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Spine Sacral Iliac Joint Fusion and Lumbar Fusion

Trailgirl

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I did have both surgeries on December 23rd and still recovering. They did the SI joint fusion using.. I believe the "iFuse Implant System".. and they also did the PLIF.. posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) - think that is the correct name. My husband said they had me under for 7 hours! They did both surgeries as my neuro surgeon felt I would more than likely have to come back and do the SI joint after having the lumbar fusion anyway. I was having a lot of burning pain in my hips and when sitting.

I am just past the 5 week mark. I am sure everybody is different but recovery was the most difficult for me (and as far as pain levels) the first 2 weeks. I am still feeling fatigue a lot after activity but am up walking (with brace) and not having the same pain I did before--(before I could only make it a block down the street and I reached level 7 -8 pain level in my back/hips). The best thing I did was bought me a really good recliner chair and I slept in that (still do some nights). Last week was my first time sleeping regular in the bed with home health assisting me learning how to log roll in and out of bed.
 

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@Trailgirl
You will notice I have copied your most recent post to your own recovery thread following your recent SI joint and lumbar fusion surgery. The original remains in Kayak59's thread, so she won't miss your post.

Sounds like you are doing well with your recovery after 5 weeks from the two major surgeries you had.
Congratulations on being able to sleep in your own bed.

Wishing you continued healing.
 
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Trailgirl

Trailgirl

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Thank you so much.. I began having a lot of lower back and burning pain when I sit not too long after my LHR surgery. I thought the burning sensations had something to do with the hip joint, but turns out it was the SI joint.
They combined the 2 procedures into one very long surgery on December 23rd.. both the PLIF and the SI joint fusion. The surgeon told me that he felt it better to go ahead with both.

My dream is to go camping finally... pain free. Actually just walking pain free will be good.

PS I did not realize shopping on smile Amazon donated here.. definitely doing that!
 

Jaycey

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@Trailgirl Big respect to you! Recovery from spinal surgery is nothing like TKR or THR recovery. Not fun! I only had decompression years ago and would not do that again.

Please keep us updated and know we are here for you.
 
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Trailgirl

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I do have a few concerns regarding this very very major surgery. This was by far the most painful surgery I have ever had done. It was a lot tougher than my LHR surgery. I wanted to share some of my experience and get some feedback, stories, support.

1...On the right side of the surgical scar on my back from the lumbar fusion, I have this "indentation", It concerns me. Its about an inch or so diagonal and it feels like the muscle and flesh underneath is deeply pitted.. like a deep crease as compared to the other side.

I mentioned it to the doctor's staff, but no one has addressed this concern. Considering my overall experience with this doctor's staff, it does not surprise me.

2.. Question of whether I had glue stitches or other stitches

My first follow up was Jan 12 and the office staff called and said they needed to schedule me to have my stitches out--I had never been told I had stitches... This was confusing to me as the home health nurse had been taking pictures of my incisions and healing progress told me I did NOT have stitches as well as the ER department. [I went back to the surgical hospital's ER around the 1st of January because my incision was draining profusely.. I was going through lots of towels and my PC thought it best to go back to the hospital/ER. There, they had put more surgical glue and told me the incision was indeed infected giving me antibiotics.] So, during the tele-medicine visit the surgeon's PA told me I did NOT have stitches...... The next day, home health nurse came to visit, I told her there was a question about whether I had surgical glue stitches, so I asked her to check my incision again. She took more pictures and confirmed that I did not. Then the surgeon's office called that same day and asked me why I was a no show for getting my stitches out. I told her that the PA and home health stated I did not have stitches. She said she was looking straight at my report and insisted that I DID have stitches (at this point I am worried because if I did.. i am sure my body's skin would have grown over them?) So I feel nervous and skeptical about this :what::dubious:

I had my Primary care doctor order the operative report. I don't know what would happen if they leave stitches in that should come out. It has been going on 6 weeks now.
 
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Jaycey

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On the right side of the surgical scar on my back from the lumbar fusion, I have this "indentation"
I have the same after my decompression. It was very deep initially but has "filled in" over the years.

Regarding all your other issues with this surgeon's staff - what can I say. You certainly need to stay on top of your care. It might be wise to get a copy of your notes from the hospital. My notes were "lost" before one of my followup appointments and then mysteriously turned up. That's when I requested my own copy.
 
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Trailgirl

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thank you for the feedback!
 
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Trailgirl

Trailgirl

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Well, good news, the indent in my back and break through pain I was having this week has been addressed at outpatient PT. It is possible it could disappear and he said it could be due to the muscles being disturbed @ surgery. I am learning to be very aware of my core muscles, and how I sit. I am feeling better today as I have barely slept in the past few days. I took a short walk outside and it was great weather today.. good to get some fresh air! :thumb:

As far as the stitches..the PT doctor did take a look and he said he could see a stitch peaking through. :what: I finally was able to look at the report and it stated liquid stitches.. so I guess I can stop worrying.

I think I am going to start planning a camping trip this year.. this time it will be at least 80% pain free :hiking:
 
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Cindylou

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Wishing you speedy recovery ! I am 6 years post op from laminectomy fusion for a cyst on my spine. Healing is long. Movement helps! My back still bothers me when sitting. Now recovering from a TKR 3 mos ago and that change has aggravated my SI joint.
I am doing Dry Needing with my PT to help release the tight muscles and scar tissue. it is amazing! If stiffness exists in your surgical area later (too soon now) this is something that is helping me
 
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Trailgirl

Trailgirl

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I am doing Dry Needing with my PT to help release the tight muscle
I will have to look into that dry needing techniques. I also have areas that are a bit numb here and there from the SI fusion, so I have been taking a body brush (like you use in the shower) and brushing my skin. How long overall did your healing take for the low lumbar fusion? PT told me to plan on 3 months at least twice a week - preferably 3 times a week.

I am a week behind due to the outages here in Texas :yikes: :-( --but playing catch up now with PT and my final review with the surgeon.. I think the stitches and all is going to be ok and they are sending me for CT scan tomorrow to check everything..:fingersx::thumb: So I am in my 2nd week of PT, no longer on pain meds and having really tough time with stiffness. He said massaging the incisions helps .. obviously I cannot reach some of them except the SI joint incisions.

Most of the pain and stiffness now is in my thoracic area and PT told me today that this area will compensate for the lower lumbar fusion that is stationary.

Sorry to hear the TKR aggravated your SI joint.. good to know as I am supposed to get a TKR on the left but obviously my spine has disintegrated a lot faster than the knee. I am feeling some pain in my knee but the realignment in my hips may have helped some.. just walking straight lol! may have helped.. I am not near as swollen as I used to be there.
 
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Trailgirl

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I am learning to be very aware of my core muscles
Core stability is really key when you have spinal issues. I had years of PT focusing on the core.

Sounds like you are doing well @Trailgirl !
Speaking of core stability, the home PT noticed that I have a hernia in my stomach. This could be from a combination of things including surgery in that area (robotic surgery in 2017 where they had to blow gas there to do the surgical procedure), weakness and weight gain from lack of movement due to all the pain. How do I fix the hernia? And would this contribute to more back issues.. mmmm?? :shrug::sorry: I am wondering what type of doctor would I consult?
 

djklaugh

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@Trailgirl You should probably start with you Primary Care Provider about the hernia. Not all hernias are dangerous or require surgery to fix. It depends on how big the hernia is, where it's located, and other clinical factors. IF it needs repair then probably a general surgeon would do that. I had a hernia repair several years ago and it was just day surgery - LOL I referred to the procedure as "assembly line" surgery - in and out of out patient surgery facility in about 3 hours. Recuperation - like any surgery - took a few weeks of healing and "don't lift any thing heavier than your purse" instructions ... but was much easier than hip or shoulder replacement.
 
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Trailgirl

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Recuperation - like any surgery - took a few weeks of healing and "don't lift any thing heavier than your purse" instructions ... but was much easier than hip or shoulder replacement.
Thanks for the reply, I didn't get to ask him that today.. I had my 6 week follow up appointment with the surgeon and I meant to ask him about the hernia. He told me it could take up to 3 months to fuse and as of today the fusion was not completed.

Sigh.. I know I shouldn't but pretty much every time I have to interact with this surgeon's staff, there is something messed up. I don't want to complain really, but I havent experienced anything quite like this --if it were just a few things.. well ok.. no one is perfect, literally they got major things wrong. The surgeon did a good job and their incompetence has had me worried. That said, I was given a list of post op protocol - and they gave me the wrong list today.. they gave me a list for a cervical fusion vs a PLIF and SI Fusion.

The list contains protocol like - @ 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, etc what lifting weights activities, movements etc you can do. Maybe I can find one online somewhere.

It looks like I still have a ways to go.....I am booking my camp trip tomorrow. I am hoping early August is enough time to be able to do some of those activities.
 
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Trailgirl

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Does anyone know where you can find a list of post op protocol for spine surgeries?
 

Jaycey

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Plug spine-health.com into any search engine. My spinal surgeon referred me to that site before my surgery. FYI - every surgeon is different about restrictions. I had no bending or lifting for 6 weeks post op.

Be sure and call your surgeon's office about giving you the wrong protocol. That could be dangerous if someone just blindly followed the wrong restrictions and activities.
 

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I don’t include it in my signature because this is a joint replacement forum but I have suffered through seven spine surgeries one SI joint fusion and now a left hip replacement so maybe I can help answer some of your questions. I had two plif fusions and now I am fused in the lumbar from S1 to L3 and I am fused in my cervical spine from T1 to C3 so I am very stiff but that is okay as it cured the nerve pain that I had. As far as what to do to recover from a spine fusion and a SI joint fusion it is very much the same as recovering from a hip replacement. You mostly just wait for the bones to fuse and that takes about three months. For most people the bones start to fuse at around two months and that is when you actually start to feel better. Also just like a hip replacement walking is your best exercise until you get a solid fusion, a spine fusion is tough operation and it is very painful until the vertebra start to fuse and eliminates the micro motion between the bones. There are spine forums that you can find online that have the instructions that tell you how to recover from a fusion just do a Google search and they will pop up. Feel free to send me a personal email if you feel that you need any more information.



Golfer67
 
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NightQuilter

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@Trailgirl - just found your thread. It is tough to be patient with the healing necessary on a fusion. I think you will find it standard protocol to not do anything more strenuous than walking for three months. I can appreciate your desire to get back to camping and August should give you plenty of time. If it is of any encouragement, at 5 months after my lumbar and 9 months after my cervical, we hiked the last 110 km. of the Camino de Santiago in Spain (yup, twice and we liked September).

I am sorry your OS's staff is so disorganized. You really should let your OS know directly. It is his responsibility to insure staff are properly trained and patients get the correct information - it is him the lawyers will go after if a patient suffers as a result of office incompetence.

I still have a bit of a depression on both of the scars on my back. I've always assumed since they had to cut through vertical muscles, those may not have been able to fully reattach - or maybe the spot is just less amenable to fat building back up! :heehee:
 
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Trailgirl

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@NightQuilter Thanks for the reply - good info to know that you were able to hike. I have been doing a lot of walking. I feel stiff a lot at night but really am not taking anything more than one Tylenol so the surgery so far was a great success.

As far as the scar, yes, I don't like that.. PT told me to massage it so I have with a back massager and putting some A&E oil and creams on it. I think I would rather have the scar than the pain at my age, LOL! however, I certainly understand. I have around 50 lbs to shave off from being inactive for the last 4 years.

Yes, I am really dissappointed in this Dr's staff. Presenting you with incorrect information this many times is really NOT cool- I plan to get moved to another doctor when my 90 day post op is out.
 

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