I am 9 weeks post a fusion with hardware at L5/S1. I am so frustrated today. I had a great weekend, the pain was almost non-existent Saturday and Sunday. Went back to work Monday and from lunch on was terrible. I can't believe I am having muscle pain as I had an anterior approach (cut in the front). Is this normal? I can't figure out why the weekend was good. The only thing I can think of is I sit more at work. My Dr. warned me twice that all his patients experience a pain flare-up around 3 months. He said be prepared...it's going to happen. I could barely sit through my son's basketball game tonight and went home instead of going to eat with my family. I can't stand this anymore. Any positives out there? I saw my Dr. at two weeks so I am uncertain as to where I am with the fusing of the bones.
It is known that sitting places more stress and pressure on the spine, than does lying or standing. You may be stressing your fusion mass, and the remaining discs.
You could try taking more breaks where you get up and walk around, rather than sitting for extended periods. That is one problem with modern offices, with the computer. Physical activity is factored out.
We no longer have to reach down into the lower drawer to get out a piece of paper and then reach up and put it in the typewriter. We don't have to reach up and move the carriage back at the end of each sentence. Oops, made a mistake. Get into the desk drawer and get out the white out, reach up, lean in, correct the mistake, move the carriage back to the current sentence. Okay, document finally done. Reach up and take it out of the machine, find a pen, and sign it. Get an envelope out of the other lower desk drawer, and address it. Now, get up and walk over the the filing cabinet. File the carbon copy. Walk to the mail room, to mail the letter you just wrote. Walk back to your office/desk, and start on the next document. On the way back to your desk, pick up some supplies or the mail. Basically, we used to move around a lot more than we do now.
Now days, all we do is move our fingers, and hit "send" to have the document sent all over the world.
So, it is a good idea, that at the end of every document you do, get up and move around. Do a little stretching, walk around your office for a few seconds. Then start on the next file/document. We need to get the bending, moving, stretching, walking, back into the office environment.
You are going to have the ups and downs during rehab. Remember, it takes about a year to fully recover from a surgery like this. You are doing fine, it sounds, and just had a bad day. It's going to happen.
If you are really concerned, contact your surgeon or make an appointment to see him/her. Hang in there.
I am almost 4 weeks post fusion. Same fusion L5-S1, 4 screws, 2 rods, cage in the disc location. I started therapy already and started some very basic simple exercises to stretch and strengthen my core so that it can support and not pull on my spine. One thing you have to take into consideration also, is not that long ago, after one of these surgeries you would have to wear a huge brace across the middle of your body for up to 8 wks after surgery before they would start therapy which basically gave all of your abdomen 8 wks of doing absolutely nothing. You wouldnt even be able to start a decent recovery process until after that. I talked to alot of people and my doc before and after surgery and the consensus was that walking and basic simple exercises will help tremendously. Their biggest concern is re-injuring it but I tend to push myself to the limits of what I can do without any chance of injury (walking 5 mins more on the treadmill after I'm exhausted, doing double the basic exercises than required, doing stretching 4-5 times a day rather than 3). Not just the basic abdomen and back muscles need to work, but the core - under all those surface muscles. It has helped alot. I still have pain, especially when I first wake up and for a while at the end of the day, but it gets less and less the more I work. Have you been to a phys therapist at all? Theres alot about how everything works together that most people including me just don't know and they can work your muscles properly to relieve alot of the pain and general discomfort.
Also as far as the fusion, we both have a long way before that is complete. On average, some predictions vary, it takes anywhere from 6 months to 9 months before you will be completely fused and your doctor probably won't allow you back to major activity (running, lifting of anything, normal exercise etc) until about a year post-op. After your first follow up, the follow ups will become longer in between because the only thing the doc needs to watch is that everything stays where it should, and that the bones is growing normally and fusing properly - so they don't need to see you but maybe once a month or two to check. Takes a while - worse than watching paint dry. If you aren't seeing a therapist or aren't going to, I could send you a copy of my exercise sheet to work off of. Its very simple stuff and progresses into harder stuff, but combines with a nice ice pack or compress to relieve any swelling helps alot.