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Post Op Lumbar Fusion

Post Op in the Hospital

Recovery Room (PACU) (first few hours after surgery)

  • Your exam and pain level are closely monitored

  • Supplemental oxygen is normal during this stage

  • Taking deep breaths will improve your lungs' recovery

  • Compression stockings are used to prevent blood clots 

  • Urine (Foley) catheter used to monitor output

  • The incision in the lower back will have absorbable sutures under the skin, with surgical glue on the skin surface.  

  • There will be a drain tubing near the incision to drain expected residual seepage

  • Pain medicine and other Rx via I.V. (intravenous route)

  • Back pain and stiffness is expected

  • Your pre-op leg pain should be much improved when you wake up from surgery, but you may have some numbness and any weakness that you had pre-op

  • Visitation in the Recovery Room is very limited

  • You may need to wear a back brace


Surgery Floor bed (1-3 days)

  • Continue compression stockings while in bed

  • Subcutaneous Heparin is started to prevent blood clots

  • Urine (Foley) catheter removed within 1-2 days

  • Drainage tubing removed within 2-3 days

  • Advance to regular diet as throat soreness improves

  • Ambulate in the hallways as much as tolerated

  • May shower after drain tubing is removed

  • Antibiotics are taken for 24 hours after surgery or until the drain is removed

  • Transition pain medicine and other Rx to oral route when pain improves over the first few days

  • Pain medications cause constipation, which may require laxatives.  

  • Significant back pain and muscle tightness is common

  • Pre-op leg pain should be much improved

  • Evaluation by physical therapist prior to leaving the hospital (to home vs to rehab center)

Recovery at Home

First 10 to 14 days:

  • Back pain and stiffness is expected

  • Shower every day once you are home

  • You do not have to cover the incision site

  • No bath/pools/soaking back for 2 months

  • Swelling peaks around 3-4 days after surgery and then slowly gets better in 1-2 weeks, so your discomfort may worsen after surgery before slowly improving

  • Limit exertion to less than 10 pounds of lifting

  • Start walking at least 30 minutes every day

  • Numbness and Weakness may persist

  • Neurosurgery visit 10-14 days after surgery for a quick (5 minute) incision site check.  No suture/staple removal required.

  • If back brace is given, wear it when out of bed

  • Safe to drive when off of prescription pain meds


1 to 2 Months post op:

  • Increase activities, bending (lifting limit is 20 lbs)

  • Post op pain/stiffness is still expected, but it should slowly decrease by the end of this time

  • Numbness and weakness are likely to persist


3 Months post op:

  • Neurosurgery visit 3 months after surgery 

  • Lumbar xrays prior to the 3 month visit

  • Any weakness should be improving

  • Numbness may take 3-6 months to recover

  • May increase lifting and activities gradually back to baseline activities prior to surgery

  • Back brace is usually weaned off

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