Frequently Asked Questions

Spine Surgery FAQ
What are the benefits of spinal surgery?

The goal of spinal surgery is to relieve your pain and allow you to return to the activities you enjoy. Living well means different things to different people. Whether you love walking, cycling or playing with your grandchild, it’s important to move without pain. Aging or injury often gets in the way of comfortable movement. But no matter your age or condition, there are ways we can help. Our spinal surgeons are committed to helping people like you improve your quality of life.

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What can I expect after leaving the hospital?

Rehabilitation is one of the most important parts of your recovery. You will be encouraged to move within hours of your surgery, unless your doctor has ordered differently. Your care team will create a home therapy plan for you before you leave the hospital. We will review it with you and make sure you understand what you need to do. Depending on the surgery, you may continue with physical therapy for several weeks after surgery. Your surgeon will discuss this with you before you leave. Most patients who have spinal surgery find they have less pain and more freedom of movement after surgery. Many feel they are now able to return to the things they enjoy most in life.

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How long can I expect to have pain after I leave the hospital?

In general, the length of recovery depends on the type of surgery and on the condition of your back before surgery. For example, with a discectomy, the pain, numbness or weakness associated with the affected nerve should improve in about one to two weeks. For a laminectomy, it may take from one to several months before you notice a decrease in leg pain. With a spinal fusion, the pain should be much better in one to three months.

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When can I return to work?

This depends on the type of surgery. Ask your doctor at your follow-up appointment.

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Will I need a walker after surgery?

Some people use a walker after back surgery to provide the extra support and reduce back pressure. If necessary, a physical therapist will guide you when to stop using it.

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How long before I can travel?

Avoid long car trips for at least six weeks following surgery. If you need to make a long trip, make sure you make frequent stops (every 30 to 45 minutes) to get out and stretch. Avoid flying for several weeks after surgery. Make sure to discuss any travel with your doctor.

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When can I drive?

It is okay to drive a car when you are off all narcotic medications and you can safely control the vehicle. This may be several days or weeks after your surgery.

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