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Need Advice Recovering From Surgery

Necron_99

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Get Shredded!
I'm looking for some advice on recovering from surgery. L5-S1 fusion. Been off gear and haven't lifted since late 2019 when health went south due to injury. Was told by the surgeon following the procedure that my bone density is really good for my age (over 60), most likely due to spending most of my life in a gym. Have a plastic block between the vertebrae and metal hardware in the back holding the two in place. Bone growth to occur up the middle of the plastic block. I'm 6 weeks post op and it's going to be another 6 months (at least) before I can put any stress on my trunk. Without exaggeration, I am in the worst health/physical condition I've ever been in my entire life right now and it's killing me to be like this. I've gained a bunch of fat, which I've never had before, and lost all my muscle mass. I'm weak and sickly and want to turn that around asap. I don't want to fuck up the surgery by doing anything that puts stress on the trunk, but was told by my surgeon's PA that I'm able to do things like use an exercise bike for some cardio. I hate cardio but at least it's something. What I'm looking for is any advice on supplements, gear, non-trunk stressing exercises - ANYTHING AT ALL - that can help speed the bone growth between L5 and S1 so I can get back to lifting in gym and get healthy again.
 

LilDude_41

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While I can't speak to your specific situation, I can offer my own fusion experience in hopes that's helpful. I had C4-C6 fusion back in 2016 and am in better shape now than I was before the fusion.

Yours is a lot lower down, and I understand that lumbar fusions are a little more limiting than cervical.... but the precautions are probably pretty similar I'd imagine.

My Dr told me same thing as you, no weights at all for a minimum of six months and to take it easy with anything I did do.

I wasn't able to sit idle for 6 months, so about two weeks post surgery I was in the gym 3-5 days a week just walking on the incline treadmill. I lost some motor function post surgery, so I had a hard time walking - we're talking 1mph at 5° for 30 min or so when I first started. But I was consistent about it, and pretty soon was doing low impact walking at 2.5-3.0mph on a 13-15° incline. Important to keep it low impact after a fusion surgery since it destabilizes the levels above/below, so unless you want to have another one in 5-10 years I'd avoid jogging/running/mountain biking.

Bout three months into my recovery I'd gotten to the point where I wasn't in pain all the time, didn't need to wear my brace, so I started adding in weights here and there. Really light weights, I'm talkin sets of 30-50 reps. I was surprised at what I was able to do, and what I wasn't. Like, you'll FEEL it if you put any stress on your healing spine - so I found all the exercises that I couldn't feel in my fusion area and did those. For example, I couldn't do standing curls or cable tricep work - felt it in my neck hard, but I could do leg extensions, single leg presses on a machine, body weight squats, dumbell flies, stuff like that. My workouts were all over the place for a while. Most compound lifts are out of the picture because it's hard to find one that doesn't stress your whole body, so you're not going to be doing any deadlifts, barbell squats, overhead presses or anything like that. Just look for anything that you can isolate to the point of not feeling any sort of stress on your fusion area when you perform the exercise.

I did that for about 3 months, then I had my 6 month follow up with the doctor and my fusion was deemed to be full and successful and they said I could start getting back into weights. Because I'd been doing light work for quite a while already, once I started adding in weight again it really didn't take me long to get back where I'd been before, and I kept up the walking cardio because I'd gotten used to to doing it and liked taking an hour on the treadmill to listen to podcasts or watch the news or what have you.

For bone density, did they send you home with a electrical bone growth stimulator? Those things are one of the better things you can do to accelerate your healing, but you have to wear it literally every minute that you can to get the full benefit. If you smoke - quit, that's one of the worst things for healing from spinal fusion. Protein intake is important, as you can't build bone without protein. Vitamin C helps with bone healing through it's antioxidant effects. I was told that Vitamin E was good to take too, so I took it daily for my recovery period - but I can't say whether or not it was effective.

Gear isn't something I know about really, so I'm not sure if there are any benefits to taking stuff like GH or Test to bone growth. I'm sure someone on here can opine on what options there are in that realm of pharmacology.
 

Milford King

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I’d say to focus on nutrition at this point. And if you can do any low impact cardio-ish type of things. Keep fighting the good fight and in time you’ll be able to get back at the iron game.


Spend time with those you love and engage yourself in things that make you happy.

Don’t worry about the things you cannot control and find something that brings you joy. There’s more to life than lifting but I know where your heads at because being injured sucks ass. And not being able to do something that you enjoy and that brings you balance is a very stressful thing. But…. You ain’t dead bro. Give yourself some time.
 

Milford King

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Not sure if bpc157 and tb500 is applicable in your situation but it might be worth investigating…
 

Multislacking

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Bone broth. Beside the things that have already been suggested. You can buy it off the shelf, but you might look into making your own (nothing like homemade, right?). Good luck healing and just keep telling yourself it is physical therapy stuff and nothing more. Just something to keep yourself from stoving up. If it is bike work, so be it. Find things you can binge watch and it will help to pass the time and you will actually look forward to it (to an extent).
 

Augustine5I

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I would say eat really clean. Only nutrient dense foods. And stay hydrated.

Give your body what it needs.
 

CoachCabo

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Proper nutrition, a good supplement regimin and exercise. Recumbent bike is awesome unless you don’t tolerate it. You can do machines that don’t involve your torso like curl machines. Dip machines put the opposite of pressure on your spine and stimulating muscle will help you keep fit and promote health and recovery.

I have had two lumbar fusion surgeries and two attempts at rejoining my pevis which was heimspherically fractured/snapped in half. Even from a wheelchair I shifted into and out of machines at the gym rather than waste away at home. I was given the “you should be able to walk again” speech and I attribute my being fit prior to my injuries and staying as active as possible post surgeries to my being able to not only walk, but still train at a somewhat high level.
 

tommygunz

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Not sure how long ago your surgery was, recovery from what you had takes a long time. My son had L4-L5-S1 fused, plastic spacers and hardware/screws, the whole 9 yards. He went back to work in 2 months and really caused himself problems. Do ONLY what you're doc says is ok. Gear does not help with healing, with the exception of HGH and TB500 I'd stay the course on TRT doses only.
 

01dragonslayer

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I ran BPC-157, TB-500 and some low dose GH after having a screw placed in my foot for proper healing. I healed over a month faster after having the same surgery on the other foot 2 years prior. The ortho doc was impressed how soon I healed.
 
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