The back is an impressive part of your body. It consists of 33 small bones known as vertebrae which interlock with cushioning between them. Your spine allows you to stand and to move in a wide variety of directions.
Unfortunately, your spine is also vulnerable to issues. Trauma and disease are two of the most common issues that you may face. This can affect the bone strength of one or more of your vertebrae, causing pain and difficulty with movement.
In some cases, physical therapy and time can help you to manage the pain and regain movement. However, in other cases, you’ll need to see a specialist spine surgeon in order to have a spinal fusion performed.
What Is Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion is when the surgeon decides the best way of eliminating your current issues is to fuse two or more of your vertebrae together. They will insert bone or similar material between the damaged bones, replacing the disc. Screws and metal rods/plates are used to hold it all together while it heals. Once healed the two vertebrae will be fused into one.
Spinal fusion is when the surgeon decides the best way of eliminating your current issues is to fuse two or more of your vertebrae together. They will insert bone or similar material between the damaged bones, replacing the disc. Screws and metal rods/plates are used to hold it all together while it heals.
Once healed the two vertebrae will be fused into one.
What To Expect When You Get Home
In most cases, you’ll stay in the hospital for 2-3 days after the surgery. This is to ensure everything is healing normally, to provide pain relief, and ensure there are no further complications. On this note, once released you need to be aware of the following. If you experience any of them you should contact your doctor straight away:
- Drainage from the wound
- Swelling or tenderness around the surgical site
- Chills – especially if you start shaking uncontrollably
The recovery time for lumbar spinal fusion can be as long as six months. In most cases, you should be able to do light activities within 4-6 weeks. Work is usually possible after 1-2 months but, if you do a physically demanding job, it could be 3-6 months before the doctor says you can go back.
Soreness & Stiffness
After any surgery, you will feel sore and lumbar spinal fusion is no different. After all, you’ve been operated on. But, due to the location of the surgery, you will also feel very stiff. In most cases, you’ll be made to wear a back brace. This is to avoid you twisting too much and distorting the bones as they heal.
Of course, spinal lumbar fusion means you’ll lose some spinal movement, potentially restricting your ability to bend and twist.
As your body heals it will be working hard. That means you should rest frequently, whenever you feel tired. However, whenever you can you should walk. Walking increases the flow of blood to your legs and aids the healing process. It can also help you to regain the maximum amount of movement. You should focus on walking a little more each day to aid your recovery.
Naturally, you can’t start weightlifting or any other strenuous activity until your doctor says it’s okay, and you can’t drive for 2-4 weeks. In fact, you should avoid staying seated for more than thirty minutes at a time. Other than that, painkillers can be used and a warm water bottle will help to soothe the area as you heal.