The Top 5 Questions About Recovery After Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion

1. How long will I have to stay in the hospital after minimally invasive lumbar fusion?
It is generally a rule of thumb to say that minimally invasive spine surgery usually will decrease the patient’s hospital stay by half. For a typical endoscopic discectomy and lumbar fusion surgery, the surgeries are performed in the same day, and the patients is usually able to go home in two to three days, compared to a hospital stay of five to seven days with traditional open lumbar surgery.

2. When can I go back to work after minimally invasive lumbar fusion?
This decision varies for each patient, depending on the type of work the individual does. If the patient has a sedentary job, he or she could likely return to part-time work a month or six weeks after lumbar fusion surgery. For more physical occupations, the patient must seek the advice of his or her surgeon on when it would be safe to return to work. Patients generally return to work much more quickly after minimally invasive surgery than after traditional open surgery.

3. What is the recovery time for endoscopic lumbar fusion?
The recovery time for each surgery is different. While some patients are able to return to full activity within only six weeks, others can require more time. Your surgeon will be able to give you a good estimate of what your recovery time will be like based on your individual needs and circumstances. I definitely encourage all of my patients to participate in a physical therapy program so that they can safely begin to return to the normal activities of their lives.

4. How long after minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery will my pain last?
Pain generally follows that same rule of thumb as hospital stays with endoscopic spinal fusion: the patient usually experiences pain for half the time he or she would with traditional surgery. Patients typically experience the most pain in the first week with a gradual lessening of pain over the next six or so weeks. Each patient recovers differently.

5. Will I need physical therapy after endoscopic spinal fusion surgery?
I highly recommend physical therapy to all of my patients. It is an important part of a quick and easy recovery and return to full function and range of motion. While it varies from patient to patient, most patients who undergo endoscopic lumbar fusion will start physical therapy four to six weeks after the surgery.