Spinal fusion is a common surgery that is performed for correcting problems in the small bones in the spinal cord, known as vertebrae. Spinal fusion can be thought of like a welding process as it fuses together two or more of these small bones or vertebrae. Doctors aim to achieve a single and solid bone at the end of the spinal fusion surgery.
Spinal fusion helps in eliminating any painful motion of the spine and also restores stability to the spine. As with every type of surgery, there are many restrictions involved with spinal fusion surgery as well. After the spinal fusion surgery, there will be many types of restrictions that you will need to follow if you want to heal properly and also speed up the recovery process. Let us look at some of the permanent restrictions after spinal fusion that you must adhere to.
Precautions & Temporary Restrictions Following Spinal Fusion Surgery
Just like any other joint of the body, the spinal cord is also the same. If you fuse the spinal joints, then you will end up losing mobility of the spine. However, a single-level fusion is unlikely to reduce your entire range of motion of the spine, and over a period of time, you might not even end up noticing it. Nevertheless, when you fuse even one level of the spine, it changes the overall environment of that particular spine level. This may cause problems in the future if you do not follow the prescribed precautions by your doctor.
As your back continues to heal after the surgery, you will generally start to feel better and over a period of time, you will be able to take on more and more of your daily activities after spinal fusion surgery.
The worst of the pain begins to subside by four weeks after the spinal fusion surgery. If any pain is still remaining, then that too will continue to get lesser gradually.
However, many patients continue to experience pain up to three to six months of surgery as well. It is nothing to get worried over and you can always discuss with your doctor if you have any concerns. If there is an increase in pain post spinal fusion surgery, then be careful and view this pain as a warning sign from your body to slow down your activity.
During the three to six months following spinal fusion surgery, the lumbar fusion bone mass starts becoming established. This is why you need to avoid the following movements after spinal fusion, so as to avoid any kind of strain on the fused segments of the spine:
- Excess lifting
If you have been prescribed to wear a back brace by your doctor after spinal fusion, then it is recommended that you continue with it for six weeks to three months following the spinal fusion surgery, as it will help immobilize your back.
After six weeks of spinal fusion surgery, you will probably begin with physical therapy. This should last for at least two to three months. During the physical therapy session, the exercise techniques will be tailored according to your individual needs, and as your condition begins to improve, more and more activities will be added to your routine post spinal fusion.
Physical therapy will help a patient understand how they have to walk, sit, stand, lie down, turn over, and also educate them about the safe ways in which to lift, push or pull objects.
Permanent Restrictions After Spinal Fusion
Restrictions are going to be placed on you following the spinal fusion surgery. During your recovery period, you will need to strictly follow the doctor’s prescribed restrictions to speed up your recovery post spinal fusion surgery and to also ensure that the fused section of the spine heals properly. Most of the restrictions get lifted between three to six months following the spinal fusion surgery and almost all of the restrictions get lifted after a year of surgery.
However, there will be some permanent restrictions that you will have to follow for the rest of your life after undergoing spinal fusion surgery.
You will have to avoid indulging in any and all activities that involve uncontrolled collision, any form of high impact sports, such as aggressive twisting racquet sports, or even golf as it involves bending over at the waist for a long period of time. Avoid running or jogging as well since that will cause a jarring sensation to the back.
The best advice is that you use your common sense to understand what type of activity is likely to cause harm to your fused spine. However, always remember the importance of a comprehensive rehabilitation program that includes a healthy and nutritious diet and regular exercise as advised by your doctor. If you follow all the recommendations and restrictions told by your healthcare team and your surgeon, then you will be in a better position to heal properly and not damage your spine again in the future.
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