Sparse Internet info about certain topics
So, there’s a lot of information I add to this blog simply because there are topics in my life that it seems other people haven’t published much information about. And, I want to put the info into the world. I do Google searches and read all sorts of websites, and I can’t find many writing about certain things that are very damn relevant to my life!
I’ll give you an example of such a topic now.
How long does it take for a spinal fusion flare-up to go away?
There’s a lot of existing web articles that address the following question: What is the recovery time for a spinal fusion? Sure, but that’s very different than the topic that concerns me and—at times—has me terrified.
I’m wondering about the duration of a post spinal-fusion surgery pain flare-up.
So, in other words: You have a spinal fusion surgery. Your recovery and rehab is going pretty well. You feel good. Your pain level is low. Maybe on a scale of 1-10 you’re sitting at a 2.5. Then, you wake-up one day and your pain level is at a solid 5 or 6 and maybe even creeps up toward a 7 or 8.
This is scary for me every time. It’s scary because there’s a persistent fear—at least for me—that something went wrong with the fusion: perhaps it somehow got damaged. That’s a fear that I just can’t shake!
Now, after I pass the 2 year post-fusion mark, maybe I’ll be a little less scared. But, hell, the surgeon told me 80% fused the other day…so, it’s made a lot of progress but still represents a vulnerability.
Prednisone to fight flare-ups
Now, on a few occasions when things have flared-up bad and the pain level is staying bad, I’ve called in and got a prescription of the anti-inflammatory steroid Prednisone.
In my experience…this whole post, of course, and everything on this website is about me and YOUR EXPERIENCE MAY VARY! I am not a doctor.
So, I’m just talking about my life and post-fusion experience here.
And, in my experience, the Prednisone does indeed decrease flare-up pain. No doubt about it. But, again, for me, this is not an instantaneous process! It’s not like I pop a Prednisone in the morning and by the evening everything feels great. No way.
Even while taking Prednisone it can take a good 7 to 14 days for me to feel okay again.
Prednisone time-frame for pain relief in MY LIFE EXPERIENCE
So, I only go the Prednisone route when the pain is very bad. And, I’m usually already five or six days into the flare-up before I call for the script. I wait that long because I don’t want to get a steroid prescription if I can help it. And, I’m hoping that the pain fades on its own.
So, I go through the ten-day course of the Prednisone. And, by the time all’s said and done, the flare-up might have lasted anywhere from two to three weeks.
My time frame for the flare-up to fade without Prednisone?
Most of the time I do not ask for the steroid prescription. I just stop exercising and try to ride things out. In those cases, the flare-up pain can fade away in anywhere from one to three weeks.
So, there’s some info about my experience with pain after spinal fusion surgery
As I said, I can’t find much information online about the flare-up experience post fusion. I did find a post that does address this very issue and has a lot of phrases and things I can relate to…for example, the author, Sharon—a post spinal fusion mother—talks about “two steps forward, three back” in reference to new acute back pain she had at the seven month post-op mark. She and I have a number of spinal fusion similarities: like me, she had spondylolisthesis and a two-level L4->S1 fusion (and, like me, other spinal problems as well.). And, she also muses about similar things to me: such as, am I being too cautious post-fusion? …am I regarding myself as excessively fragile?
I wonder those things most days I’m at the gym when I have no pain flaring-up.
As a side note, one thing I find interesting about Sharon is she has intuitions such as the following: “I’m almost positive that my flare-up back in December & January was related to inflammation in L3.” That kind of impresses me. I find that interesting. I wouldn’t be able to make that specific sort of judgment.
Anyway…I got sidetracked, but the point is that—with some exceptions, such as Sharon, of course—I don’t find a whole lot of info online where people specifically discuss in detail the flare-up process post fusion surgery. There’s a whole lot of stuff where people talk about the process in very general terms, of course. Perhaps I’m not the best searcher! But, I wanted to get some words into the Internet about painful flare-ups after back surgery and how I regard them.
Part of the healing process for me
So, as mentioned, I’m not a doctor. If you have post-fusion flare-ups, I’d say you really do want to talk to your surgeon and other doctors. However, the only thought I want to add in the mix is that I have these post-fusion flare-ups, and I’m fine. For me, it’s part of the healing process. And, I’m trying to tell myself at the 14 month mark…I’m trying to tell myself to not always panic when a little lumbar pain kicks up again.
2 thoughts on “Duration of spinal fusion flare-ups?”
My spinal fusion was 11 months ago. At the 4 month mark, I thought that I was in the clear as far as my lower back pain goes. Then it flared-up and I got really scared that something was wrong. But, youre right that this pain can go away after a few weeks. Its weird how this works but sometimes you just have to ride it out.
“I thought that I was in the clear as far as my lower back pain goes.”
Yeah, I feel you on that Nathan. The whole thing is quite a journey.
I also experienced an initial period where I thought, “Okay, it’s over. I feel good!” And, then the pain flared-up. This is the way it’s been for me.
And, I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say that sometimes you have to ride it out! There’s really just no other way.
I try to live in a clean life and exercise lightly (and stretch) on a daily basis and maintain a good diet along with sleep. And, there’s not much more I can do than that.
Good luck and please provide an update if possible.