How Long Is the Recovery Time After Spinal Fusion?

The recovery time after spinal fusion ranges from eight months to two years, says Spine-health. The healing time depends on factors such as the extent of the patient's injury, whether he kept to a regimen of exercise and rehabilitation, whether he is a smoker and other pre-existing conditions.

After spinal fusion surgery, the patient may spend one to five days in the hospital, according to Spine-health. He is not discharged until he is able to walk, and he might start rehabilitation in the hospital. During his stay in the hospital, his physician prescribes pain medication, and the medical staff makes sure the surgical wound is kept clean and dry. Any sutures or staples are removed after about a fortnight.

The patient needs help at home when he is finally discharged, says Spine-health, especially with tasks that require twisting or bending. Again, as the surgery heals, he needs pain medication, and the wound needs to be cared for to ward off infection. After a week to 10 days, the patient begins to transition from powerful narcotics to painkillers such as acetaminophen.

The bone graft used for the spinal fusion begins to stabilize a month or so after the surgery, and the patient needs to avoid bending, twisting or heavy lifting, says Spine-health. The patient may also start physical therapy at this time, and after three months, it is important for the patient to take up exercise to heal and strengthen the fusion. This includes exercises to strengthen the back and the core of the body.