Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion — physical therapy to help recovery process

The recovery period following our minimally invasive spinal fusion will be different for each patient, depending on the type of spinal fusion performed, the length of time in pain before the spinal fusion was performed, and other individual factors. If you have questions about what you can and cannot do after our minimally invasive fusion surgery, please consult the postoperative guidelines found in your surgery packet or on our website. You can also contact our SPINE LINE for specific questions or concerns about your recovery period.

Most patients who have undergone our minimally invasive spinal fusion find it helpful to begin a physical therapy routine after surgery. Physical therapy offers the chance to rebuild the muscles surrounding your spine that might be out of shape due to years of chronic pain and limited movement. By strengthening these muscles, you will find that your body will regain strength and range of motion, while helping to protect your spine from future injury. Be sure to consult your general physician to make sure that you are recovered enough to begin a physical therapy treatment program.

Benefits of Physical Therapy after Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion

The benefits of physical therapy after our minimally invasive spinal surgery extend beyond simply helping your physical body to heal; it also helps you mentally adjust to your new range of motion and capabilities.

From a physical perspective, physical therapy will help you learn how to use your spine and core muscles again to move and bend — a task that many patients with chronic pain could barely do prior to our minimally invasive spinal fusion. As your body adjusts to a greater range of motion and a life without debilitating pain, you will need guidance on how to move and exercise properly so you can help prevent future back injuries. Your physical therapist will help you with everything from daily activities, such as bending to tie your shoes, to hobbies that you enjoy, such as tennis or golf. Having a physical therapy routine will help you recapture the daily activities and hobbies that you once enjoyed.

From a mental perspective, physical therapy will help you regain your confidence to participate in life without pain. Years of chronic back pain can cause a lot of mental blocks and frustration. Several of our patients suffered from chronic back pain for nine to 10 years prior to undergoing our minimally invasive spine surgery. Enduring chronic pain for that length of time can create a “new normal” — a new normal might mean that you can’t lift your grandchild or you can’t walk in the evening with your spouse. If you participate in a physical therapy routine, you might find that you have more confidence to get back into the lifestyle that you once had, prior to your chronic pain. As you strengthen your body and recover from surgery, you might remember what it feels like to bend and move freely, uninhibited by pain.

What Can I Expect at Physical Therapy after Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion

Every physical therapist has a different routine for patients who have undergone minimally invasive spinal fusion. When you meet with your physical therapist, they will ask you medical history and lifestyle questions to create a collaborative plan for your recovery. While each plan is specifically geared toward your individual needs and goals, the plan will usually contain a combination of these two types of physical therapy:

  • Strength exercise — Part of your physical therapy regimen will include exercises to begin to strengthen and rebuild the muscles in your back and core. Years of debilitating pain can cause these muscles to weaken. Before you begin to take on your normal activities after our minimally invasive spinal fusion, you should work on strengthening your core muscles to prevent injury.
  • Gentle stretches — Your physical therapist might suggest that you begin gentle stretches to begin to increase your range of motion. These stretches will also help to ease the muscles in your back that have been tensed from pain for the last several years.

If you have any questions about what to expect after your surgery, please call our care team. We are here to walk you through the recovery process and make sure that you heal properly and efficiently so you can take back your life.