Lumbar fusion recovery

For patients who have suffered through chronic lower back pain for several months or years, having patience through the recovery period for a lumbar fusion surgery can be one of the most difficult tasks. Many of our patients at Laser Spine Institute come into our surgery center limping or barely walking and are able to proudly Stand Tall® and walk with ease out of our facility after their surgery. With this new renewal of life, many patients want to jump right back in to their daily routines and activities that they have not been able to do in so long.

While this might seem like a great idea for patients to immediately start the activities they once loved, this immediate jump into action can negatively impact a patient’s recovery process. While our minimally invasive lumbar stabilization surgeries offer shorter recovery times^ than traditional open back surgery, it is still important for our patients to slowly ease themselves back into their normal daily activities.

There are two main things to remember when trying to be patient during your recovery period:

  1. You just underwent a surgery. Even if you had a minimally invasive procedure at Laser Spine Institute, your body needs time to heal and your spine needs time to strengthen again before you start your hobbies and activities.

  2. You probably experienced several “down” months or years with little to no activity before your surgery. That means that your muscles are not in shape and used to the physical activities that you may want to try again. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be active, but that does mean that you should cautiously enter your activity and stop immediately if you feel pain or discomfort.

You and your Care Partner will both be given specific instructions and guidelines for you to follow to help maximize your recovery process. While the many of our patients experience a recovery period of around 12 weeks, many of our patients are able to return to work within two weeks after surgery. The key to a healthy recovery is to be patient and listen to your body.

Watch out for a relapse

Patients who undergo a traditional open back lumbar fusion have an increased risk of a failed back fusion. An important part of the recovery process after a traditional open spine surgery is monitoring any pain experienced as the incision, bone and other affected body parts heal. If the surgery succeeds, the symptoms associated with the original spinal condition should, at the very least, begin to diminish. If the surgery has failed, there’s a chance the following symptoms could return:

  • Localized pain
  • Pain that radiates to the part of the body innervated by the compressed nerve
  • Tingling
  • Numbness, or complete loss of sensation
  • Muscle weakness

If you are experiencing the same or increased symptoms after your surgery as you did before your fusion, you should consult your physician to determine if you have failed back surgery syndrome. Patients with failed back surgery syndrome can often find relief through the minimally invasive stabilization surgery offered at Laser Spine Institute.

For more information about the recovery period after a lumbar fusion or about how we can help treat failed back surgery syndrome, please contact our Care Team today.

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