Physical Therapy After Surgery

Range of motion and strengthening exercises are essential to maximizing the benefits of your spine procedure. Surgery is just the first step in your recovery. Your physician and rehabilitation team will prescribe a customized program aimed at optimizing your mobility and quality of life. Your inpatient team will decide whether you require inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, based on your level of function. It is essential to your recovery that you are an active participant in your rehabilitation program.

Resuming Normal Activities

While in the hospital, you will be taught the proper way to get through the activities of daily living. The pace of return to activities varies among patients. Check with your doctor as to when you can safely resume:

  • Taking baths
  • Driving (the average time is approximately six weeks after surgery)
  • Work
  • Sexual activities
  • Sports (while you are encouraged to remain physically active, both for your general health and for maintaining good bone quality, you should discuss specific activities with your doctor)

Helpful Reminders for Recovery

  • Be sure to follow your surgeon’s recommendations regarding if and when to wear your brace or collar.
  • Climb stairs carefully, stepping up with the good leg, down with the bad leg, if appropriate.
  • Avoid lifting, twisting, and bending that places strain on your spine.
  • Continue your exercise program regularly, as prescribed by your therapist to help keep your body strong.
  • Speak with your rehabilitation team about:
    • Appropriate sleeping positions following surgery;
    • How to bathe (e.g., if the surgical dressing can get wet).
  • Speak with your surgeon about:
    • When driving is appropriate;
    • When sexual activity is safe.
  • The amount of time you sit in one position may be limited after surgery; speak to your surgeon and rehabilitation team for more details.