The Southeastern Spine Institute

At the Southeastern Spine Institute, even back surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, so after an observation period, you get to return home to recuperate. But while you’re bound to be more comfortable in your own home, you still need to follow your doctor’s recommendations, especially during the first weeks of your recovery.

You’ll definitely have physical limitations shortly after your surgery, but those limitations gradually ease as you gain strength and get back to your normal routines. Most limitations are common sense precautions to:

  • Protect yourself from reinjuring your back
  • Allow your body to heal properly
  • Minimize your pain from the surgery

Limitations in First Week

The first week after your back surgery, you have to rest and heal. You won’t be able to do much, but your doctor will encourage you to get up and walk around as much as you’re able. You have to keep the incision from your surgery clean and dry, so you can only shower if the incision is protected.

Even minimally invasive back surgery is still surgery, so take it easy. You should arrange to have a friend or family member in your house to help you get around and prepare meals. By the end of the week, you should be feeling better. You can sit, stand and walk as much as you want, but do not stoop, bend or lift anything.

Limitations in the First Month

The first four weeks after your surgery help you heal and gain strength. Your doctor may allow you to return to work after three weeks if you have a desk job. You still should not torque your back at all, and you must walk as much as possible to build strength. Once you’re off your pain medication, you can even begin driving again.

You may have a follow-up appointment with your doctor at the Southeastern Spine Institute. Your back is examined and you may be tested. Of course, the extent of your recuperation depends largely on the type of back surgery you had done. The more intensive, the longer you can expect to have limitations.

At the three-week mark, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to strengthen particular muscles in your back and in surrounding areas that support your back. Physical therapy may involve three visits a week for three weeks. Your experience may vary, depending on your conditioning and your procedure.

Limitations After One Month

In general, the first six weeks are the most critical for your recovery. After six weeks, your doctor usually gives you the green light to return to your normal routines. If you exercise, you should start slowly and gradually work up to your previous levels. Remember that you haven’t done any exercise except walking and PT for weeks. Expect to be sore, but you shouldn’t feel any pain. If you do, contact your doctor immediately.

You may have other follow-up visits with your doctor at three months, six months and one year for testing to make sure your recovery is on target. Three or four months after your back surgery, your doctor may prescribe another round of physical therapy if he deems it necessary. By the eight-week mark, you should be free of any limitations, but you should continue to be aware of the right way to bend and lift.