Minimally invasive stabilization — postoperative care

If you are preparing to undergo minimally invasive stabilization surgery, you have most likely already researched the procedures and process of the surgery itself. While this is helpful knowledge when determining whether or not this treatment option is right for you, you should also value the knowledge of what you can expect after your procedure is completed. You’ve already had to sit on the sidelines of life for so long due to your chronic back pain; you should make sure that you are prepared for the recovery process after the surgery to ensure that your body heals properly so you can finally get back to the activities you love.

One of the most important things to remember during your postoperative recovery is to listen to your body. If you feel pain or discomfort during any activity, stop and rest. Remember that your body is healing not only from a surgery, but also from months — sometimes years — of rest and little use. You must gradually work your body back into doing your daily activities and hobbies. If you try to speed this process along, you might risk injuring yourself and lengthening your surgical recovery time.

The recovery timeline

The first six weeks after minimally invasive stabilization surgery are crucial for your body to heal and adjust. Each patient recovers at a different rate, so be aware of your body and stop any activity immediately if you begin to feel pain or discomfort. Please review these guidelines to ensure a safe recovery:

Weeks 1–2

  • Keep your dressing clean and dry
  • Schedule an appointment at your local Laser Spine Institute clinic or with your primary care provider to check the site of the incision
  • Wear your neck or back brace during periods of activity
  • Consistently ice your back according to the guidelines given to you in the postoperative recovery room
  • Abstain from driving, sexual activity and other strenuous activities
  • Take short walks (five to 15 minutes) in the first days and weeks after surgery

Weeks 2–6

  • Take short, frequent walks several times each day
  • Try to sit intermittently for no more than four hours each day, no more than 20 minutes at a time
  • Avoid any and all strenuous activities that apply weight to the spine, such as heavy lifting and repetitive twisting

After six weeks

  • Your goal at this point should be to walk about two miles without experiencing spine pain
  • As long as you are no longer taking narcotics or muscle relaxers, you may begin to drive
  • You may also begin to lift small loads weighing no more than 15 pounds.

The remainder of the guidelines will be dependent on the type of minimally invasive surgery you received. Your health care provider will review and give you a postoperative recovery guidelines packet before you are dismissed from the recovery center. The recovery guidelines packet will be reviewed with you and your Care Partner. If you have any questions about what to expect during your minimally invasive stabilization recovery period, or if you have any concerns about your recovery, please contact our SPINE LINE for more information.