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Just when do most start PT after a lumbar fusion?

beaverbbeaver Posts: 189
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Is it after you have shown sighs of fusion? Or after the fusion is complete? Or just after you are healed completely?


  • Every surgeon seems to have a differnce of opinion. I started on day 14. But there are others who don't start until week 12, some later than that and other's that don't have PT at all.

    I know this doesn't help much. Perhaps you could call your hubby's surgeon and ask when he typically refers to PT.

    I hope all is going well. Be sure to take some time to take care of yourself!
  • As Jayhawk has said, every surgeon has a different opinion. Mine didn't even mention it. I went with how I was feeling, which turned out to be around the 4 month mark and I kept it up for 3 months.

    Prior to that, I was doing the stretches that the hospital physio gave me and walking.

    I found some of the exercises that the physio gave me were too much and so I modified them or didn't do them. It's very important to develop/keep flexibility as well as strengthen the core muscles post-op.

    When I got to 7 months post-op, I decided to give Tai Chi and Qi Gong a try and am keeping it at a very basic level for now. I find it gently strengthens my core muscles and I now don't get the big muscle spasms which seem to be a part of recovery. I was introduced to Tai Chi by a group who do it over the park where I take the dogs, but I do it every day mostly from DVDs at home.

    I'd encourage you to listen to your body and if you feel you're ready for PT, then give it a try. If it's too much, then leave it for a little while and go back to it later. In the meantime, keep walking as much as you can.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • My surgeon will not let me do out patient PT until he sees me at 3 months. I'm looking forward to it, but know there may be more pain coming my way. mel v.
  • This is one topic where there is a GREAT variation among spinal specialists. If you polled each of us that has had a fusion, you would come up with the majority of answers in three or four categories (I think -- at least it seems this way from all I've read and heard!!)

    Some start almost immediately -- like around 2 weeks.
    Some start at 8 weeks.
    Some start at 3 months.

    Some leave it entirely up to the patient (my first surgeon was in this category.)

    And some doctors, I think in the minority, do not recommend it at all, feeling it does more harm than good. If at all, they want the patient to wait until fused.

    With my last surgery, I was not even allowed to stretch until the surgeon felt the bone growth was sufficiently far enough along to suit him!!

    For this topic you need to call your husband's surgeon and see what he wants to do.
  • I started at 8 weeks.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I started outpatient PT a week after being discharged from the hospital.

    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.
  • if he didn't mention PT and your husband wants to do it, I would suggest calling the surgeon and talking to him. Ask how soon he feels that he will be ready for it.

    There are different levels of PT.
    While still in the hospital, I was visited by a physio who gave me exercises to do while lying down. I continued with those daily until I was sent by my surgeon at about 8 weeks for physiotherapy. I had to wait until that point because I'd had problems with my incision healing. The surgeon had told me that I couldn't do PT until my incision was completely healed.
    At the point that he sent me for physio, my x-ray had not shown any sign of fusion - so he didn't wait for that. I think that some surgeons do!

    My physio started off very gently, to encourage my muscles to release and let me move without going into spasm. The fact that I hadn't shown any signs of fusion, also meant that he was careful with me for the first month. We are having to review what we are doing now, because I have had a flare up of my knees!

    Your husband is so determined to do well after his surgery. While he is waiting for physio, walking is the best thing for him to do. (Did you check with the surgeon about walking on hills?)

    I think the best thing would be talk to your surgeon about this.

    Keep supporting him. It will be a great help to him. :D
  • I started with home PT on the fourth day I was home. They came 2 times a week for 3 weeks and then I went to PT for 2 times a week which was increased to 3 times at 3 months out. I am still doing PT and am my 6 month date.
  • I started at the 4 month mark also.(which was last week) 3 times a week and will eventually get up to 5 times a week.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I had a L3-S1 fusion in February and did not do PT. The surgeon said I've done well enough on my own and PT would not be needed.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Mine will have me starting PT three months after L5/S1 fusion surgery.

    I did get PT in the hospital. But that was more of a "how to function" PT, than getting my butt back into shape. I am sooooo looking forward to that first session with the therapist where they help me stretch my hammies and quads. Gently start loosening up the lower back. I figure by December, I'll be able to touch my toes again. Hopefully sooner!
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