T Nation

SI-L5 Fusion Surgery Done Now What???


5 weeks since surgery. I had a tlif done minimal invasivedue to spondylilyothesis (broke back). I left the hospital the day after it was done. I did well for three weeks but now I may have reinjured it. I am a dumb A$$ male and hate sitting still!

Anyway does anyone have experience with this? I have been going to the gym doing non back weight bearing exercises-pullups, high cable curls, tri pushdowns, lunges and so on(I cannot find a trap excercise wothout back weight bearing). Will I ever be able to deadlift or squat heavy again? Doc says no but what the hell does he know? My theory is once the fusion is made it should be stronger than when the disc was there. On a dead or squat there is really no bending in the lower back if you hold correct form.


I had a L5-S1 fusion almost 9 months ago. Before my surgery I was deadlifting 300lbs and was very active even with spondylilothesis. I still have 8/10 pain when bending over and cannot run yet. The most I can pick up without pain with good form is 50lbs. The joint it self is stronger but the trouble with spinal fusions are that with that joint fixed, the joint above that has to bend even more; causing even more stress on that joint. This is where people have to keep having fusions throughout their life. The recovery for this surgery is about a year. If you push yourself too early you can and probably will mess your back up for life. Take it easy and find a hobby that doesn't involve heavy lifting or bending. I'm sorry to give you grave news but this is first hand experience. If you have any questions, feel free to message me. I am 29yr male, currently serving 11th year in the army and have been very athletically active my entire life. I wish you good luck on your healing progress.


PS: your pain will increase when you get off your pain meds.


I had L5-S1 fusion without hardware (just 2 titanium cages to take the place of the disc) 3 yrs ago. I was not allowed to bend, lift or twist for the first 12 wks. That meant all I could do was walk and lie down. I started running at 6 months without any problems. I started lifting light weights at 6 months but was told not to load my spine for 12 months. At 12 months, I resumed squatting, DLs, and even OLs without any problems. At 6 months, I began an intensive core stabilizing exercise program because it was apparent my TA wasn't working. I benefited from corrective exercises with a trainer to help me learn to engage the underactive muscles. This is a big deal surgery and don't expect to be back to normal for a year. Let the bones fuse properly so you don't do any damage. I'm much more strict about form than I ever was before I developed back problems and it should pay off in the long term. I currently don't have any back pain.


Thanks for the help guys. Your right it is more painful now than it was the first 3 weeks. Well cief at least there is light at the end of the tunnel. Looks like a full year. The Doc freed me up to bench, leg press (not deep) but he says no pullups(????). Looks like I will do bent dumbell rows for my back. I cant find any trap exercise that will not put weight on my spine. Any ideas? I have to tell you I worked very hard to get the lifts I had. 500+ dead, 450+squat and 345 bench. I know it will probably be 3 years (if ever) before I pull that on a deadlift again. FUUUUUU me. maybe its phsycoligical but I feel like I am shrinking since no deadlifts or squats. My bench is close since the surgery 315lb. Maybe I will focus on building some arms:)


You'll be surprised how fast you return to your old strength when the time comes to DL again. I would focus on accessory exercises you never took time to do before - eg, forearm for your deads. You'll get your trap strength back just fine and your back will be able to lift those heavy weights if you wait until it's fully healed. I know it seems like forever to have to wait now, but you have a lot of good lifting years to look forward to.