Spinal fusion surgery

Discussion in 'Spine and Back' started by go vols, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. go vols

    go vols PEB Forum Regular Member

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    Has anyone on this board had a lower spine fusion and stayed in the military?
     
  2. ripzeus

    ripzeus PEB Forum Regular Member

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    In 3 weeks, after my spinal fusion of the L4-L5, L5-S1, we will see.

    I am not sure if you have gotten an answer or not, but I can't find anything that states that I can stay in or will be kicked out, I've been googling, looking up AFI's for last 2 weeks, and have come across almost nothing.
     
  3. surebet0007

    surebet0007 PEB Forum Veteran

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    I had a disk replacement L5S1 and was medically retired this year.....I think its all about being able to still do PT and stuff. I wanted out though....
     
  4. resa264

    resa264 PEB Forum Regular Member

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    how did your surgery go? My husband is going to have the same surgery at the end of september. Based on the afi's that i've read it's all based on what the VA is rating you in terms of your condition. If you can still perform all of the tasks and have a low rating of disability, then you could fight to stay and probably win. If your ratings are high for disability even after the surgery, then it would be hard for you to fight to stay in. That's the way it works for Air Force
     
  5. franky

    franky PEB Forum Veteran

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    I had a similar proceedure done and was able to push out four more years, however after several deployments, long hours, and re-injuring my back, I had to make the call to get out. If you are smater than I was and are able to strengthen your back without hurting it you should be able to make it. I'm not sure how many years you have or what your rank/grade is, but be smart about what you do. Remember, the back that you have is the only one and you may be more injury prone after the surgery. You know your body best, so listen and listen well. I wish you the best of luck and hope that you are able to make it. Again, good luck.

    VR,
    Frank
     
  6. dashfan9

    dashfan9 PEB Forum Veteran

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    Frank, you're all too right. I "toughed it out" after a back injury during deployment and made it worse, resulting in one surgery already and more needed in the future... Not trying to threadjack, but take Frank's advice. Do core exercises, yoga, stay flexible and strengthen your back without hurting it further. Good luck!

    Zeke
     
  7. Chinook

    Chinook PEB Forum Veteran

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    Good luck to all you guys with the surgeries.. Just thought I'd mention that there are new studies that show modified Pilates can significantly reduce back pain in the majority of patients...maybe worth looking into and getting clearance from your doc.
    Wishing you all well!
     
  8. Jason Perry

    Jason Perry Benevolent Leader Site Founder Staff Member PEB Forum Veteran

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    Chinook,

    Good to see you checking in! Hope all is well with you!
     
  9. ripzeus

    ripzeus PEB Forum Regular Member

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    2 weeks left till I go in.

    Any kinda information I should know? Also, what can i expect after surgery to.

    I've read all the AFI's i could find that has any relation, but I can't find a clear answer on really anything about spine surgery's or fusions in general.
     
  10. eeb_iii

    eeb_iii PEB Forum Regular Member

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    Ok, Here we go. Im going to try to give you some good info. While i think most give you some good advice about stretching, Pilates, acupuncture, etc..etc.., It sounds like your Surgeon decided on Fusion surgery. There are alot of people who are against this on this site because they didnt have a good experience. Once a Surgeon decides that you need surgery, it is probably because you are having some nerve root impingement or will be having those types of issues soon. Otherwise spine surgery will not be an option, and injections and physical therpy will almost always be the only option. I wish I would have had my fusion from the begining. I had a l4-5 laminectomy march 2010, another on April 2010 because of reherniation, blood clots, drop foot, etc...etc..(Bad surgery from Bad surgeon) this might clear up your question from my experience on being able to stay in the army. I know there are ways around everything. After my two surgeries I was informed that I was no longer retainable under AR 40-501. I could have finished my enlistment, at the time I was 8 years active, but when it came time to reenlist I was no longer retainable, because of chapter 3, im not sure exactly what it says word for word, but they touched my nucleous pulpous (the disk between the vertebre) so therefore was no longer retainable. I am in a star MOS, and had everyone from my BN commander to my platoon seargent fighting for me. I was sent to WTU in August 2010 to go through the MEB. I just want to add here, that this has been the best experience of my life. This my HOR, and am happy I was sent here, it has been great with everything from my Company to nurse Case manager to all my Doctors. Ive excepted the fact I can no longer serve, and wasnt sure how the WTU was going to be. I went to see a neurosergeon in Feb 2011, and I was pretty messed up from the last two surgeries. In march 2011, I had a 2 level ALIF.(Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion) with the SynFix device. L4-5-s1 I am currently 5 months out and am still hurting a little with doing certain things. But I am 1,000,203 times better than I have felt over the last two years. The healing process for me has just recently started ( what the docotrs call the bone growth after the fusion). Mine has taken a little longer because of the two prior surgeries. I have about 12 months left of recovery time. It is a long process, you just have to be ready for it. Hopefully you have a chain of command that is going to be ready for it too. They will expect you to be back at work 3 mos after surgery. You will not be ready. You are going to have to remeber that you will have good weeks and bad weeks. When there bad, they are bad. Istill havent been back to work yet. I just received my 199, and am currently waiting on orders. While I think you can say you feel great within a year and work the system, and probably stay in, i dont want you to be surprised if the MEB you. Fusion surgery is something that will be with you forever and you will almost certainly never be able to hump a load, or do battle drills, or basically deploy ever again. While I know there are a few that have been able to do this, if you were to track them 3 years later, I say most are out or going through the MEB process now. Desk job for rest of career? Why not? If you can pull it off. Just hide all you medical records from your retaing NCO or officer. Now dont be to nervous going in to surgery. We all re, just try to stay calm. when you go out, next thing you know, you will be out. You will wake up in extreme amount of pain. They will be injecting you with shots of morphine until you get to your room and put on your pump. Once you are in your room, on your pump, and in your bed, hopefully with family around, it will be comfortable, and you just go throught the process. Prob 4 or 5 days. What bothered me the most was the Foley Cathedar. I talked my way out of it the first two surgeries but not my fusion surgery. Once you are out of hospital and back home, Im assuming with your wife, or some family that will be able to stay with you for a month, you just have to heal, take care of yourself, watch everything you do. Thos efirst 3 months are crucial to recovery. You cannot do anything yourself for first month. i would not recommend it. I do recommend that you get a raised toilet seat, and a shower seat ready for when you get home. I hope this helps, and ill pray for you. Just try to be positive. You will have so many up's and down's during recovery.
     
  11. eeb_iii

    eeb_iii PEB Forum Regular Member

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    Let me clear up one thing. i was just reading over my post. While I feel a ton better than before, im referring to my nerve pain. 5 months after surgery, and I still am basically functioning at between 3-4 hours a day. The rest of the day is lying down for the most part. The back pain is always there and sometimes really unbearable. U will get what you need to help handle the pain. I just wanted to clear that up because nerve pain was the biggest issue I had and after dealing with it for so long, it is such a relief for it to only come up every so often.
     
  12. spinal

    spinal PEB Forum Regular Member

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    FYI... Get the raised toilet seat like ebb suggested. That was my biggest discomfort after surgery. Also, from my experience I was in the hospital for 6 days. Don't rush to go home. It is a BIG surgery and requires a lot of rest. I used a walker for about a week after surgery. Also, I bought some grabber tool, called a "GoFor" They sell them at target for $10. I used it to move kid's toys in front of me and grab the remote control if I dropped it. Stay calm and maintain a positive attitude good luck and remember It just takes time.
     
  13. brpfan

    brpfan PEB Forum Regular Member

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    i had L4-S1 fusion in 2001 with L5 disc replacement. I went through a MEB in 2002 for it and was originally offered 20% with severance. i told them to shove it and went to the formal board. I had an excellent lawyer and won to stay in. My advice is to do your best during post op and get bak into the fight. So yes....i had one and stayed in. Im going through a second MEB for my back now but its been 10 years since my last. Good luck
     
  14. Chinook

    Chinook PEB Forum Veteran

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    Thank you Jason! I'm glad to be back and checking in! Hope you are doing fantastic!

    Ripaeus...sounds like eeb...gave you a lot of great info! You will do great! Try not to worry about anything but the healing and getting better part for now-it will all come together...everything always works out in the end...it does. So no worries. Go buy that raised toilet seat! Make sure its cushioned...( :

    eeb...glad you're coming along post surgery. It definitely takes time to heal....Take it easy and best of luck to you...And when you can-hit the hot springs! ( : Blessings for a speedy recovery!
     
  15. Shuckid13

    Shuckid13 New Member

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    Hello all, I am a Coast Guard Reserve member with 11 years in. I injured myself on Title 10 deployemnt for Iraqi Freedom this year. I dont think I will be able to pass the P.T. test for my unit. I think I may be looking at a Med Board and I dont know what comes next if this happens. My drill income is a major part of my income and wont be able to stay afloat without it. Can I get some compensation from the coast guard? Can someone give me a rundown of what I am looking at? What kind of compensations or medical retirements may I be able to get? In real need of some good advice. May need cervical spinal fusion surgery.
     
  16. Troytaylor

    Troytaylor New Member

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    I don't mean to take over the post but this is the only spinal fusion post I have found so far. Six months ago I had my T6 to T12 vertibres fused due to scoliosis. My life goal has to join the Marines and spend my life in that field. As I was looking through the medical requirements it said that and surgical fusion was an automatic disqualification. Just six months after my surgery I am as fit as i have ever bee. Is it still possible for me to join?
    Thanks,
    Troy
     
  17. jlm

    jlm PEB Forum Veteran

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    Most of the discussions on these forums are geared towards those who are already serving in the military. The standards to continue service are very different than those to initially join.

    Your best source of information is going to be a recruiter. There are some disqualifying conditions that can be waived, not sure what the details are for your specific issue.

    Not to be a downer, just realistic, even if it is possible I don't think that a waiver for initial entry with spinal fusion has a good chance, especially right now. The services haven't had too much difficulty recruiting given the current job market.

    Not trying to discourage you though. Contact a recruiter, do some research on entry standards, and see where you can get.
     
  18. KindaTired

    KindaTired New Member

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    I had a lower spine fusion and I have been in and deployed several times since. I do live with daily pain but I am walking upright where I was walking around hunched over and drugged up before it.
     
  19. ripzeus

    ripzeus PEB Forum Regular Member

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    Sorry about the late late late reply, :D but i've been on con leave for about 3 months and just basicly trying to heal and keep from blowing up.
    Anyways, had my spinal fusion L4-L5, L5-S1 in september, and about to start PT in Jan after the doc releases me back to work.

    My question now, will I be kicked for having a 2 level fusion? and if so, how much time do I have left from the time my doc releases me from his care? I know these are broad questions. Just looking to see what options I have, and how to go about them.

    I got multiple appointments with my Doc, and PCM next week to see how I am healing, and to start the profile before I go back to work.

    Also, if anyone is wondering about the pain after surgery, well the incension pain is gone somewhat, but the back pain, leg pain, foot pain is still there, and sometimes is worse than before the surgery. I will find out if anything is wrong next week. But overall I can walk better post OP, just alot more slower. :D
     
  20. 12Z5M

    12Z5M PEB Forum Regular Member

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    Ripzeus: this is quite some time after your last post, but in answer to it... not necessarily. I had an L5-S1 fusion in 1996 and a C5-6-7 fusion in 1999. I had been in since 1977 and am still in, although I'm currently undergoing a med board. I deployed twice CONUS and three times OCONUS after 9/11 and just basically stuck it out. I have to say, your back will do whatever you want it to do right up until it can't do anything anymore. By that, I mean that it all has to do with how much heart and determination you have. If you want to do something, you can. You might pay the pain price later, but what the heck. Many nights in Afghanistan, I was all humped up in the MRAP trying to figure out how to sleep with my armor plates on, thinking, "Oh, my God....I can't wear this crap another second!" Now, of course, I can barely walk after driving ten miles. But, I'd do it all over again. Had I not deployed, I think my back and neck would have healed just fine. I was not feeling any pain from either one and had decent ROM back. I could place my hands flat on the floor and it felt good. I did not have disc replacement, only screws and plates. My advice to you is to think of your future, your family and balance that against what you've already accomplished and wanted to accomplish in the military.
     

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