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Returning to work

From: Chips - on 03/29/2010 8:02am

I am six weeks post two level lumbar fusion with instrumentation. I am still in a fair amount of pain. I work in a rough school. Would it be reasonable/wise to take 4 or 5 months off to give myself a decent chance of healing and getting fit? I am not able to to stand for very long and ache constantly. I know many people are back to the office within weeks. My job is often very physical and I want to be right before I go back. I have a high grade spondylosthesis which has given me a lot of pain for 15 years.

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on 03/30/2010 3:11pm

Hi. I had a laminectomy 4 weeks ago. I am a primary school teacher, so maybe not quite the same as you, but even so, very physical. I have been told to take 12 weeks off after the operation and then if all is ok I am to have a phased return to work over 3 weeks.
By the sound of it you may need even longer than that.

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on 04/02/2010 11:47am

Omg yes YES take however long it takes to heal!!! I just got done feb 22nd of this year with a one level open back fusion surgery with instrmentation and my dr won't even begin to think bout releasing me to go back to work til june 22. Plz take care of urself...u had a 2 level fusion, it can be a long recovery. Greatest blessings to u!!!! *hugs*

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on 04/04/2010 3:18am

I had a two level fusion in September, and my surgeon gave me a 4-6 month time frame before returning to work. This is brutal surgery and I agree you need to take as much time as you need. My doctor told me with each level the chance of success goes down and the chance of complications go up and in my case the placement went well but I had complications and was not able to return to work at all and have just gone on disability--and I worked a sedentary job. I still take pain medication every four hours and use heat on my back while on the couch. So yes, 4-5 months is absolutely reasonable--it could be more, could be less. I know I for one became a human barometer once the titanium was placed in my spine as the pain gets much worse the day before a cold front moves through.

So continue to take is easy on yourself, don't fall for gosh sakes, learn to let people do things for you and if you have access to a heated pool, PT is much easier in the water. Good luck!

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on 04/12/2010 6:35pm

I am a 30yr old female, and I had a fusion done on my L5/S1 back in November. I went back to work after 5 weeks, because I financially had no other choice. I am actually a server, and I knew it was going to be really hard because I had to carry trays and be on my feet for at least 8-12 hours a shift. It was rough in the beginning, but a lot of things got better. However, the pain started returning and I went back to my doctor. He stated that when my back fused, it actually over fused and I had too much bone growth which was AGAIN causing pinched nerves and really severe pain down my legs to my toes. I once again had to have yet another operation. I had my 2nd operation exactly 4 months after my first, and I woke up in even more severe pain than I have ever been in.

I did return back to work a few days ago, which would be 4 weeks after my 2nd surgery. My right leg is now numb in the back all the way down to my toes. My legs feel like they are on fire, and all they do is give my medication and more medication. They said it is just nerve damage, and it will go away. However, they said if it is still bad after 8 weeks, then something else is wrong. I am completely at a loss, honestly and am scared what is going to happen.

Sorry I know this is long winded! The moral of the story is don't go back to work if you are not physically ready. It will hurt you in the long run, like it did me. If I was told to give it a few more weeks, to avoid another surgery I definately would have. Now I have a total of 8 incisions, 4 screws, and plates in my back with no resolution.

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on 04/14/2010 12:39am

It would be reasonable/wise to take 4 or 5 months off to give yourself a decent chance of healing and getting fit? recovering from any back surgery takes time. I had on spinal fusion surgery 17 years ago. Having this done as a teenager- still required about 6 months time to heal properly with minimum complications. I believe that you might have more complications than you need if you go back to work too early.

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on 04/14/2010 6:52am

Absolutely take the time off. I made the biggest mistake of my life by going back to soon. I am a carpenter and of course, thinking I was fine ended up doing more damage. Take the 4-6 months, if you can afford it, and let your body heal. If you don't, you will pay for it for the rest of your life. Start back slow also, no lifting bending or extended periods sitting/standing. Hope this helped

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on 04/15/2010 7:40am

Hello everyone,
I've been off work since Jan 15 2010 and have a doctor check up every two weeks. Still not ready to go back to work. Part of me feels so guilty not working, feels as if I should be, but know i need to heal properly. The 7mm bulge I have at L5-S1 was so painful, but with PT and limited use, I've made great strides. So nice to find this discussion board.

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on 03/25/2011 7:13am

Chips,
I agree totally with the others...you should NOT return to work until you are completely healed. You stated that you work in a "rough school". You DO NOT want to risk a fall or slip at this point in your recovery! Chances are your dr. will give you as much time as you need to heal b4 you go back to work.

I am 18 mon. post-op from a 4 level fusion- L2-S1- and I still am not back to work. I have nerve damage @ L5-S1 that causes severe pain in the lower back and left leg...foot drop gets worse by the week. I am a geriatric nurse...I love my work but can't work the floor any more. The jobs I have applied for are all the same. They find out how much medication I am on and I am given a handshake, a smile, and am told to have a nice day. Most places aren't willing to risk hiring a person with an obvious bad back. Trying to get disability...now thats a wunnerful experience!! Its a good thing I don't drink...dealing with the goverment is enough to drive a person to drink!!

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on 03/25/2011 9:40am

I am 15 weeks out from laminectomy and spinal fusion with hardware from T1 to C3. I too have become a human barometer. LOL!. My doc said 6 to 12 weeks, well I am at 15 and went back to work on March 7th. Big mistake on my part. I am a network engineer and sit for most of the day. I get up and stretch every hour and take a short walk with my cane. I started PT on wednesday and have been slotted for 3 times a week for 6 weeks. The level of pain and the lack of motion surprised me. I thought that I would be done with that after the 6 to 12 weeks. Now my doc says that since I am so muscular up top that it may take 12 to 18 months or more to fully heal. And I dont know about the rest of you, but depression has been a big time road block for me in recovering. I just keep on plugging along,

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