Recovery times for different types of spine surgery can vary greatly depending on the age and physical health of the individual, but in general, the recovery time for minimally invasive spine surgery is far shorter than that of traditional back surgery.
Traditional or “open” back surgery is performed in a hospital setting using general anesthesia. During the surgery, a long incision (5 to 6 inches) is made and muscle and tissue matter is retracted away from the spine. This technique causes the patient to experience significant post-operative pain, so prescription pain medication is usually required for 2 to 4 weeks. The incision can take 1 to 2 weeks to heal, and the entire recovery process can take up to a year.
Minimally invasive surgery, on the other hand, is based on state-of-the-art technology that enables it to be performed through a 4-5 mm incision. Rather than pulling muscle and tissue matter away from the spine, minimally invasive procedures gently dilate muscles and tissues to gradually expand the incision, so the process is far less painful and scarring is greatly reduced. Whereas open back surgery usually requires a hospital stay of at least 4 days, most minimally invasive procedures are performed in an outpatient setting and the patient is usually able to walk out within two hours. The total recovery time is fast – in as little as two weeks – meaning patients are able to return to normal activities like jogging, swimming, and hiking much sooner.
If you have been diagnosed with a back or neck problem such as spinal stenosis, spinal arthritis, spondylolisthesis or another condition and have considered back surgery as a treatment option, it’s important to know how recovery times, risks, and success rates vary from procedure to procedure. When you’re ready to reclaim your life and you want to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible, Laser Spine Institute offers gentle and effective minimally invasive procedures to treat a host of back and neck conditions. Contact LSI for more information. We will be glad to answer your questions and review your MRI or CT scan, absolutely free of charge.