Recovering from a Spinal Fusion Surgery: What to Expect?

Recovering from a Spinal Fusion Surgery: What to Expect?

Once you have undergone spinal fusion surgery, you may be wondering about the different ways your life is going to change. Your recovery period is perhaps the most important and you need to be cautious to fasten your recovery.  During this period, you can get in touch with a physical therapist who can help you with your recovery.

How long does it take to recover from a spinal fusion?

Your recovery after a spinal fusion will be influenced by several factors. These include your condition, symptoms before the surgery, and the type of procedure used by the surgeon. Usually, minimally invasive spinal fusion offers faster recovery.

Generally,  it takes from 6 months up to a year for the backbone to heal completely after a spinal fusion. But, you can start seeing the benefits of the procedure after 12 weeks.


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Recovery in the hospital

You will be expected to stay in the hospital for about 2-4 days after the operation. When you wake up after the surgery, you may feel drowsy. The doctor will give you medicines to help with the pain. You will also begin your physical therapy sessions within 24 hours. Physical and occupational therapists at the hospital usually teach patients how to safely stand, walk, sit and dress. “Log rolling”  is an essential technique that you will learn to facilitate proper healing.   You may also be fitted with a back brace to limit motion. This is necessary to prevent undue stress on the spine. Eventually, you will learn to use a walker. All these activities form an important part of post-operative care and are essential for a speedy recovery.

Thus,  it is vital to get spine fusion surgery at an accredited hospital that has experienced and skilled staff. This will ensure that you get all the facilities for quicker recovery.

Recovery at home

After being discharged from the hospital, physical therapy will form a crucial component of your recovery. You should plan and discuss an exercise regime with a physical therapist and begin to do it at home.

Most patients are skeptical of exercising as they feel that this can affect their spinal fusion. On the contrary,  it can offer several benefits:

  • Increased flexibility:  Because of being inactive for a long time, you may feel stiffness. This can be countered with stretching of the abdominal and core muscles. This will also increase the range of motion and make moving easier for you.
  • Promotes healing: Exercise enhances the blood flow to the healing site. Thus,  increasing the oxygen supply required for quick healing.
  • Psychological health: Since physical therapy improves your mobility significantly, you will begin to feel more independent and in control of your life. This is beneficial for your self-confidence and mental health. Thus, rehabilitation can help you quickly get back to normalcy.

If your locality lacks physical therapy, you should not skip it and instead try to pursue online rehabilitation or telerehabilitation services to smoothen your healing process.

Physical therapy will be continued for about three months until you get fit enough to resume your daily activities. You should check with your doctor when you can start driving and go back to work.

Factors that can slow down your recovery after a spinal fusion

Certain factors may hamper your recovery. These include

  • Smoking. You should avoid smoking as nicotine can kill osteoblasts that form bone. Thus, preventing the proper fusion of the bone graft and vertebrae. Also, patients who smoke after the operation have worse results.
  • Unhealthy foods can affect your recovery. You should eat a diet rich in essential minerals, vitamins, and calcium.
  • Osteoporosis and obesity
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition

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A combination of physical therapy and a healthy diet can play a key role in speeding up your recovery after spinal fusion. You should follow all the instructions given by your doctor to facilitate positive outcomes after the spinal fusion.

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Last modified on blank at Nov 24, 2022

Reviewed By :- Vijita Jayan

Urvi Agrawal

Urvi is an avid reader who is passionate about writing. Having worked in hospital settings like AIIMS, She has experience working as a healthcare writer and has written about many healthcare and medical topics. Besides her role as a content specialist, she likes to spend her time cooking, dancing, and painting. She believes that positive thinking is crucial for being happy.

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