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    Physical Activity with Lumbar Fusion L4-L5-S1
    Sacco198 posted:
    I am new to the Webmd Community. In short I had a lumber fusion L4-L5-S1 in December of 2009. I am now 33 years old, and a father of 3. I am still in a great amount of pain from the surgery. I haven't been back to work since my surgery date. This time lapse has made it so my Law Enforcement certification has expired. I now have the opportunity to join again, but they require me to perform all of the physical fitness requirements again. The main ones I'm concerned about is the sit-ups and running. 40 sit-ups in one minute, and 1.5 mile run in 14 minutes. Besides asking my Dr. if he thinks it will be ok, I thinks its better to turn to folks that have had a similar surgery and get your opinion. I believe we all can do anything if we put our minds to it, but I also want to remain realistic about things too if that makes sense. I don't want to end up back on the surgery table. I'm scared to even put on my running shoes and practice for this. Has anyone ever been able to perform similar tasks with a fused back? I would be really interested in your reply. Thanks for your time and best of luck to everyone.
    bj1208 responded:
    hi and welcome to the support group -

    normally, we are a support group for those suffering from chronic pains either from failed surgeries, surgeries that would make us worse etc.,

    we do get fly-by-nite posts from some people that have success stories but they do not stay with us as they do get back to their normal daily life styles

    I had a single fusion (L5-S1) on 2/25/08 and I am in worse pains than before - I cannot bend (forwards, backwards or sideways), cannot sit or stand for long periods of time (no more than 20 minutes), cannot walk long distances.

    I walk with a brace on my left leg as I have drop foot and I also walk with a cane to help support and hopefully won't fall

    I do know there is no way I could run as any type of jarring is felt in my lower back and it hurts real bad.

    Since you are still in pain and it's been over 6 months you need to go back to your surgeon and have x-ray and MRI done to check the status of your fusion and to make sure nothing else is going on. Your surgeon would be the one to release you for work details and would know the do's and don't's for workloads. and if need be, he/she would advise of any treatments that may need to be done.

    Hope this helps - keep us posted - take care - Joy
    dianer01 responded:
    Hi and welcome

    I will consider this a fly-by post but not fly-by-night!

    I am one of the few who has had success. If you are still in pain I would be listening very closely to your doc as they know what your issues were to begin with and they may have an idea of why you are in pain.

    That said, I had L3-S1 fused in 2007 and now live pretty much pain free. I do not run and do not do sit ups. I am an avid walker and generally walk 2 miles, 2x per day, there are time we will go for 3-4 miles in one walk. The distance you have to cover should not be an issue if you work your way up to it, the jarring is what would concern me. The sit ups would also concern me as if you had a complete fusion they will put more pressure on the disks immediately above your fusion possibly causing additional problems.

    Talk to your doc and if they can support your efforts, can they prescribe more physical therapist so a professional can be giving you guidance on the best way to protect your back?

    good luck!
    Anthony L Cere, PT, DPT, MTC responded:
    Thanks for joining the WebMD Community. I would recommend in your situation to f/u with your surgeon and let him know what you are wanting to do and your current level of function. One option that you can bring up is trying Physical Therapy - a Physical Therapist can evaluate your current level of function and limitation you may currently have. He/She can then develop an individual treatment / exercise plan to help you meet your goals. It is not recommended to just go out and try to pass this test if you are currently not very active and especially if you are still having c/o pain. You can find out more about how Physical Therapy can help at . I wish you all the best and keep the great attitude is your saying "we all can do anything if we put our minds to it". This is half the battle.

    Ari Ben-Yishay, MD replied to bj1208's response:
    I agree with Joy 100%. Just keep in mond that many people with 2 level fusions can and do go back to doing all of their pre-injury activities and work.
    Dr Ben Yishay
    margaretmk responded:
    hi, I had a similar surgery 9yrs ago, except I had L3 included. (also I have hardware). I don't want to discourage you but I have had chronic pain since the surgery. It did get better for a while, and I got the use of my left leg back, but the pain never went away. however I have done all kinds of exercise, including yoga (and some really weird positions!) and all kinds of exercise machines and elipticals. unfortunately my problem is genetic and recently I found out the two disks above the surgery are severely deteriorated now and I have stenosis and arthritis in my spinal cord. but my doctor always said if you can physically do an activity-do it! read your own body, if it starts causing actual pain then stop, if it's normal soreness and achiness that you get when you start working out again then you should be fine. I actually felt better when I was working out, it helped reduce the pain (at least until the current problems), but I am getting a pain pump soon so hopefully that will help. good luck, trust yourself and your intuition about your body, and keep me posted!
    Sacco198 replied to bj1208's response:
    Thanks everyone for your posts. I wish I was a case of "fly-by-night. The truth is I have been living in misery ever since my surgery. An everyday waking battle. I did have another MRI done and it shows that the disc above my fusion L3 is pushed out a bit. I tried running. Well I guess you could call it a run, I made it about 50 yards and the pain was so great. I kept pushing until my left leg finally gave out and I fell to the ground. I layed on the ground looking up at the stars and realized that I need to put law enforcement behind me. Even if I did pass that test, I still cant make it through the day without pain medication. I just can not gut the pain. Its to extreme. I have never felt so alone and ashamed of myself. Someone once told me that depression would follow my surgery. I disagreed with that. However I think it sets in without warning. I just want to go back to work and support my wife and 3 children. I dont want to file for SSDI. I dont want to be on pain meds for the rest of my life. I want my life back. I know there are those who are worse and I should be thankful for what i still have. I am thankful for the blessings in my life but I just cant get past not being the Man of the House in a sense and feel pride once again. Maybe this is the place for me to be so I can talk to people that have similar situations. I thank you so much for your advice and input. I too wish you well with your conditions
    bj1208 replied to Sacco198's response:
    Hi again -

    We all have some sort of depression after surgery - when I realized after my 3rd month post op when my pains came back worse than before surgery (click my name or pic for story) - I'm 50 yrs old and have been disabled since I was 45 - yes it is a shock -

    BUT!!!!! What I did was force myself to get up every day - I have 6 grandkids now (2 are mine and 4 are my hubbys) and my 2 grandkids are AUTISTIC which is a shame BUT I put my family and kids in front of my depression and I work at trying to be happy with thinking of them all the time - not the aspect of not being able to do things with them but with the aspect that I CAN SEE THEM! I don't know how to explain it but try thinking positively about them -

    A good pain management clinic (see link)

    can help in more ways than regular pain clinics - they do go deeper into pain control by other means - they are monitored very well so they are not one of those that dispenses meds all the time - they can do other things - pain pump implants (where lots of people get their lives back more than with pain meds!!!) or other types of techniques where pain meds are not used - it all depends on how you respond to treatments etc.,

    So don't give up - there are other things out there - just need to get to the right place -

    Your primary care doc or spine specialist can refer you to one -

    Take care - Joy
    nanabiddy42 replied to Sacco198's response:
    I had the same fusion as Sacco198 and my pain after the fusion returned also. I saw a comercial for spinal decompression and went in for an evaluation with my films from the fusion. I went through 22 treatments of spinal decompression (that is the normal amount) and within 2 weeks my pain statred to go away. That was 3 years ago and I now can take care of my 7 grandkids and attend all their functions. That commercial I saw and the Drs at the clinic saved my life.
    An_242908 replied to bj1208's response:
    I've had 3 surgeries on my L4/L5. One in 2008, laminectomy discectomy; did not get better. Last year in Jan 2011 i went for a fusion of L4/L5 ended up with a pinched nerve, I was in so much pain, I could not walk, sleep, or eat. I had a re-do in June and came out filling better. Had Physical Therapy for the past 8-months. Got better, but now pain is coming back. Sitting can only last 20 minutes. I can't drive to work, it is affecting everything. Any suggestions.
    bj1208 replied to An_242908's response:
    hi and welcome to the support group -

    you may want to see a pain management clinic and see if they will do 2 tests - EMG with NERVE CONDUCTION TEST - this will check and see where the nerve root is coming from and if there is any nerve damage -

    also - there are 2 meds that do help with the nerve issues - Neurontin (Gabapentin is generic) and Lyrica - these both have proven to be very helpful with nerve root problems.

    I have nerve damage in both legs and I take Gabapentin and if I miss a dose I really can tell so I know it is working real well for me.

    see if this will help you - please keep us posted - take care - Joy
    Sacco198 replied to An_242908's response:
    I wish there was some advice I could personally give you to assist you with your condition. However I am still in a very similar situation with my pain. I was not able to do therapy for very long. It just plain hurt to bad and I would end up taking more medication to control the pain. The post in this section may be of assistance to you. I think the most important thing through this is "Stay Positive." If we lose that, we are for sure doomed
    Sacco198 replied to bj1208's response:
    Thanks bj1208 for the information. I recently had a nerve study done (Which i really didn't enjoy) and they found permanent nerve damage due to the initial impact of injury. My neurologist told me there is nothing he can do for me at this time other than medications. I tried the Lyrica but my body rejected this medication. They now have me on Cymbalta to assist me. I hope after taking this for a while I will see a difference. My best to everyone!
    bj1208 replied to Sacco198's response:
    hi - I hope cymbalta works for you - I tried this years ago and had real bad tunnel vision so had to stop taking it -

    with the Lyrica - did they start you out on a low dose and slowly increase it over a months time? The same would need to be done with Neurontin - when I started on Neurontin they had me take 300mg a day for about 4 days then increase it 300mg in morning and 300mg at night - when you first start taking it it does make you very sleepy by this side effect wears off after about a week - I'm now taking 3600mg a day and it really helps with the nerve pains in my legs - I take 1800mg in morning and 1800mg at night - and believe me if I miss my nightly does my legs are killing me by the next morning and won't subside til I get my full dose (morning and night).

    I've seen some physicians, not realizing the steps to increase the meds, start people out on an extremely high dosage so sometimes they need a little refresher to remember to do this.

    keep us posted on how ur doing - take care - Joy
    Buschman52 replied to Ari Ben-Yishay, MD's response:
    I also had double fusion done on july 5th 2012 still recovering L4-L5-S1 my right leg is really numb but not my whole knee im wondering will the feeling ever come bach thank you Rick

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