Spinal Fusion Recovery: Do Patients Suffer Permanent Restrictions After Spinal Fusion?
Spinal Fusion is a major surgical procedure performed to eliminate abnormal motion between the vertebrae. This procedure aims to impart stability and reduce the pain caused by degenerative spine conditions, fractures, scoliosis, and other spine conditions.
It is a highly invasive treatment involving the spine and its surrounding structures and hence will need considerable recovery. However, recovery often varies from patient to patient, and this diverse nature has given rise to many questions and even misconceptions regarding recovery.
Spinal Fusion: Recovery & Restrictions after Spinal Fusion
The most common ones center around problems after spinal fusion surgery and limitations or restrictions imposed by the spinal fusion surgery on patients. We have decided to address these questions head-on by answering the most common questions on the recovery phase of spinal fusion, with inputs from a scoliosis specialist and leading spine surgeon in the UK, Mr. Jwalant S. Mehta.
Read on to learn about the recovery period, restrictions and common problems after spinal fusion surgery.
What does the recovery period after spinal Fusion looks like?
A patient’s recovery from spinal fusion surgery depends on the severity of the condition, age, and current health status. So, there is no one standard journey for the recovery process.
After spinal fusion surgery, the patient is monitored for pain and recovery success and provided with a brace to restrict motion for healing. The typical recovery timeline after spinal Fusion looks like below:
1-4 weeks: After 4-5 days of the hospital stay, the patient must start physical therapy and pain management and may return to work with limited activities. Activities like bending, twisting, driving, or lifting must be avoided during this period. (Lifting restrictions after spinal Fusion apply during this period.)
5-9 weeks: Fusion happens in the spine, and physical therapy helps you build strength. Walking, simple chores, and other light activities can be introduced during this period.
10-24 weeks: Patients can progress to exercises, stretching, and guided cardio workouts. They are lifting restrictions after spinal Fusion also applies here.
6 Months – 1 Year: The patient is monitored and evaluated and fusion is confirmed during this period. The patient can return to gradual activities like lifting and bending. Further limitations and restrictions after spinal Fusion are discussed in this period.
1-2 Years: Fusion continues till around 18 months, and the patient can engage in activities without pain.
How long does complete recovery after spinal fusion surgery take?
As mentioned above, the patient can return to regular activities without any restrictions for one year. But the Fusion continues up until 18 months. It takes around two years for complete healing.
Common Problems after Spinal Fusion Surgery:
Patients must understand that spinal Fusion is major surgery, so the path to recovery has its challenges that sort out over time. The common problems after spinal fusion experienced by patients include pain, difficulty walking after spinal Fusion, limited mobility, hardware problems, and blood clots. Fortunately, every problem can be solved, and spine surgeons in UK can help make the recovery smooth.
So do patients suffer permanent lifting restrictions after spinal fusion surgery?
Patients who have undergone spinal Fusion suffer lifting restrictions in the initial stages of recovery, as mentioned above. However, over time, the fusion ensues, and healing happens.
Physical therapy helps them build strength, and lifting restrictions are gradually lifted. However, the length of the recovery and success of the Fusion depends on the patient, the severity of the condition, the health status, and the extent of the fusion. With the right help from spine surgeons in the UK, one can quickly accelerate recovery and live a pain-free life after spinal fusion surgery.