Will Spinal Fusion End my Active Lifestyle?

Spine Fusion and Active Lifestyles

A common concern with fusion surgery, especially if you’re accustomed to leading an active lifestyle, is whether or not you’ll be able to stay just as active after surgery. The short answer is that it depends on factors like the type of fusion surgery you’re going to have, whether or not you’re going to need multiple fusions and your overall health prior to surgery.

Have Patience

Don’t expect to be running a marathon right after fusion surgery. If you’re accustomed to maintaining an active lifestyle, be prepared to slow down and have some patience as you recover from your fusion procedure, which generally takes about 3-4 months.

Communicate With Your Doctor

If you follow the guidance of your doctor or spine surgeon, odds are pretty good that fusion surgery won’t mean an end to your active lifestyle. Take some time to discuss your concerns with your doctor before your fusion surgery. Your recovery will be a lot more productive if you have a good idea of what to expect and realistic expectations about what you can and can’t do during your recovery period.

Guidelines for Resuming an Active Lifestyle

  • First Week

    Light stretching (especially the hamstrings and quadriceps to prevent scarring of nerves around the spine)

  • Weeks 1-9

    Stabilization exercises (arm and leg movements with no motions involving significant spine movement to prevent re-injury)

  • Weeks 6-12

    Dynamic stabilization exercises (to strengthen abdominal muscles, can include extensions that involve the back and the use of an exercise ball)

  • Weeks 9-12

    Low-impact conditioning (can include low-impact aerobics, brisk walking and swimming)

Schedule Follow-Up Appointments

It’s going to be a while before you can get back to activities like running, jogging, dancing and contact sports. Scheduled and attend follow-up appointments with your doctor to get a better idea of a realistic time frame based on how you’re healing and you may be able to modify or increase your activity level if the doctor feels it is safe to do so.

If you are considering fusion surgery, know there are other options available that can help you maintain range of motion, increasing the chances for an active lifestyle after surgery. Learn more about non-fusion spine procedures by calling 310-828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation with Dr. Bae of The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Dr. Bae is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has conducted numerous clinical trials testing the effectiveness of non-fusion procedures.