T Nation

Your Recovery from Lumbar Fusion


#1

Hello Jim,

How long did it take you to recover from your lumbar fusion? How long did it take before you could start lifting weights again? Was it a pretty difficult recovery? I'm facing a similar surgery and was wondering how it went for you. Now I know every spine surgery and condition are unique from person to person, so if you have time to answer I'm not going to use that as my expected recovery time, I'm just curious.


#2

[quote]bkbetz wrote:
Hello Jim,

How long did it take you to recover from your lumbar fusion? How long did it take before you could start lifting weights again? Was it a pretty difficult recovery? I’m facing a similar surgery and was wondering how it went for you. Now I know every spine surgery and condition are unique from person to person, so if you have time to answer I’m not going to use that as my expected recovery time, I’m just curious. [/quote]

I didn’t have a lumbar fusion, but have had two microdiscectomies. The first one was in July of 2012 on L4-L5. I was a mess after that surgery, pain persisted for 4-5 months. During those months I was getting A.R.T treatment and working on glute strength. I had not been lifting prior to this surgery, and they were extremely weak. I eventually got myself pain free and stayed that way until July of the following year, when L3-L4 got worse while deadlifting. I had the second surgery in September of 2013 and woke up from that surgery 100% pain free. I walked a little over 2 miles the same day. I started doing bodyweight glute bridges and ab wheeling (extremely short range of motion on those) about a week after the surgery and just kept building from there. I’m currently stronger than I’ve ever been and still free of sciatica.

My neighbor had a fusion done around the same time as my first surgery, and he was back to work powerwashing and doing yard work within a few months of his surgery. I don’t know any other specifics, only that his scar is way bigger than mine.

I know how much the pain sucks, it will get better though. I wish you a speedy and painless recovery.

  • Sean

#3

How long did it take you to recover from your lumbar fusion?

Answer: Depends on what you mean “recover”. I was 100% healed in 3 months and by 6 months I was green lighted to do anything I wanted. However, I walked 1/2 mile 10 hours after the surgery and walked up the stairs after a day/half.

How long did it take before you could start lifting weights again?

Answer: I walked with a weight vest after 10-14 days or so. I did EVERYTHING with a weight vest - that was the key to MY recovery. I lived in that thing. I think I started lifting light (200-300 pounds) 3 months after surgery.

Was it a pretty difficult recovery?

Answer: I thought it was easy as hell. It all depends on what you’ve been through.

My best advice was what my doctor and his “team” told me: if you want to get better, you will. Good luck - you’ll be fine if you go in strong as hell (mental and physical) and have a good attitude.


#4

I had a L4/5/S1 fusion in 2011 after 20+ years of no training. My advice is similar, follow Dr’s orders, but find a sports medicine surgeon. My surgeon wasn’t a sports medicine guy and said no more dead lifts, no more squats (of any type) ever. My work requires squat and dead lift type work so after the fusion solidified I went to a work hardening specialist for evaluation. She cleared me to work and said working out shouldn’t be an issue, just pay attention to form and don’t go crazy with the weights.

Recovery time depends on how fast you’re fusion solidifies. Younger people heal faster than older folks like me (I was 46). I’m 50 years old now. Last year I got back in the gym. 7 weeks ago I started the 5/3/1. Start easy and don’t rush it.

Best of luck to you.