Postoperative care after a minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure

After undergoing a minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure like lateral lumbar interbody fusion at Laser Spine Institute, you will be given a postoperative guide to help you recover and heal properly.

The first four to six weeks after surgery is a crucial time for your body to heal and adjust to the changes in your lower back, so make sure that you follow the postoperative care instructions from your surgeon as closely as possible. If you have any questions about the guidelines, you can ask our medical staff before you leave or you can call our 24-hour SPINE LINE for assistance.

Exercises for recovery

While it is important to not overwork your muscles after a minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure, it is important not to be completely inactive, either. Physical therapy exercises are a good way to strengthen your back and regain flexibility, but make sure that you do not attempt exercises in the first two weeks after surgery. Laser Spine Institute often recommends a variety of exercises that have been customized for each patient’s postoperative recovery:

  • Level 1 — These mild exercises are geared toward patients who are in their second or third week of recovery following their minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure. One important exercise during this time in your recovery is the shoulder press, which helps to strengthen your upper back and improve your posture. Lie on your back with your knees bent, legs about hip width apart, with your arms at your sides and your palms turned up. This exercise will match your breathing rhythm. Remain relaxed as you inhale; on exhalation, press your shoulders firmly into the floor. Do not arch your lower back. Repeat this exercise about five to 10 times, two times each day.
  • Level 2 — These slightly advanced exercises are for patients who are in their fourth or fifth week after surgery. One important Level 2 exercise is bridging, which strengthens your lower back and hips after a minimally invasive fusion procedure. To do a bridge, lie in the same position as with the above shoulder press, but with the palms turned down. Inhale, and as you exhale you should slowly press your pelvis up off the floor while keeping your core muscles and hip muscles tightened. Gently lower on the next inhalation. Repeat this exercise five to 10 times, two to three times each day.

Tips to keep in mind

None of the above exercises should be attempted after your surgery until you receive permission from your physician. As you perform these exercises following your spinal fusion procedure, remember that you should stop immediately and contact your physician if you experience severe pain at any time. If you have questions about the exercises or other physical activities, please contact our 24-hour SPINE LINE for help.