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What should you expect after back surgery?

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Quick Answer

Pain after back surgery lasts from weeks to months, states MedlinePlus. The patient may need to alter everyday activities in the weeks after surgery. During the early recovery period, the patient must take prescription pain medicine before increased activity.

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Recovery time for microdiskectomy is the quickest, while fusion surgery and laminectomy take at least three to four months for bones to heal, explains MedlinePlus. Pain, weakness or numbness may occur near the affected nerve for a few weeks after a foraminotomy or diskectomy, and it may take four weeks to six months recovery time before returning to work after a spinal fusion. A patient who experiences symptoms such as wound drainage, chest pain, shortness of breath, or loss of feeling in the arms, legs and feet should contact his doctor.

The patient should not sit longer than 20 or 30 minutes at one time, states MedlinePlus. He may use a corset or back brace when sitting or walking to support the back. Lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds after back surgery is prohibited, and it is unsafe to lift things above the head before a spinal fusion heals. A doctor may order physical therapy for a patient after back surgery to help him learn how to prevent pain during daily activities.

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