Spinal fusion surgery involves placing a bone graft between at least two vertebrae, fusing them together. This procedure may be done for a variety of reasons, including to fix a spinal abnormality, to restore stability, or to repair the spine after removing a damaged disk. Lumbar fusion is a serious procedure and while it may seem scary, it can result in significantly less pain and discomfort. If spinal fusion surgery is something you and your doctor have talked about, it’s important for you to know these few pieces of information regarding recovery from the procedure.
Recovery time can vary
Unlike minor procedures, recovery time for a spinal fusion can vary depending on the patient. Normally, recovery can last anywhere between three to six months—the length of recovery can depend on the severity of any abnormalities, complications, and how well patients do with their physical therapy during their recovery. Within the first few days after the procedure, patients will have to learn to manage their pain and how to move without bending the spine in ways they’re not supposed to.
After about a month or so, patients will begin physical therapy and re-learn movements as they adjust to their fused spine. Physical therapy can include stretching and basic forms of exercise and will usually last for a few months. From there, it’s up to the patient and their doctor to decide when they can return to their usual activities and whether or not they need to pursue other physical therapy treatments.
There are movements to avoid during recovery
During the initial recovery stage after the procedure, there are several types of movements patients will have to avoid. While patients can bend over at the waist and at the knees, they need to avoid bending their back—this could result in the fusion not healing properly. Patients should also avoid twisting their spine so, in order to turn in a certain direction, they’ll need to turn their whole body to keep their spine straight. Additionally, patients need to avoid lifting anything heavier than about eight pounds during their recovery period.
There are obviously a lot of actions and everyday activities that involve bending, twisting, and lifting objects. This is why patients should prepare for these recovery challenges ahead of time. Having someone plan to stay with you during recovery can be beneficial so you have help with simple actions. And patients should avoid driving after their surgery due to pain and reduced coordination so they should plan on having someone available to drive them to appointments as needed.
Pain management may require medication
After a spinal fusion procedure, patients are going to have to deal with some pain. While pain levels can depend on the patient’s pain tolerance and the extent of the surgery, most patients will be prescribed pain medication. Opioids and over-the-counter pain medications can be extremely beneficial for managing pain after this procedure. However, patients should only take the medications as prescribed and should be aware of possible side effects, like drowsiness.
Of course, spinal fusion patients can also pursue non-medication pain treatment options, too. There can be many adverse side effects of opioids and there is a high risk of developing an addiction. Fortunately, there are more natural approaches to pain relief—products like CBD oil can be effective at managing pain, too. CBD is an all-natural product that can help with inflammation, manage pain, and even promote faster healing. And the side effects of taking CBD regularly are little to none. So if patients want to explore other pain management options, they should look at full spectrum CBD isolate for sale.
A spinal fusion surgery can offer immense relief and allow patients to go about their days without pain or discomfort. But the healing and recovery process is not easy, so keep this information in mind and be sure to talk to your doctor about ways to make the recovery process as easy as possible.