Recovery After Spinal Fusion - Physical Therapy Following Surgery

The recovery process after spinal fusion will vary from patient to patient, but it is extremely important to ask your physician what you can expect, both directly after surgery and throughout the entire recovery process. Of course, your physician will not be able to predict complications and setbacks, but he or she should be able to give you realistic expectations about your rehabilitation. It is also important that you do as much planning as possible prior to surgery. For instance, if you know you will be prescribed pain medication or antibiotics, be sure to get these prescriptions filled before surgery. In addition, if your physician suggests working with a physical therapist to regain strength and mobility after surgery, choose a therapist and have an initial consultation before surgery to discuss your condition and your goals for recovery.

Will I need physical therapy after spinal fusion?

Many patients need physical therapy after spinal fusion to regain strength and flexibility, as well as to learn to use their bodies in new ways. One or more levels of the spine will be permanently joined with a bone graft and implants during this type of spine surgery, and, due to the obvious surgical trauma on the spine, everyday activities like tying your shoe or reaching for something on a shelf may be difficult to perform at first. Your therapist will work with you so that you can begin to resume these daily activities with as little pain as possible.

A physical therapist will likely visit you during your stay in the hospital and work with you at your bedside on some basic stretches and exercises so that you can gradually regain mobility. He or she will help you to:

  • Sit up in bed
  • Stand
  • Sit in a chair
  • Walk with a cane or other supportive device
  • Walk up and down stairs safely

Other surgical options

The recovery process after traditional open spinal fusion can be quite long and arduous. Some patients take up to a year to fully rehabilitate and return to a full range of activities. If you are seeking a less invasive, outpatient procedure that allows for a shorter recuperation, Laser Spine Institute might be able to help. We offer a wide range of minimally invasive stabilization procedures to help relieve the pain associated with common degenerative spinal conditions. To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today.