Spinal fusion surgery is a procedure to join two or more vertebrae in your spine to prevent movement between them. This procedure is often recommended to individuals with spinal instability, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, scoliosis, or spinal tumors. However, the recovery process after spinal fusion surgery can take several weeks or months, and patients often wonder what to expect during this time. In this article, we will discuss the spinal fusion recovery timeline and expectations.
After spinal fusion surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room where you will wake up from anesthesia. From there, you will be taken to your hospital room where you will be monitored by nurses for the first few hours. You will likely experience some pain and discomfort, so you will be given pain medications to manage your symptoms. You may also have a catheter and/or drain in place to help you urinate and drain any excess fluids. During your hospital stay, you will be encouraged to move around and walk to prevent blood clots from forming.
During the first two weeks after spinal fusion surgery, you will need to take it easy and avoid bending or twisting your spine. You will need to wear a brace that supports your spine to help with healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for your surgical site, which may involve cleaning your incision with soap and water and watching for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or drainage. You may also need to take prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infection. You may feel stiff and sore during this time, but this is normal, and you can use ice or heat therapy to manage your symptoms.
During weeks 3 through 6, you will gradually begin to increase your activities, but you should still avoid high-impact activities and heavy lifting. You may begin physical therapy to improve your range of motion and strengthen your core muscles. Your brace may be adjusted or removed during this time, depending on your surgeon's recommendations. You may also begin to wean off pain medication and transition to over-the-counter pain relievers.
By months 2 to 3, you should be able to resume most of your normal activities, but you still need to be cautious. You may continue physical therapy and work on building strength and endurance. You may be cleared to drive, but you should avoid sitting for extended periods. Your surgeon will likely schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your progress and make sure your fusion is healing properly.
Overall, the spinal fusion recovery timeline can vary depending on the extent of your surgery and your individual healing process. However, following your surgeon's instructions and taking care of your surgical site can help ensure a smooth recovery. If you're looking for an orthopedic surgeon in Debary, FL, contact Central Florida Bone & Joint Institute. Our skilled surgeons can help you determine whether spinal fusion surgery is beneficial for you and guide you through the recovery process.