Spinal Fusion Surgery Recovery

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure which is performed to correct problems in the small bones of the spine. The basic thing is to join together the painful vertebrae so that they heal into a single bone. This procedure is only done if the surgeon can really point the source of pain. To make this possible your doctor will have to perform imaging tests like x-rays, MRI and CT scans.

Spinal fusion may eliminate symptoms of various back conditions like tumor, infection, fracture, scoliosis, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis and degenerative disc disease. Spinal Fusion is often performed along with other surgical procedures like laminectomy, discectomy and Foraminotomy.

The rate of improvement after spinal fusion surgery depends on the recovery of the nerve compression, the continuing maturation of the fusion mass and conditioning of the muscles after surgery. After spine surgery, the surgeon may require the patient to wear a back brace and this is usually fitted at the time of fusion surgery. This back brace can limit movement thus helps the bone fusion grow and heal.

Exercise and therapy is also included in every patient’s spinal fusion recovery program. To manage pain, medication is given. Other surgeons also recommend ice pack application to help reduce post operative pain.

While the body is healing, one can do short walks and increase activities as the days go on. Depending on the type of surgery, your surgeon might advice you to avoid certain activities that may slow down your recovery. Like for example, patients who undergo lumbar spinal fusion is asked to avoid twisting motions, lifting heavy objects and bending.

As the fusion matures, it is important to start reconditioning program. After three months from surgery, a more aggressive set of exercise program will be prescribed. But it is vital that you start it with the guidance of your physical therapist.

One important thing to keep in mind, if you are a heavy smoker then slow down with your smoking or even stop if you can. One factor that slows down recovery from spine fusion surgery is smoking. Nicotine is like a poison to the bones, slowing down the fusion of the bone. In fact one study showed that patients who are non-smokers do fairly well with spinal fusion surgery than smokers (Orthopedics Today 2000).