Recovery From Spinal Stenosis Surgery

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Spinal stenosis may be treated with non-surgical methods such as physical therapy. However, surgery may provide longer-term relief. Recovery from spinal stenosis surgery involves walking with a brace, taking pain medications, participating in a physical therapy program and returning to work based on work duties.

Benefits

  • Spinal stenosis surgery may be suggested by your physician after more conservative treatments, such as drug therapy, have been explored. One benefit of stenosis surgery is that it expands space between nerve roots in your spinal column, which can reduce your chronic inflammation.

    Your physician may recommend using a rod to connect the bones permanently, which is considered a type of spinal fusion. Spinal fusion stops movement between your vertebrae and reduces slipping after stenosis surgery. Successful results require your active participation, such as following directions.

Recovery

  • Your initial recovery period may include walking with a brace. The brace may speed healing and be used for a period that depends on your stenosis treatment plan, which may include physical therapy. Pain medications may be prescribed after spinal stenosis surgery, and your dosage can be adjusted during your recovery period.

Physical Therapy

  • Participation in a physical therapy program can begin while hospitalized, and lasts for less than one week. Healthy, younger patients can expect limited physical therapy sessions, while unhealthy or older patients may require longer sessions. One common physical therapy treatment used for post-stenosis surgery is stretching to help stabilize your spinal column.

Return to Normal

  • Your physician will discuss your returning to normal activities after spinal stenosis surgery. Returning to work may be your primary concern. You may receive medical clearance based on your work duties. For instance, a receptionist can return to active duties within weeks, because the job entails working with telephones and no heavy lifting.

    Your medical clearance may take longer than a month if you do physically demanding work such as nursing or firefighting, as these jobs involve lifting people and moving heavy objects. Follow your physician's instructions to minimize your post-stenosis recovery period.

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