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Doctor insights on: Recovery Time After Spinal Fusion Surgery

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Dr. Thomas Dowling
1,106 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! ...Read more

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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. ...Read more

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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. ...Read more

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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. ...Read more

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What activities should I avoid after spinal fusion surgery?

Depends...: This really depends on where in the spine your fusion is (cervical, thoracic, lumbar), how many levels were done, how long ago your procedure was, and if you have fully fused based on imaging. ...Read more

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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! ...Read more

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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. ...Read more

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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. ...Read more

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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