Recovery varies depending upon the severity of the condition and specific type of back surgery, but, in general, recovery involves pain control, reduced activity and specific back-strengthening exercise, according to MedlinePlus. In addition, many patients use corsets or braces for back support when sitting or walking.
Some back surgery causes pain, numbness or weakness, but these fade in a few weeks, MedlinePlus explains. Serious conditions require patients to miss work for four to six weeks. Bending at the waist is avoided. Instead, the body is lowered by bending the knees and squatting. During the initial healing period, nothing heavier than a gallon of milk is lifted, and arms are not raised over the head.
At first, strenuous exercise, such as running, swimming and biking, is avoided, states MedlinePlus. Walks are short and slow. Housekeeping activities are minimal, and patients do not use vacuums. Physical therapy is helpful to both build up back muscles and discover how to perform activities safely. Patients learn the best ways to rise from chairs and beds, dress and undress, lift and carry.
The incision is kept dry for about one week, MedlinePlus instructs. Bandages stay in place for seven to 10 days. Patients monitor their incisions to check for inflammation, excessive warmth, draining or signs of reopening.