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when did y'all begin physical therapy after a fusion?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,900
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
my neurosurgeon said that he is expecting me to begin PT 6 weeks after my L4-L5 PLIF...granted, I have not even gone under the knife yet, but I was wondering if, without complications, 6 weeks is an "average" starting point? Thanks for any input!


  • I started about 8 weeks out. Scheduled after my 6 month appt. So I would say 6 is a good time
  • I started at 2.5 weeks after single level lumbar fusion - in my opinion it was too soon.
  • I had a single level fusion at L5/S! and my surgeon is not sending me to PT. He has given me a home program which has worked pretty well so far. He said his patients typically do just as well, if not better, at home than in formal PT.
  • I had a two level fusion with instrumentation on 11/21 and at my follow up visit 24 days after surgery I asked when I should be starting PT. The physcians assistant's response was, ok. No, when do I start? Ok. So she said start tomorrow if you want. I decided to wait one more week and so am starting tomorrow. I am going to be very vocal about what I think is going to help or hinder me while there. My last round of physical therapy (under the care of a different doctor) is the main reason why my TLIF was scheduled so soon as I was injured by the exercises. Each body is different. Listen to the doc, but listen to your body as well.

    One Love,

  • 4 months after my laminectomy and fusion @ L5-S1. My surgeon did get me started on basic stretches at home after 2 weeks tho.

    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • My surgeon started me in PT in the pool at 4 weeks post-surgery.
  • My NS starts me at 12 weeks after a 3 level fusion.
  • Like Zach, I started with the PT while in hospital doing stretches some lighter exercises and walking. I had a 3 level fusion and was taken off the walker after 1 week. After 10 days in hospital I went to a rehab hospital for 2 weeks where I had 2 sessions of PT a day. I on land and the other in the pool.
    After coming home I continued these exercises as an outpatient and increased them all the time. I didn't have a brace so most of the work initially is to get the core stability muscles working.
    Now 7 1/2 months I am going to the gym and doing walking, eliptical trainer, stretches, some weights and resistance exercises. Takes me about 90 mins and I am doing this 5 times a week.

    All Drs are differennt but I know that the thinking in Australia is to get you up and moving independantly as soon as you are able and to learn to use your own muscles rather then rely on a brace or walking aids as previous thinking went.

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • As you can see there is such a wide opinion in doctors based on their own personal experiences, your pre surgery condition and your bodies response to the fusion.

    I started PT at 15 weeks, but was allowed in the pool for very informal self directed exercise at 5 weeks. My PT decided to start me in the water anyway, its just more intense than what I was doing own my own. I also have a very few stretches to do at home based on a specific type of PT program due to the fact that I have other herniations to deal with. Beyond that, my PT program when I came home from the hospital, if you want to call it that, consisted of walking, walking and walking, no BTL.

    The worst part about everything for me is being patient!

  • Like Zach and Sara, I started PT in the hospital and began PT when I got home 4 days later. I wore my brace while doing the PT. I walked on the treadmill, did a lot of leg and hip exercises, and used the weight machines.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • I also had the PT and OT in the hospital where they showed me how to get out of bed, walked me down the hall first with a walker and then a cane, worked with me on stairs, gave me advice on getting my clothes on by myself (including sending me home with a sock aid that I bought), and even gave me advice on wiping after a BM. ;) They were great!

    I just started outside PT today. My surgeon's office has a PT group in the same suite that works directly with them, so when I went there they already had very detailed data on me. Since it was my initial evaluation they just talked to me about how I was feeling, watched me walk, checked incision, etc. Then they had me lay on heated towels and felt the tissue around my incision. They are not open next week for the holidays, and since I am early out they only started me on a few exercises to strengthen my core stomach muscles. Starting on Jan 5 I will see them 3 times a week.

  • I guess you can say I started already. Very basic stretching and doing laps around my house. I think I won't start more physical work related therapy until 6 weeks post surgery.
  • Next day after my fusion surgery a PT came over to see me, but all he did was helped me to get out of bed and take a few steps. Three days later I went to rehab, where I had PT sessions daily, but they were mostly to reacquaint me with my body, teach me how to walk, first with a walker, then with a cane, then unaided, including curbs and steps. I also did some leg exercises. When I went home, for the first month a PT came to see me, but we did basically the same things. I had some papers with various exercises, but she said walking was the most important. It was only after 5 months, when I was more or less fused, that I began my actual real PT.

  • I wasn't allowed to start PT from my 3 level fusion until fusion was being seen in my MRI and x-rays. That was at 23 weeks post op. And then it was slow, slow, slow,.... itty bitty baby steps, twice a week. I am now 10 months post op and still attend PT once a week. Still have a ways to go, but finally getting better. Good luck!!!
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