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Doctor insights on: Recovery Time After Spinal Fusion Surgery

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Dr. Thomas Dowling
1,118 Doctors shared insights

Spinal Fusion (Definition)

Surgery to cause two or more spine segments to be joined together through a growth of bone initiated by the placement of bone tissue or graft taken from the patient or from a donor source or even a manufactured source which could include: bone growth proteins and particulate structures that act as scaffolds for bone to grow on and may include implants or instrumentation ...Read more


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What concerns should I have about spinal fusion surgery? I'm very apprehensive about my upcoming spinal fusion surgery. What should I expect from this procedure and the recovery afterward?

What concerns should I have about spinal fusion surgery? I'm very apprehensive about my upcoming spinal fusion surgery. What should I expect from this procedure and the recovery afterward?

This depends on: Several variables: your age, your health, your weight status & nutritional status, how in shape you are, smoking history, reason for surgery, type of surgery with number of levels involved as well as approach, the experience of your surgeon, to name a few. If a smoker, 3-8x failure rate of non smoker & overweight higher risk of complications especially if diabetic. Need to discuss with surgeon!

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I wish I would have been given more specific rcovery plans and expectations coming home from spinal fusion surgery 2 weeks ago. How much can I do?

I wish I would have been given more specific rcovery plans and expectations coming home from spinal fusion surgery 2 weeks ago. How much can I do?

This depends on: Several variables: age, health, weight & nutritional status, how in shape you are, smoking history, reason for surgery, fusion type with # of levels involved & approach, the experience of your surgeon, to name a few. If a smoker, 3-8x failure rate of non smoker & overweight higher risk of complications especially if diabetic. Need to discuss with surgeon! It can take up to 1 year to heal.

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I wish I would have been given more specific rcovery plans and expectations upon coming home from spinal fusion surgery 2 weeks ago. What can I do?

I wish I would have been given more specific rcovery plans and expectations upon coming home from spinal fusion surgery 2 weeks ago. What can I do?

Spine fusion: It's all about creating realistic expectations. I tell my fusion patients whether minimally invasive or open that they are going to hurt and have a rough road the first week and every day after should be a little better with a few hiccups along the way. At 6 to 10 weeks they should be feeling pretty good, some need a little longer.

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I've had two spinal fusion surgeries and failed to fuse both times. My doctors are now recommending a 3rd try at it. What are the chances it will work?

See below...: Another surgery may or may not work to achieve spinal fusion. You and your doctor need to figure out if there are any risk factors for the fusion to fail (i.e. Smoking, certain medications). Also, the repeat surgery may require hardware and another approach such as surgery from the front and back of the spine. Some patients may benefit from bone morphogenetic protein to improve fusion rates.

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What activities should I avoid after spinal fusion surgery?

What activities should I avoid after spinal fusion surgery?

Assuming that you: Are fully healed and rehabilitated you should try to avoid any activities that involve combined repetitive flexion and rotation like racquet sports and golf. Heavy contact sports are not advisable like rugby or tackle football. If asking in post op period, this is dependent on type and extent of fusion as well as your health/ conditioning including your diagnosis----your surgeon will guide you.

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For how long is it normal to be in pain after spinal fusion surgery?

For how long is it normal to be in pain after spinal fusion surgery?

Varies greatly: Healing can take up to six months, and sometimes people will continue to have pain. Acute, post surgical pain should subside by three to six weeks, but many have lasting nerve pain afterwards. The important thing to remember is that the surgery was to prevent functional loss. Treating the pain is the next step to get back normalcy. Best of luck!

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How do I take care of myself after spinal fusion surgery if I live alone?

How do I take care of myself after spinal fusion surgery if I live alone?

Assistance: When I have patients who live alone and are preparing to have spinal fusion surgery, it is wise to consider the aftercare situation. If there is a poor support system available to be able to go home, options such as in-patient rehab or nursing may need to be arranged (preferably before the surgery). Depending upon the surgery, home care assistance may suffice.

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Why should I have sciatica pain after spinal fusion surgery.

Why should I have sciatica pain after spinal fusion surgery.

Wear/Tear: With previous back surgery, sometimes pain can result from the wear and tear of the levels above/below your surgery that takes place after a fusion surgery. If this is the case, recommend seeing your spine surgeon or a spine/pain specialist to evaluate this further.

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Is it possible for me to sleep on my stomach after spinal fusion surgery?

Is it possible for me to sleep on my stomach after spinal fusion surgery?

Yes: As a spine surgeon I tell patients to sleep however they are comfortable.

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After spinal fusion surgery I still have the pain in my hip which was caused by a blocked nerve its been a month since the surgery.

After spinal fusion surgery I still have the pain in my hip which was caused by a blocked nerve its been a month since the surgery.

Residual lat. Recess: Spine surgeon follow up. May need MRI to look at the lareral recesses of the spinal canal where a nerve may still be pinched.

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Doctor recommended back exercises after spinal fusion surgery and rod removal?

Activity after fused: Given that rods were removed, I must assume that the fusion is solid. Therefore, there are really no restrictions for you in a solidly fused lumbar spine. Core exercises like pilates/piyo/yoga are great (your flexibility will be limited, obviously). Aerobic exercises as tolerated and continue to progress as tolerated.

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After spinal fusion surgery pain from the right side was gone. But now I have pain similar to sciatica on the left side from my spine to my feet.

After spinal fusion surgery pain from the right side was gone. But now I have pain similar to sciatica on the left side from my spine to my feet.

Wear/Tear: With previous back surgery, sometimes pain can result from the wear and tear of the levels above/below your surgery that takes place after a fusion surgery. If this is the case, recommend seeing your spine surgeon or a spine/pain specialist to evaluate this further.

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What spinal fusion surgery?

What spinal fusion surgery?

Joining bone togethe: A spinal fusion is a procedure used to join two spinal motion units together. It is designed to stop all motion of the motion segment. It may be performed with or without the usages of screws and rods. It is performed for spinal instability. It is like welding 2 pieces of metal together.

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How harmful is a spinal fusion surgery?

Depends if it: Is necessary. If you are having motor weakness or instability of the spine, then it is beneficial. If you are not, then follow up on other options as these surgeries, when not indicated, more often then not trade pain at one level for pain at the next level from the fusion. These surgeries can lead to pain if not needed, so make sure it is absolute necessary before moving ahead.

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What happens after a spinal fusion surgery?

What happens after a spinal fusion surgery?

Depends: There are many types of spinal fusion procedures, with different anatomical approaches, locations, implants, and techniques. The most important aspect of the surgery is the actual bone growth that occurs over months (yrs) that causes the bones treated to fuse (connect) with a solid bone connection. For more specific information, talk to your surgeon.

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What to do if I have spinal fusion surgery?

What to do if I have spinal fusion surgery?

Go slow: Avoid lifting over 10 lbs, or excessive bending or twisting. Where was the location of the operation? Lumbar or cervical spine? (lower back or neck?) walking is usually good. Ask your surgeon to be sure. Would continue to use a brace.

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Can you give me more info on spinal fusion surgery?

Many types: There are many types of spinal fusions. For more information, check out spine-health. Com.

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What are the indications for spinal fusion surgery?

Spinal Instability: Spine fusion is indicated when spinal stability and/or alignment has been compromised, resulting in risk for further spinal collapse, deformity, or neurological compression/injury. Surgical fusion restores immediate stability and alignment and creates an environment where the vertebra can fuse in a functionally acceptable position. Conditions include fracture, deformity, and spondylolisthesis.

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What would the pros and cons of spinal fusion surgery be?

What would the pros and cons of spinal fusion surgery be?

More pro than cons: The surgery is indicated to save a nerve that has been pressure by a herniated disc, otherwise the patient will end up with permanent nerve damage.not for pain. the pros for fusion is to stabilize the level above and below the herniated disc level, to prevent recurrence or other level collapsing, preferably with a bone graft. the cons may be limit of motion depending how many level has to be fused.

Fusion (Definition)

A fusion gets rid of a joint or disk between to bones, getting the bones to join together with bone between them. If successful, it eliminates almost all the motion between the bones. Sometimes fusion simply occur as a result of disease, rarely from aging. Most of the time ...Read more