A lumbar fusion, which is a spinal fusion in the lower back, is a surgical procedure performed to fuse two or more of a patient’s vertebrae together. The surgeon fuses these bones in the back so that they become a single bone, which is done in order to prevent painful symptoms.
If you are considering lumbar fusion surgery, you are likely curious about what recovery after the operation is going to be like. How risky is this type of back surgery? Could it create a loss of mobility? Will it take months before you can return to work?
These are valid questions. Ultimately, how well you recover will largely depend on your overall health and how closely you follow your surgeon’s instructions. Let’s talk about some of the things you can expect after lumbar fusion surgery and how patients usually recover from this procedure.
Postoperative Care After Back Surgery
Before even having spine surgery, you will have a discussion with your surgeon about your pain-relief options for your recovery period. This will largely depend on any current medications that you are on, as well as any pre-existing conditions you have.
When you wake up from the surgery, you may feel sore and stiff. Take your pain medication according to your doctor’s orders. You will likely need to wear a back brace at first to keep your spine in place while it heals.
A physical therapist (PT) will be assigned to you, and this medical professional will teach you how to move carefully, without hurting your back. The therapist will also teach you exercises that will eventually help restore your function, strength, flexibility, and mobility.
Early on, strengthening the surrounding muscles is the main goal after back surgery. Your occupational therapist will teach you how to use assistive devices such as a walker during recovery.
Recovery at Home from Spinal Fusion
You should be able to return home to recover within a few days. It’s important to have someone at your house to help you recover, such as a family member or a friend.
Spine surgeons typically advise patients to prepare their homes beforehand for recovery. This includes the expectation that you will stay on the first floor while you recover (no stairs), and placing assistive devices in the bathroom and bedroom.
Keeping everything within reach is also helpful, such as water, food, snacks, medication, books, the remote control, and so on. This is necessary in the various places where you will be during the day and at nighttime, such as in the living room and the bedroom.
During your recovery period, rest when you are tired, and perform the exercises your physical therapist taught you. Do not worry about “resting too much,” because your body is recovering from the trauma of surgery and needs rest.
Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion Surgery in Colorado
The skilled neurosurgeons here at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery specialize in minimally invasive surgeries of the cranium (head) and spine, including lumbar fusion surgery. Patients who undergo minimally invasive surgery typically experience less post-op pain and recover more quickly than after traditional back surgery.
Our dedicated team of neurosurgeons is committed to providing you exceptional care. Find out what we can do to help relieve your pain.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with an experienced neurosurgeon, contact us today by calling us at (303) 790-1800 or request an appointment via our online form now. We look forward to seeing you here.