Recovering From Spinal Fusion

Aug 07, 2023
Recovering From Spinal Fusion
Recovering from spinal fusion requires time, patience, and commitment. If you’re scheduled for surgery, here’s what you can expect as well as our tips on how to maximize the benefits of this surgery.

Spinal fusion surgery is a transformative procedure for individuals dealing with chronic pain caused by conditions such as scoliosis, arthritis, herniated discs, or severe back injuries. By fusing two or more vertebrae together, this surgery provides much-needed spinal stability and strength.

The skilled physicians at Alabama Neurological Surgery & Spine in Birmingham, Alabama, perform spinal fusion when more conservative therapies, like injections or physical therapy, don’t bring relief. 

Your recovery following spinal fusion depends on various factors, including your age, health, lifestyle, and the extent of the surgery. If you’re scheduled for spinal fusion surgery, here’s what you can generally expect during recovery. 

First and foremost, be patient with your recovery process

Spinal fusion is a major surgery, and healing takes time. Remember that every person's recovery is unique, and it's crucial not to compare your progress with others’. Listen to your body, follow your doctor's instructions, and give yourself the time you need to heal and regain strength.

Immediately after spinal fusion, you’ll likely need to spend a few days in the hospital for close monitoring and pain management. During this phase, you may have a catheter, drainage tubes, and intravenous lines in place. 

Our team encourages you to get up and walk with assistance to promote circulation and to prevent blood clots. Pain management is a priority, and our providers offer medications to keep you comfortable. They also monitor your incision site for any signs of infection or complications.

When you’re discharged, we provide you with specific post-operative instructions tailored to your condition. These instructions include guidelines for managing pain, wound care, medication schedules, and restrictions on activities such as lifting, bending, or twisting. 

Adhering to these instructions is essential for a successful recovery. Don't hesitate to reach out to our team if you have any questions or concerns.

In the initial weeks of recovery, you focus on rest, pain control, and gradually increasing your mobility. We may have you wear a back brace or corset to support your spine. 

Make time for physical therapy

Physical therapy plays a vital role in your recovery journey. We typically recommend starting basic physical therapy a few weeks after surgery to encourage mobility. 

More intense physical therapy starts 6-12 weeks after your procedure. This therapy focuses on strengthening your core, improving mobility, and helping you regain functionality. 

As you progress, your activity level gradually increases. Remember to attend your therapy sessions regularly and follow your therapist's guidance both during the sessions and at home on your own. 

Consistency is key to achieving optimal results. Don’t be surprised if you experience a little discomfort or fatigue during this stage of healing. 

Plan a gradual return to daily activity

While it's essential to rest and take it easy initially, gradually reintroducing daily activities is an important part of the recovery process. Start with light activities such as short walks, and gradually increase your level of activity over time.

Avoid activities that strain your back or could jeopardize the healing process. We can help you understand when it's appropriate to resume specific activities; everyone’s healing time is different.

Recovering from spinal fusion requires time, commitment, and patience. Our team at Alabama Neurological Surgery & Spine is here to support you every step of the way. To schedule an appointment, call our office or use our online request tool.