having a medical background does come in handy sometimes! Haha. The headache went soon after the drain was vacuumed again.

Well it's now 6am on Monday morning and this is my first blog after my op, as promised.

I will of course continue to update you as things progress.

Any questions, please ask away.

Just wanted to say a big thanks to all of you who sent your kind wishes so far. Bless you.


So far things are very positive. A good experience

2 likes, 16 replies

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16 Replies

  • Posted

    Now 2pm on day 2 post op and just had visit from Mr Crockers registrar and I'm going home!

    Total surprise!! Thought that more physio involved at early stages but not in my case.

    I must admit I'm in relatively little pain considering the enormity of the op and my leg pain has all but disappeared after near on 8 years suffering!!

    Just remains to see how the healing progresses to fix the pain in my lower back, which in my case was a lot worse than my leg pain and the reason for choosing fusion over a discectomy.

    Have been instructed to take it easy for the first week, then slowly reintroduce normal activities. Should be able to drive again after two weeks.

    Back to neurosurgeon outpatients in 4 to 6 weeks time for assessment and then commence rehab physio at my local spinal unit in Crowborough!

    At the moment I can't quite take in how quickly this has all happened.

    Had really thought I'd be in here for 3 or 4 days at least. But obviously glad to be going home and will post any significant updates as they happen.


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  • Posted

    Well here I am again, day 4 post spinal fusion and not doing too bad. My leg pain/sciatica has completely disappeared now but I'm now suffering a lot of pain in my hips and upper buttocks, presumably from the fact I'm using different muscles to walk and support myself. It is unbearable at times and I'm having to rely on Oramorph to cope.

    Had a fever last night of 38.7° so took paracetamol (acetaminophen) and felt better this morning. Think it may be a urinary infection from the catheter, but we'll see how it goes.

    Visited the practice nurse at my local GP this afternoon to have my dressing changed and she said all looked really healthy.

    Well that's me so far. Hope you all are doing OK and I'll try update again in a few days.

    Best wishes to you all


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  • Posted

    No rods stuart?  Seen the rods and screws, big arn't they!!  Was going to have this myself but at 73 don't want to waste money and in any case I don't want to spend my daughters inheritance. Lucky you being in St Georges, great hospital isn't it.  I think in England you can still elect to go to any surgeon can't you?

    My daughter was there for a year training to be a psychologist - she loved it - well you know what I mean.

    Keep us up to date - I had decompression about 6 years ago or at least I thought so but I was told last week that it was only partial. I wasn't told this.  I am very cynical now about any dr I see and I am in Spain now and its just the same. I can't drum into the young ens how important it is to get private insurance.  In spain grandparents pay for their grandkids total health insurance including dental. Its such a good idea but I don't think I will have grandchildren now.....  My experience of the hospital (Warrington Spire and yes it was private because I was so b***** sick of being pushed around by the NHS and even this didn't work my way if it was only partial) Here in Spain the health system is just the same, you wait 12 weeks every time you want to see/referred to a dr/surgeon. And people get really pushy and violent, they have security guards on each floor (but not seen any in the new hospital we now have) the spanish push in and then that makes the others mad - its funny if it wasn't so sad. 

    Did you feel as though you don't want to eat, I didn't for a fair number of days although the food was ok.  I just bet you feel so lucky to be in St George's, Jane's friend lives in Tooting.  

    So keep us up to date, when do you go home?  Take care, don't be tempted to do anything you KNOW you shuldn't do.  And do those exercises lol


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    • Posted

      Hi Anne

      I'm home already! Only two days after going under the knife! I was gobsmacked how quickly I recovered! I was absolutely convinced is be in there for at least 4 or 5 days. I was able to stand the morning after my op!

      I purchased myself a back brace/girdle, which would grace any kinky leather or S&M party rather well! Haha but I tell you is the best thing I've ever invested money in EVER!!! The stability and support is given me and therefore pain relief has been amazing. Id recommend anyone undergoing back surgery to think ahead about support and invest some money in a good, sturdy corset of some kind. Not the flimsy neoprene elasticated rubbish you see advertised, but the steel boned leather straps and laced ones! I really can't tell you what a difference is made to my recovery and pain control.

      Anyway, apart from the small hiccup of a streptococcal throat infection which made me feel like crap for the past few days, everything couldn't have gone better.

      I no longer have any pain in my legs. The sciatica has gone after 8 long years!!

      Back pain is still there but not anywhere near as bad as it was. Considering is only a week since surgery I'm hoping this will get better with time too.

      At this moment in time is say that fusion surgery for me anyway has been a total success.

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    • Posted

      You know this is the third time I have sent a note will go on computer in the am. Don't forget the corset mines Greg!!!

      Put yr feet up peter Kaye is on tonight to make you laugh.

      Speak tomorrow anne

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    • Posted

      I was pretty fed up Stuart with this website last night so after the 3rd time of losing my message I gave up and this morning have come onto the computer. Its much better. I kept on ending up on the green banner below.  

      Thats good that you are home, I think they like to get you home as most people don't like hospitals, are you eating. I had a week in the hospital, I got snowed in, and the food was so nice but I couldn't eat a thing, no matter what kindness they used.  Get a comfy chair, hope your wife is waiting on you hand and foot lol.  

      Yes I have a back grace too, but too embarassed to use it. Can you imagine going into Valencia dressed up to the nines and a flipping back brace showing.  I have a grey one.  No I didn't find it of use but there again, I haven't used it much. I don't even use it when I go walking (1/2 hr there and back or round the shops lol) Thats about as much as I can do except fiesta time and I usually do 4 hours with breaks  in between but by the time I get to the car I could kill anyone who said come on Anne. I bought a spare brace actually and it was absolutely rubbish, thought it would be ok if left in the car.  It did have metal rods but still rubbish and they sell them on the market with no metal rods....Did they give you the exercises then?  I do the NHS ones and I picked up some off Spine Health but I wouldn't do those until someone says you can, the simple ones are best.  It would be terrible if you undid all that has been done.  

      Presumably you had rods, you don't mention it.

      How did your back get to that condition.  Its usually is a fall or something, I haven't really heard of anyone having a fusion done because their bones are knackered but then they wouldn't would they.  Now you have had fusion, do you want anything to read?  Go onto ADRSupportUK for a read. I thought i would have to have ADR and was on the website for a few years until "something happened" and the surgeon told me I had spinal stenosis and an op was out of the question but.... since then I have had 2 offers of operations (private of course) for fusion but know I think I shouldn't have it - anyway it would cost me 20,000€.  

      Sciatic is terrible, funnily enough I don't have back pain. I have L3/4 L4/5 and S1/L5 the latter getting bad but was told that I had the other two decompressed and the dr the other day said no, one level was just partially decompressed and I am taking this up with a Solicitor. I was told other information and paid £7,000 so that I could come to Spain and when I went back 2 months before I came here and said I was no better he just shrugged his shoulders and said the pain would eventually go. Well it got worse - I won't go into all the ins and outs but got a phone call this morning to say could I go next week for a spinal injection.  I have all my notes from the UK but Spain insists of repeating everything. Its annoying as it is wasting so much time.

      I may be repeating myself here but my back isn't painful, and I don't think its sciatica - they keep on asking me but my pain is groin/bottom/thigh and thats it whereas if it was sciatica it would be back and leg. So maybe they are doing this to find out.  We are due in London in May so hope i will be OK.

      Have you got plenty of books - TV isn't much unless you can tape programs but then there is a rush of interesting programs, but it depends on what you are interested in.

      Anyway, keep up the blog because people will be interested how you will get on not just in months but years.  

      I looked back on my text and I didn't tell yu that the surgeon has said that as I have spinal stenosis and had two ops already it would be v dangerous so I am at the pain clinic, which is usually the last resort.

      My first op was a wedge type widget that was supposed to life the L3/4 off the L4/5 it didn't work but made friends with the rep who happens to live in Valencia which is how I got two private appointments with surgeons who said they would fuse.  Even looking at the X Rays from Benidorm they said they could but deep down I think I might have big trouble, especially with this spinal stenosis.

      So lets have the blog for today and how you are getting on, hows the appetite and exercise.  Anne


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    • Posted

      He he I was told to buy one waiting for the op that never came. For a woman it looks awful even wearing it under a sweater. but try and remember to wesr it when I go walking. Cost 50 euros and I was measured for it. There are belts and belts mine has metal rods in one or Two places vertically. The belt holds yr back in the correct position but I still have pain. I was told has to position it what a real clot you loom but if it works ..good.
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    • Posted

      Sorry what a clot I look and so glad you are on the mend - keep us posted. I wish I could get a 100% statement from the consultant and fed up keeping going to pain clinic - after 5 years doing this in the uk. Its like saying we can't be bothered with you!!

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  • Posted

    Hi Stuart,

    My other half has is operation next month at St Albans city Hospital - he is a lorry driver by proffesion and would like to go back to his job after the long recovery, I have read your short story and it has filled us with hope.

    Can you share a link where tou purchased the brace from as he i looking into it.

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    • Posted

      Hi Amanda

      I'm really pleased to hear your hubby is having the op. It is without doubt, the best decision I ever made! My recovery is going well and the pain has all but gone!

      I have my 8 week review with my neurosurgeon Matt Crocker in a couple of weeks and then physio starts.

      The brace/girdle I bought looks like some kinky S&M gear but I'll tell you it was the best thing I ever bought to help in the first few weeks after the op. It supported my lower back and prevented me from bending too far.

      I've finished with it now, so if your hubby needs it and it fits, he's more than welcome to have it. I was going to put it on ebay, which is where I bought it from.

      I'm a 34" waist. What's your hubbys waist size?

      Stu wink

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    • Posted

      Hi Stuart,

      I am pleased your recovery is going so well.

      My husband is a 32 waist so not sure if it will fit but, if you can shre the link when you put it on ebay i will have good look as it will help when we look for one.


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    • Posted

      Hi Stuart

      I have been reading your posts and feeling positive. I had disc fusion on the 3rd May out 4 days later feeling good. Walking about short distances.

      Yesterday I walked a mile and felt fine but boy this morning I have a lot of hip pain I am unable to do my basic exercises that physio gave me.

      Not sure if it was walking or maybe I slept awkward. ...is this normal?

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    • Posted

      Hi Pamela

      In a word, yes it's absolutely normal. Don't forget for however long you have been suffering from back problems prior to your op, your body has been compensating for your posture by using muscles and ligaments (even tiny ones) that were never meant to be used in that way.

      Now you have had your surgery to correct the issues you've been having, your body now needs to in effect "re-train" itself to use the correct muscles again.

      It's still very early days for us both in recovery and it's a slow process to full recovery, despite that feeling of normality after years of pain and discomfort.

      My advice is just take it easy! Don't push yourself too much. Know your limits and stick to them and don't overdo it. It will all come in time.

      I must say again, it's the best decision I ever made and I'm feeling stronger every day. Able to do things I haven't done for many years.

      Good luck with your recovery and take it slow. Things will come back and the pain will get less and less.


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    • Posted

      Thanks for the reassurance, good luck with your recovery I guess after so much pain for so long just want to get back to normal as soon as possible but your right it will take time.
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