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What do they say about stairs after lumbar back surgery?

TatiyanaTTatiyana Posts: 194
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
:? I am thinking I could walk on my treadmill post op since I live in Iowa & it will be too cold & icy to walk outdoors BUT my tradmill is downstairs & moving it up on ground level is not an option - no room.
Whadaya think? How soon will I be able to go up & down stairs??
Any suggestions? My house is too small to get any "real walking" in. :?


  • When I was walking the halls at the hospital post op there was a small set up stairs (about 5 steps) and I would go up an down them about3-5 times each time I took a lap to where they were. I think they were there for patients to use but under guidance of the PT that were there or nurses. I just took it upon myself to try (but only if my husband or someone else was with me). I wanted to make sure I could go up and down steps before going home because I have steps to get into my house.

    You should definitely talk to the nurses at the hospital as they will get you up and walking or your surgeon before trying this.
  • I'm sure every case is different but in my case stairs were OK. I had PLIF at L4-5 with decompression and separate bone graft site incision and am 3 weeks post op tomorrow. Since my home does have stairs I specifically asked that question and I have been going up and down since I came home from the hospital.

    I do wear my brace going up and down stairs which my doc said was important. I am also VERY cautious. Good heavens, at this point the last thing I want is to mess up the progress I've made over the past few weeks.

    To be on the safe side you probably should phone your doc and speak to his/her nurse at least to verify that in your case, stairs are ok. Always better to be safe than sorry. Good luck. Kathy in Atlanta
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  • as yours Kathy, except they are going through the abdomin and using donor bone. ALIF w/ decompression is what I guess its called. Anyways, It is promising to hear you are doing well. I am getting quite anxious over it since it is only 2 weeks away.
  • My doc said pretty much everything I do is up to me, as long as I feel OK to do it.
  • Stairs should be OK, so long as you take it easy/slowly and don't overdo it. My surgeon placed no restrictions on me and I walked down stairs from the hospital when I was discharged.

    However, vertigo can be a problem for some of us after our surgeries, so please be doubly careful when on stairs.
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

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  • Hello, as for stairs just make sure you practice them at the hospital. They should have PT see you and they will ask if you have stairs, and then teach you how to go up and down with your walker. >:D< Cali-Sue
  • My surgeon told me not to use stairs for the first 5-6 weeks unless absolutely necessary. At my 5 1/2 week follow-up appointment, I was cleared to do stairs, but slowly, one step at a time.
  • Hi Mark.
    I saw your post and see that your surgery was done about a month before mine. I had a serious infection after which has put me about a month to 6 weeks behind on the path to recovery. I am in a struggle with my workers comp insurance co. so I have not been to PT yet. What were you allowed to do? Do you do things around the house. Did you wear a brace or are you still? How about driving? I just started a week ago and was told to go short distances.

    I am just trying to get an idea of where other people are after similar surgeries. My neurosurgeon is great but when it comes to describing activities he is very vague!

    I am 53 injury at work 2003. Had failed microdiscectomy L5- S1 in 10/2003. In sept this year I had micro PLIF 2 levels. L4-S1 with instrumentation and BMP.

    Any light you can shed on your experience would be greatly appreciated.

    Jody in NH
  • Jody,

    For the first 5 1/2 weeks, the only thing I was allowed to do was walking - as much as I was comfortable with. From 5 1/2 weeks to 3 months, I was allowed to walk and swim in a pool. My swelling went down just after my follow-up appointment, so I cut down on the amount of walking and swimming, though I did still walk in a pool.

    Since the 3 month mark, my BLT restrictions have been removed, though I am limited to less than 25 pounds and am not supposed to bend or twist repeatedly. My surgeon is having me do a home-based program, not regular PT. They gave me a booklet with stretches and exercises. I do them, but the amount varies. Some of these include using small weights. If I overdo it on one day, I pay for it the next several days.

    I did wear a hard brace for the first 5 1/2 weeks and a soft brace after that until 3 months. After 3 months I did not need one anymore.

    I was cleared to drive at 5 1/2 weeks, but did not do any until around 7 weeks. To this day, I only make short trips, and schedule them around my pain meds - typically early in the morning. I did one longer trip just before Thanksgiving (approximately 35 minutes each way) - I did ok on the way out, but was in pain coming back.
  • I am 6 days out of surgery and I have been going up and down carefully with my cane and the help of someone. PT did come to me in the hospital and worked with me on using them. I had the option of using a bed on the main floor, or my comfortable bed upstairs, and since I did fine with the stairs PT told me to use the bed most comfortable for me.

    I would say practice with PT and take your time.
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