Minimally invasive stabilization recovery — what you need to know

After undergoing a minimally invasive stabilization surgery (spinal fusion), the recovery process will be different for each patient. You will be required to have a home health nurse at their residence or hotel for 24 hours after surgery. Most patients — unless your surgeon instructs you differently — should avoid any heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for about six to eight weeks after surgery. While your physician will likely prescribe short walks and mild rehabilitation exercises following your procedure, any activity that produces severe pain should be stopped immediately. The time in which you may return to normal daily activities depends on your individual work environment, the type of stabilization surgery and how you respond to the surgery. Patients who have desk jobs can normally return to work within two weeks, and patients with more physical jobs should wait at least six weeks, and only with approval by a physician or surgeon.

Exercises following a minimally invasive lumbar spine procedure

Recovery exercises will vary based on the type of stabilization procedure performed. With a lateral lumbar interbody fusion from Laser Spine Institute, the focus will be on regaining strength and mobility in the lower back and hips. The exercises recommended to you by your physician and our Physical Therapy Consultants will be broken up into two levels. The gentle exercises in Level 1 are designed for patients in their second or third week after surgery, while the more advanced exercises in Level 2 are for the sixth or seventh weeks following surgery.

Level 1 exercises during minimally invasive spinal fusion recovery include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Abdominal bracing
  • Shoulder presses
  • Gluteal sets

Level 2 exercises during minimally invasive spinal fusion recovery include:

  • Hook-lying alternative arms
  • Hook-lying alternative legs
  • Hook-lying combo
  • Bridging
  • Nerve glides

Exercise details and precautions

For a detailed explanation of the above exercises and a step-by-step video about proper body mechanics while performing them, refer to the DVD given to you after your surgery or go to Your surgeon or our Physical Therapy Consultants will likely suggest that you perform these exercises one to three times per day, depending on the stage of your recovery process. Exercises will also be paired with periods of walking. Absolutely no heavy lifting should be performed for at least six to eight weeks after your surgery. If you have any questions about your exercise plan or recovery process, please contact us. Our Patient Services Department will also follow up with you to ensure comfort, satisfaction and surgical success at one, two, six and 12 weeks post-surgery.