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Thread: Returning to work after fusion

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Minneapolis, MN

    Default Returning to work after fusion

    I know that the minimum standard recommended time for returning to work is around 3 months after surgery. I was just wondering if I could hear from other people on how long it personally took them to be comfortable going back to work. Has anyone been able to return to work even earlier than 3 months? I know it's something that would be a good idea to speak with your doctor about and listen to what your own body is telling you. My job requires me to sit 98% of the time, and some shifts I am able to stand if there's an event going on. I work as a student parking attendant at my university. So it's a pretty easy job sitting in a booth collecting payments from people. I know that sitting for too long can be painful though. Many of my shifts last from 4-5 hours long.

    So how long did it take you personally to return back to work? Right at 3 months? Longer than that? Just under 3 months?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Sheffield, UK

    Default Re: Returning to work after fusion

    I went back at 4 months but I am much older than you!! Can you get up from time to time and have a stretch in your booth? If so, I think you should be fine
    Me, a Mod? Nah ... I'll always be a rocker

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Northern California

    Thumbs up Re: Returning to work after fusion really depends on exactly what type of spine surgery you are having. Each person is different in how they feel & what they can do & when they can do it & depending on if you get an OK from your surgeon. Each person is different & you must listen to your body. You will have good days & bad days. Oh the good days you will do more than you probably should do...because your feeling great, then your going to be down for a few is kinda like one step forward, 2 steps backwards kinda thing.

    With my scoliosis surgery (fused from T2 to S1). I can't bend at the waist or at the shoulders. I was not suppose to twist at the waist or side to side for 6 months. You must be off all narcotic medications whenever you plan to drive. I went off the narcotic pain meds at 11 weeks. I was told I could not drive until I was 4 months post op. I was not allowed to do any housework of any kind for 6 months, no dishes, no laundry, no sweeping, no vacuuming, no mopping, no sweeping, no six weeks you start to get quite bored. You will get tired easily & you will take a lot of naps.....totally totally normal so do not worry about it. You have had major surgery & this is the Queen Mother of surgeries, your job is rest & heal, do your home physical therapy, rest rest & more rest. Your hours are going to be all mixed up. Do not worry about it. Think about your future & take great care of your new back.

    For me driving was not very comfortable even at 6 months post op. It is very uncomfortable & sometimes quite painful for the upper back & shoulders, & neck. Just have to remember that depending on your surgery, the muscles were cut & are also healing on your back. It takes some time to heal. You must be good to your back & do all the right things. What you do & don't do during post op recovery will affect the recovery time & pain want things to go well so do not do anything that can or will be a problem during your post op recovery. No lifting anything more than 5 pounds during that first six months. For me anything over 10 pounds puts to much pressure on my spine. Like I said listen to your body & rest often as needed. It takes two years to heal from spinal fusion. I had thought at one year I was doing great & as good as I would ever be. Now at two years post op I can see a major difference in how I feel & how far I have come. I am feeling great & still listen to my body & take mini rest breaks throughout the day. I lay down on my bed for about 15 to 30 minutes most afternoons to rest my spine. It does help a lot & I can do more if I rest.

    Depending on your spine, you may need a pillow behind your back for awhile. I find that down feather pillows work the best as the feathers shuffle around & provide much needed shoulder & lumbar support. I still use a pillow behind my back in the car as a driver or as a passenger. I use a king size pillow long wise to lean on,, on the sofa or the car. Your spine will get tired easily that first year. This is all totally normal.

    I kept driving to a minimum. With the changes in your spine & how high up your fusion is, it will not be comfortable or as easy to turn your upper body to see cars behind you. You have to learn to rely on using your rear view & side view mirrors more than ever to see what the traffic is like behind you. Driving those first six months even for a little while like 5 to 15 minutes was totally exhausting for me. Driving just once a week for a short period of time put me down for about a week. I am two years post op & still do not like being in a car more than an hour I get really stiff.

    Sitting for long periods of time can be quite uncomfortable at times. You need to get up every 15 minutes or so to stretch your muscles & prevent being stiff. Depending on your fusion & how high up it is, your upper back gets really tired & you need to lean back or lay down for 5 to 10 minutes sometimes even about 30 minutes.

    There are a lot of scoliosis groups on facebook, one of the best ones is How to Look Good Twisted.

    Good Luck with your spinal surgery. Do not be in a hurry, this surgery will try the patience of a saint. By six weeks your going to start getting quite bored. Do ask the surgeon about home and/or going to physical therapy weekly to get stronger. There are some sitting chair exercises & stretches on YouTube for seniors (know your not a senior) that are quite easy and very helpful for the post op spine patient...just watch first & modify ones to suit you personally for your particular needs...and of course with your spine surgeons approval or physical therapist's approval. I find stretching makes my spine feel better & do it throughout the day. Just make sure you follow your surgeons instructions throughout your recovery. Remember what you do & don't do will affect your recovery progress & recovery time.....and will affect you the rest of your life. So after the surgery do everything your told to do & remember you must be patience with yourself. It will be frustrating at times and again...totally normal Find a support group or ask the surgeon if there is someone that has had the same surgery or someone that can mentor to you. It really does help to talk to others who are or have gone through the same surgery as you have.

    I am so glad I had the surgery, absolutely zero regrets, I got my life back & will be forever eternally grateful to my wonderful surgeon. I can never ever thank him enough for giving me my life back. It feels wonderful to be able to do just little ordinary normal everyday things again. To go places & do things I have not been able to do in a long long long time. It was worth it all to have a chance at a normal everyday life again. No regrets what so ever.

    Good Luck with Your Surgery.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    South Shields via Bradford

    Default Re: Returning to work after fusion

    I went back after 6 months but I spent two of them in hospital so in reality I was off work for 4 months much like Gilly

    Latitude: 54 57' 34" N Longitude: 1 25' 16" W

    Mark's a groovin an a movin

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