How to Take Care of Yourself After a Spinal Fusion

Healing from a spinal fusion varies from person to person. As with any serious surgery, it will take time for you to heal completely. In fact, full recovery can take 6 months to a year. But by following after-care instructions from your surgeon, you can recover fully.

What Activities are Allowed After a Spinal Fusion?

It is okay to try walking after a spinal fusion—but take it slowly. Every day you can set a goal to walk a little further than you did the day before. If you experience pain, go back to what you did the day before and allow yourself to rest if needed. 

It is advised to avoid heavy lifting that may strain your back. Also, it is important to avoid strenuous exercise until you get approval from your surgeon.

You can drive after a spinal fusion but not for 2 to 4 weeks. Arrange to have someone transport you to appointments. It is also advised to avoid sitting in a car for more than 30 minutes for the first 2 to 4 weeks after your surgery. 

Expect at least 4-6 weeks before you can return to work. Take this time off work to allow yourself to heal after your spinal fusion. If your job requires heavy lifting or physical labor, you may need to wait longer before it is okay to return to your job. 

Why Medication Management is Helpful for Healing

Take your pain medication exactly as prescribed. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication for comfort. If you don’t have a prescription for pain medication, then over-the-counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can be helpful for pain management. 

If prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed and for the course as prescribed. Taking your medication right after meals may be helpful to avoid an upset stomach. 

If the medications you are taking are not providing comfort, then speak with your surgeon for other options. 

What Kind of Diet Should I Eat

You may be able to eat a regular diet after surgery. However, if your medication is upsetting your stomach, you can eat a more bland diet such as rice or toast until you feel better. 

Due to the medications you are prescribed—combined with a lack of mobility—you may experience constipation. You may need to take a stool softener or a fiber supplement daily. If you are still experiencing constipation, speak with your surgeon about taking a mild laxative. 

How Can I Take Care of My Incision?

It is important to tend to your surgical wound daily. Taking a shower or bath to care for your incision is okay. You should wash in once per day if directed by your physician. 

Usually, it is advised not to cover the wound unless drainage is noted. If you notice excessive drainage, have a fever, or warmth around the site, it can be a sign of infection. Inform your surgeon immediately if you notice any signs of infection. 

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Where Can I Find the Best Spine Surgeons in South Florida?

Whether you are looking for a spine doctor in Fort Lauderdale or a spine doctor in Delray Beach, look no further! Dr. Matthew Hepler is a leading orthopedic spine surgeon who specializes in various spinal conditions, including patients requiring a spinal fusion.  

Back pain can be debilitating, so it is essential to place your trust in a surgeon that can diagnose and treat your spinal condition timely and effectively. 

If you have a spinal condition requiring surgery, contact us for an evaluation and treatment plan tailored to you.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.