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What can I Expect from Spinal Fusion Recovery?

Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Updated May 17, 2024
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The most important challenge you should expect during spinal fusion recovery is the amount of time it will take for the recovery to be complete. Some people heal faster than others, so recovery may take anywhere from a few months to a year or more. You need to be realistic about your spinal fusion recovery and understand that you may not make a full recovery at all; many people are affected by the surgery for the rest of their lives, meaning you may experience reduced mobility, weakness, or even some pain. Be optimistic, but keep in mind that spinal fusion recovery is a difficult process that will take patience and care.

It will be important to gradually increase your physical activity throughout the course of spinal fusion recovery, but you must also remember not to place excess strain on the affected area if possible. A doctor may recommend that you wear a back brace to help support the back during the recovery process. Once the recovery is well under way, however, it will be important to start to build the muscles that support the spine in order to ensure adequate support and reduce the risk of further injury. Regular exercise and stretching will be necessary once the healing process is well underway, and such exercises should be done under the guidance of a professional physical therapist.

Some conditions and practices can adversely affect the recovery period. If you are a smoker, or if you have diabetes, you run the risk of a slower or ineffective spinal fusion recovery period. People who are overweight are also less likely to see positive results from the surgery, so again, it is important to remain optimistic but realistic about the results of the surgery and the spinal fusion recovery period. Eating a healthy diet during the recovery period can increase the likelihood of a successful surgery and recovery, though again, different people will react differently to the surgery.

While the spinal fusion will likely help alleviate back and leg pain, it is important to remember that the vertebrae above and below the fusion will take on more stress and friction due to the fusion itself. You will need to alter your regular routines after the fusion surgery to prevent premature wear on the vertebrae above and below the fusion, which means you may need to consider purchasing ergonomic furniture, altering exercise routines, and learning new ways to move without aggravating the affected area.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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