Spinal Fusion Recovery – Lumbar and Cervical
Before undergoing spinal fusion surgery it is important to understand the stages of recovery that are involved in the healing process. Spinal fusion surgery is an extremely aggressive surgical procedure from which it will take many months for a patient to fully recover. Because spinal fusion surgery is most often the final corrective measure attempted in solving back pain, patients faced with options of living with the pain for the rest of their lives or undergoing a surgery and putting up with a few months of recovery often choose the second option.
Cervical or Lumbar Fusion Recovery – Stage 1
The healing and recovery process from spinal fusion surgery occurs in stages. Stage 1 of the healing process focuses on the incision and the soft tissues affected. The first stage of lumbar and cervical fusion recovery takes on average 2 weeks. It is important that you stay mobile during this period as movement helps a great deal with the healing. You should expect to be up and doing some walking in the hospital the day after your surgery, and continue to walk and build your strength every day afterword.
After a few weeks have passed you will see your physician for a follow-up appointment during which he or she will remove any stitches or staples that need to come out. During the appointment your doctor will decide if you are ready for the next stage of spinal fusion recovery, physical therapy. If you were taking pain medication to help with the healing process, the medication will also be re-evaluated at this point. If needed, another prescription for medication will be provided.
Spinal Fusion Recovery – Stage 2
Stage 2 of spinal fusion recovery involves physical therapy, both active and passive. In the early stages you will likely undergo only passive therapy such as; heat treatments, electro treatments, therapeutic massage, and possibly some aqua therapy. Once your therapist feels that you have progressed far enough in your healing you will begin to incorporate active physical therapy into your routine. This will include activities such as stretching, gentle exercises, and learning ways to strengthen your back. It is extremely important to understand that the more effort you put into your physical therapy the greater chance you have of healing properly and quickly returning to your active lifestyle.
As you come to the end of your physical therapy your therapist should be teaching you ways to avoid injuring your back again and how to keep it strong after you have finished therapy.
Spinal Fusion Recovery – Stage 3
The final stage of your recovery is integrating what you have learned into your lifestyle and returning to what you once knew as normal. With great relief your doctor will have given you clearance to return to work by now, you will be driving again, and you should be looking forward to keeping yourself fit and enjoying your life with much less pain. This is not to say that all spinal fusion surgery will end up with a 100% pain free ending. If this is not the case you should not be discouraged – keep doing your exercises, keep living a healthy lifestyle, and be happy that you are not in the same amount of pain as prior to your surgery. Sometimes complete relief takes years after a fusion procedure, but the relief in your pain level will likely make it bearable.