You have just had some form of spinal surgery. It could have been cervical or lumbar The type and kind doesn't matter. Initially the pain and discomfort you had prior to surgery is gone, so now you are ready for your next journey.
Once your body starts to heal and the 'surgical' pain goes away, the real recovery phases begins. That time frame is almost impossible to identify. The variables are numerous... The individual's makeup, the surgery type, the surgeon's skills, the environment you live in, plus many more.
It is pretty common that you start having pain and discomfort after surgery. Its hard to pinpoint it to the exact area, it may not be directly in the area of the surgery. Many times you can get discouraged, after all you had 'that' surgery to eliminate that pain... but now its new and could be more uncomfortable!
Once again depending on your surgeon and type of surgery, the beginning and end dates for physical therapy will vary. Almost everyone will not enjoy the beginning of physical therapy. The initial visits you start using an area that was just operated on. Its new, you start repairing and strengthening an post surgical area. Many people get real discouraged here. Their thoughts that physical therapy was going to help them starts to quickly fade. Patience, in a short time, you gain mobility and strength. With that, the pain and discomfort of the physical therapy sessions disappears.
I always believe this is the most critical of all the recovery phases. Up to know, you had someone taking care of the important needs in getting you back to normal. Now, its your turn. For those that get lazy here and do not keep up with all the things ( exercises, stretching, diet, etc) improvement will be very slow and perhaps not at all.
Then there are those that totally ignore the above and do anything they want. Those are the ones that can slip back very quickly. Now, does this mean IF you do everything you are suppose to do, that you will get better every day and then eventually return to normal? Hard to answer, there are never guarantees.
Return to normal? I guess we need to define normal. I doubt of anyone having spinal surgery will return to 100%.
I know many physical therapists that fell the 75-90% are obtainable.
But HOW LONG does this ALL TAKE!!!!
4 to 6 months post surgery , you are really still in the infant stage. There is so much going on with your body changes. You will realize improvements, but they may not be as fast as you want. You still have pain, you can be in discomfort, sleeping may be hard, etc.
I think if you look out 9 months or longer, you will be what you and your surgeon hoped you would be.
But always remember, Post spinal surgery is not just a recovery phase and be done with. It needs personal adjustments.
You need to identify, understand and adhere to all the restrictions and limitations that have been outlined and to do all the things you are suppose to do.
When you fail here, you are setting yourself of for trouble. I know, I have had so many down times over the past 35 years because I thought I could avoid what I should be doing. Even doing everything I was suppose to, flare ups will happen.
Always remember, tomorrow is going to be better than today.....
Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences