When is Spinal Fusion Surgery Done, Know its Risks, Recovery Period

When Is A Spinal Fusion Surgery Done?

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure done for individuals complaining of severe pain in the back or neck which radiates down the arms or legs along with neurological symptoms of numbness, tingling and weakness going down the arms or legs. These symptoms normally arise when there is narrowing of the spinal canal medically called spinal stenosis; or degenerative disc disease which is a condition which arises as one ages due to normal wear and tear of the spine; or disc herniation in which the disc which lies in between the two vertebrae of the spine starts to protrude causing symptoms of pain and discomfort.

While the physician tries to treat the symptoms through conservative means with activity modifications, exercises, and medications, there are times when these measures are unsuccessful. This is when the physician decides on surgery as a last resort for providing symptom relief for the patient.

Spinal fusion is a surgery in which the bones of the affected level in the spinal canal are fused together to form one bone. While this restricts the mobility of the spine at the affected level significantly it also provides complete relief of symptoms of pain and other neurological symptoms. It also helps in improving the quality of life of the individual significantly.

When Is A Spinal Fusion Surgery Done?

What Are The Risks Of The Spinal Fusion Surgery?

Spinal fusion surgery comes with certain risk factors which are quite common and can be seen with any other surgical procedure. Some of the risk factors associated with a spinal fusion procedure are failure of fusion, injury to neurovascular structures, failure to relieve symptoms, need for future surgery, and the risks of anesthesia to include blood clots or pneumonia.

For a surgery like spinal fusion to succeed, it is extremely important for the patient to adhere to the instructions and restrictions imposed on them by their surgeon for the time period as deemed fit by the surgeon.

One question that many individuals ask before embarking on a surgery like spinal fusion is when would they be able to return back to work. This article gives a brief overview on how long are you out of work after spinal fusion surgery.

Recovery Period: How Long Are You Out Of Work After Spinal Fusion Surgery?

The answer to this question is that return to work after spinal fusion surgery totally depends on the nature of the work of the individual. In cases where an individual basically has a desk type job where he or she has to sit for a prolonged period of time and does not cause excessive stress to the spine then it may take about two weeks after surgery once the wounds have healed for the patient to return back to work in a limited fashion and four weeks to work unrestricted.

In case if an individual has undergone a cervical spine fusion and has a job where he or she has to sit in front of the computer all day then it may put excessive stress on the cervical spine and thus it may take more than a month for such individuals to get back to work or recover.

In cases of lumbar spinal fusion, if an individual has a job in which he or she has to lift, push, or pull heavy objects which can take a huge toll on the lumbar spine then it usually takes about two to four months before the individual can return back to work. Such individuals will be returned back to work in a phased manner in which for the first few weeks the patient will be working around two hours a day for about a week which will then be increased to four hours workdays for about two weeks before starting to work full unrestricted duty in another two to three weeks.

In conclusion, individuals who have a low profile job and do not pose a risk of stressing their spine can return to work within a couple of weeks after spinal fusion surgery. Individuals who have a strenuous job which requires them to bend, push, pull or lift heavy objects or sit in front of the computer with the neck flexed for prolonged period of time require more than a month after surgery before they can return back to work. The return to work for such individuals is done in phased manner and it is not until two to three months before such individuals can return back to work full duty without any restrictions after a spinal fusion surgery.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 20, 2018

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