What to expect after lumbar fusion surgery

How long does the pain last after spinal fusion surgery?

As the back continues to heal, patients usually start to feel better and find they can take on more activities. The worst pain is generally over by 4 weeks after surgery. Pain is likely to continue to decrease gradually, but some patients continue to have pain 3 to 6 months after surgery.

Is a spinal fusion major surgery?

Spinal fusion is a major surgery and medical procedure used to treat back injuries. The surgery includes using rods and screws, and bone grafts to stabilize the spine. This surgery is usually a last resort after other treatments have been tried and failed.

What are the symptoms of a failed lumbar fusion?

Symptoms may include chronic pain in the back, neck, or legs, which can be dull or sharp, aching, burning, or radiating. The pain may continue after surgery or reappear several days or weeks afterward. It can worsen as scar tissue builds in the spinal nerve roots, which extend from the spinal cord.

What is the recovery time for lower back surgery?

It takes at least 3 to 4 months after surgery for bones to heal well, and healing may continue for at least a year. If you had spinal fusion, you will probably be off work for 4 to 6 weeks if you are young and healthy and your job is not very strenuous.

How much pain is normal after spinal fusion surgery?

After surgery, pain is no longer achy and arthritic but stems from wound healing, swelling and inflammation. You will experience some pain outside of the hospital. For most back surgeries, it will take 1-1.5 months to resume “normal” mobility and function. During this time, pain should be tolerable and controlled.

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How long do you use a walker after spinal fusion?

You should tell your employer you will be out of work for approximately 8 to 12 weeks but may be able to return earlier than that. Walking is the best activity you can do for the first 6 weeks after surgery. You should start out slowly and work up to walking 30 minutes at least twice a day.

Can screws come loose after spinal fusion?

With modern techniques happens in approximately 5% to 10% of spine fusion surgeries. If pedicle screws are used, there is a risk that the screws may break or become loose and may require further surgery to remove or revise the screws and rods.

What is life like after spinal fusion?

Even people requiring bigger surgeries like spinal fusion are 90% likely to return to work and stay at work long term. While most people recover from back pain through exercise and healthy lifestyles, those who require surgery can expect to return to work and “get their life back” too.

What can you not do after spinal fusion?

Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay. Do not drive for 2 to 4 weeks after your surgery or until your doctor says it is okay. Avoid riding in a car for more than 30 minutes at a time for 2 to 4 weeks after surgery.

Can you mess up a spinal fusion?

Implant Failure in Spine Surgery

An instrumented fusion can fail if there is not enough support to hold the spine while it is fusing. Therefore, spinal hardware (e.g. pedicle screws) may be used as an internal splint to hold the spine while it fuses after spine surgery.

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Can one bend ruin a spinal fusion?

Logrolling prevents excessive bending, twisting, and straining of your spine which could disrupt the surgical repair. Avoiding excessive bending, twisting, and straining will protect your fusion while it heals. Bone healing typically takes up to 3-6 months to occur.

What does a failed fusion feel like?

After any spine surgery, a percentage of patients may still experience pain. This is called failed back or failed fusion syndrome, which is characterized by intractable pain and an inability to return to normal activities. Surgery may be able to fix the condition but not eliminate the pain.

How many days do you stay in the hospital after back surgery?

You may be in the hospital for 1 to 3 days; longer if you have spinal fusion. Rest is important. But doctors want you out of bed as soon as possible. Most people start physical therapy within 24 hours.

What can you not do after back surgery?

Avoid activities that require bending, twisting, lifting more than 5 pounds (about 1 gallon of milk), or push/pulling. Do not stand or sit for too long. If you have had a spinal fusion, avoid lifting objects above your head until the fusion is fully healed.

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