Spinal Fusion Post-Surgery: How long is the recovery and what to expect?


After the surgery, stiffness and soreness in the back are very common. Activities like sitting or standing may be uncomfortable for extended periods initially. Full recovery to resume light activities like housework may take 4 to 6 weeks, while complete recovery may take 6 months to a year. Wearing a back brace during the healing process might be necessary, and your physician may recommend physiotherapy sessions.

Returning to work depends on the physical demands of your job. For desk jobs, returning after 4 to 6 weeks is typical, while light physical labor may require 3 to 6 months. For heavy labor jobs, it is necessary that you find less strenuous work but with training programs available for transition to heavy work

This article provides an approximate timeline for your recovery, though individual recovery rates may vary. Follow the steps outlined below to speed up your healing process.




  • Always take breaks and rest whenever you feel fatigued. Enough sleep is essential for your recovery process.
  • Take an effort to walk every day. You can start by taking a short walk and gradually increase the distance each day. Walking improves blood circulation, reduces the risk of pneumonia and constipation, and may alleviate muscle soreness post-surgery.
  • Follow your doctor's advice to avoid lifting heavy objects that could strain your back (spine). This includes children, heavy work, and any heavy objects.
  • Refrain from engaging in vigorous activities like cycling, running, lifting weights, or aerobic exercises until you receive clearance from your doctor.
  • Refrain from driving for 2 to 4 weeks post-surgery, or until your doctor approves.
  • Try to limit car rides to no more than 30 minutes at a stretch during the first 2 to 4 weeks post-surgery. If you need to travel longer distances, take frequent breaks to stretch your legs and walk.
  • Make an effort to adjust your position approximately every 30 minutes whether you're sitting or standing. This can aid in reducing back discomfort during your recovery period.
  • You may need to take a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks off from work, but this varies based on your job type and recovery progress.
  • You can engage in sexual activity once you’re comfortable enough but always avoid setting positions that can put strain in your back


  • Consume your regular diet. If you get an upset stomach, opt for bland, low-fat options such as plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink a lot of water or fluid unless your doctor tells you not.
  • It's common to experience irregular bowel movements after surgery. Prevent constipation and straining by taking a daily fiber supplement. If you haven't had a bowel movement in a couple of days, consult your doctor about using a gentle laxative.


Always ensure your safety with the medications you take. And taking pain relievers precisely as prescribed.

  • Follow the prescription instructions for pain medication provided by your doctor.
  • Consult your doctor to determine if you can use an over-the-counter pain medication if you're not already prescribed one.

If you suspect that your pain medication is causing stomach discomfort:

  • Take your medication after eating, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
  • Request an alternative pain medication from your doctor.

Incision care:

  • Specific instructions will be provided on how to care for the incisions made by the doctor, depending on the closure method used


Other Home Remedies

  • To alleviate stiffness and soothe sore muscles, apply warmth using a warm water bottle, heating pad set on low, or a warm cloth on your back. Avoid placing heat directly over the incision and refrain from sleeping with a heating pad on your skin.
  • Bone Growth Stimulator - A bone growth stimulator (BGS) sends more energy to the healing bone surface through either pulsed electromagnetic or ultrasound waves, which helps the bone heal more quickly. For further information about BGS, click this link.

Recovery is patience!

Recovery from back surgery requires patience and diligence in following post-operative care instructions. While stiffness and discomfort are common initially, adhering to self-care measures can aid in a smoother recovery process. From activity adjustments to medication management and incision care, each step plays a crucial role in facilitating healing. By prioritizing rest, proper nutrition, and seeking medical guidance when needed, individuals can optimize their recovery journey and gradually return to their daily activities with improved comfort and mobility. Remember, every recovery is unique, so consult your healthcare provider for personalized guidance and support throughout your healing process.


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