It is normal to wonder what you should expect when recovering from Lumbar Fusion Surgery. While every surgery is different, there are recovery milestones that you can expect as you heal. Knowing what to expect can help relieve some of the nervousness you feel and help you relax so you can heal.
You can expect to be in the hospital for one to five days, depending on your recovery and post-surgery abilities, health, and activities. During your hospital stay, your goal is to relieve pain and learn how to reduce pressure on the back. Your medical staff will administer pain medication, but much of your pain can be reduced by applying cold packs. During this time your doctor will monitor your blood oxygen levels and may order other tests.
With minimally invasive fusion procedures, shorter hospital stays and a faster recovery is expected. Patients experience less postoperative pain and a lower risk of infection. Your recovery will depend on your personal health, condition, and procedure.
Recovery a Few Days After your Surgery
During the first few days after surgery, you must be careful with your activities. Avoid lifting heavy objects, performing any kind of strenuous activities, or bend, stretch or twist the body. Follow your doctor’s recommendations completely and arrange to have help nearby to support you. You may need to use a cane or walker to help you walk and a “grabber” device to avoid reaching and bending.
1-4 Weeks After Your Surgery
During weeks one to four, you’ll begin to feel stronger and more capable. You still need to be careful and avoid vigorous activities but can begin increasing your activities slowly. Basic care at this point includes:
- Use soap and water daily and carefully
- Have the staples or stitches removed about 2 weeks after surgery.
- Walk regularly for exercise and to increase stamina
1-3 months After your Surgery
By one to three months after surgery, you are feeling better and able to resume more demanding activities. The worst pain is behind you and your bones are healing. For best recovery, you should:
- Stop and rest when you feel even minor pain
- Avoid lifting anything over 10 to 15 pounds
- Avoid bending and twisting
- Begin physical therapy customized for your capabilities and recovery abilities
- Adding swimming to your physical activity
3-6 months After your Surgery
Exercise is an important part of your recovery at this point. Realize that you still need to be careful and follow your doctors’ recommendations, but you will be able to perform more daily activities during this time.
Every recovery timetable is different. The recovery process from lumbar fusion surgery is a lengthy recovery process. At this point, you will be feeling better every week. Remember, however, to continue to avoid bending, lifting, and twisting. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist on your own limits and exercise recommendations.
Spinal Fusion Recovery Tips
Living a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and appropriate exercise goes a long way to help your recovery. Aim to get as healthy as possible before your surgery and continue your healthy habits after the surgery. Also follow these tips for an optimal recovery:
- Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking.
- Quit smoking. Smoking reduces your ability to heal.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating the right foods help your body heal and reduces swelling and inflammation. A good diet can also reduce constipation.
- Wearing a back brace or wrap eases stress and tension on the spine, muscles, and bones. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about whether you should wear back support.
- Ease into being active. Follow specific recommendations from your doctor or physical therapist about the levels of physical activity that is best for you.
- Call your doctor if you experience signs of an infection such as redness, tenderness, swelling, drainage, chills, or fever higher than 101 F.
Post-Op Medicines, Treatments, and Follow-ups
Exercise is an important part of your recovery process and is not to be neglected. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and increase your activities slowly. Complete recovery can take up to eight months or more, so allow yourself plenty of time and don’t push yourself too fast. You must keep your appointments with your doctor and physical therapist and follow their recommendations.
Increasing your daily activities and exercise helps you heal. However, you must be careful not to overdo it or over-stress your body.
If you are considering Lumbar Fusion Surgery, Dr. Steven Fineberg is currently accepting new patients. Dr. Fineberg is a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon at The Spine Center in Park Ridge.
Today, Dr. Fineberg consistently interacts with and contributes to a growing body of research regarding the identification and treatment of congenital deformations, spinal defects, and diseases of the vertebral column. He has conducted his own original studies, presented more than 150 times at multiple medical conferences, and contributed to scores of scholarly papers and medical publications. In a 2013 study, Dr. Fineberg examined whether the use of bone morphogenic protein (BMP) in lumbar fusions lead to shorter hospital stays and lower rates of infection.
Dr. Fineberg is excited to be able to help with any and all of his patients’ back or spine-related issues. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Fineberg today for a full evaluation and let’s get you on the road to healing.