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Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. You will receive medicine after surgery to help manage pain.
Average Hospital Stay
3-4 days (sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on age, overall health, and extent of surgery)
At the Hospital
You may receive the following care at the hospital:
Back brace or cast
Lessons on how to properly move, sit, stand, and walk
Lessons on how to turn in bed without twisting the spine
Special socks or boots to help prevent blood clots
You will be shown how to move and exercise your legs while in bed
You will be encouraged to get up and walk around several times a day
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
Washing their hands
Wearing gloves or masks
Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
Not allowing others to touch your incisions
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Be sure to follow your doctor's
Keep the incision area clean and dry.
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
To improve circulation and decrease the risk of blood clots:
Exercise your legs while in bed
You may need to continue to wear special socks or boots
Do not lift anything heavy.
The bones and grafts fuse together over several months. Your activity will be restricted during this time.
Only take medicine recommended by your doctor. Ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine.
Have the stitches or staples removed in two weeks.
Your doctor may tell you to permanently avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities that involve lifting and twisting.
Rehabilitation may be done in a hospital or at an outpatient clinic. The program will likely include:
Exercises to strengthen your back
Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking or swimming
Time off from work ranges from 4-6 weeks to 4-6 months. It depends on your age, overall health, and the physical demands of your job.
Complete healing of the bones may take up to one year after surgery. You will likely notice less flexibility of your spine where the bones are fused. Following your rehabilitation program will speed your recovery and reduce discomfort.
AAOS clinical guideline on low back pain/sciatica (acute) (phases I and II). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed September 9, 2005.
Deyo RA, Nachemson S, et al. Spinal-fusion surgery—the case for restraint.
N Engl J Med. 2004;350(7):722-726.
Kim CW, Siemionow K, et al. The current state of minimally invasive spine surgery.
J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2011 Mar 16;93(6):582-596.
Lindström D, Omid Sadr A, et al. Effects of a perioperative smoking cessation intervention on postoperative complications: a randomized trial.
Lipson SJ. Spinal-fusion surgery—advances and concerns.
N Engl J Med. 2004;350(7):643-644.
North American Spine Society. Phase III clinical guidelines for multidisciplinary spine care specialists. Spinal stenosis version 1.0. National Guideline Clearinghouse website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed September 7, 2005.
Spinal fusion. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated September 2007. Accessed June 25, 2008.
Spinal fusion surgery. North American Spine Society website. Available at: ...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed August 30, 2005.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.