Spinal Fusion: Recovery At Home

Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Table of Contents

Lumbar Spinal Fusion
Most Common Causes of Lumbar Back Pain
Your Visit With The Surgeon
Getting Yourself Ready For Surgery
Understanding Back Precautions
Making Arrangements For Surgery
Your Hospital Visit
Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery
Recovery At Home
When To Call Your Surgeon
Long Term Care For Your Back

More Information:

Lumbar Spine Structure and Function

Cozy living roomIt is normal for your energy level to be low right after surgery. You may be surprised to find it will take all of your energy just to make the trip home. Once you’re at home, pace yourself. Be aware of how you feel doing everyday activities. Your back should get better each day. You will know when you can increase your activity level. When you are tired, rest. Ask for help when you need it. Don’t risk your health by doing too much too soon. How you take care of yourself after surgery is very important. Following your surgeon’s instructions and advice is very important; it will help you avoid problems. Your surgeon needs to monitor your healing progress and give you new instructions to further your recovery. Therefore, keep all follow-up appointments with your surgeon.

Bone healing starts at about 6 weeks after surgery. During this time your activity will be restricted. Substantial healing takes place at 3-4 months at which time your activities can be increased. Bone healing may continue up to a year after surgery. How long  you are out of work depends on how extensive  your surgery was and what type job you have. If you are otherwise healthy and have a sedentary job you might be back to work at 4-6 weeks. Older patients or those with physically demanding jobs may be out of work for as long as 406 months.

Home Safety

Preventing falls is very important in protecting your back. Take pain medicine as prescribed by your surgeon. Too much pain medicine can make you drowsy and increase the risk of injury from falling. You can prevent falls by wearing shoes with low, closed heels and nonskid soles, using your walker, and keeping rooms well lit, even during the night.

Watch out for:

• electrical cords in your path
• ice or mildew on outdoor steps and walkways
• loose rugs and carpets
• pets that may jump on you or run in your path
• spills on bare floors
• toys or magazines on floors and stairs

While you are building up your strength, plan some rest periods between activities. Your body needs energy for healing. Also, you increase your risk of injury from falling if you get too tired.

For the first three to four weeks, take showers instead of tub baths, unless your surgeon tells you otherwise. Tub baths increase your risk of bending over or twisting your back. Also, there is a danger if falling while getting in and out of the tub. You can gently wash your incision with unscented soap and water.


Good nutrition is very important for healing. Your diet should include foods high in protein. While you are recovering and your activity level is low, it is helpful to eat foods high in fiber and drink plenty of fluids to prevent constipation. Also, be careful not to gain excess weight. Excess weight puts extra stress on your back. If you have questions or need more information about your diet, call the dietitians at the hospital.

Exercise Program At Home

After surgery, walk as much as a mile each day. You can walk outside, but be careful not to fall. Walking strengthens the muscles in your stomach and back, makes you feel better, and promotes healing. Walking can also reduce muscle spasms and constipation. Be sure to keep good posture while walking.

Your surgeon may talk with you about other exercises in addition to walking. It is important that you do not begin any exercise program until your surgeon says it is OK. Remember to follow your back precautions.