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Healing From Spinal Fusion Surgery: What to Expect

Spinal fusion surgery is an effective solution for many people with chronic back pain. Not only can fusion surgery relieve pain and related symptoms in your upper or lower back, but it may also prevent those symptoms from recurring.

At his practice in San Leandro, California, Kenneth Light, MD, specializes in patient-centered, custom-crafted back pain solutions, including spinal fusion using the most advanced techniques for faster recovery. If spinal fusion surgery is in your future, here’s what to expect following the procedure.

How spinal fusion works

Back pain is a common medical complaint among both women and men, and it tends to become a lot more common with age. While some back pain is due to poor posture and strained muscles, a lot of back pain is related to problems with the spine.

Fusion surgery does just what its name implies: It fuses or joins two or more vertebrae together, preventing the movement that causes your painful symptoms. Spinal fusion surgery can be a good solution for chronic spine-related pain caused by problems like:

In addition to relieving back pain, spinal fusion surgery also relieves related painful nerve symptoms in your arms or legs.

After this surgery, the first area to heal is the incision and soft tissues surrounding the surgical site. These tissues tend to heal fairly quickly. But spinal fusion also involves a longer healing process — the fusion of the graft and the surrounding bone — that typically takes a few months.

Recovering from spinal fusion surgery

During your recovery, you start out with activity restrictions to give your spine the time it needs to begin the deep healing process. Over time and with physical therapy, you can return to your normal level of physical activity. Some of Dr. Light’s athlete patients have returned to their activities in as little as three months.

In the very early stages of healing right after your surgery, you may need some pain medication for a few days. Dr. Light also may prescribe a brace for added support. Before long, your discomfort dissipates, and you can turn to compresses, rest, and other options to stay comfortable. 

Make arrangements before surgery to have someone help you with chores while you recover so you can avoid lifting and other strenuous activities. Your driving will also be restricted, so make sure you have a friend or relative available to take you to appointments and run errands.

The most important thing to know about recovering from spinal fusion surgery is that everyone’s recovery is different. Dr. Light can give you personalized recovery tips to help ease your own recovery process.

Finding relief with spinal fusion surgery

Every year, spinal fusion surgery helps thousands of people relieve their chronic back and neck pain. To learn more about spinal fusion surgery and how it can help you find relief, call Dr. Light or book an appointment online today.

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