It is possible to experience pain and discomfort after a spinal fusion, but the pain is typically manageable with medications, according to Mayo Clinic. Signs of infection that require immediate medical attention include drainage from the wound, fever in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, swelling, body shakes and chills.
Individuals who undergo spinal fusion surgery remain in the hospital for observation for a few days following the procedure, according to WebMD. While it may take several months for the spinal bones to heal and fuse, bed rest at home during recovery is usually not required. Patients often wear a back brace to keep the spine properly aligned, and they undergo physical therapy to learn how to sit and move in ways that keep the spine straight. The rehabilitation period can be lengthy after spinal fusion, and it often includes non- and low-impact strengthening activities such as cycling, swimming and walking.
The goal of spinal fusion surgery is to eliminate motion between two or more vertebrae in the spine by joining them into one solid unit, and it often uses bone-like material, metal plates, rods and screws, explains Mayo Clinic. This immobilization in one section alters the way the entire spine moves, placing new stress on the vertebrae above and below the fused area. This can increase the risk for faster degeneration in these spinal regions.