Meet Jamie: He’s a fit, athletic 47 year old. He had a 360° spinal fusion in December 2017, and he’s agreed to let me share his story with you. The following is in his words (written in February 2018).
A Successful 360° Spinal Fusion
I wanted to post my experience on here as some may find it helpful and reassuring. I am 9 weeks removed from my 2 level fusion, L4-5 & L5-S1. My doctor opted for what is called a 360 degree fusion. It is the most invasive approach but, when healed, gives one the most solid fusion possible.
My fusion involved two separate procedures. On day 1, the doctor entered via the abdomen to place the fusion cages/spacers in between each vertebrae and to screw them into place. On day 2, the doctor approached from the back (posteriorly) and screwed in the pedicle screws to stabilize the spine.
The first 2-3 weeks were a hellish experience, although my back was never all that painful. The incision into the abdomen was by far the worst part of my experience. I was home after 4 nights inpatient. Once I was home I started to walk 30-40 min per day. I started my walks inside my home at 15-20 min intervals. Once I was feeling well enough, I started to walk around my neighborhood for 50 min daily.
At about 10-12 days post-op, I started working out on the elliptical and doing some moderate weightlifting with no pain at all. As a reminder, each person heals differently, so listen to your doctor as to your own limitations.
I was back at work for a couple days during the 3rd week of my recovery but this was too soon. At week 4 I was able to work 5 days but only half days. By week 5, I had no issues working (I have a desk job).
At 4-5 weeks, I started to recover at a very rapid pace. I went in for X-rays at 8 weeks, and the doctor informed me that my images demonstrated significant bone growth at the fusion sites. He attributed my rapid progress to going into surgery very fit. He lifted many of my restrictions at that point.
I am a 47 year old male and a bit of a fitness fanatic. I’ve been lifting weights and doing cardio nearly daily since I was 15. This probably was the cause of my back issues or at least sped up the process. My best advice is to try to be in the best condition you can be going into this surgery. It will help in your recovery. Also, do your homework when picking a surgeon. I wish you all the best in your recoveries.
Coming Soon: More Spinal Fusion Success Stories
If you want to learn more about Jamie’s story or to connect with him, leave him a comment on this post. Thank you so much, for sharing your story with us, Jamie!
If you’re interested in sharing your story here, please shoot me an email at mommyrunsit (at) gmail (dot) com, or fill out this form:
Please be sure to include “spinal fusion success story” in your subject and/or message. And don’t worry, I don’t expect your story to be perfect – just real. I just want to share some hope with our friends who really need it.
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I don’t run well. That’s one of the few downsides. Seems to pound pressure on the fusion. However, there are other ways. The point is…you’ve been given a new life…make the most of it. Use the energy.
Running and diet make a great combination. I’m also training for a half marathon with SportMe marathon trainerand switching to a healthy diet in also on my list. Your blog posts are a great start.
Thanks! Doing a half marathon is my goal – may still be a while before I get there. Good luck with your training!!!