As with any surgical procedure, a fusion of the cervical or lumbar spine will require you to go through a recovery period. While there are averages when it comes to how long recovery time will take following fusion surgery, the actual amount of time varies from patient to patient. Here’s a closer look at what factors are likely to determine your overall recovery time:
At the Hospital
You’re going to do your initial recovery following a spine fusion in the hospital or medical center where you had the surgery. This is the period where you’re carefully monitored in a controlled environment. The average stay in the hospital following surgery is 1-2 days. However, the amount of time you’ll need to recovery in the hospital also depends on:
- How extensive your fusion surgery was (and if you needed multiple fusions)
- If fusion was performed with another spinal procedure (ALIF procedure)
- Whether or not you’re showing signs of infection
- Your overall physical health before surgery
After discharge from the hospital, you’ll likely be doing some light daily exercise, gradually increasing your activity level each day and applying an ice pack should you still have any postoperative pain. Generally, it will take about 3-6 days for the recovery period following discharge from the hospital. However, this phase of recovery is also affected by:
- How well you responded to your spinal fusion
- Your overall natural ability to heal
- How well you follow the doctor’s instructions
If infection develops (diabetics are especially susceptible), you’ll need to take intravenous antibiotics and further surgery may be required, extending your overall recovery time by several months. Some patients may need to wear a back brace anywhere from six weeks to three months following surgery to immobilize the spine as it heals. If your job involves heavy lifting or other physical requirements, you may not be able to return to work for up to six months.
Know Your Options
Thanks to new technologies and advancements in the industry, there are alternatives to spinal fusion, which can limit surgery time, risk and overall recovery. To learn more about these options, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Dr. Hyun Bae, the center’s Medical Director, specializes in minimally invasive and non-fusion spine surgeries, and has lead numerous clinical trials to bring new devices to market with FDA approval. To request an in-person consultation with Dr. Bae, call 310-828-7757 today.