The entire recovery phase from this type of surgery is 6 weeks. This is the amount of time it takes for the incision and underlying tissue to heal enough to perform activity as tolerated.
Immediately after surgery until the 6th week walking is the primary exercise to perform. We do not put distance goals in your recovery because each individual is different. We simply expect you to be walking more every day. It is preferable that you walk on flat surfaces but we also understand that this isn’t always possible. Exercise control and awareness when walking, avoiding rocky areas, steep inclines/declines and icy conditions.
Changing positions during the day is helpful during the recovery process and in the long run. During the recovery period, we recommend positional changes every 10-15 minutes. If sitting or standing, at the 10-15 minute mark, walk or change positions. This will help avoid back muscle fatigue, which can be a setup for inflammation or re-injury.
We recommend using ice topically, over a covered incision and surrounding tissues. Do not apply ice directly to the skin as this can cause tissue injury. Ice is a topical anti-inflammatory that will force blood away from the skin surface and into deeper circulation whereby inflammation will be drawn away from the surgical area.
We like patients to limit the weight of object they pick up to 10lbs. Keeping this weight close to the body and bending with your knees and keeping your back straight is ideal during the recovery period.
What is paramount is that you avoid REPETITIVE bending, twisting and lifting. The combination of the three is the absolute worst activity for the recovering surgical patient. For this reason, activities such as golf should be avoided for the full six weeks whereby a gradual return should be implemented, preferably through a formal physical therapy regimen.
We offer all of our patients the option to undergo formal physical therapy. This option will be discussed at your first post-operative visit. The typical duration of therapy is 2 x per week for 6 weeks and is a great way not only to safely ramp up activity, but also serves to empower the patient with preventative exercises to perform well after surgery. It’s these exercises and ongoing body maintenance that will minimize recurrence of injury on a long term basis.